Found image. (cropped) Photographer unknown.


‘I Always Wanted To Be … ‘

Work continues behind the scenes as the deadline for completing the short film (‘I Always Wanted To Be …’ ) grows ever closer. I’ve left things in the capable hands of film maker Henrietta (Thomas) this past week while I’ve been in the throes of yet another studio move. Famous last words, but I think I might have finally settled, having gone full circle, back to the studio building I first started making work in, some 7/8 years ago. I’m really excited by this move – improved natural daylight, more physical space and finally, back in Deptford, within walking distance from home. What’s not to like …

While shifting boxes around, I’ve had time to reflect on last week’s meet up with Henrietta and how working alongside someone else can feel infinitely easier than working alone, especially given my tendency to overthink ideas and make things a lot more complicated than they need be. Decision making is so much easier when there’s someone else around to share your thoughts and ideas with – what’s better? – this (or this) version? And Henri’s filming knowledge and skills means that I have immediate, to-hand answers to my queries about what’s possible/whats not in terms of editing.

Together, we compiled a comprehensive list of what we’d like to be included in the final film, acutely aware that within the time constraints, not everything can necessarily be included. Until the next time we meet, Henri has taken on the task of compiling the various parts selected for the try out ‘final’ version. None of this is set in stone and there will be another round of amendments (and certainly, cuts) to be made, I’m sure.

Brilliantly, the budget allows for this time and flexibility – for experimenting and playing around with different versions. (Once again, thanks are owed to the support in the shape of a Professional Development Bursary from a-n The Artist Information Company for making any of this possible). We won’t be able to go on forever, of course – decisions will have to be made and we’ll need to crack on with the process of creating and crucially, completing a short film within the required deadline.

It’s getting exciting! I felt really encouraged by last Friday’s meet up – namely because, however vague it might be at this point, there are signs of some sort of structure developing. This feels important to me, for two main reasons – firstly, because there’s a deadline to meet and secondly, because I’d started to feel slightly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of footage. Just one editing session with Henri has dissipated a lot of the anxiety and made me feel more reassured that we will complete the task in hand.

I can’t wait to get into the studio to start making work again, but yet another ear infection means that with the studio move now over, I need to take it a bit easy and give a new course of antibiotics more of a chance to work. And lovely as the new space is, artists’ studios have never been renowned for their warmth. I want to stay warm! And of course, I want to give the creation of this short film my absolute best shot. There is limited time now in which to do that and I can foresee needing to devote most of my time and energy to creating a final film version – ideally, by mid-December, but certainly, by the end of the year. My energies need to be reserved.

So, here’s to staying well and working hard in the next few weeks ahead … I’m already looking forward very much to meeting up with Henri again in the very near future.


Photo: John McCormick

I’m going to be meeting film maker Henrietta (Thomas) again tomorrow to talk through the editing process for the making of ‘I Always Wanted To Be …’

I’m filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension; I’ve never done anything like this before and I don’t really know what to expect.

It’s all a bit precarious at this stage, but Henri and I came up with a vague plan of what might be included in the film last time we met. Henri’s task for this past couple of weeks was to put together a rough version of what we discussed. I’ll see it tomorrow for the first time – that excitement combined with apprehension rears its head again!

On top of everything else, we also have a time limit imposed upon us by a-n Artist Company (who, as part of offering me a professional development bursary) have provided the funding to realise this short film. I keep reminding myself to go with the flow and to make a conscious effort to enjoy the process of creating the film, rather than fretting about the end product. All easier said than done, of course, but I’m making a big effort.

We’ve put aside three hours tomorrow, to sit together and go through the tape and then talk through any necessary amendments. I’m sure there will be some – it’s all par for the course, I’ve realised and I have to say that I find the open- endedness and flexibility quite refreshing, albeit slightly nerve-wracking.  And, not for the first time, I feel lucky to be working alongside an experienced film maker who appears to be totally unphased by any chopping and changing of ideas. This is extremely reassuring in a situation in which I’ve often felt quite a bit outside of my comfort zone – and truly, at this point, with no real vision of how the final film will look.

My task in the meantime, has been to listen (and re-listen) to the recording of an interview with an ex-ballet dancer which Henri and I taped right at the start of the project. I’ve had this person, Ama, in mind from the very start of thinking about the making of this film, following the fascinating conversations I had with her some years ago, when I first showed my ‘I Wish’ work in an open studio event. Henri and I now have an interesting, first hand account of what life in ballet school was really like for a child growing up in the 1950/60s and Ama’s narrative has helped us start to form some sort of structure for the foundation of the film. Like everything else, though, it will be fascinating to see what makes it into the final version of the film.

I will of course, be reporting back on how everything evolves in due course. Meantime, I look forward to seeing what tomorrow brings …

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Hanna Segal, psychoanalyst in an interview with journalist John Henley,  The Guardian. September 2008:

But the important thing is to keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden. I find this extraordinarily helpful: we live in a mad world, but for those of us who believe in some human values, it is terribly important that we just keep this little fire burning. It is about trusting your judgement, and the power of love. A little trust, and a little care.’

The word ‘surprise’ has been used a lot in the media this past week in connection with Donald Trump becoming president elect. As per the UK General Election result of 2015, the information and predictions fed to us in the lead up to the USA presidential election now seem completely out of kilter.

It’s very much a head in the sands response, but the plinkety plonk sounds and the pretty, twinkly dancing girls of the music boxes in the meantime, provide a welcome relief from being fixated on world politics. More future updates to come as the film making and editing for the ‘I Always Wanted To Be …’ short film continues.





In a conversation with an artist friend over the weekend, we spoke about the importance of creating space between collaborative partners – allowing time for reflective thinking on both sides. I’ve had that, this past week or so, and there’s no doubt that time and space for reflection is useful.

Henrietta and I will be meeting again on November 18th to look at how best to put together pieces of footage that have been filmed so far. Time for reflective thinking has reminded me that the final film version is still very much open ended: nothing at this point is set in stone, the creative process still very much alive and flexible.

And obvious though it sounds, the final version will be determined by what footage we manage to get  – within certain time frames and other constraints – like, for example, the noise from massive building work outside the studio on the day we did the filming. There are already a number of sound issues to get around, because when I borrowed my friend’s studio, I hadn’t anticipated external noise having such an impact on our recording.

I’m glad in this respect of my own and Henri’s ability to be flexible; making compromises within any film making process must surely come with the territory. It’s highly likely that there will need to be a fair bit of juggling around in this particular case  – all part of the grand learning curve that this collaboration is teaching me.

Meantime, I’m continuing to focus on the beauty of the music boxes – their interiors and mirrors, in particular and of course, the appealing, pretty features of the tiny plastic ballerinas – unique in their appearances and becoming so familiar to us now, that Henri and I have adopted names for some of them – Chalet girl, Diana Dors, Sandy Shaw among them.

Here’s another great photo taken by John (McCormick) of the buxom blonde, aka Diana Dors.

Photo: John McCormick