SMN Film - Shropshire

Guest Post: Capturing Beauty in Shropshire


Tom Middleton from SMN Film describes how his work is influenced by the rural landscape.

Chelsea’s thoughts: You know I love to promote my local area and  I’m just in love with their filming – one day I’ll get the pleasure of working with them I hope, enjoy their guest blog. 

I don’t consider myself as any kind of wordsmith, and describing what we do has always been such a difficult thing for me to put into words but here goes: SMN Film is a production studio specializing in capturing unscripted natural moments for clients outside the city.

But that still doesn’t do it, so let me explain a little further…

Before I can go into more detail about what we do, I have to say a little about how we got here, and why we do it.

Like Chelsea, both my wife and I come from creative backgrounds and careers in London working with large multinational organisations. It was only after finding out we were to become parents for the first time, that we realized that we didn’t want to raise our children in the urban environment, and opted to escape the rat race. Initially we moved to the West Coast of Ireland, which is about as polar opposite as you can get from the hustle and bustle of Central London. But after 18 months of several short lived jobs and moving around, we moved to Shropshire to be near Miche’s parents.

This was the best decision we have ever made.  Having grown up in London, (which has its merits), then having lived in complete isolation on the rugged coast of Ireland, Shropshire felt like the best of both. Shropshire has a very unique quality quite unlike any English County I have been to. There is a kind of richness to the landscape that I have never felt in any other part of the UK, and it is exactly this that has influenced, and inspired our professional careers as filmmakers. I feel like I have been accepted by the landscape and it feels like home.

Around 3 years ago we formed a Social Enterprise company (Shropshire Media Network), as a way for us to meet and work with like-minded creative people in the area.

At the time I also lectured for local colleges and Uni’s and found a great amount of satisfaction from nurturing real creative passion, which is a rarity for young people in a rural area as the majority move to big cities to develop their careers.

After a year or so, we began to specialize in producing film content that had a distinctly rural focus, with a cinematic style. This was the area we felt we could really excel and felt more confident than any other of the creative areas that we had worked in.

For me, the difference between London and Shropshire is this:

In a metropolis that spans 30 miles across, I doubt if anyone can say they know all of London inside out. I do however know parts of central and North London like the back of my hand, which makes me feel proud to call it my ‘home’ town.

In Shropshire we take our two young boys out every day for a walk, a bike ride or a swim in the local river or lake. We can go over the exact same path a million times, but every time it feels and looks different. We see something new, discover a little plant, or animal or capture a moment with our cameras that would never be able to capture again in the same way. It is because of this that we feel exceptionally blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

It is this crossover of our personal lives into our work that makes us feel like we don’t actually have jobs at all, but are simply packaging a collection of what inspires us into a narrative, that promotes a lifestyle, that ultimately promotes a brand.

Filmmaking to me is as much about capturing a moment as it is telling a story.

It doesn’t matter what camera you use, but to have the vision to be able to capture something with a unique perspective, comes from us as people not the tools we use.

It does help of course to have a variety of tech to play with!

The last five years of living in Shropshire has shaped us in such a huge way as a family, and as professionals and I wouldn’t change a second of it. It’s amazing how much we have learnt both creatively and about our surroundings and I cant wait to see what the next five years has in store for us.

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