Right now, there aren’t a lot of people traveling, so we wanted to live vicariously through Ben O’Sullivan—a wedding and editorial filmmakers from Australia. He runs True North Films, but also works as a director and cinematographer.
Traveling the World with Ben O'Sullivan
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Southport, QLD and have grown up in the leafy green suburbs of southern Brisbane here in Australia.
What continues to inspire you?
I’m inspired by many things, but particularly my environment and the experiences I share with those around me. For me it’s hard to sit down and force creativity or inspiration so I believe it comes naturally from what I allow to input into my life. I like to use Vimeo and Pinterest to create mood boards based around the project I’m working on – super helpful!
In short, how did you get into directing and cinematography?
Like most 90’s kids, I grew up in the techno boom where VHS & Digital Handycams were all the rage so from the age of 10 I’ve always been a self-proclaimed Director using my star-studded neighbourhood friends as my cast. But really, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up around a community and environment here in Brisbane that has allowed for rapid growth in these crafts.
Do you remember the first film you worked on that you were truly proud of?
The first film I directed that I was truely proud of was our short-film titled ‘Rosewater’, where we got to attend a film-festival screening of in a run-down, vintage Melbourne cinema. It was a pretty surreal experience seeing your little film up on the big screen in front of a live audience. We had lots of great feedback even though we didn’t win any awards, but it was a sweet taste of potential.
How do you keep up the hustle, professionally and personally?
This is a good question to ask yourself often! If there’s one thing that’s helped me keep the fire burning within this industry it’s simply support from friends, family and my faith.
Can you tell us about balancing a business that does weddings and commercial/editorial films?
I believe this is something I am still trying to figure out myself as you wrestle with that desire for cool passion projects and earning enough money to survive. I think the most important thing is to never rush the season you’re in, because if you’re to frantic you might miss the wonder of what’s going on around you – so I guess I’ll balance myself by taking guilt-free breaks to remind myself what’s truely important.
You’ve done a lot of travel work, can you share more about the creative process behind travel work that is purely personal?
Travelling is pure excitement when you get to experience life outside of your hometown! So I’ll always try to utilise and direct that energy into the creative process, which in return seems to maximise results.
What do you look for when you’re color grading a film?
When I was really young starting out, colour-grading used to be all about these unusually dramatic, unnatural, vivid colours but as you train and develop your eye you realise that less is more in a sense as you try to keep the image naturally rich with those balanced skin tones, lush greens and calm blues. It’s an art I am always learning and to be honest, @gamut.io has been a massive game-changer in that realm. A piece of advice for the next gen film-makers is to focus on bettering your colour-grading instead of which gear you should buy next!
What’s on the radar for you over the next year?
Well, fortunately enough I actually won a film grant for one of my new short-film scripts – so that’s exciting! I look forward to hopefully bringing that vision to life over the coming year.
Any solid music or movie, podcast, book recommendations?
I like to read a lot, so if there’s one vital book I think everyone should try to read in this tech heavy generation it’s ’12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You’ by Tony Reinke – a practical game-changer.