Pip Heywood: filming without a fuss

Local filmmaker Pip Heywood on a life in TV documentaries, and the virtues of small cameras.

On Friday 15 March Pip Heywood presents Frame By Frame, a selection of very personal Stroud stories on film. For thirty-five years Pip has been a renowned television documentary editor, working with Alan Bennett, David Attenborough, Paul Merton and Ben Okri to name a few.

Pip Heywood

Pip Heywood

“These were really interesting times, but to me equally significant were those whose names you won’t know, but who found the courage to tell heartfelt stories in front of a camera: about living with anorexia into later life; about the firemen who came out alive from the Twin Towers in New York.”

Pip’s break into filmmaking was incidental, as befits his style.

After finishing film school at Guildford in 1976 Pip offered his editing skills to a college friend who’d been working in India as an assistant cameraman. “Having only ever edited a 15-minute film at Guildford we had made Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy, three films about Tibetan culture and Buddhism which were screened around the world, and continue to be so to this day.

“As a television film editor the increasing emphasis has been to quicken and condense material through the edit, yet this more contemplative stillness has sat somewhere on my shoulder.”

Small cameras are unobtrusive and unthreatening. This can make a difference if you are filming people with difficult stories to tell
Sculptor Andrew Wood

Sculptor Andrew Wood

In Frame By Frame Pip presents his recent work about Stroud residents, their lives, homes and landscapes, and all in his warm and naturalistic style.

It includes Pip’s first foray into handheld filmmaking - The Car Show - a theatre in a car with an audience of three in the backseat.

“I’ll also be showing films about my close friend the ceramic sculptor, Andrew Wood; about Stroud Station where the footbridge can be a massive challenge for people with mobility issues…

“…about Robert Race who makes humorous and intricate automatons; and of the commitment of carers whose nearest and dearest are living with dementia.

Robert Race’s automatons

Robert Race’s automatons

“I’ll also show two ‘landscape’ films – greatly inspired by my dad, Oliver, who was a local landscape painter.

My main concern with a documentary is to be true to the story – the tools I use are simply there to make that happen, without a fuss.

What I like about really small cameras is that they are unobtrusive and unthreatening. This can make a difference if you are filming people with difficult stories to tell.”

PIP HEYWOOD: FRAME BY FRAME - Friday 15 March, 8pm - Lansdown Hall

Andy Freedman