Untold Creators (to Traitors): Ross Carson, Just Upstairs

Meet the talented people who help us tell UNTOLD stories

Ross is one of UNTOLD's hugely talented DOPs and a man who understands a huge amount about working under pressure. Think the round table, cloaked meetings in the tower, and being able to make quick decisions when everything is happening at once. Yes, Ross also starred in Season 2 of the BBC's The Traitors, along with his mum Diane.

Tell us who you are about the journey that got you where you are today.
I'm Ross Carson, a video director and editor, and founder of production company, Just Upstairs. My journey has been an unorthodox one. I come from a family full of actors, so have been around performance my whole life, but I studied Music Production at university. Throughout and after university I was making little music videos and skate videos for friends, nurturing some kind of skill in the craft but really just having fun with it. I then started to take it more seriously and joined a video production company in Leeds where they taught me a lot in a short space of time. After two years there I start up my own video production company and now make brand films for global companies. Alongside this I write and direct short films – one day I want to direct my own narrative feature film.

What do you enjoy about commercial film work as opposed to creative work – and vice versa?
I love commercial work because it challenges you to work towards something that has different goals and has to target different demographics. It’s a combination of putting your strategic marketing hat on and also your creative filmmaker hat. When the magic happens there is a real blend of the two. With commercial I think you have to be bold to turn heads – there's no point repeating what has come before. The market forever changes which is why the marketing has to also.

Which other film makers have inspired your work?
Apart from the obvious (Tarantino, Spielberg, Scorsese, Kubrick etc…), my style has a more bizarre elements to it, taking inspiration from Wes Anderson, the Coen brothers, Damien Chazelle and others. I like films that take a seemingly meaningless subject and bring life into it. My writing style borders on the comedic mixed with dramatic. I also love commercial directors like Spike Jonze and Oscar Hudson for their incredibly creative flair.

Which non-film-making creatives do you look to for inspiration?

I find inspiration in many things around me. The obvious ones, like the painter Rembrandt and his extraordinary use of light. Andy Warhol for his incredible vibrancy. The works of Roald Dahl and his boundless imagination. Bernard Herrmann and Hans Zimmer's unmatched ability to redefine film composition. The thing I find the most inspirational though are the people around me and the creativity that they bring in daily life without knowing it. Everyone has a story and a past, everyone's characteristics and idiosyncrasies define them, and it’s those things that I take inspiration from when coming up with characters or shot choices in my own work.

How do you bring a creative approach to commercial work?

Approach it in the same way as my creative work. I think about the fundamentals of what makes great film and tells a better story. Marry that with believable performance, and as a director you’ve done your job. Let the marketers repurpose it for however they see fit, but if the fundamentals are there then you’ve made a great piece of commercial work regardless.

What do you love about film as a medium for storytelling? As compared to more traditional storytelling mediums like writing, music etc…
Film is a medium that combines every other piece of artistic expression and puts them into a single thing. I don’t think there is anything else quite like it. It’s also a medium where you have to collaborate with talented and technical people if it's to be up to a certain standard. Anyone can make a great video that has a fantastic story by themselves, but you need a team around you to create film.

What recent jobs have stood out for you and why?

Recently I worked on an Adidas job where I was the lead editor for a couple of episodes of their Fifa Women’s World Cup campaign. The creatives behind it were passionate about what they were doing, and if between us we thought a creative idea had legs then they would fight tooth and nail for it. It was amazing to see people almost put their jobs on the line to create something that stood out from every other piece of sports content out there, and the end result speaks for itself!