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This morning I will step on my platform one last time. The end of this project brings a mixture of feelings. I am excited about leaving, but strangely nervous too. There is also a degree of sadness. A years routine is coming to an end.
I began to look back over this year over a month ago, but it was far from finished. In one of my first blog posts I wrote “ that every year of my life has brought change and unexpected events, but I can’t begin to guess what these might be this year”. I certainly couldn’t have guessed that I would be spending the penultimate day of this project, a film about our relationship with mortality, attending a funeral surrounded by the community I have spent this year with.
This project so far has been an incredible journey. A journey that has taken place without moving.It has been characterised by many different things. There have been two unexpected deaths in my community, but also four births to be celebrated Maja, Reuben, Morgan and wee Victor. My own life has also had its ups and downs, which will no doubt be reflected in the film. It is a self-portrait of my year.
There have been storms and insomnia and it has felt like a particularly long winter. I have felt trapped by this film, my choices, my life, my desire for control, for a story that makes sense of it all, trapped by my body and its failings, trapped by temporality itself.
But there has also been a long glorious spring too. Things returned to how they had been. Eventually I stopped feeling trapped and started to appreciate the cyclical nature of time
It is now apparent to me how I have run from difficulty in the past, kept moving to avoid facing things. I have used fantasy as an escape. Imagining other lives I could be leading, other choices I could have made. This year has taught me the importance of valuing what is there in front of you, the life that you have.
Modern life teaches us to keep moving, chase our dreams, find the solutions, keep up with change, continually adapt but I have found that if you stand still for long enough sometimes the things you are searching for most in the world come to find you. Comfort and happiness can be found in routine, in the cycle of seasons, in the slow putting down of roots. Everything passes with time, time mends and time cements.
This project has been instrumental to my growth as a filmmaker. I have worked on this and new projects as well as working with a the children in Mallaig and learning a great deal from them. I have gained confidence in who I am, what I do and what it is I want to communicate. I have learnt that I don’t necessarily need to give everything away.
In a year in which I have turned my life into a film I have thought a lot about our relationship with stories. We are fascinated with real stories and celebrate those who expose themselves most. There is a sense in which I too have exposed myself, but by doing so I hope to show the beauty in the every day.
Ultimately I want the film to say more with images and emotions than I can express here with words. I hope it will pose questions rather make statements, exploring the journey we are all on.
Life is both fragile and robust, at times it is unbearably painful at others joyous and beautiful, it has an urgency but it is also mundane, and it is temporary. This is all we have and we don’t have it for very long. Living it to the full doesn’t necessarily mean chasing adventure and following dreams. It can mean standing still and appreciating what is there in front of you. Cherishing the moments you have.
I want to use this post to thank everyone who has supported me over this year. I hope I can produce a film that lives up to your expectations.
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Only two days to go and I have pulled out a very dusty suitcase from under my bed ready to catch the 11am boat on Thursday after filming. I really am looking forward to a few weeks of visiting friends, film festivals and doing some teaching in London. I am also starting to prepare for the next stage of this project – editing the film.
This will be an intense process requiring a different kind of reflection so I have decided not to share it on this site and will stop blogging when filming finishes on Thursday June 21st.
The first thing I will do will be to watch the whole year back in its entirety to try and see the film I have. There is nearly sixty hours of footage so this will take at least two weeks of non stop viewing. Once I have a sense of the whole film I will start picking out individual moments I want to highlight and structure the rest of the film around. When I have a rough cut I will start working with a composer on an original score to be recorded for the film. I am hoping to finish by the end of October, but it might be the end of the year.
I will post updates on press and screenings for the film once it is finished on the Tiny Spark Productions website and the films facebook page. The film is intended for the large screen and am hoping it will be exhibited in this way before it reaches the internet.
In the meantime I definitely want to keep collecting and posting your responses to the project here on this site as I know there are more to come and I have been really moved by the ones I have had so far. Even the negative ones have been interesting. It seems, this project has captured peoples imaginations in some way.
If you would like to post a response, in any form, to any of the themes of the film, to the act of stopping and standing still, the way we relate to nature and our own mortality or the attempts to capture the moments in which we exist, then email me direct or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are all of the responses I have had so far over the year:
Thank you again to everyone who has submitted a response.
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As this project comes towards its final days there has been a tragedy here in my small community that is almost beyond words. Early on Sunday morning June 10th, Victor, partner of Isla who is a dear friend of mine and neighbour, and father of six week old baby Victor, the youngest child in Knoydart, died in a boat accident.
Time seems to have slowed since then. Even the boats that go past my window seem to travel more slowly.
