Stay the Same

Pics from the London Film Festival
19 October 2013, 12:45 pm
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Here are some pics  from the Stay the Same Screening at London film festival. The panel discussion was one of the best and most interesting I have done so far. There were four filmmakers  each with very unique and different films and the discussion covered everything from what was practical to what was artistic and ethical about experimental filmmaking! It was also quite funny.

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First review from Encounters!
22 September 2013, 5:27 pm
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The Encounters screening went really well. It is very strange seeing the film on the big screen in front of a public audience, most of whom don’t know me or any of the background to the project. I tried to put myself in their shoes, but if I am honest I had absolutely know idea what people would make of it. It felt slightly hostile at first, but then maybe three or four minutes in something changed.  Fraya and I got most of the questions in the Q & A afterwards and several people came up to me to say how moved they were by the film, which is all one can really hope for as a filmmaker. It seems each person who watches the film gets something slight different from it. The next day a young journalist from Estonia reviewed the screening in the publication Inside Encounters which is distributed around the festival. It isn’t online yet but I couldn’t help take a  photo to share here. It was really nice to read a nice piece of press about film by someone who has seen the final result.

Here is a photo of the article for you to read . .

Review from Inside Encounters #2

Review from Inside Encounters #2

Pictures from the premiere
13 September 2013, 10:45 am
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The Knoydart Premiere
9 September 2013, 6:54 pm
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Just to say the premiere in Knoydart went better than I could have expected. About sixty people came (a full house in Inverie village hall!). It was mainly locals but a few visitors too. There were wine and nibbles and I answered questions for about half an hour after the film. People were very honest in their reponse.
Many people told me privately that they hadn’t known what to expect before they saw it and some were concerned it would be self indulgent, which is always a fine line to tread with this kind of work. The response, however was overwhelming. With many people telling me they were quite moved by the peice. I am incredibly grateful for the support I have had from the Knoydart community in all my work and it was a pleasure to have shown the film there for the first time.
I am very much looking forward to Encounters Film Festival next week and the London Film Festival in October.

I will post more about the premiere in the next few days with photos taken by Rhona Miller from the Knoydart Tearoom.

The London Film Festival!
4 September 2013, 12:19 pm
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I am delighted to announce that Stay the Same has been selected to screen at the BFI London Film Festival in October as part of the Experimenta strand. The screening is at 9pm, October 12th at the ICA.  I love the London Film Festival so am really pleased and am looking forward to getting my delegate pass and watching a tonne of films.

Click here for more details of the screening.




A good response so far!
28 August 2013, 4:27 pm
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With the film finished and now being transferred onto DVD and tape it is now a case of waiting and seeing what the response will be, which is slightly nerve wracking. I have already sent it off to a number of film festivals and so far the reaction has been good. The film has already been programmed in five UK film festivals and one international festival. I can’t announce all of them yet, but I am going to set up a screenings page on this site which I will continually update.

It seems like it has taken an incredibly long time and amount hard of work for its fourteen minutes, but I think it has been worth it at the very least in terms of what I have learnt from the whole experience. It also does seem as though the work I have put in is there on the screen.

Since this website has always been about peoples responses I shall start to collecting them and including them here for people to read. Once you have seen the film please do email me, or feel free to post something here.

So far Lizzie Francke of the BFI who has been incredibly supportive throughout has said “it is a very effecting piece with an accumulative power that that creeps up on the viewer.”

Clio Barnard who directed The Arbour and The Selfish Giant and is mentoring me on my latest project said “It’s very beautiful,  moving too…. I love it. Out of simplicity comes great complexity. The title is perfect because everything changes .. and stays the same.”

“I really wasn’t sure what to expect and I have to say it was excellent.” Jim Manthorpe, ex-Knoydart resident.

If you would like to see the film please check the screenings page (a link is on the left) where details of screenings will be updated.

How long does it really take to make a short film?
31 July 2013, 3:02 pm
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About 18 months ago the press reported that I was receiving £160 per hour to make this film. Now that the film is nearly complete it seems a fun idea to work out how much time has actually been spent on it (just in case anyone wants to do a recalculation!). It’s obvious to most people that  shooting a film is a small percentage of the time you spend on it, but I find many people (especially my film students)  underestimate how much labour it actually takes to make a piece of creative work.

Obviously this film is unusual, most short films only take a few days to shoot and you don’t end up with any where near this level of footage.

So on the way home from a day spent colour grading I wrote down some rough figures on how long it took to make this particular film.

Shooting the test film 4 hours

Editing the test film 8 hours

Writing proposals budgets etc 25 hours

Building the platform 4 hours

Shooting the film 60 – 70 hours

Editing the film 500 hours
Recording the music took 5 people 8 hours

It took 2 of us 8 hours to grade the film.
And it will take another 10 hours to do the sound design

Before I shot the film I made a test film. I spent six weeks recording almost every day and then edited this into a three minute film to show to funders. This and writing out my ideas for the piece was about forty hours work. I then spent the winter before filming going out with the camera at regular intervals to make sure I had the time right for the shoot in terms of light.  I also had to find the right spot for the camera and build platform to put it on.

I haven’t asked Fraya how long it took to compose the score but I am guessing this will be at least 40 hours..

This doesn’t even include office time doing accounts and admin for the project or the time I spent creating this blog.

Now the film is finished and I have started to receive feedback on it I don’t feel like I have anything to prove anymore (and I would be preaching to the converted here). I feel incredibly proud of the level of work I and everyone else has put in and fortunate to have received public funding to make this. It has just confirmed to me that to do something well it has to be about love and not money.

