Stay the Same

1 September 2014, 4:45 pm
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Here it is, after a long journey the final film . . .



A small screening on the isle of Rum
1 September 2014, 11:36 am
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The Isle of RumI haven’t posted for a while but I thought I would report back on a lovely screening of the film we had on the Isle of Rum on Friday evening. It was somehow fitting to screen on Rum as the island occasionally features on the film just over my left shoulder.

The screening was really well attended and went down very well with some of the most interesting and engaged questions I have had so far (sorry no pictures of the event).

It has spurred me on to finally get the film online, despite the fact it is still being accepted into film festivals (like Aesthetica in York this November!).

So do watch this space over the next few days and I will try and share the film as broadly as I can.


Time by Sam Spreckley
7 April 2014, 1:59 pm
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I thought I would share this lovely short film called Time by Sam Spreckly also showing at the Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition in the same programme as Stay the Same. It captivated us at the private view and I could watch it over and over . .

<p><a href=”″>T i m e</a> from <a href=””>sam spreckley</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>



Some reflections
24 March 2014, 5:44 pm
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I have been meaning to write for a while and reflect on the whole experience of finishing and showing this Stay the Same. I really enjoyed updating this blog and keeping a diary during the filming, but chose not to do this during the edit because listening to ones instincts becomes much harder if there is more than one voice giving feedback at a time. It has been strange not to share so much here for such a long time.

It has been an incredible six months travelling with the film, watching it in different venues, hearing different people’s responses and gradually gaining a little distance from it.  The criticisms I had during production have become a distant memory and of little relevance anymore; the questions now being what is next? and where do I go from here?

Finishing the film was a massive relief and at first I wanted to get it out as quickly as possible; but there are lots of festivals that require your film to be a premiere, or at least not available online and showing films in film festivals still seems to be important within the industry in terms of getting the right people to see your work. But it has done me no harm to go slowly and let the film find it’s place and audience.

That said, showing the film publicly the first few times was nerve-wracking. I was effectively asking people to sit and watch me stand for fifteen minutes without saying anything and had no idea what people would make of it. I didn’t want to explain the film too much before people saw it and certainly couldn’t stand up and say “it’s OK it gets a bit quicker” half way through as I would have like to. My fear was that people would walk away feeling nothing and maybe this has been true for some people – they have just been too polite to tell me.
But it has been incredible and surprising to find that at almost every screening at least one stranger has approached me, or even contacted me afterwards by email to tell me how moved they’ve been by the film. It seems I have made a film that a small handful of people are effected deeply by, which is wonderful and I am very grateful for those who have told me. It has made it all worth while. It seems almost taboo these days (at least within the world of film) to say you are not aiming for mass appeal, but rather to touch a few people deeply. But if I am honest this was always my aim, Tt make a film like a poem that occasionally touches people the way poems occasionally do.

There doesn’t seem to be a particular kind of person who is moved by the film and most find it hard to articulate what is that has moved them, sometimes it is a sense of connection to my journey, others a moment of reflection on their own lives. There seems to be an equal amount of people who simply come away puzzled, who have approached the film more intellectually and are not sure what the message is that they are meant to have ‘got’. I have also had more than one declaration of love which I certainly didn’t expect after all those cold early  mornings outside with no make up on! Whichever way I am eternally grateful to everyone who has shared a response.

My own response has changed over time. Watching the film with an audience has been really interesting, sometimes wonderful and other days unbearable. Some screenings it feels like I am tuned in to the audience – sensing the moment where people decide to go with it, others I feel claustrophobic I can’t stand to be in the cinema with myself on the screen and I am glad I am now coming to a time where I don’t have to be at all the screenings! That said a highlight was watching the fim from the stage at the BFI Southbank when I could see see my dad’s reaction to watching the film for the first time.
It is, for the most part, the film I set out to make and I am very very pleased with it and thankful to all of those who helped me particularly Fraya. I am continually gaining insight as to why I made it and what it was I was trying to express. I am often asked to speak about this, but I too find it hard to articulate without resorting to cliché. It is my own small attempt to express something about the experience of existing, to add my contribution to the many voices that have done so in the past and will do so in the future.  If I could sum this up in a few sentences, then I would not have needed to make the film. What I am reminded of each time I watch it is that everything passes; sometimes this is painfully sad and sometimes this is for the best.

Whatever my emotional response, the film has now placed me in an interesting position. In my original pitch to the film council I said the film had cross-platform potential and might get exhibited in art galleries, but I’m not sure I actually believed this. There are lots of artists who move into filmmaking, but art is a closed world not usually open to those who haven’t been to art school. I haven’t really even been to film school (I did an MA in Screenwriting at Leeds Met a time when the writing department was quite separate from the filmmaking bit) and have had no practice based training. Now the film is in an exhibition at the RSA, which I think in art world terms is quite good.

