Filed under: ALL
Thomas Thwaites has visited Knoydart twice now to collect mica for his infamous Toaster Project which is now going to be part of a TV series he is working on for on Channel 4. In an equally tenacious project Thomas set out to build a household toaster from scratch using raw materials to demonstrate our relationship to industralisation. Knoydart has Britian’s only mica mine, used during the second world war but long since been abandoned. (It is mica that makes the sand on Knoydart’s beaches sparkly). And every household toaster contains the mineral mica. Even without the mica mine Knoydart is a very good place to think about ideas of industrialisation because we are so remote and often have to do things a little differently here. The locals here are brilliant at spontaneous improvisation when it comes to any kind of technical problem.
I’ve got to know Thomas well over his visits. On the first he was an MA student and on the second he was a presenter for channel 4 and he has become a good friend as a result. Thomas sent me this in response to my post In Search of a Happy Ending. Very pertinent and much appreciated.
Filed under: ALL
Today I have been filming at exactly the same time, in exactly the same place every day for 11 months. I now only have 31 days left to go.
I can’t quite believe that filming is coming to an end this soon. The closer I get to finishing filming the more I have been questioning both the film and why I have put myself through this. It is such an odd thing to have done and has had a profound impact on me. I can’t help think of all the films I could have made why this one? I guess this is the nature of the creativity. You are not completely, if at all, in control over it.
As well as being about time and our relatioship to the seasons this project is also an expression of a tension between a desire for certainty and the need to let things flow. It is about trying to control life and time somehow. The process of making this film has controlled my life in a way that no other job, film, relationship or event in my life ever has. T In some ways this has been incredibly liberating. It is sometimes hard not knowing what you are going to be doing next and where the money will come from. There isn’t an artist or filmmaker I know who doesn’t have fantasies about having a proper 9 to 5 job and the stability it would bring. This film has at least given me the 9 every day if not the 5.
Ever since I moved to Knoydart six years ago I have questioned my decision to come here. I absolutely love it here but I have always struggled with missing the things I left behind friends, family, cinemas, art galleries, the film industry and the anonomity that comes with living in a city. Sometimes the struggle between these two places and the two sets of the people in them that I love has been almost unbearable.
When I first decided to make this film I thought maybe as a by product it would help me decide where I wanted to be. But it is obvious now that if you impose any kind of rule on yourself for long enough of course you are going to want to break it. Right now I can’t wait to go and see my friends and family in London, to sit on a train and look out of the window and to see new places. But now the weather is good and it is beautiful here it has occured to me that not leaving the Highlands for so long might have made my bond with the place even stronger.
What I have learnt is that the pursuit of control is an entirely human, but not entirely healthy impulse. You can’t force life either to move forward or to stand still. All you can do is accept that time keeps going, that we keep getting older and, yes, closer to our deaths. But this might not be such a bad thing because it is all about the gentle accumulation of moments that you pick up along the way.
Here is a year in the life of my wooden platform . . . .
My self imposed prison has turned into a bit of a paradise recently. The weather has been glorious, incredible sunsets, blue skies, cuckoos and a weekend of kayaking. Strangely even with the good weather and the opportunity to travel again imminent I still feel the same anxiety that has underpinned this whole year.
I have been trying to work out why this is and I think it is related to an ongoing struggle with the gap between fiction and reality. A gap particularly present because I am making a film about my life.
We all create stories out of our lives as a way of making sense of things. Stories that are constantly changing. I am clearly a bit obsessed with this, how and why we do it and how we distinguish between what is fiction and what is true. I used to think this was because I wanted to be a filmmaker, but now I think its the other way around. The obsession came first. I had created a whole world of imaginary friends by the age three, probably in response to quite a lot of uncertaintity at the time.
There used to be a time when people believed that the world had a natural order. When things became unbalanced a series of events would be triggered that eventually brought it all in to balance again – order would be restored. You just needed to trust that things would right themselves eventually. But we don’t believe this any more. Life feels random and chaotic, full of uncertainties. Moments of resolution are much harder to find.
I have spent the whole of this year trying to second guess this films narrative which will be defined by the emotional journey you see me go through over the year. Partly because I am a filmmaker and this is what you do, but this has also been about trying to work out what happens next in life. This urge to jump ahead without allowing things to take their natural course is almost always how I fuck things up. I know this, but I keep doing it.
Up until very recently I had managed to convince myself that when filming ends my life will suddenly change. I will walk out of the last shot of the film towards the loch and an ever lasting happiness out there waiting for me. When the reality is that all that needs to change is my routine. Of course other stuff will, but the beautifully neat resolution to this year and the film that I want is as unlikely as all of the countless other wonderful happy endings I have written in to my life that haven’t happened yet. Which makes me wonder whether I might have even started making this film in the hope that it would somehow bring about resolution. Fictionalising life in the hope it will behave more like fiction.
This year has been definied for me by continually having to accept limitations I have imposed on my own life. I have even weirldy come to appreciate the freedom my rules have given me. Maybe at last I will aceept that you can’t force a resolution.
Filed under: ALL
Just as I was starting to despair with the internet (see last post) thanks to Matt Hulse on facebook of all places I discovered Jim Henson’s 1965 experimental film Time Piece, below, which I’d never seen before and is a bit wonderful. The film was nominated for an Oscar and Henson made the first episode of Sesame Street three years later. Just goes to show you never know where making short experimental films about time can lead to.