Georgie Clarke is a self-shooting director, DP and editor who loves nothing more than dunking herself in any available lake, river or sea. The obvious choice for Sister Motion’s surf-centric film for International Women’s Day, here she talks about her love of a challenge – the wetter the better!
“I’ve been exposed to discrimination in hiring a couple of times, and I also find it hard to find female talent myself to assist me or to work with. ”
Whereabouts are you based?
I live on the Thames near Reading on a big Dutch barge with my wife and our twin daughters. My dad by trade was a boatbuilder so I’ve grown up around boats and I’ve always been by the water. Our barge is over 100 years old, and I love her quirkiness. We found her in Nottingham and hired a skipper to bring her down through the North Sea and up to Tower Bridge. I then skippered her up the Thames. With only a few inches to spare on some of the locks, it was a bit hair-raising!
While packing what seemed like 100 kit bags for the Sister Motion shoot, you quipped that you should have been an illustrator because then you’d only need a pencil. Is there any truth in that, or has film always had your heart?
I always wanted to go into film. When it came to picking universities I was looking at film and photography, and – probably because of its location on the water – I decided to go to Falmouth, which only did photography at the time. So I thought I’d do photography for three years and then go into film and approach it in a slightly different way.
Is that what happened?
Well, any opportunity that’s come my way – even if it’s really scared the pants off me – I’ve tried to just say yes to. During university I had the opportunity to work with a photographer who was shooting negative film. I was like, “I’m never going to be an assistant, because I’m too nervous to load film.” He shot with a speed winder, so he would shoot 12 frames really, really quickly. And after a weekend with him, it broke me of this fear of not being able to do it. I then worked as his assistant in London, so I ended up staying in a stills world and ran with that when I went freelance.
So how did you move from that stills world to shooting motion?
My stills work set me up into quite a good position to transition with clients who were facing a sudden demand for motion work. Their thinking was that they’d already spent all this production money for the stills set, so it made sense for them to capture motion at the same time. At the very beginning, clients didn’t necessarily know how they would use the content, but they knew that they needed a moving element for digital, websites and social. My stills background not only helped me in making connections to get the work, but also meant I could work quickly and nimbly with the stills photographers and their crews.
“I’ve always been a fish. I could probably swim before I could walk, and I’ve always wanted to be underwater from a really young age. If there was ever a shoot where I had an option of chucking myself in the water I would be pushing for that with the client.”
Is it safe to say an aquatic theme runs through your life?
I’ve always been a fish. I could probably swim before I could walk, and I’ve always wanted to be underwater from a really young age. In work I didn’t pursue an underwater specialism, but if there was ever a shoot where I had an option of chucking myself in the water or being in the water with a model, I would be pushing for that with the client. It’s something that I would always want to do more of.
Why do you think that is?
While I can definitely hold my own in the water, I like the technical challenge and how you can’t control everything. There are some elements where you just have to go with it. There’s a part of my brain that just wants everything to be perfect – the perfect light, the perfect location. But the water makes me a bit more zen. I have to relax into it and be in more of a flow state.
Are you looking to do more shooting that involves water?
I’m definitely interested in doing more water-based subject matter. I’d really like to be doing more outdoors and perhaps more content around what mental health benefits people get from being outside. I’d love to carve a bit more time for projects that I’m really interested in from a storytelling perspective – or an excuse to get wet basically!
So what are some of the benefits you’ve personally observed or experienced?
It’s that flow state. Because I know how controlling I can be, it’s almost like I’ve got to make it quite difficult where I don’t have that level of control. And perhaps that gives me a moment where I can check out of my hardcore critical self. I think what I love about being in the water is you’ve really got to be at one with it, not fighting mother nature but just flowing with it. I want things that make me super-present because there’s a part of my brain that’s so forward-thinking. It’s why I enjoy cold showers and cold-water swimming – they kind of shut down my overactive mind.
How do you cope with being in a restrictive wetsuit holding a heavy, fragile piece of machinery?
It’s hard but I guess that’s when we have the opportunity to grow and push ourselves. There are some awesome moments, and there are so many variables stopping you from getting them. So you always want to go back out and do better. It’s like what I love about yoga – how they call it a “practice” that you are “practicing”. So you get incrementally better and better, and that’s perhaps what drives you forward. Problem solving is something I really enjoy. I’m good with going with the flow and making the best of challenging circumstances. That’s probably what I think I excel at – even though it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable! The most valuable moments, people and progress of my life have been the result of some of my most uncomfortable, scary and challenging choices.
What attracted you to Sister Motion?
I don’t think when I was assisting I knew many other female assistants; I felt I was in a man’s world. I’ve been exposed to discrimination in hiring a couple of times, and I also find it hard to find female talent myself to assist me or to work with. So I was drawn from a diversity and inclusion perspective. I was interested in encouraging women or any under-represented talent to be in these roles, being exposed to more diverse crew in the industry, and being in a more collaborative and supportive space.