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15th December 2011
Two birds capture a flock of starlings
Title of film: Murmuration
Director: Liberty Smith and Sophie Windsor Clive
Production Company: Islands and Rivers
Liberty Smith and Sophie Windsor Clive's chance encounter with Murmuration

A quick flick through your resume please – are you independent filmmakers? 

Yes we are, though we both work with different organisations as well.

Liberty: I graduated in 2010 from the London College of Communication and have since been working at October Films, an independent television company making documentaries, but have also collaborated with other independent filmmakers to make short docs during this time too.

Sophie: I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2005 as a Curator – and had worked in feature film art departments for years before becoming independent and making films of my own as well as collaborating with exciting organisations such as The House of Fairytales and creating live interactive festival installations – such as High Jinx.

Is there any particular genre of film you like to make?

We are certainly instinctively drawn to documentaries, particularly poetic ones – but really our notebooks are full of ideas ranging from music videos to docs to weird  fiction pieces… however the story is best told!

Have you ever shot commercial work and does that appeal to you?

Yes, and we believe we’ve always learnt something each time; finding that being constrained by a brief can make us think harder – which can often mean more creatively.

What would be the dream project you’d both like to do?

Another, longer canoe trip would be wonderful, and we have a few projects in the wings (pun totally intended)  – so keep updated by going to our website http://www.islandsandrivers.co.uk where you can subscribe to our mailing list to be the first to know!

Two girls and a camera, do you both shoot?

 Yes! Most often it is two girls and two cameras.

 How did Murmuration come about? Wonderful handheld camera work – what kit did you use?

Thank you! Well, we began our canoe trip with a camera each – then unfortunately the batteries ran out in Sophie’s good quality camera and we were (fortunately) left with a really old basic point and shoot… we had no idea the murmuration was going to happen so we just had to use what we had! It wasn’t ideal for the quality, but having anything at all was a blessing in that moment. We knew we had witnessed and captured something really special, and knew we had to create a film with it.

We first made ‘Island’ from the footage – which is an 8-minute short that brilliantly won the Audience Award in the In Short Film Festival 2011 and was nominated for the UK Film Council Best British Short Film Award 2010. Having made Murmuration from the footage as well, it has been an amazing ride to have it go viral, and to be able to share the moment with so many people.

What was the main challenge of the shoot?

Coordinating that size of cast all at once!

Any interesting anecdotes relating to the making of Murmuration?

We never planned to go to that island – we were actually aiming to explore a different island which we’d heard had ruins on it, but we misjudged the course and ended up on the roost instead – pure serendipity!

 What work are you up to now?

We have just made Murmuration into a really special DVD; with the original Murmuration film in highest quality, plus a second film of the exclusive extended Murmuration footage with the original natural audio, and a third film made with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ own Abbi Jinks explaining all about starlings and the fantastic sight of a murmuration.

We have created beautiful bespoke artwork for the covers, which are available in limited edition runs of only 100 of each design and ten percent of all profits go to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) – the rest will fund our next film!

Credits