Am I an artist or a filmmaker? Does it matter? Is it even within my power to decide how I am defined. Having been to festivals for art-films and festivals film-films for there are definitely two different approaches and breeds of people and I am not sure I feel entirely comfortable being either one. I want each film I make to be part of a wider practice building on ongoing themes and ideas, equally I want to make films part of the wider world of the cinema,  OK these might not be mainstream, but equally are not purposefully obscure. There are not many models of this out there (I am inspired by Agnes Varda, Doris Lessing, Margaret Tait) and certainly there is a sense of both my background and my current location making me isolated whatever I position myself as.  It is also true, however that wherever I am based and whatever my background was I would probably be doing my own thing; sometimes this is painful and sometimes it is for the best.

In the meantime I will be working on two new feature projects and am planning to set up a new especially dedicated webspace for blogging and publishing which I will link to here when it is up online.

Please do share your comments and thoughts on the film either here on this website or on the facebook page. And thank you again to everyone who has read the blog and been so supportive of me during the process of making this short film.

Stay the Same at the Royal Scottish Academy
22 March 2014, 6:44 pm
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I though I would share the news Stay the Same will be part of the Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition which opens next week on 29th April until 4th May 2014. The theme of the exhibition this year is ‘Focus on Film’, as a survey of Scottish art involving the moving image. The exhibition will showcase established filmmakers past and present and emerging film artists. Obviously I am absolutely delighted that might work has been included especially and it is the first time I will have had any of my films show as part of an art exhibition.

The film is part of a programme called Form and Structure: Time and Place alongside films from artists and filmmakers such as Sam Spreckley and Norman Mclaren. It’s a lovely programme of films as are many of the programmes showing in the exhibition.

The film will be shown in a specially created cinema space downstairs at the RSA.

Screening times are as follows.

  • Tuesdays at 11.30
  • Wednesdays at 16.00
  • Fridays at 13.00
  • Saturdays at 10.00
  • Sundays at  14.30

This will be from now until the 8th June 2014.

Stay the Same will  also screening at Bradford International Film Festival, Alchemy Festival in Hawick, the European Media Art Festival in Germany, and Dark Light Festival in Dublin in the coming month.

All very exciting!

For more details go to the screenings page of this website.

Stay the Same wins Award at European Premiere
21 January 2014, 10:02 am
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Stay the Same had its European Premiere this weekend at the 27th Stuttgart Filmwinter which showcases artists film, video and new media from around the world and won the Wand 5 Honorary Prize for Concept and Design chosen by the festival selection panel as their favourite film (the other prizes were decided by outside jury).  This was amazing for me, considering the level of competition and quality of the other films.  I was told it gave the selectors a warm feeling and it was praised for its concept.

The festival invited all  filmmakers in competition to come out with their films and generously paid for flights. I had a wonderful weekend watching  films, talking to other filmmakers and having some new cinema and digital media experiences (!). I got to stay with a local artist Julia and her family who made great coffee every morning, lent me maps, and generally looked after me.

Highlights of the festival (apart from the many excellent competition screenings) included a triple projector screening of Yoy Killed the Underground Scene by Wilhelm Hein accompanied by live music (and Gluhwein!) which was like being transported back to the sixties, a selection of films on nature including Trypps #7 (Badlands) and Cannot be Anything Against the Wind  and coming home to find a little friend in my bed left by one of my host Julia’s children. The festival culminated in the funniest award ceremony I have ever been too (even though it was entirely in German – or maybe this helped) hosted by Mr. Köperl and Mr. Subke who quite literally punk rocked their way through the whole presentation .

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I always forget, especially as there is so much travelling involved, that visiting festivals is a great way of putting a context to your work, have one’s eyes opened to new ways of filmmaking, hear feedback from all kinds of different people, and see where you currently fit in to things. It was very inspiring and incredibly useful when working in relative isolation. In the case of Stuttgart Filmwinter it was quite a lot of fun too. And of course very nice to win an award at my first European festival with the film. So danke Stuttgarter Filmwinter Festival for Expanded Media das ist sehr wunderbar!

Hopefully there will be more chances to the take this film to unexpected places.

