BA (Hons) Film Production alumnus, Joel Honeywell, works as a freelance Focus Puller.
Since graduating, he has worked on various films and TV series, most recently having worked with Michael Caine. He gives an insight into working in ‘the most expensive guessing game’.
Can you explain a little about what you do?
“My role’s primary responsibility is ‘Pull Focus’, which is maintaining image sharpness on whatever subject or action is being filmed. This is done by changing the lens focus distance in correspondence to a moving subject’s physical distance from the focal plane. You often have one rehearsal, then you get one chance and it is committed to screen – if it is out of focus, you are out of the job. The job is often regarded as the most expensive guessing game in the world and the hardest job on the film set.
“Other responsibilities consist of managing a department of camera technicians, working along side the DOP, Camera Operator and Director, the maintenance and upkeep of all camera equipment and accessories, as well as configuring the camera and its accessories in multiple ways for different setups. This information has to also be relayed across a number of film departments, to know what the Director and Cinematographer are trying to shoot.”
Tell us, briefly, about your career journey since you graduated from Arts University Bournemouth?
“Following my Graduation, I started seeking work as a camera trainee to take the traditional route of climbing the ranks in the camera. It has been harder being an ethnic minority in a white male dominated industry. However, I’m currently now at a good stage of my career as a camera assistant.
I have trained and worked with some of the film industries top technicians on projects such as, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, King Arthur, Sense8 etc, with extensive experience with Film and Digital. I am now in the process of making the switch to Director of photography.”
Can you tell us a little about the work you’re most proud to have produced so far?
“The stuff I started shooting myself is what I’m most proud of, such as music promos, art films, shorts. These are my pride and joy and will carry my career. Making and doing things for major productions feels great at the start; mingling with the stars, seeing cool film sets, all the camera and lighting toys. However it isn’t what I want to do in the long run. I don’t want to be an assistant on the big shoots, helping the great cinematographers make films. I want their job!
“I want to being in charge of photographing the images for those movies and working with those directors and actors.”
What’s your one piece of advice for the next generation of creatives?
“My advice is simple. Jump. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Go take initiative and get out there. Set yourself realistic goals and aims. Nothing happens immediately, things take time. Get up and move to where the work is! Network. Show people what you do! There is no right or wrong way to make it to where you want to be.”