Here’s a picture of the film projected on the big screen for the first time (see the wee laptop in the corner).

Seeing the film on the big screen

Another year has gone!
1 July 2013, 11:20 am
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I have been told off for not posting on the anniversary of finishing filming on June 21st, which I should have done. But I don’t think I haven’t really wanted to acknowledge that it has taken me this long!

Since the last post the music has been composed, recorded and mixed and is beautiful. We are now on to sound design and grading and so we are really nearly there. So much so that it has already gone to final some film festivals in the hope of getting a screening around the time it is finished.  And I will let you know about screenings as soon as I do. (There is a tentative plan for a screening on Knoydart which I will set dates for soon and the possibility 24 hour online premiere for those who can’t make it).

I can hardly believe a whole year has passed since the last day of filming. I remember so clearly the incredibly sense of liberation when I stepped off the train at Glasgow Queen Street station and maybe I enjoyed it a little too much. But I needed some space away from the material before I was able to edit the film.

Once I begun it took three weeks just to watch the sixty hours of footage and almost twice that choosing moments from each day, putting them together, and trying to make sense of it all. By January I had a rough cut twenty minutes long which I showed to a couple of people. It was kind of interesting, even compelling in places but it still wasn’t there, but it didn’t seem to hold together, and didn’t feel like a film.

I had to think seriously about how to structure a film with no narrative, words, or change of location.

It was always going to be chronological, but how long for each clip? In the end I looked to music and the film became a series of bars, phrases and movements.  It took a while to get to this point, but it was a turning point in the edit. By late March I had something close to a final cut I could give to Fraya Thomsen the composer.

Fraya had already been working on sounds and phrases and musical ideas by this point. I had played her a collection of very odd collection of music and sounds, a stuck CD of Scottish music, some great cello and some modernist classical composers. Her response to the film was incredible and she was able to start structuring what she had to the film.

But even after I had handed the film over to her I was still editing and making changes.  It took several months of hard work from Fraya to get the music right. Fraya would send over drafts we would listen and discuss and then re-draft. We then recorded the music in May over a thirteen hour session with a cellist and two sound engineers. Mixing the different layers has also taken several weeks.

Hopefully all of this work has been worth it and will be evident in the film. Either way it is has been an incredibly rewarding time with a massive learning curve.

And so much else has happened his year too.  It couldn’t have been more different from the one I spent filming, which was catorized by a sense of confinement and isolation.  Towards the end of filming I met someone visiting Knoydart and fell in love. I spent six months splitting my time between two different remote peninsulas and made the decision in March to move away from Knoydart to Morvern. It is nice that both my relationship to Knoydart, where I lived for seven incredible years and my relationship with A are, in their own way, documented in the film.  I have also spent the last six months learning to drive, taken the radio iodine, written a feature lenth screenplay, learnt to sea kayak and much more. So not all my time was spent in the edit.

And so here I am preparing to send the film out into the world. The intensity of the filming process now seems a distant memory, but hopefully one that is caught on film. At this stage I can’t help be aware of some of the criticisms the project has had and would dearly like to prove the critics wrong. (I have shown the film to a couple of trusted people in the last few weeks and so far the response has been quite profound.)

It would be interesting now, at this stage to work out my hourly rate, but I wouldn’t know where to begin and that has certainly not been my motivation. (You would be daft to go into experimental film making to make money.) The films value will lie instead, in it’s relationship to an audience, whether people are moved or intrigued and how long they want to keep watching.

And I am really really looking forward to hearing from you what you think when you finally see it.

Nearly there!
13 April 2013, 2:42 pm
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Things are starting to get exciting in the world of Stay the Same. The film is now at final cut stages  (running at about 14 minutes with credits) and Fraya Thomsen is now working hard on the score which is already sounding great. (Fraya did the score for The Worm Inside with Gillian Fleetwod and the music for Mallaig in It’s Own Way and is now at the NFTS).  As we are recording the score with live musicians it’s going to be another few weeks at least before it is ready to put to the film.

By then post production on this film will have  taken nearly as long as the year  shoot! I am not entirely sure where all this time has gone, but editing the film has been much more work than shooting it. Watching the footage and editing clips from all the days was incredibly time consuming, but so was making the film work. In the end I had to think of it as a visual peice of music with a very strict rythym that had to be adhered to. Films and most other works of creativity have rules and I guess it makes sense that this film is ruled by timing. Moving home, my health and other  bigger projects have also sometimes got in the way of the process, but it is been fantastic to be able to take my time and get it as right as I can and I think I am pleased with the final film (even if it feels quite short given the amount of time I have spent on in). So with the sun has been shining on here on the West Coast of Scotland for many weeks now the end of the tunnel definitely feels  in sight.

Below is a snapshot of the editing process and the strict rythym of the film, which meant that like it or not, the length of most clips was already dictated regardless of whether I liked the shot or not.

Chipping away
19 January 2013, 3:46 pm
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A few people have been understandably asking when they can see the finished film  so I thought I’d better post an update. Basically I am still editing which is proving quite a mammoth task. Having watched the whole years footage twice I have now reduced sixty hours down to thirty minutes. But I have a feeling that might have been the easy bit.   The film and the footage now pose lots of very interesting questions both practical and creative about what it is and what it is doing. The process itself has been an act of discovery and I have had to create my own rules when it comes to editing.  It feels far more like chipping away to reveal something that is already there than assembling something . . . . . I will try write more  about this in the coming weeks. I will also let you know as soon as I do when the film is near completion and where it can be seen. Thanks again for all the support. I will keep chipping away.

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