Charlie “Two Cute Dogs” Kirk – A Documentary

2011.09.21

Charlie “Two Cute Dogs” Kirk is a 37 year old oxbridge educated Englishman who has been living in Japan for the last 9 years. He has been taking photographs for about 2 years and has been reasonably happy with some of his pictures for about the last year. He recently quit his job as an obscenely well paid lawyer to take a shortish sabbatical in order to scare more people with his flash.

A few months ago I had just finished a fiction short film project and was talking to a friend about what I wanted to do next. Film making had been a logical progression from my photography work and I had decided I wanted to make a short documentary film, but about what?

The friend I was talking to suggested making a documentary on Charlie, a mutual friend of ours who was a photographer we had become friends with in the previous 6 months or so.
At first I didn’t really like the idea, but as we talked more and I thought about Charlie’s personality, his style of street photography and his outspoken and controversial views it began to make sense.

When I first approached Charlie about the idea he was a little reticent, but after seeing my other work and a lot of convincing over many beers he agreed. Initially with some outrageous conditions that then took further “negotiation” to clarify, finally an agreement was reached (that I would have complete and total editorial control and he would just have to damn well live with it).
And so, I began filming him on the street, in bars and at his home.

The short documentary above is the result of that process, one that has at times not been entirely pleasant I might add ;-)

Charlie had several understandable concerns throughout filming:- that the piece would be a character assassination hatchet job designed to paint him in the worst possible light, that by agreeing to it people would assume it was his idea and a blatant attempt at self promotion from someone who hasn’t been shooting for that long and, most amusingly, that he would look fat.

I hope the piece does none of those things, I hope it is an amusing but honest look at Charlie and his style of street photography.

It was never intended to be a feature length documentary and as such leaves many questions that I’m sure I could have asked unanswered, it was always intended to be a short look at someone whose photography I like and who is an amusing and interesting character.

I hope you enjoy it, and frankly f%^k what Charlie thinks ! ;-)

See Charlie’s work:-
flickr.com/photos/charlie_kirk/

Music Credits:-

“Stabing”
Fleck e.s.c.
soundcloud.com/fleck

“My Cow Never Loved Elvis”
Decipher/Uchujin/Adrian Storey

“Kawagoe”
DJ Griffin
icompositions.com/artists/DJGRIFFIN

“Norleans Lovas”
Jeris
ccmixter.org/people/VJ_Memes
(used under Creative Commons Attribution share alike 3.0 licence)

Special Thanks to:-
Franck Collin & Danny Griffin
Clemens Schwaighofer, Damon Coulter and Sean Lotman

The utterly unnecessary technical information for those who may be interested:-
Shot on a 5DmkII, with a Sigma 20mm 1.8, Canon 24-70mm 2.8 and Canon 50mm 1.4
Audio recorded with a Rode video mic pro and a Zoom H1
Edited in Premiere Pro and After Effects (gotta love warp stabiliser!) on a Mac Book Pro.


 

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30 comments

  1. Nicely done.

    Matt, September 21, 2011
  2. Firstly, I’m a dick for leaving a comment on the Trailer blog entry and not this one, after watching the full feature.
    Secondly, I made a generic comment on my last post that I thought I should clarify – on that I agree with a lot of what Charlie said regarding shooting on film and that its a more honest approach (I would indeed argue that there is a certain amount of alchemy, nay, mystery to shooting film that in comparison to the 0’s and 1’s of digital), but that bun fight aside, my disagreements were only with regard to aesthetics (I’m a fan of bokeh, what can I say?).
    On reflection, my previous post seemed a bit half arsed, so apologies for that.
    Everything else I said though still stands.
    N.B. There’s nothing wrong in wearing the same 5 or 6 t-shirts…

    Chris Blackhurst, September 22, 2011
  3. great work.. did you shoot it with a dslr?

    Tony, September 22, 2011
  4. Think its the best thing you’ve done. Cracking stuff.

    Jon, September 22, 2011
  5. I really enjoyed this documentary about you and your great work Charlie. I love your vision and wit.

    All the best

    Zeno

    Zeno Watson, September 22, 2011
  6. Charlie, you are not such a dick (as you say you are) after all!

    Joris Ruigewaard, September 22, 2011
  7. Already a legend. Fucking amazing. Great movie, great sound, great photographer (character). Keeep on doing what you do. Greetings from Germany …Leitz Camera forever..

    Florian B., September 22, 2011
  8. Good work Adrian. Solidly done, well edited, and just long enough. One thing that I didn’t like was the font of the questions. But the other 99% of the effort needs to be congratulated on. Hope all is well, Vitek

    Vitek, September 22, 2011
  9. I never understood the style until watching this documentary. Pure Genius! You come to Florida, give me a shout; we’ll have a beer!
    Jim

    Jim Cox, September 22, 2011
  10. Kind of funny what a small world it is. I bumped into Charlie on the streets of Phnom Penh 2 years ago. I don’t care much about his ‘girly’ shots. However, his 3/11 documentary is very, very strong.

