Filed under: ALL
This week the weather has got much better. It is colder but clear and the stars are out. I even caught what I thought was a glimpse of the northern lights the other night through the clouds. Here is a timelapse film by Jim who lives down the road. I have read that on a clear night you can see the stars better from Knoydart than almost anywhere else in Europe . . .
Filed under: ALL | Tags: consecutive days, creative vision, daily basis, film project
As you can see from these pictures, this week the moon has been in shot during my filming! (The pictures also show how different the light can be on consecutive days this time of year). I imagine it will only happen once during this year that the moon exactly in the right place at exactly the right time. It was certainly pretty special about coming out and finding it there on a still clear morning.
Today, someone asked me today how long I had been filming and unusually I had to think about it for a moment before answering (it will be seven months next week). I am no longer counting the days and no longer feel claustrophobic. In fact I am beginning to be slightly concerned that time will run out and I won’t achieve everything I want to during this year.
Some of this might be because I have been travelling to Mallaig on an almost daily basis this week as I have just started a community film project with the children at the primary school there. This has taken quite a bit of careful organising. There is a boat which usually leaves at 8.30 am but now waits for me to finish filming, pack up the camera and cycle like mad to the pier (my record so far is 8.48, which is exactly 8 minutes from switching the camera off to being on the boat). This is partly why the blog may be a bit quieter over the next few weeks as I focus on helping the children with their own creative vision. It is really nice to be doing both of these projects at the same time. Doing this project has helped me think about how to help the children be creative and I am looking forward very much to finding out what they think about this film! I have also encouraged them to start their own blog as their film is going to be mainly distributed online. So here is a link to it and the work I am doing with them . . .
I don’t think the travelling is entirely what has brought this change in perspective though. I think it is just the adjustment that comes with time to any given situation. It has become normality now, and now I have to be guarded against complacency, especially during filming. The tapes are beginning to pile up which is dangerous as watching them back is always a stark reminder on the importance of being present. I am looking forward to spending a long day capturing and reflecting. It is going to be very interesting looking back over December. I went on a walk through the woods the other day and am still slightly shocked by the amount of devastation caused by the storms (we lost more trees between Christmas and New Year as well as power again for a few days). My walk felt like I was awakening from a dark sleep, rubbing my eyes and still not quite believing what I was seeing wasn’t part of a strange dark dream. Usually January and February are the hardest months here but I am not sure this is going to be the case this year, we shall see.
Filed under: ALL | Tags: garde cinema, glimpses, london film festival, short films
In 2000 I had the pleasure of spending an evening with the filmmaker Jonas Mekas while I was working for the London Film Festival. I was quite young and had never even heard of him before, despite him being the godfather of american avante garde cinema. Jonas drank only Bushmills whisky. I know this because it was my job to keep an eye on the bar tab. I gave up in the end. He also beat me in an arm wrestle. He was 77 at the time. He carried a super 8 camera everywhere and filmed everything, even me that evening.
Mekas had, at the point, already been carrying around his super 8 documenting his life for many many years since at least the 1960′s. His film As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty which was showing at the festival was edited from this footage. It is six hours long and presents a lifetime of experience from a man who, at that point, believed he didn’t have long left. I watched the film the day after I met him. Jonas was sitting in the row behind me in the cinema close enough for me to hear him crying quietly as it played.
I would love to meet him again now.
Filed under: ALL, Responses to the project | Tags: exact place, film project, finished work, impermanence, mending wall
‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,’ Robert Frost, 1914
This is a clip of hands (mine and the instructor’s) mending a drystone wall near Edinburgh as part of an employability project for homeless young people. As we worked, I started thinking about you and your film project. Frost’s poem was also in my head throughout the three days, and it all seemed to fit together somehow.
Frost’s poem, for me, has always been about impermanence, and about questioning the attempt to create boundaries and maintain them. It’s as much a poem about time as it is about space. Why spend time building a wall when ‘something there is…..that wants it down’? It strikes me that what you’re doing with ‘Stay the Same’ is a bit like mending a wall: spending time redefining boundaries and exploring limits in an attempt to create something permanent. You’ve set your own boundaries (the exact place you stand, the frame you’ve chosen, the distance you can travel, the length of the project) , and now you’re discovering the limits (the project’s and your own). But to me what’s most interesting is what’s happening within those boundaries, and the minute yet recordable changes that are taking place within your defined frame.
Your project, like a drystone wall, is very much subject to the will of nature. Your struggle against it in order to maintain what you set out to do strengthens the creative process and gives the project definition. Like mending a wall, by creating your film, you are momentarily at least claiming a space both physically and in time.
Building a wall is a careful, skilled process, much like writing or film-making. Or it should be if it is to succeed. And that’s what you’re doing – using your skill, spending time, to craft something that will last, for a while at least. By being carefully pieced together, the finished work will have purpose, and will last longer than the scattered individual moments.
‘Spring is the mischief in me’. It always has been, and I hope that this coming Spring will also be the mischief in you. Keep it going Sam!
Filed under: ALL | Tags: darkest time, light changes, sunrise sunset time, upward trajectory, winter darkness
Happy New Year! Due to delicate timing of my filming, the light changes significantly during my ten minutes in front of the camera each day and it can look radically different by the time I finish recording. I am always aware of the winter darkness living here, but right now every minute makes a difference. So this is the first year I’ve noticed that the mornings actually kept getting darker after the solstice until well after Christmas, which is not really meant to happen.
I have a sunrise/sunset time chart that I used when I was planning the project and when to film and it confirmed this. Sunset has been getting later so the days longer but the mornings actually only started getting since the solstice yesterday. To get one for where you live you just need to click here.
This seemed weird so I looked it up and found that because the earth is closest to the sun during January it is moving fastest in it’s orbit, but our human constructed 24 hour day is based on the average time it takes the earth to spin once on it’s axis. So at different times of the year, time as we measure it by clocks and the movement we see of the sun across the sky grow out of alignment and this is most noticeable – (to those who notice) – at this time of the year.
It seems very fitting therefore to have spent this darkest time in the company of family friends who have filled my house for the last two weeks with warmth and light and quite a lot of alcohol. The alcohol bit hasn’t necessarily helped with the early morning filming, but it has made the last two weeks of working in near darkness a lot easier and more fun and given me renewed perspective on the project. And today, just as the house has became empty again, the mornings suddenly became noticeably lighter and the upward trajectory I am now on became clear.
The weather is still awful, possibly the worst winter I have ever spent here, but somedays this is even kind of fun. (Last week the tide at been pushed in by the wind so the sea was actually coming up and over the platform and around my feet!). I wanted a test of endurance and at the moment the simple act of getting out of bed and standing for ten minutes on a very cold, wet and windy beach before dawn without a coat on is just that.
I am looking forward to the next six months and what they bring. The change of light and the point at which I start editing the film, which is very exciting. I am also now very aware of how much can happen in six months. Lots of the projects I started when I began this year are now coming to fruition and it is actually going to be quite a busy time.
So to mark the new year which felt like it started today I thought I would share some clocks, even if they are just that little bit out of time with the mechanics of the universe.