phill @ philljamesbroadcasting.co.uk

My Story

Discovering North Yorkshire through Photography and Video

The Story of Phill James Broadcasting

This is a brief interview with Phill James on how he got started with photography, videography as well as visiting, filming and documenting North Yorkshire through a lens.

How did you get started creating videos?

I once did a series of places to visit by rail known as Great Yorkshire Rail Journey’s which was produced taking a handful of clips from an iPhone or some other handheld device. Although the footage was HD, the lack of stabilisation was shocking! I was using Camtasia Studio under a Microsoft Windows environment to produce the videos, and Camtasia didn’t have any stabilisation correction features at the time. In the end, I deleted this channel because nearly all of the train operators had changed in the region such as Northern Rail which became Northern Railways and East Coast Trains became Virgin East Coast and now LNER. The rail network was just too unstable to continue with the channel. It was probably just as well because of the huge timetable scandal that followed where many of the trains were cancelled or were appallingly late.

In any case, I’ve always had a firm interest in photography and videography is just an extension of this.

Phill James at the Ornamental Bridge at Hovingham Hall
Phill James at the Ornamental Bridge at Hovingham Hall

Why do many videos contain the North York Moors National Park?

The Story of Phill James Broadcasting

I had been taking the Coastliner bus up to Goathland and Whitby quite regularly to go walking once a week. Goathland has some fantastic walks, as does the North York Moors in general. I always made sure I would have a day out somewhere once a week as I rarely was in a position to take a couple of weeks break and travel abroad. I hate going to places when they are busy, and as I often had to work a day in the weekend, I would travel midweek when it was quieter. However, in 2019, I am not sure how the idea came about but I decided to take high definition footage of my favourite walks and places of interest. I’d purchased a bridge camera to take with me walking, it wasn’t even a proper DSLR, and I realised quite quickly that it took very good quality video clips. So where before I was taking clips handheld with my iPhone, I was now using a proper camera with a tripod.

At the time, I was mad on the Leeds to Whitby bus route which had just been awarded Britain’s most scenic bus route because after Malton in particular, it ventured through some stunning countryside, especially on the North York Moors National Park. It also called at some beauty spots such as Thornton le Dale, the Hole of Horcum, Goathland, Sleights and Ruswarp as well as Whitby. So I got the idea to do an entire series of videos of my favourite calling points along Britain’s most scenic bus route. Then I came to the conclusion that not everyone uses the bus but drive to these places. So I got to work and converted some of the episodes so that car drivers could enjoy them as well. You’ll notice that some of these videos contain walks in them, because that was my reason for going out that way!

What made you decide on creating videos about walking?

The Story of Phill James Broadcasting

Well, it seemed a logical step to form another series of videos about walking in North Yorkshire and documenting some of the regions walks. However, I wanted to do these in a different style altogether. The previous videos I’d done were pretty formal that contained footage narrated over with some interesting information. On this new series of videos, I wanted to put myself out there too. I decided to do them as video diaries or vlogs, and on these I could bring out my personality and clown around a little while presenting the walks I love to do. I’d never done vlogs before, and you could tell because on the Scarborough Cleveland Way vlog I kept saying V-Log instead of vlog! On the episodes after that I got the term right.

The worst thing that can happen on a walk is getting lost. I knew it was going to happen eventually when filming, because I was also doing some walks that I had never done before. The Gilling and Ampleforth episode is just one example of this. I followed the locals advice and ended up finding myself back at Potter Lane where I had started, yet I had the opportunity to discover some further interesting landmarks which I hadn’t planned on featuring. So in the end, it all worked out for the better and it showed that sometimes getting lost can benefit!

Phill James
Phill James

Which is your favourite and most memorable video?

The Story of Phill James Broadcasting

For some reason I have to say Scarborough. There’s just something about that video that makes it the best work I’ve done so far. I have absolutely no idea why and what it is. Granted, I’ve visit, filmed and documented some fantastic places such as Helmsley and Malton, Whitby, Filey and Ripon and a whole lot of others, but the Scarborough episode of Places to Visit in North Yorkshire stands out as the best. However, it was Malton and Ripon that seems to get the most views quite quickly.

