my strategy for answering the four questions set by sue ball of maap is to answer one a day for four days. today is day two and my motivation to complete the answer is the bluesky and sunshine i see through the window. a walk beckons.
todays question is …
2) You are in dialogue with 1) the building 2) with staff/people and their activity 3) with yourself as the filmmaker. How was this expressed in the last tranche of films? How could this be taken forward?
a deep breath as i consider the question. while i was filming i did all of these in an unconcious manner. the question is good as its getting me to consciously consider my process.
once again i might refer to the essay starting on page 68 of document edited by julian stallabrass. the essay is entitled documentary is/not a name//1990 by trinh t. minha-ha.
looking back at the question i’m being told i was in dialogue with the building the people and myself so thats all good. however the crunch comes when i need to understand this and be able to express it in order to help me inform what comes next.
my dialogue with the building … i scratch my chin look out the window, reach for my tea.
this is hard to formally answer. while on site in and around the building my conversation with the building was more pronounced in areas where the building was the the main subject of the conversation. for example the area between the mill and the blast wall of the electricity substation. this space currently has the container for an rb 211 engine.
from my research about the development plans for the building i knew this area is earmarked for development. knowing this i went out into the area and filmed while thinking about what the area might be like in the future. i wanted to get a sense of the space in 2017 that can be looked at in 2020 and beyond as …. i pause.
i reflect about …. am i in writing this starting to get emotional and sentimental ? for the record i did and stopped to regain my composure.
the day i filmed this area there were workmen still dismantling the weeping window exhibition. i wanted to have a reference to the installation being at the silk mill without heavily featuring it as it was there but for a glimpse in the overall history of the building.
today writing this i feel a respect for the building, specifically focussing on the area in question. historically i think the area would have been with water and a wheel and formed the main power source of the mill. fitting i suppose that an engine features and continues to be featured in that area.
i take a moment to think …
i see i can’t isolate the conversation with myself from the building and the people. each and every time i went into the building to film the conversation with myself was pretty non stop.
i felt a certain responsibility / pressure to record as much as i could to give a sense of what was happening in the mill during the period of filming. this was with structure – found in the moment of filming – informed by the conversation with myself.
returning to focussing on the conversation with the mill, i knew that all the areas i went into will look different as a result of the upcoming works. the stairs and the goods lift felt really important to me. the lift because of the sounds it makes.
i feel today my conversation with the building was in part attempting to represent the building’s voice at a time prior to it getting a make over and having something different to say. i listened while the building spoke and i did my best to get as much of what it said into the final version of this tranche.
wow, i have developed a relationship with the building that i’m only now formally recognising. importantly it’s one where there is no need to become overly sentimental as the plans are so fantastic.
its a dynamic relationship.
part of my conversation with the building is to be able to give a voice to be listened to by those who have found memories of the rb211 when they visited it while at school.
my conversation with the building also gives a voice to be listened to by those who are interested in what came before in this area of the building.
i have another moment to think.
while filming aspects of the building my conversation with myself as filmmaker is being visually captured in what i shoot. at a personal level i often felt excitement and playfulness at being able to be in the building at such an important time. the conversation with myself over flowing into at times a physical conversation with the building and objects within it.
the placement of the camera capturing this playful curiosity from a first person point of view.
i take a moment to further reflect on an aspect of the answer to question one.
shot framing and the close up.
in question one in which technical things were considered i was asked about lens choice. in the you tube video i’ve used my smartphone to get close to the engine and feature certain aspects of it. for the second tranche of the film i have kept a constant angle of view and used my distance from the subject to alter the framing.
i see today how this technique has had a positive impace for the viewer as i’ve reduced to some extent the hand of the film maker upon what is seen. i see this a very positive aspect of the project.
taking a moment i read again the question. how is my dialogue with the staff / volunteers and the activities expressed in this tranche ?
the question actually infers this tranche and the first. if this is the case then there is big progress here.
in the second tranche i wanted to feature more people than the first. the first being a grounding for the tranches.
i knew form my research with the project staff there was going to be a range of activities being undertaken by volunteers under the leadership of the staff. with the building mostly closed during the filming period i wanted to show what was happening in preparation for a successful funding bid. the result was not going to be known until sometime in early october.
what we see of the activities, especially the ones where there are less participants are a result of spending time chatting about the project and giving those involved time to become comfortable with me being in their space.
i very much wanted the activities to happen as though i wasn’t there. what i filmed was what they were doing as they were doing it. my role was merely to observer, moving the camera enough to keep the shot alive. i tried to keep movement fluid and in keeping with the mood of the room. i was trying to capture the wellbeing aspect of the activities.
and finally to the big question – how to take all of this forward ?
how to keep the dialogue with the building, people, activities and myself going ?
i draw on what i know so far – the building is going to be cleared of collections and made ready for works.
from the first to second tranche i got close to the people involved in the project both volunteers and those delivering it. i feel drawn to hearing individual voices but unsure as to how this might work and what i want to hear. what might they want to say ?
i’m interested in the building when cleared. might my continued relationship with the building be and what it has to say when laid bare – to explore and walk around in ? in doing this i am focussing on what i want to do and film but what of the viewer ? might this tranche be very short ? in the overall timeline of the building and the museum of making the laid bare time will be a blip.
there will need to be conversations. with the producers, with the staff in the museum – now there will be external contractors too.
how do i feel about this coming time ? i am starting to consider it a fresh and expect that i might have to wait to be invited into the building and shoot what i see – as i have done with the second tranche.
this answer has taken me sometime to put together and i think its time well spent.
i”ve begun to challenge my preconceptions about the third tranche and wait for the upcoming conversations to happen …