Craig Murray is a British film maker who does everything from avant-guard films to music videos to fashion promos as well as making most of his props, prosthetics and some of his soundtracks. Here’s what happened when I caught up with him for a brief interview.
How did you get into making films?
The usual story. I was a film fan and I wanted to give it a go. I come from a painting background so just started from scratch. Most of my films are below par to date but I like making mistakes and learning. I think its the best way hopefully. I’m getting better… slowly.
You’ve ventured into many different types of film making from music videos to documentaries – which has been your favourite?
I like elements of all but what I really want to do is to get into making experimental shorts, fashion promos… perhaps a perfume ad?? Maybe one day a feature. I’d also like to make a proper documentary but I need to learn a lot more about telling a story before I do that.
Most of your films are inspired by horror. Would you ever consider shooting a full length horror film?
Of course, it’s kind of a dream actually but I need to wait until horror is uncool and good again. There are a few amazing ones still surfacing from the french mainly but it’s generally so throw away at the moment. The horror film genre comes in fazes. I grew up watching them, I saw everything and then they just stopped being good and then all of a sudden it was reinvented again and it was exciting. It needs the people that are making them to really love and understand what a horror film is; too many companies are just making them for money and because its fashionable and are killing the genre. It will all be about timing. Luckily I have quite a lot of experience in this field to help me when the time comes and hopefully an original idea.
Have you shot any full length films?
Nope. My first films were at college and were 10-15 minute experimental pieces. Then my first film out of education was 33minutes. It’s not very good – pretty awful actually. I could not afford to go to film school so I decided to try and make something myself with no prior knowledge apart from the fact that I watched shitloads of films. I think it’s good to make mistakes and learn whilst making. I’m really glad that now I do not come from a film school background. I’m trying to craft my own style.
What was your favourite music video to make?
Last year you won 3rd prize for you London Documentary Film Festival – how did that feel?
I was kind of shocked because the film I made looked really bad in my opinion. The narrative was pretty good I guess but I had used a camera that did not enable me to get my usual style. The streets can be kind of dangerous at that time of night / morning. I had just bought a new camera but it was not insured so I opted for the consumer handy cam. I’ve not looked at narrative that much until now. Everything for me is about an experience through the visual. I watch films without following their stories the majority of the time; playing them without volume whilst listening to music whilst waiting for the parts to compliment each other.
How did you find making a documentary about London? Have you lived here for a long time?
I grew up in South London but had left for 12 years to study etc so it was kind of all new to me. I like approaching things which are almost alien to me or forgotten.
As well as being a film maker, you’re also an illustrator and photographer – do you think that the three go hand in hand?
Yes but my increasing work in film has meant that I do not draw are much as I would like – that must change soon. I have a couple of drawing projects under development.
All of the soundtracks to your films are made by you. What do you create them on?
Made by me? Some early ones were but I’ve not made one for a while. I have (in the last year) played live again with my films after a long break away from music… I plan to evolve this more and make playing live a more constant thing.
How important do you think soundtracks are?
Scores are very important but as I said there are only a handful of films I like in which I consider to have great scores. I do rarely find films with the whole package. If the opening score does not hit me then I’ll struggle with the film. Soundtrack music is often used badly in films… cut down… changed….and just stuck in because its popular an so making the viewer feel comfortable. I really don’t want to feel this when watching a film. I want to be taken somewhere out of my comfort zone. Scores written for the films hold far more worth in giving the viewer and experience. That’s why I make up my own live (turning the music videos volume down) and its also the reason I enjoy making demoreels of my work. Sometimes I’m happy with my films visual but hate the music I’ve been given to work with. Soundtracks vary… I used to like them a lot when I was younger; The Crow, Natural Born killers etc.. but not so much anymore.
You also make your own prosthetics. Where did you keep them all? Do you have them laying around the house?
I actually don’t have a house I sleep on sofas in the UK. This is because I like to travel a lot and music videos don’t make you loads of money at my level but yes I have them laying around my studio and in various lofts and garages around the world.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m in indonesia making a fashion promo and a music video for a band from Brighton. I’m also writing my first short and sleeping in a bed.
Words: Katie Wilkinson