Grey Matter Design is a company that is passionate about making truly different and one of a kind products. It also happens to be a company run by my brother Jason Collings. A while back my big brother called me and said “hey dude I have been making these really cool tables made out of concrete, and I am starting my own business trying to sell them, wanna come over watch the game and check them out?” So I did.
After a big Canucks win we headed up to his garage to check out the tables. I was blown away at not just how cool and unique the tables looked but how much stuff was in the garage. There were so many tools I felt like I was on the set for Home Improvement. I instantly was fascinated and started asking lots of questions on how the process works and what inspired him to start to make these. After a good long chat and a few beers I realized that their could be a really cool film here. I said I would love to make a film for him about this process, he got really excited and shortly after we found ourselves back in the garage only this time the CTM team was there and we had cameras in our hands!
These tables are different than the norm….So our approach also had to be different from the norm. What we felt was the most interesting about these tables was the process to create them. We wanted our Filmmaking approach to reflect that. Our first step was to really dig deep and learn as much as we could about each phase of the process,. The film needed to be cool and sleek not unlike the tables themselves, a good way to achieve this was to use a lot of quick shots. This would give the film a great sense of energy and pace that would move the story forward. Further, we felt the static shots reflected that of a table itself…..A static object.
We have all kinds of cool toys but more often then not the monopod fits our story best. It allowed us to be flexible and fast as we wanted capture Jason working. We did not want to stop him at any point to ask him to do something over again, that would have felt forced and produced and that was not the feel we wanted to create. Another element that we used to tell this story was slow motion. We wanted to create a feeling as if time was standing still. We thought having slow motion elements throughout this process emphasized that this was not an easy job and it takes time and dedication to achieve the final product which is these unique tables. When we put all these elements together it really seemed to fit the story we wanted to tell.
During the pre production process we searched for a lot of inspiration, we came across a few films that only used sounds in their films, no music, something really stood out for us with those films. We could not put our finger on it but something just seemed natural and honest about those films. We realized that by not having a music track in those films we felt even more connected, we felt like we were there with those people in the story. This was such a powerful tool and one that we felt fit perfectly for us in our story. By not having music in our film and only focusing on the sounds heard in the shop we can better make the audience feel as if they were in the shop with Jason. Now, that being said, this meant we would need to record the best possible sounds we could. This goes with out saying on any project we take on however for this film the sounds in the shop had to have their own character. That is why recording SFX afterwards became a key component to this film. We re-recorded pencil sounds, saw noises, mixing movements, sanding swipes…. you name it! We had to do this so that we could add more character to the film through sound. In the end it really payed off and made the SFX almost act like their own music track in the film.
Remember when I mentioned Jason was my brother? Well going in I knew that we would most likely need to interview him. Now interviewing your big brother can be a little intimidating, I hope he doesn’t leap up and give me a noogie if I ask the wrong questions! Haha. But seriously, I must say it did feel a bit odd at times. During the beginning of the interview I was nervous, I was not asking my questions very well and I could see it in his reaction that it was not really going the way I wanted it to. I quickly realized that I needed to turn this ship around. If I was nervous, he would be nervous, and it would show in his interview and ultimately in our film. I remembered back to film school, the best interview is one that does not feel like an interview, don’t grill him with questions, have a conversation and if a few takes get ruined because your talking, so be it, the most important thing was to make him feel comfortable. This is my brother after all and I know him very well. So I dropped my questions and just began to talk to him, I made him laugh a few times and before I knew it I could see him getting more comfortable on camera, he was forgetting it was even there. Once I felt this from him I then got back to asking my questions and he was delivering real and honest answers. This was a good reminder that no matter who you are interviewing don’t ever forget that the most important thing is they feel comfortable and at ease or your film will suffer.
This Project was a lot of fun from top to bottom, we learned so much about finding our story, searching for what is important and not worrying about anything else. We really pushed ourselves to do something different. It was so cool to see something come together that you first began to plan in your brother’s garage after a hockey game and a few beers. Thanks Bro!
Watch the final video: Grey Matter Design /// “Why not be different”