    Nice work on the documentary, A.

    Moonwire, September 22, 2011
  11. Charlie is trying hard not to be cool but fails!
    Well done you captured him very well.

    Dapperado, September 22, 2011
  12. Great work Adrian. Very nicely/professionally put together. Your only failure was not making Charlie look like a dick, although I don’t think Kubrick wouldn’t have succeeded either. Seriously though I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a very honest appraisal of what Charlie is about and what he does. It is amazing to watch the change in Charlie’s photography over the last year or so. Looking forward to your next project.

    Mark, September 22, 2011
  13. Masterful, For all Charlie’s bluntness and his guerilla shooting style he has a softer side that is unexpected on your first or even third or fourth meeting but unmistakable a part of the man you come to know later. The genius of this film is that you are able to show even first-time viewers that. Great work.
    Damon

    Damon Coulter, September 22, 2011
  14. “I give less respect to people who shoot digital.”

    After hearing this I stopped being interested in Charlie’s opinions and quit watching the video.

    I shoot both digital and on film and I see no reason to disrespect the use of one over the other.

    Tobias W., September 23, 2011
  15. Love it, really interesting and vey nicely shot and cut. more more

    danny G, September 23, 2011
  16. Congrats! A character study from another character.

    Keep on keeping on!

    S. Miles, September 23, 2011
  17. “I give less respect to people who shoot digital.”

    Maybe not the best way to say it, but I get what he means. People who have recently quit smoking or newbie vegans often spout off about their past vices in a similar way. I reckon Charlie will backslide and return to digital (M9) one day, but totally hear and respect his barks today. Old school learnings are often the best way to master a craft. I dig his work…

    Marzosyd, September 23, 2011
  18. Excellent work, Adrian! What I find compelling and what I think you did a great job with is capturing Charlie’s enthusiasm; it’s an admirable trait. Regardless of his opinions or process or results, learning a bit about him through something he’s passionate about was interesting and entertaining.

    The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the typographic treatment. To me the font choice is heavy-handed and a clear distraction. A neutral, undecorated alternative would provide a more polished and “pro” result in my opinion.

    Curtis, September 23, 2011
  19. The font is easily the best part of this video.

    Charlie, September 24, 2011
  20. Well, you nailed it. It flows really well. The pace of it is just right. It feels pretty balanced to me (not an easy thing to achieve) which I am impressed about. Just well done.

    Sean Wood, September 25, 2011
  21. Great work, Adrian! You captured Charlie’s working method perfectly. I enjoy his work very much, and I think the great majority of it will stand the test of time. I will be in Tokyo again in a few weeks (17 October-1 November)…hope to see you and the rest of the gang :)

    Jim Clinefelter, September 26, 2011
  22. Pretty nice work…

    André Weigel, September 26, 2011
  23. i enjoyed this. well done. more, please.

    e, September 27, 2011
  24. Hi. Really liked this documentary. Great work!

    PS. What kind of flash triggering system is that?

    Erik Five, October 7, 2011
  25. Great video! Anyone know what camera bag CK is using in the documentary?

    Superbian, October 16, 2011
  26. It’s a comet triggering system. Korean company. Don’t know if its available in Europe/US. Bag is Zegna – it’s not a camera bag per se. Just a …er…man bag.

    Charlie Kirk, October 20, 2011
  27. Wicked awesome!

    Adrian, you have put together a very professional and brilliant piece of work! Being following Charlie’s great work on Flickr, nice to see the person behind the images. Seems like a nice dude!

    David Koji Kariyado Hansen, October 21, 2011
  28. As an amateur street photographer on Flikr I came across Charlie’s work and was astounded – so I wrote him a note as one does. Anyway your film takes us all up to another level on the street – although for the more introverted it’s that much more difficult – and yes, Japan is easier in some respects – love the country and the people and will be returning in August (to Kobe and Kyoto this time as we are lending to Museum exhibitions). Whatever – its great – he’s great – and I thank you – Peter Nahum (“Renate’s Mate”)

    Peter Nahum, February 6, 2012
  29. Charlie, I must take issue with you on the X100.

    I’ve been shooting professionally since 1992 and have used many of the finest pro cameras, film and digital (excepting Leica) and for me the FujiFilm X100 is the best camera I have ever shot with. Once you learn to bend it to your will, it’s formidable.

    The cameras are just tools and to not take seriously those of us shooting digital with the likes of the X100 is a mistake, in my view.

    I consider myself to have been an expert on Fuji and Kodak films, both colour and monochrome and I’m thrilled at the prospect of never having to shoot the stuff ever again. It’s slow and wasteful. Digital is where it’s at.

    That’s all.

    I’ll see you about the place.

    – Paul

    Paul Treacy, November 5, 2012
  30. I must add too that this right here is a well put together little film. Nice!

    Paul Treacy, November 5, 2012

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