Lian Morrison: Shooting from all angles

in Arts & Culture/Business/Features by

Meet Lian Morrison, a cinematographer and filmmaker who was born in Corner Brook but grew up in Paradise.

“I think I am a bit of an introvert but at the same time my favorite thing to do is meet new people and. I’ve always been imaginative and independent since I was a kid so that hasn’t changed much.”

Outside of work, the director keeps busy. She likes hiking, reading, gardening, baycations, checking out new breweries, traveling, running, scuba diving and spending time with her family, friends and cats. 

Her film resume covers a variety of documentaries, including a recent episode of CBC’s Canada’s A Drag featuring St. John’s own queen, Irma Gerd.

Morrison also has her own company Tin Bird Productions and has travelled the world for different projects.

She also sits on the Nickel Independent Film Festival Board – and encourages those interested in film to take check it out.

Taking each experience in stride, and recognizing each job as a learning opportunity, this introvert shares a bit about herself with Tint of Ink. 

Photo by Maddie Mills

Where does the name Tin Bird Productions come from?

I started Tin Bird Productions in 2014 so it’s been 5 years now. I wanted a visual logo and I remembered my dad telling me about how my grandfather used to have little tin wind-up toys and he would sometimes carry a bird in his pocket so I figured it was the perfect name/logo for my business.

What are your favourite documentaries on Netflix right now? 

I typically like anything dark or with a strong statement so I think right now my favorite documentaries would be Blackfish and Mommy Dearest. I also love watching forensic files, although the episodes aren’t technically documentaries.

You recently directed CBC’s Canada’s A Drag episode – what was that experience like for you? 

It was a really fulfilling experience. I had a DP (Duncan DeYoung) and a sound guy (George Newman) help me shoot and so it was different for me because usually I do everything on my own. I really liked having a small crew because it gave me more time to concentrate on directing since I didn’t have to worry about camera and sound. I was able to see the edit as it was being shot so I hope to do more of that. 

I found that the whole episode was probably the most human feeling of anything else I have ever done. It just flowed so naturally and the story was bare and not embellished and it just felt very genuine to me. Also, Jason/Irma was so good to work with, they had great ideas and brought a really fun energy to the shoot. 

Photo by Maddie Mills

You are a videographer, a photographer and director  – which one is your favourite to perform? 

Definitely directing. I love it. I find my creativity gets more freedom when I direct and the end result is always better. 

What have you learned from your work?

I think I have learned to have thicker skin and not to take things so personally, you’ll have a tough time in this industry if you don’t learn to do that. Also, you’re not going to get everything perfectly right all the time and that’s okay. When reviewing my own work I can look at it constructively and see areas where I can improve. I have also learned that sometimes you are better than you think you are, I can sometimes doubt myself with work for no reason so that is something I am keeping in mind when I shoot. Also. sometimes I compare my work to other films/videos that have full crews and budgets and I can forget that there are a lot of factors that play into what the end result will be. I can’t do everything alone and expect to turn out the same. I enjoy working with others and I find even having a sound person hired is a big burden off of my shoulders so I am trying to do more filming with others. 

Photo by Maddie Mills

Has your directing taken you to different places around the world ? 

If so which one has been your favourite ? Yes, I went to China to shoot my documentary “Fight of the Fisherman” which was such a great experience. I never thought work would bring me somewhere like that and China was so different from anywhere I have ever been. My dream would be to travel and shoot documentaries for a living so hopefully there will be more. 

What are you working on next ? 

Right now I have a few promotional videos booked for this month and I am going to be working on the concept of my next documentary/docu series and getting that in the works but I am keeping it under wraps until I get a few more things confirmed. So stay tuned!

Photo. by Maddie Mills

How do you find NL culture seeps into your work ?

That’s a good question, I am trying to tell more local stories but I want to keep the content original so it can be tricky but I think you can find a bit of Newfoundland culture in everything I do if you look hard enough. For example, in my documentary I shot in China I followed around an old fisherman that was the last of his generation to fish so there were a lot of parallels to Newfoundland culture. 

Where’s your favourite location to shoot ? 

I don’t think I have a favourite but it’s probably anywhere without fluorescent lights. I prefer natural light and nature so there are a lot of really nice locations here to choose from.

Photo by Maddie Mills

Morrison just finished a documentary titled “Behind Banana Vacuum” about a local Set. John’s punk band that will be released this year.

To book an experience or check out Morrison’s work, check out Tin Bird Production

Check it out on instagram @tinbirdproductions

All pictures by @maddiemillsphoto





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