Brett Chapman is a Sheffield-based filmmaker dedicated to seeing our city represented in film in new and interesting ways – whether that's through documentaries like his latest, all about the brilliant Broomhall community project Unity Gym, or by using our fair city as the backdrop to a romantic drama in his short fiction film Tiny Little Rocks (which you can watch online).
His new doc about Unity Gym recently screened at the BFI in London and is coming to the screen up here on 21st January at Showroom Shorts, an incredible – and incredibly relaxed and supportive – night of short filmmaking that takes place once a month in the Showroom bar, all for free.
We caught up with Brett about what gets him excited about the world, what he loves about Sheffield and what he's working on next, ahead of the screening on the 21st.
How would you describe your work?
I work as a filmmaker from my studio here in Sheffield. It’s important to me that my work has a sort of tactile and DIY feel to it so I use a lot of handmade animations or homemade props in my work. For the most part I work as a documentary filmmaker but more recently I’ve been getting back into fiction work which has been a fun challenge and something I’m planning to continue with. I got into filmmaking from a relatively non-traditional route so I’m always interested in finding new ways to war that exist outside of the traditional models. For me filmmaking is both my job and my hobby – it more or less consumes my whole life! It’s certainly not a complaint, I feel very lucky to get to make my living doing something I’m passionate about in a city that I love.
How do you choose the themes you work with?
A lot of my early work was concerned with people’s relationships and their love lives – it’s still something I’m incredibly interested in and fascinated by but I’ve broadened out the scope of my work a little in recent times. I just want to make work about people and things that make me excited about the world – and I always want to see the north represented in cinema in new and unique ways. It’s very easy to get bogged down and become cynical about pretty much everything so when I find a story that makes me switch my perspective and feel inspired, I’m always onboard. For me making films is about taking your point of view and sharing it with the world to see if anyone shouts back and feels the same – or otherwise – so the subject matter I pick is unavoidably linked to who I am and what I care about.