I probably saw Victor during my morning filming sessions more than anyone else. Isla lived next door up until a few weeks ago and Victor would often leave early in the morning or take his dog for a walk and say hello as I filmed. There is even footage of me laughing at him as one morning while I was filming I watched Victor come out of the house, get in to his car, start driving, then get out again while the car was still moving to grab his dog. I couldn’t help laugh out loud at his shennanigans. He often threatened to jet ski past behind while I was filming and now I wish he had. Maybe there will still be a trace of him and the events of this last week in my film.
It is only when something like this happens you discover how deeply you care about people. I think it is probably fair to say that most of us here in are heart-broken for Isla and her family. The sense of love here for them is overwhelming. Sadly it is not enough to hold back the tides, turn back the clocks, and take them to a moment before this all happened. For nothing will ever be quite the same again.
It was particularly poignant when Henry Darke sent me these polaroids of his father playwright and poet Nick Darke who also died on June 10th in 2005. I am sorry it has taken me nearly a week to post them.
They were taken during a holiday Nick went on in Scotland with Henry’s mum Jane.
Henry writes about Nick.
“Nick Darke grew up in a Cornwall very different to the one that now exists. When he was a boy everyone had a Cornish accent and was in some way connected to the land. From this base Nick developed an intimate understanding of how the land and sea worked – information which was handed down from generation to generation.
Nick loved to walk all the beaches of North Cornwall looking for wreck wood and fishing for lobster and bass on the North coast. But the Cornwall he grew up in has changed out of all recognition, time and man having reshaped the landscape into a holiday park, an ‘escape’. Many of the people that live in and visit Porthcothan and the North Coast have no connection to it. Over the years people have come and gone and the wilderness has become suburbia. A way of life has been lost, community has become fragmented, kept alive now only by a few. Looking for identity in North Cornwall is like hunting for an Amazonian seabean on the strand line, you have to search long and hard to find it, but the rewards are priceless. This is why Nick loved Scotland and specifically the Outer Hebrides. Wild and largely uninhabited, the few people that live there have a shared sense of identity and way of life, and depend on each other out of necessity. Nick would frequently joke ‘Scotland is empty, why don’t they all go on holiday and buy holiday homes there instead of Cornwall!
Nick is always smiling in the images; he had a childlike sense of fun – he said he liked to think there was a part of him that was always seven years old.
One of Nick’s favourite books was Desert Solitaire by Edward Abby (Henry made me read it before my Arizona trip), here is a quote: “A man or woman on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”‘”
Henry came on holiday here a few weeks ago and saw clearly the paralells between what has happened in Cornwall and what is happening in the highlands of Scotland. It is possible Nick Darke joked a little too soon.
Filed under: ALL, Responses to the project | Tags: film, henry darke, music, only pictures, stay the same, stay the same song
I have just had a visit from my good friends and felllow filmmakers Henry Darke and Harry Wootliff. Henry is also a musician and a few months ago he wrote this song in response to my film. It seemed apt to record it on the platform where I film myself every morning. Except we did it in the evening and got eaten alive by the midges (this was just the first take). Henry’s band Only Pictures now perform the song regularly at their live gigs. I love it. Thank you Henry!
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And now I just want everything to stay the same . . . .
My friend Pippa Best sent me this short film yesterday in response to the project. I have known Pippa since early childhood when our parents were part of a baby sitting exhange so it is very appropriate her film is about childhood. Pippa and I lost touch for several years then accidentally bumped into each other and discovered we were both working as script editors. I love Pippa’s film which is very different the other time lapse videos of children around and was really quite moved that Stay the Same had anything at all do to with its creation.
Pippa also runs a website called storyofmum.com giving support to mothers and exploring the creativity of motherhood in all its forms.
Filed under: Posts by Sam
Twenty days to go.
There has been some more press interest in the project recently. Interestingly the focus this time has been more on the idea of me standing still which I quite like. It’s very true that the process of making this film has involved standing still in many different ways. Every day I stand in my spot for ten minutes trying to be aware of my surroundings and not drift off into thinking about worries and to do lists. I have had stand still by staying in the same place and not travelling for a year (which is very different to my former life). The film is also visually an attempt to stand still within time allowing it to flow around me.
I spoke with someone from the BBC yesterday who asked whether other people could gain something from the idea of standing still. Instead of the rather garbled answer I gave I should have just said yes. None of us stop and stand still often enough especially outside. Even here in Knoydart it is is easy to get caught up in a false sense of urgency. Before you know it weeks have gone by.
So yes, maybe we should all try to take ten minutes out each day or even once a week wherever we are to stop and notice our surroundings and remember what it is to be alive.
Certainly today as I filmed I felt sad that this year is nearly over and shall miss my morning visits to the loch shore.
Here is the often quoted poem Leisure by WH Davies which my mum sent me not long after I started the project which feels appropriate to share now.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.