03 October 2016

CreateInsights with Winstan Whitter

Winstan Whitter

During September’s meeting of CreateVoice we met Winstan Whitter, who explained how his career had evolved from a 90s skater, to film maker.

Winstan started skating in 1984, on the now infamous Southbank Skate Park. There, he met many other young skaters. When given a camera by Steve Douglas, they started to film each other instinctively with the intention of capturing the skating culture along with any tricks mastered, to then be edited into a VHS film and distributed through local skate shops. In 1991, Whitter inadvertently location scouted for a new skate film ‘Video Days’ directed by Spike Jonze and featuring Jason Lee (now more commonly known for playing the lead in My Name is Earl.)

Following on from this, Whitter continued to film and skate, stating he “trained my eye to be in the action”. The skill he developed by skating and filming created a foundation for his progression into the film industry, as he was effectively using his skateboard as a dolly. In 1996, aged 21, Whitter embarked on studying film in the evenings at Islington College, where he made his first film with friends titled: Ramble On. These films were shot on 8mm film, and then transferred to hi8. The editing was completed in an analogue approach using the first Adobe Premiere editing software.

The experience that Whitter had gathered, and his formal training at evening classes, led to him pursuing a job as a grip in a music video. Whitter employed a learn-on-the-job approach to this initial step into the film industry, gaining help from the crew in between shots, as the mechanics were significantly larger and more complicated from those he had previously encountered. Through his sociable nature and curiosity whilst working as a grip, Whitter learnt the basics about lighting from conversing with the lighting team on sets. Initially this started with lighting music videos, for artists such as Dizzee Rascal, which then spurred Whitter’s interest in cinematography. 

From there, throughout the millennial, Whitter has continued to produce campaign videos for causes which he feels passionately about. Perhaps, the most cyclical in regards to his career and well known being for the ‘Long Live Southbank’ campaign.

Whitter explained to us that “you can use film as a tool… to get answers from an establishment”. I am excited to see what other films Whitter creates in the future, and am particularly intrigued by his ongoing project about the 4 Aces Club in Dalston, as it explores the rich musical history of the area and inadvertently can be used to contrast some of the changes and gentrification that the is occurring at present in East London.

Words: Lottie Moss
Images: © Winstan Whitter

Lottie attended the monthly CreateInsights meeting for CreateVoice members in September, to check out upcoming Insights for the youth collective head to http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/c/create/  

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