Compulsory’s celluloid culture with Kodak supports better filmmaking
“We genuinely believe that shooting on celluloid will make you a better filmmaker,” says Chris Toumazou, a founding partner and head of film at London entertainment company Compulsory. “Analog production using film, sustained by a long and symbiotic relationship with Kodak, has helped us to foster the storytelling skills of many up-and-coming directors, whilst also helping to differentiate the look-and-feel of the varied productions we make.”
What started out in 2013 as a means to find gainful employment – with Toumazou initially producing promos out of his suburban bedroom, alongside university friends and company partners Kadri Mahmoud and Kiran Mandla – Compulsory has flourished into a thriving incubator for directors shooting eye-catching music videos for artists such as Arlo Parks, The 1975, Stormzy and Madonna, and brand work for multinationals including Gucci, Vogue, Moncler Adidas and Burberry.
Compulsory regularly picks up UKMVA and Creative Circle Awards, and its short films have also earned accolades on the festival circuit. A prime example is the unsettling Play It Safe (2021), directed by Mitch Kalisa and shot on 16mm by DP Jaime Ackroyd, which the garnered the prestigious 2021 Grand Jury and Audience Awards at SXSW and a BIFA nomination.
“Compulsory was born out of our desire as media graduates to make films, together with the frustration that there were simply not many jobs around for people like us back then,” Toumazou recalls. “It was also established at a time when there was a mass migration towards digital, particularly at entry-level using DSLRs where most of the work looked the same.
“Kadri, Kiran and I wanted to create a space where we could work with people we liked personally with an emphasis on nurturing talent. But we wanted to make things that felt honest, real and different, and for us that meant celluloid film. We started out shooting low-budget music videos on 16mm, loading and directing ourselves, learning how to do a lot with very little, and hoping we would get taken seriously.
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