When filmmaker Daniel Simpkins was loaned some camera equipment for a few days, he had no idea he would use it to make an award-winning film. Yet a few months later, he walked away with the Grand Prize in Canon's new UK short film competition, Stories in Motion.
"I was amazed to win it, because a lot of talented filmmakers had entered," says 26-year-old Daniel. "I thought it was a nice little film, but I never expected it to win anything."
Daniel's film Farm Life is a beautifully-made documentary – just 90 seconds long – about a young farmer named Jeff. Thoughtful, understated and shot in a letterbox format, it consists of still and carefully-composed shots, with only Jeff's voiceover and ambient sounds from the farm on the soundtrack. The inspiration to make it came from Daniel's own family background.
Born and raised in southwest England, he is very familiar with rural life and Jeff is actually Daniel's cousin. "If you grow up in the country, it never leaves you," he says. Interested in film and media since his teens, Daniel went on to study filmmaking at Falmouth University where his passion for documentaries was born. "I became fascinated by making them, and realised the real world is as interesting as fiction," he adds.
After graduating, Daniel worked briefly as a film production runner before starting his current job as a technician for a camera rental company. His employer encourages him to borrow cameras and develop equipment expertise by doing his own filmmaking, which is how Farm Life came into being.