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Evolving the modern design of film
Filmmaker Christopher Nicholson is pushing the envelope on how we will experience films in the future.

Filmmaker Christopher Nicholson is always searching. There seems to be a limitless fire that propels him to seek not only the story but also the innovations necessary by which to tell it best and personifies the concept that art can sometimes demand a technological breakthrough which complements the characters and events found within a film.

As he says, "it's a question of art pushing technology, not technology pushing art". This approach was self-evident in his childhood when he built his first camera at the age of seven in order to explore his love of photography and was one of the main reasons why he was accepted into the world-respected BBC training scheme on graduating with a unique specialization in visual and audio perception from Durham University, one of most-prestigious universities in the UK. Almost immediately, Nicholson began proving to himself and others that he was more than able to make his mark as a young professional. And even now, Christopher still sails on a path that he began as a very young man; one of expanding the tale and the methods of delivering it.

Experimenting with something new seems to be a part of Nicholson's DNA. While still in his twenties, he left the BBC to join ITV as a live TV director. As the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom, ITV was a bastion of tradition. At twenty-nine years old, Christopher was a good two decades the junior to his fellow directors. He confirms that it was his work there which established that a young director was in fact worth the investment. At ITV, Nicholson honed the ability to think on his feet and creatively adapt in a heart-beat to ever-changing circumstances, especially when under extreme pressure. When the uncertainties of the First Gulf War erupted in the middle of a Sunday night, ITV was the only television station broadcasting overnight in the UK. British Government dictates that the most senior channel on air at that time becomes a portal for broadcasting clear instructions to the nation in the event of an imminent attack by weapons of mass destruction. With Christopher at the helm, this tense 72-hour period became one by which all his subsequent scenarios would be measured. Comparatively, grumbling location conditions or temperamental actors seems mundane.

Nicholson is a filmmaker who often gravitates towards situations which are demanding "out of the norm." That is to say, he isn't afraid of an unusual challenge. Because of this reputation as a problem solver, SONY Digital Motion Picture Centre (DMPCE) asked Christopher to write and direct a short film that would demonstrate to professional filmmakers the quality, flexibility, and viability of the F65 camera system (the highest quality camera platform that Sony was manufacturing at the time), the SONY's CineAlta workflow, and showcase the SONY DMPCE.  The F65's stunning images were offset by its reputation as being slow, big and bulky. While Hollywood's major budget productions utilized this camera, much of the remainder of the community avoided it. The filmmaker and SONY wanted to display the true capabilities and potential of the F65 and the CineAlta workflow. Achieving this on a small budget would also prove its worthiness to the entire community, not just the "big studios." To manifest this, Nicholson took an old school perspective with high tech tools. He explains, "By approaching the project as if we were in fact shooting on film rather than on a state-of-the-art digital camera, I effectively became far more time-efficient at the shoot. The imagery created by the F65 is outstanding but the camera also has a remarkably very wide dynamic range, meaning it can capture images that are very dark as well as very light equally well. Capturing detail in the dark areas is a particular challenge for all digital cameras and in this aspect, the F65 is superb. I factored this into the lighting and set design in order to showcase the camera's excellent low light level performance.  By being extremely efficient, I was also able to limit the actual cash-spend for this project." The finished product [Alex the Vampire] was received with overwhelming enthusiasm. Filmed at London's iconic Pinewood Studios UK with the intention of redefining the community's view of SONY's most cutting edge film technology, the production provided Christopher with yet another way to impact the film community.

Not satisfied with what he has already achieved, Christopher is presently working on a number of films which seek to forever change the way audiences will experience and interact with films. BlindSight is a project still in the developmental stage. Technical tests have already been conducted with positive results which indicate this avant-garde process will soon be available. BlindSight combines linear and non-linear timelines together in an interconnected path created by vision, sound, and editing, allowing the audience to perceive the narrative as a direct experience. This places the viewer in a first-person perspective of the protagonist with an emotional connection like none before. The story is a path of self-discovery and by the very nature of the device at the core of the film, the audience will become active rather than passive participants in this journey. BlindSight offers the ability to completely recalibrate the viewing experience.

Nicholson is also developing Mules. In this series, five apparently disconnected characters, living five different lives, agree to take an impossible risk for five different reasons.  Each episode takes the audience through a terrifying, heart-pounding, high-intensity journey from airport to airport, travelling side by side with a drug mule and their secret. Viewers are invited to make choices just as the characters would; ones which alter the storyline and experience. For those who prefer to simply watch, Christopher is also in the R & D stages of Augment Reality Theatre (ART). ART mixes AR, XR, holograms and 3D projections, is a location based mis-en-scene of a number of plays to be toured around US cities and could also be experienced via online platforms. Through Nicholson's work with ART, seeing your favourite play or concert may be evolving in the same manner as film.

The goal of any narrative storyteller is the audience's suspension of disbelief and the limitations have always been that of placing the audience in a perspective that allows them to be most receptive to what the artist has created. Christopher Nicholson has not been resigned to simply creating great stories but also to help audiences make the most intimate connection with both the narrative and perhaps more importantly, the characters inhabiting this narrative. His work might have seemed like Science Fiction a decade or two ago but now it is most accurately labelled progressive. Continually recognized by the industry and the public, including a personal commendation from His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Nicholson seemed fixated on making his greatest achievement that of the person who set the tone for the next iteration of film and entertainment. 

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