Lewis Gets Inked: Q&A with Rollo Hollins

Meet the creatives: Rollo Hollins

Lewis Gets Inked: Q&A with Rollo Hollins

A unique pool of talent has been brought together to create Epson’s new ambitious film, Lewis Gets Inked. Over forty people shared their expertise on the day including a special effects team, stunt supervisors, a movement specialist, lighting technicians, photographers, and more. We caught up with the people working behind the scenes to discover what they loved about the shoot, how they got started in their dream career and what other interesting projects they’ve been involved with.

Rollo Hollins, director, Citizen Films

London born Rollo has worked between the UK and the US shooting a range of award-winning TV, film and commercial productions. Previously in the role of director of photography, he has moved into directing, combining his acute visual sense and strong storytelling abilities. He sees projects through from conception to completion, for brands such as Nike, Barclays and the V&A. 

What role did you play in making this film?

Citizen Films has a history of working on films for Epson. The idea for this project had been around for a while in various forms. We were asked to take a look at how we could put it together. Part of the job is to take an idea and make it practical, real and flesh it out. That’s where most of the responsibility lies.

It’s finding the best people to work with: the camera, special effects, production and the props team. Everyone has to be at the top of their game to make it actually work on the day. We were very limited on time with Lewis Hamilton, so a big part of the job was to have sure everyone was working one step ahead of themselves.  

What have you most enjoyed about making this film?

We’d previously done a film with Lewis Hamilton for Epson, and we knew that he was incredible to work with. He’s very focussed and understands what goes on around him, so it was fun to work with him on this project. It was a really fun shoot too; it’s not often that you get to put together so many fun effects.  

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

There are many different strands to it. The job is to take ideas that are on paper and make them work on screen. It’s not always clear how that will work, and I think it takes everyone on the project to figure out how that gets translated. Managing that is a really fun thing to do. And to do it with a sense of visual style; to pull off something that is visually really appealing, rather than just content. It’s a really difficult challenge.

It’s very hard to call it a job. This is a commercial project, so you have to deliver for the client. I love working with Epson and we always have a really good rapport about how to make things happen. That’s not always the case, but that’s just a part of the job. I also make narrative film work, and you have an emotional stake in those projects, which can be a challenge, but it’s great too. There’s not much that I don’t love really. 

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

It’s the challenge of accomplishing things – that’s what I’m proud of. This project is a massive technical challenge. You hark back to those things. They’re the accomplishment. I’ve also made more emotionally focused, narrative work, which can be very challenging – but also the reason I became I director. 

How did you get your first break into the industry?

I started work experience when I was really young, about 15 or 16. I went back to work for one of those companies for about six months after college. The idea was that I was meant to go to university afterwards, but that never happened. My neighbour happened to be a director of photography so I apprenticed for him from the age of about 18 to 23. He essentially taught me everything I know. I got my big break after that. For about eight years I worked as a director of photography before moving into directing. 

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in the creative industry?

On my first job I worked in an editing suite and there were different directors in every day. I would ask every director how they got their job and each would give me a completely different story. There’s not one route. You’ve just got to do it and see what happens.

A really good bit of advice I heard was, ‘if you want to do something you will end up doing it’. If you want to make a feature film, you will end up making a feature film. There’s nothing to stop you doing anything. If it’s going to be any good, if people are going to watch it, if you’re going to like it - that comes down to your talent and luck. It’s not really a job. You have to take it on as a life choice and do it seven days a week, and if it works out, it works out.

I think you have to be confident in your taste; it’s a different thing from a technical point of view. That’s the only thing that differentiates you from anyone else. You can have all the experience, but people are only going to hire you for your taste and if they like what you make. Essentially, that’s all you’re there to spearhead. You’ve got to be really confident and bullheaded enough to see things through. You’ve got to know yourself, and really trust what you want. It’s not going to be perfect for years. After a few years it might start to make sense to you, but the only way you’re going to get through it, is to have a really singular vision of what you want to make. And then, eventually, it’ll start to make sense on screen.

Follow the link to watch the full video: http://www.epson.co.uk/lewisgetsinked