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Matt Willsher

Matt Willsher on shooting the story

By Matt Willsher

Director, Bullet

Originating his career in interior design, Matt Willsher serendipitously found his flair for filmmaking in shooting his sister-in-law’s wedding for fun. The resulting film prompted demand for his videography talents and, learning the technical skills on the job, Matt was soon filming over 40 weddings a year.

Alongside business partner Ben Aldridge, Matt diversified into corporate productions and in 2016 created Bullet Media, a video production company creating films for clients including Dunlop, Hugo Boss, Garmin, Southampton FC and Quilter.

Taking pride in doing the basics well, with an in-house delivery model allowing agility and flexibility for clients, the company’s classic approach cuts above in using visuals and narrative to tell the story. They love all parts of the process from concept generation right through to the sound design and visual effects if required.

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You’ve worked on some incredible projects; can you give us some examples of your work?

We work for a lot of sports brands, and we do a lot of work for commercial and corporate companies. The work we're doing varies, but there's a similar thread – which is creating a narrative.

We recently created a TV ad for a life insurance for dad's company called Tom. They wanted to create a TV ad with Tyson Fury. We had to pitch for the project and came up with five concepts for them, a storyboard, the creative, and the full narrative; and shot it over a couple of days, edited it, and delivered it. The end result is currently showing on morning TV. It was a great crossover in our areas of corporate and sport.

We’ve also created tv ads for Dunlop tennis rackets. We do a lot of work for charities like the Saints Foundation – telling the stories of participants’ journeys.

We also do our own personal passion projects, to test out and try new concepts. One of the films we did last year told the story of a bare-knuckle boxer; the film was seen by Tom, resulting in them working with us.

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What’s your creative process in coming up with storyboards for films?

In my past life, I was an interior designer. My creative process for coming up with an idea for an interior or a film is the same process – doing some research, sitting down with a pad of paper, sketching ideas, and looking at the essence of what the problem or goal is.

Can you talk us through the tech and equipment that you use in filmmaking?

We prefer to use handheld type filming equipment; it suits the style of the types of films that we make; it’s small and compact and it makes us quite nimble and agile. We’ve got two Canon C70s that are perfect cameras for us – great for the run and gun stuff. We have all the other tools when required but let the motivation of the camera movement dictate what is the right tool rather than the other way around.

For a lot of setups we shoot two cameras on the same thing: two different focal lengths 85mm and 35mm. We’ve got great sound equipment for capturing the audio; we bought some titan tubes recently to give us different options for creative lighting.

The tech has evolved, and we’re always investing in updating our equipment, but for us, the equipment is there just to aid our process, ultimately not to take over. We try not to let tech dominate us too much.

"The tech has evolved, but for us, the equipment is there just to aid our process, ultimately not to take over. We try not to let tech dominate us too much."

How has the world of film production evolved with the introduction of streaming and social media?

We’ve always shot mainly for social media, all that’s changed for us is that there are different types of films to make for different platforms. As social media has changed, our outputs have changed to suit them to get the right engagement.

There is still the need for longer films, depending on the audience and the market. We always look to put some sort of captivating intro right at the beginning. If you start off too slow on certain types of films, then you risk losing engagement.

What have been your proudest productions?

We’ve ticked a lot of good boxes. We’ve worked with a lot of sports stars. We were lucky to work with Tyson recently; that was a bucket list moment for us because he is probably one of the most recognisable, male sportsmen in the world.

We’re working with some motorsport stars at the moment for Garmin, which is another aspect of sport that we love doing.

One of my proudest moments ever was filming the Invictus Games in 2016. It was an incredible honour to be out there interviewing the injured servicemen doing amazing things in sport.

We recently followed up with one the gold medal athletes and made a mini documentary about his journey and how he is not helping disabled athletes play sport with the aid of a wheelchair.

One of the things I love most about doing what we do as a job is interviewing people; I love getting under the skin of what their stories are. It’s not always about famous people – like the work we do with the Saints Foundation – it’s the stories of the people that have been through unbelievable things.

"One of the things I love most about doing what we do as a job is interviewing people; I love getting under the skin of what their stories are."

Matt Willsher - Director, Bullet

What do you enjoy doing outside of the realm of filmmaking?

I go and see a lot of gigs with my friends, my family, and my wife. We’re big country music fans so we go to a lot of country festivals. I also love football and many American sports (ice) Hockey being my favourite

We have two children, and we also enjoy going skiing and snowboarding in the winter as a family.

I enjoy going to the Barbell Division which is a weights gym and we also create lot of video content for them.

Which films are iconic for you?

There’s an amazing film called Life Is Beautiful. It’s an Italian film set in the Second World War. The storytelling is incredible; it’s about a dad who protects his son when they’re captured by pretending it is all a game. It’s beautiful, and it’s one of my favourite ever films.

Some other movies that are important to me are Psycho, Whiplash and The Shawshank Redemption. I’ve always been drawn to storytelling, narrative type films. I like emotive films hence why I think we like making emotive content and films that make people think about things and tell people’s stories.

As a company we also watch a lot of films with great fight scenes such as the Raid films. These give inspiration to the short films we make which tend to have great fight scene. We always love it when a new John Wick film comes out.