Tim Cabrelli is co-founder and senior partner at Affixxius Films, a leading award-winning creative commercial film studio in the East Midlands. He has worked with a range of clients, including Sony, NHS, Paddy Power, Boots, Marriott and Revolut to name a few and had also specialised in the corporate and education sectors.
Having started Affixxius when he was 15, Tim has always been passionate about filmmaking. It was when he came across Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and later ‘The Dark Knight’ Batman trilogy, that he realised that taking risks with creativity is what makes one’s work unique.
A sports fan and a general ideas man, Tim is dedicated to delivering real creativity, value, and commitment in all of his projects by approaching them with enthusiasm and thoughtfulness. Here, he explains why Christopher Nolan’s complex narrative arcs and storytelling have inspired him to be more daring in his work.
Who would you say is your creative hero?
How long has he been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting him or coming across his work?
I remember seeing Memento when I was still at school and instantly loved it. At the time, the film just seemed very experimental and I was really into my filmmaking at the time and immersing myself in as many different genres and filmmakers as possible and this just stood out as almost something unique. The whole thing felt very indie but clearly had a bit of budget behind it, which just made it feel more relatable to where I was in my filmmaking journey. After that he went quiet but then I remember reading in Empire magazine that he was going to direct Batman Begins. Now to most people that wouldn’t be a huge deal, but I LOVE Batman, so was insanely excited to see what he’d do with it and being honest, was not disappointed. In fact, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve watched his Batman trilogy, not just as a fan of Batman but of his work too. I think he’s always stayed quite true to his indie roots since he keeps as much in the camera as possible, and I think he is able to get performances out of actors you wouldn’t expect, Heath Ledger and Harry Styles to name a few.
If it’s someone you personally know or have met, how did you go about finding to learn more about him and his work?
Obviously I don’t know him, however, I have met him in slightly odd circumstances by coincidence. I was returning via LAX from my honeymoon and my wife and I had stopped over a few days in LA and went round the studios. I was sitting in the departure lounge and I actually said to my wife “I’m just a little disappointed I’ve not seen anyone famous”. As I boarded our plane home and I had to walk through the business class to the cheap seats at the back (no expense spared for the honeymoon as you can see) low and behold there’s Christopher Nolan sorting his kids out in their seats. I dropped my bag off at my seat, plucked up the courage and said hello. We talked a little bit of Batman and he signed my ticket, which is now framed on my bedside table ever since. They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but what a lovely bloke!
Above: A picture of Christopher Nolan’s autograph on the back of a plane ticket
Why is he such an inspiration to you?
What I find inspirational about Christopher Nolan is his willingness to take risks with his films. He’s not afraid to do complex narrative arcs and in some cases, like Interstellar, theoretical science. He’s unapologetic with his scripts and if you need to watch the film a few times over, to really understand it, then do so. I also think his Directorial style is relatively uncomplicated, relies on big performances from his cast and hasn’t been afraid to look at technology like IMAX to bring more to his stories.
How does he influence you in your approach to your creative work?
When coming up with creative ideas I always want to present a range. I always look to, at least, include one idea that’s ‘a risk’, as it may bring humour in where you least expect it or involve a unique approach to a brand or product that you’d least expect. Obviously, it then relies on the client having a similar philosophy to me in commissioning something ‘risky’ and if they don’t, at least I’ve stayed true to my values (and I suppose that influence is from Christopher Nolan) that you believe in what you're pitching and its potential.
What piece or pieces of his work do you keep coming back to and why?
As I said previously I’m a huge Batman fan and have probably watched ‘The Dark Knight’ well over 50 times, I just can't get enough of that film. The narrative is great and the performance from Heath Ledger blows my mind every time, I just feel sad he wasn’t around to reprise it or at least give more theory behind how he created his version of The Joker.