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Talking Freelancing and Viral Videos With a Multi-Award Winning Filmmaker

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In our case study series we talk to world class experts using WPZOOM themes to level up their businesses. For this instalment I’m very excited to share my conversation with Danny Cooke.

Danny is a filmmaker, director and editor who has won multiple awards, racked up millions of views and worked with a host of prestigious clients. Danny works as a freelancer from his base in Devon, South West UK.

Danny’s website uses our Inspiro theme to great effect, showing off his video content beautifully. The full-screen video backgrounds look especially great.

I had the opportunity to talk with Danny; our conversation is below in full:

WPZ: How did you get started as a filmmaker? Where did that passion come from?

Danny: Filmmaking has always been my passion. I started in my teens creating Machinima (Machine-Cinema) this taught me the fundamentals of editing. I then invested in a very basic entry level camera and started making shorts. Eventually I did some local paid jobs and built up a portfolio which helped me get bigger and bigger clients.

WPZ: You’ve worked with some incredible clients and produced a ton of beautiful films. What’s been your favourite project to work on and what’s the story behind it?

Danny: By far my favourite project was my very first Vimeo Staff Pick and commercial project. Before I did filmmaking as a career, I was a Computer Engineer and used to do callouts, I went to a job only to discover the wonderful talents of signwriter David A. Smith and his studio. – his work blew me away and I asked him if he was interested in me making a short documentary about him. In my mind I could make this film really work and my ‘David A. Smith Sign Artist’ documentary was born.

WPZ: Your film Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl “went viral” and has been seen 14+ million times. How did you end up Pripyat making a viral film?

Danny: I experimented with UAV’s and created a few shorts. This caught the attention of my filmmaking inspirations and friend Jonathan Partridge, who was shooting in Chernobyl for CBS News. This lead onto Michael Gavshon a producer and director at CBS’ 60 Minutes commissioning me to join them on their adventure. My job was to capture Chernobyl in a different perspective – It was an amazing and eye opening experience!

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WPZ: You use the Inspiro theme on your site to show off your work and it looks great! How has running the theme improved your business?

Danny: I spent days trying to find a theme that would show off my work in the best possible light. Inspiro has a simple yet elegant look with beautiful typography which works wonders for vivid screenshots and embedded videos.

WPZOOM’s Inspiro adds that extra bit of professionalism and helps my work portfolio thrive to new and existing clients.

WPZ: What advice would you give to filmmakers starting out?

Danny: Most of my commercial work comes through my website and portfolio. If you are starting out, keep making films for yourself. Aim to build a strong and well curated portfolio and eventually, work starts looking for you!

That last point is especially poignant for all freelancers, not just filmmakers. Do great work and the clients will come looking.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Danny.

If you want to keep up to date with him then check out his site, see his Vimeo channel or follow @DannyCooke on Twitter.

This interview has been edited and stylised for editorial clarity.

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