Studio Spotlight: Alex Stone


Posted by Trigger

Studio member Alex Stone is an award-winning cinematographer with a passion for protecting and promoting the natural world. In this week’s Studio Spotlight interview, he tells us about his favourite projects, his love of lenses and his experiences shooting one of the rarest mammals in the world.
Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Could you tell us a bit about you and your background?
My name is Alex Stone and I’m a freelance Cinematographer based in Manchester. I shoot features, commercials, docs, music videos etc plus I run my own production company specialising in outdoor video production called Wild Films.
For those who aren’t sure. What is a cinematographer? And what are the skills and qualities you need to do this job?
A cinematographer is also known as a director of photography (DoP). Historically and geographically they can vary but these days the terms are largely synonymous. A cinematographer tends to be a DoP who operates. Ultimately the job of the cinematographer is to translate the director’s vision into a visual and tangible form that reflects the emotive intentions through selective choice of composition, lighting and camera movement. In addition to having an eye for creativity, a cinematographer needs to have the ability to listen well and be a team player. By collaborating with other departments, for instance, sound or production design, everyone can do their best work and the project is improved. It is important to be sympathetic to actors in particular; by accommodating their needs, the performance is sharpened and the audience can connect more acutely.
How did you get in to the film industry? Tell us about your learning experience and how your skills and style have developed.
I studied Film Production at university, actually with the intention of becoming a producer. I always liked cameras and filming things though it never occurred to me that perhaps that’s what I should be pursuing! Incidentally I quit university after two years as I didn’t feel I was getting enough out of it; I continued to be a filmmaker and people simply started asking me to shoot their projects and it snowballed from there. I decided to drop producing and focus solely on shooting and found myself DPing various projects, off the back of which I worked on more and so on! Every project I work on I learn something new; learning by doing really is the best way. Only by shooting more projects have I developed so I suppose you could say it’s self taught/learning on the job.
Are there specific types of project or client you love to work with?
I really love working on feature length projects as it gives me the opportunity to really sink my teeth into it. I enjoy spending time developing the ‘look’ and style of the project with the director and seeing a project through from start to finish, having built a world and told a story within it. Unfortunately, specialising in narrative fiction isn’t necessarily the easiest path – there’s not nearly as many projects around as there are, commercials, for instance. I’m wanting to work on more of those at the moment as the quick turnaround, bitesize projects are a great canvas on which to try out a new techniques or otherwise hone skills and keep your creativity fresh and flowing.

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on that you’re really proud of! 
Last year I worked on a feature length wildlife documentary called The Tigers Of Scotland. It’s about the UK’s only big cat and one of the rarest mammals in the world, the Scottish Wildcat. We spent seven weeks wild-camping all around some of the most remote parts of Scotland, often in inclement weather. This sort of filmmaking inherently brings with it a number of inherent challenges and difficulties – namely keeping equipment light and portable, whilst simultaneously being reliant on only what you bring for food, water and power! I’m particularly proud of it as it was self-funded, being the first documentary Wild Films have made – a passion project, you could say! You can find the trailer and more info over on it’s website.
At Trigger, we believe that brands and agencies benefit from working with freelancers, rather than using the same team over and over because it brings fresh new perspective and skills to the projects. Do you agree? What other benefits do you think there are?
Yes, I think that’s a great reason and well put. It’s always just good to meet new people and do different things, don’t you think? Variety is the spice of life!
We love the informative articles you write and post on your website. For those who aren’t so tech-savvy can you talk us through the equipment you prefer to use and why?
Personally I have a Sony FS7 and an A7Sii plus a set of Zeiss Contax primes and zooms. I use them on some lower budget shoots or owner/operator type jobs, but for commercials and features and any other larger projects I hire in equipment. All the cameras from Arri, RED or Sony produce wonderful images, but what I really love are lenses. There’s just so many different types, all of which render a different look and each is suitable for a different project. I’m always wanting to try out more lenses!

The Trigger Studio is our curated community of over 3500 hand-picked content creation professionals. To find out more about how Trigger can help you find the right creative freelancer(s) for your project, call us on 0203 865 2176 or email hello@thisistrigger.co.uk