Scarborough Lighthouse and Diving Belle
Scarborough Lighthouse and Diving Belle

Filey for me was a disappointment simply because of the weather. Filey is a really idyllic seaside town and although it is probably the smallest resort it is typically a really nice place to visit. However, the weather didn’t live up to expectations and it didn’t measure up with the super sunny skies I had captured at Whitby and Scarborough. Another issue was that although I intentionally filmed during the week when the kids were at school, there was several school parties visiting Filey the same day which defeated the object. On the other hand, it did advertise Filey as a place for school trips. The issue is that it is against YouTube’s terms and conditions to feature children in your videos which is understandable. So I was hoping to make a special video of Filey, but it ended up spoilt by the weather. I had intended to retake the footage in 2020 but the lockdown threw that out of the window.

Why did you advertise Lucozade Zero and not bottled water?

The Story of Phill James Broadcasting

Simply because that was what I brought with me! When doing a walk, especially a lengthy walk in warm weather, I wanted to emphasis how important it is to take some fluids with you. In hind sight, water is much more healthier than Lucozade. I do have flasks but sometimes it was just easier to grab a bottle from the supermarket in Malton. To be honest, I felt a little bad if not awkward about giving every viewer a lecture about health and safety but on the other hand, I would have felt a lot worse if someone had watched my video, gone out there and become unstuck. I know its health and safety gone mad these days, and it is not as if I’m just trying to cover myself, but I’d hate to think that someone suffered because I hadn’t warned them. So I’m always going on about adders and ticks as well as closing gates and keeping dogs on leads to mention a few.

Which is your favourite walking route so far?

The Story of Phill James Broadcasting

I have to say that each and every walking route that I have documented is a favourite walk. They are favourite walks each for different reasons. For example, the Hole of Horcum is because of the stunning scenery, Helmsley to Rievaulx is because of the Castle and Abbey, Kirkham because of the River Derwent and Howardian Hills and so on. Castle Howard is because of the area of outstanding beauty and because of all the folly structures throughout the walk. So they are all favourites to be honest and I’d jump at the chance of doing them all again.

Views of Castle Howard
Views of Castle Howard

What are your future plans?

The Story of Phill James Broadcasting

In 2020 I had plans to document Harrogate because I had to cancel it last year. This was because of the state of The Stray after the UTC event last year. I couldn’t portray Harrogate in its true light when the stray was a large muddy mess after the event and as you know, The Stray is one of Harrogate’s most prominent features. I had also planned to document Thirsk, Northallerton and Middlesborough and do video diaries of some walks in the Saltburn area. I also wanted to document the Yorkshire Dales as well as the three Yorkshire Peaks.

I also had plans to progress further and do some reportage videos and journalise some North Yorkshire events including some of the shows and the Food Lovers Festival in Malton. In fact, it was my intention to develop the channel into something I could do full time by monetising the channel with ads. Sadly, however, the horrendous pandemic has put all this on hold for the time being because of the lockdown and also because many events have been cancelled until next year. It’s been a huge, huge disappointment because I was so much looking forward to doing it. On the other hand, I understand that there are people out there are even more adversely effected owing to losing their livelihoods or at least having them significantly reduced. The more I have come to understand these Chinese Wet Markets and how the Chinese Government has covered much of it up until it is too late, the more I’m appalled by it. I watched an Australian current affairs program on the wet markets and I was shocked if not horrified by kind the animals they slaughter and the lack of simple hygiene involved. In fact, I’m surprised that a global pandemic has not happened sooner than it has. In any case, the videos that I have done will assist those in the tourism and hospitality industries when things are return to normal. I seriously think that North Yorkshire as much as the entire globe is going to be a totally different place when this is all over. I think a lot of well established businesses will have been lost.

In any case, the creation of videos and uploading them to YouTube was initially a hobby owing to my interest in photography, local history as well as doing something creative. However, I wanted to develop this interest into something more substantial and make a full time career from it. Sadly the pandemic has hindered this but fortunately I haven’t placed my eggs in one basket and I have plenty of work to keep me going. I could travel and document North Yorkshire right now as part of my self-employment, but this would put both myself and others at risk owing to the insidiousness of this pandemic. So I realise I have to be patient and not take any chances. On the other hand, I can teach photography through video locally until things get better. Now that the mornings are getting brighter earlier, I could possibly go out early morning and shoot some instructional vlogs to help others learn the ins and outs of using a DSLR or any other camera.

Best North Yorkshire Walks

Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

YouTube Channel