City filmmaker up for industry award for surreal video

HE’S an Edinburgh filmmaker with ambitions of a glittering career in the world of pop music videos.

Tuesday, 18th October 2011, 1:15 pm

And now Ninian Doff’s star is soaring after being shortlisted for a prestigious award at the “Baftas of the industry”.

Next month the 29-year-old from the Meadows will walk the red carpet at the UK Music Video Awards in London to discover if his experimental black and white film has scooped the gong for best video in the budget indie/rock category.

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The director’s nomination features an assortment of crows digitally edited with human arms and forms the video for Staring Out The Window by Baltimore band the Fulton Lights.

The awards ceremony boasts an enviable line-up of directors – including those who have worked for international artists such as Adele, Kylie Minogue and Depeche Mode – and could serve to catapult Mr Doff into the top ranks of the industry.

Despite graduating with a degree in Film and Theatre Studies from Bristol University, the former George Heriot’s pupil credits his talent as a director to a youth film training scheme in the city.

He said: “I got into this through a group in Edinburgh called Scottish Kids Are Making Movies, which was run by the Filmhouse. I joined it when I was about 12. They gave us all cameras and press passes to the film festival and I learned everything there – more than I did later at university.”

After relocating to London five years ago, Mr Doff worked in editing and graphics for an advertising agency before quitting last year to concentrate on freelancing for music projects.

He created his recent offering, which he called a “labour of love”, over a four-month period after noticing the peculiar gait exhibited by crows in a London park.

“The music video is specifically about crows because they walk differently to other birds,” he said.

“They walk as if they have shoulder blades and they always seem so angry so thought it would be amazing to put arms on them.”

These arms belong to the musicians from Fulton Lights, for whom he was commissioned to direct the video, and features singing, dancing and percussion-playing crows.

The film was projected on to a 100ft by 100ft wall in Oakland earlier this month as part of The Great Wall of Oakland festival in the United States.

Of the acclaim his work has earned, Mr Doff said: “It’s great that it’s getting attention because I was sat in front of a computer gluing little digital arms on crows for a long, long time.”

“It’s a zero-budget film with borrowed equipment but if I could somehow bill my time to a mystical person then I’m sure it would be a hugely expensive video because it took four or five months of hard work.”

The up-and-coming director said he was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the best in the industry and plans to take advantage of any opportunities that come his way.

“The UK Music Video Awards is super-prestigious. It’s the main one really, the Baftas of music videos. I’ve not quite got my head around it yet.

“I just want to continue making videos. People have been in touch since doing this one, so I’m playing it by ear.”