A review from Sight and Sound
13 January 2014, 1:34 pm
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Stay the Same is currently screening (last night and tonight) at the London Short Film Festival and Sight and Sound magazine have very generously selected it in the 11 films to see at the festival. This is what they had to say:

“Filmmaker Sam Firth filmed herself in the exact same spot at precisely the same time each day for a year. The resulting film, Stay the Same, captures Firth’s changing environment over the year but also reflects her own shifting moods – the tears, enjoyment, determination and boredom of filming for 10 minutes every day in all weathers. It reveals a striking contrast between the filmmaker’s momentary emotions and the ever present rocks, tides and landscape that surround her. The film was subject to a mini-storm of controversy back in 2012, but as her film soberly reminds us, the natural world is largely indifference to our human concerns.”

To see the full article click here.

I am sad to be missing the London Short Film Festival this year. I have had a great time there in the past, seen incredible films and made fantastic connections with other film makers, but you can’t be there for them all especially as there is other work now to do with new projects. But I have also been struggling with a cold and the effects of the radio-iodine I took in November.

I want to write more soon about the overwhelming response I have had to Stay the Same, how interesting it has been seeing it placed in different programmes in different festivals and how, visiting these festivals, seeing other work, and meeting other film makers has all helped develop a sense of my voice, of where I might be going and given me renewed insight into what this film is really about – as if I am honest even as it’s creator the work chooses you as a conduit rather than the other way around.

The film also screened here in my new home in Drimnin a few weeks ago to a full village hall with lots of questions afterwards and a fantastic harp performance by Fraya Thomsen and Gillian Fleetwood which was an amazing evening.

Finally excitingly I am going to Stuttgart on Thursday to a festival of “expanded media” called Stuttgarter Filmwinter which I will report back on when I get home!

A review from Film4
4 December 2013, 12:30 pm
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I thought I would share another review of Stay the Same written for the film4 blog by Simran Hans which is a lovely description of the film.  She writes . .

“While it was composer Fraya Thomsen who was nominated by Underwire (and won) for the stirring music she wrote to accompany Sam Firth’s Stay The Same, this experimental poem is a collaborative effort. Freya’s swelling strings recall Behn Zeitlin and Dan Romer’s majestic score for Beasts Of The Southern Wild; her music is imbued with a real sense of magic. This score, when coupled with Sam’s remarkably expressive face, is something quite extraordinary. Sam recorded herself every day for one year at exactly the same place and time on the coast of Scotland – and the result is an emotive poem that explores hope, joy, pain and longing with heartfelt intensity. Look out for her forthcoming feature film project, The Story Of Me And You, which recently won a special commendation prize in the Wellcome Trust screenwriting competition and is now in development with the BFI, Creative Scotland and Stray Bear Productions.”

To read more click here.



A lovely evening at Swedenborg House
2 December 2013, 11:49 am
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On Friday night I was at the Swedenborg Short film festival which was a really nice evening. There were some really interesting films about our relationship with nature, existentialism and mysticism and the soul and I will definitely be going back to the festival. Stay the Same got a special commendation from the festival in the award ceremony which meant a £100 book token to spend on books published by the Swedenborg society as well as a limited edition signed copy of Iain Sinclair’s book Swimming to Heaven: The Lost Rivers of London. IMG_0291

Highlights from the festival were the main prize winner Nick Jordan’s film Nature House Inc., Small Wonders by Katie Goodwin and … all that passed by Stuart Pound. Katie and Stuart were also there for the evening and it was lovely to meet them. (Follow the links for their respective websites v. interesting stuff!).

I am now really looking forward to the next screening of the film on 28th December in my local village hall in Drimnin, which will be followed by a concert by Fraya and her musical partner Gillian of the Duplets! Hopefully we will get a good crowd.

The film is also showing at the ICA and the Stratford Picture House as part of the London Short Film Festival in early January.

Stay the Same gets its first Award!
24 November 2013, 12:20 pm
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Great news! Fraya Thomsen has won the Best Composer category at the Underwire Film Festival yesterday, which we were both a bit emotional about. Fraya worked incredibly hard on the score, which is integral to the film and created such a beautiful pieceof music the award was well deserved. Fraya wins some mentoring with a music publishers and hopefully this will help her launch her career as a film composer. Well done Fraya!

The award was followed by an event that had already been organised where after screening Stay the Same me and Fraya talked about how the music came about,  our collaborative relationship and the musicality of the film, which was edited rather like a piece of music. Fraya brought her harp and played one of her first ever compositions which was lovely to hear. We also showed some of The Worm Inside and Mallaig in It’s Own way which we also collaborated on. 

I have so enjoyed working with Fraya that I am delighted she is being recognised and hope eventually she finds a way of making the music available on i-tunes as there have been lots of requests!

It is also lovely that any element of the film should be recognized by this small but incredibly cool film festival – especially when it was criticized so widely in the press.

Thank you Underwire! We had a fab day.

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