S&J Productions is the combined work of two men, Simon Cresswell (The S) and James Tilling (The J), who founded the company in 1994. Both have degrees related to film production, and work closely within the production side of the film industry. Using top of the range HD video cameras, and Apple Mac editing software, we make a variety of audio/visual productions. From Short Films to Wedding Videos to Social Functions & Corporate Videos, we are an independent video company who will attempt to put our hands to filming almost anything.
Both men, who grew up on a diet of 1980′s action movie excess (including many Arnold Schwarzenegger films), were first introduced to a video camera in the summer of 1990 at Sallyport in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Here their Grandad first let them have a go with his then brand new video camera (a basic family holiday camera he’d bought in a moment of madness, and would use on maybe one other occasion). They instantly filmed the surrounding area, each other mucking around, and then attempted some stop motion animation for good measure. The passion for video creativity was born, and the next few years consisted of the two boys trying to re-create scenes from their favourite action movies in the back garden. This led to what’s generally regarded as their first film, ‘Low budget Doctor Who’. It was a parody of the Sylvester McCoy ‘Doctor Who’s’ they had grown up watching in the 1980′s as kids, but with a twist, the people making the film had no budget and therefore had to improvise…….Daleks were action man tanks, and the bad guy simply wore a motorcycle helmet! What followed after this film was many a parody of every film the pair could think of, Reservoir Dogs, Blues Brothers, Terminator, James Bond, Die Hard, each with an added comedic twist.
Comedy it seemed came naturally to the pair, who had an expandable array of costumes and props on permanent loan from their grandparents. Over the next few years they worked their way through an array of video cameras and progressed in technical terms at a dramatic rate. On the early films there was no editing, they were shoot in order and the camera was just stopped and started for each scene. You would have a complete film by the end of the shoot, but the poor camera equipment meant that any mistakes during filming had to be left in and covered up with acting, as correcting them involved ejecting the tape and taking it inside to rewind it to the previous scene! In every intense shoot, James and Simon would play all the characters in their over complex shorts, changing costume back and forth for each separate take and character. In ‘Screech’, a Scream parody, the pair recorded outside their grandparents garden for the first time filming part of the story in a nearby woods.
Music in the early films was just as complicated as everything else, with the pair using a stereo and pressing play at the start of a scene to create the appropriate score for the scene they were shooting. If you look closely at their early films, you can see the stereo in shot and even being pressed at the right moment (occasionally playing the wrong side of the tape, and then acting the scene as if the music was correct!). As time progressed the pair eventually entered into the computer age and started editing their films on a cheap editing program. This meant no more stopping and starting the camera, and having a stereo for sound. By 2004 after ten years of cheap imitations and over-use of the same locations, they finally started shooting their films on DV and editing on better equipment. By now the films were pre-planned down to the detail and often scripts were made (though not always followed, as a large part of S&J is improvising to get a more edgy and unexpected feel) to make things easier to shoot. Farncombe, Surrey is still there principal shooting location but bits of films have been shoot as far afield as Southampton and deep in the heart of Surrey’s vast Woodland.
By starting from a young age the pair have single handily taught themselves how to make (and not to make) films. Both Simon and James have Film based degree’s under their belts and are constantly pushing into new areas with their small company. In 2006 they made their first music video and in 2007 they had several of their films shown at public screenings. Now the company has expanded into weddings, corporate video and beyond. Not bad for two people who started in a back garden with the family video camera…….