Stay the Same

#28 Henry Darke sings Stay the Same

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!

#27 Sleep Stills by Pippa Best
4 June 2012, 10:17 am
Filed under: ALL, Responses to the project

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 giving support to mothers and exploring the creativity of motherhood in all its forms.

On Standing Still
1 June 2012, 10:31 am
Filed under: ALL, Diary entries, Responses to the project

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.

#26 Thomas Thwaites
30 May 2012, 2:22 pm
Filed under: ALL, Responses to the project

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.

Response #25 Overtime by Claudia Firth

My older sister, Claudia Firth, is also an artist. There are many ways in which our lives our weirdly parallel despite her living in the centre of London and I in the north-west of Scotland.  A couple of years ago Claudia started a project called Overtime. From her home in the Oxo Tower, a housing co-operative of around one hundred people, she can see many central London offices. Over the years she had noticed that there was always one man working overtime. Even when the lights in the all surrounding buildings were turned off his would be on, in evenings and at weekends. So she began taking pictures of him every day.

She says of the photos:

“This project came out of my own experiences as an “incapacitated” worker. Often at home in my flat not able to work because of a chronic health condition, I spent time watching and thinking about the offices that surrounded my building. I began to notice that even very late at night the office opposite my flat would be occupied with a lone worker and I decided to photograph him. I wanted to use long exposure photography to capture some of the time this man was working particularly after the normal 9-to-5. The photographs are stolen images, taken without his knowledge, but somehow I imagined them creating a relationship between us. Being faced, myself, with a feeling of a sort of suspension of normal time through illness, I felt that there was a kind of inverse relationship with this worker who always seemed to be there, sometimes even when I went to bed and again when I got up in the morning.”

These pictures couldn’t be more different from my project, they are covert, anonymous, and within a cityscape. The man is enveloped from the seasons by the warmth and light of his office, yet my film is about being exposed to and part of the natural environment.

There is definitely a sense though, in which Claudia’s photographs and the story behind them make you connect with this anonymous worker. I used to watch him working when I visited my sister and wonder about his life and what it was that made him spend all of his time in his office, but now I’m not so sure my experience is really that different. This unknown the man and I are isolated in our own ways, constantly propelled forward  towards our own goals.

In my last post I wrote about a lack of happy endings, but I think it was as much about the lack of endings per se. I have been getting myself through this project by fixing on an end point, the date I finish filming. When in actuality this will be just the beginning of editing this film. At times it feels like continually climbing a mountain with never-ending summits and I often wonder when it is you  get to go downhill.

But maybe its just a matter of stopping every now and then to take in the view, notice what you have and how far it is you have come already.

#24 Simon Lynch who I haven’t seen in ten years

Simon saw this project in the papers and got in touch through facebook last month. I went to university with Simon. We also worked together as interns in the Labour party media unit in ’97  helping make short films about how great the new Labour government was going to be (we were young!). As a result of this all we spoke on the phone for the first time in at least ten years last week. Afterwards he wrote me an email (which he agreed I could quote here!). He said “Often, ‘life’ seems to get in the way of keeping in touch with anyone – don’t even think this is a pre/post Internet thing – there just is no time… Which is exactly what I may or may not have been able to say to you about your project [on the phone]. When I look at what you are doing, I feel an extreme jealousy of your choice. Yesterday, we were busy. Today, we have no time. For anything. Maybe the story of what you are doing is about both ‘recording’, but also ‘re-calibrating’ time? Placing a stop on the constant flow of stuff and finding another way of dealing with it. Perhaps I am just projecting my own personal desires.  Anyway, I still think the angle of other people doing the same thing could produce a great piece of work.

I like the phrase “re-calibrating time”.

Simon sent me some links. One to Noah Kalina‘s everyday project, one to Cesar Kuriyama who is editing together a second of film from each day of his life and and one to the work of Jamie Livingston.  Livingston documented his life with a polaroid photo every day between March 31st 1979 and October 25th 1997 when he died of a brain tumor. He was an artist, filmmaker and circus performer. The pictures are publishe here. They are incredibly rich and moving.

These peices also relate to Jeff Harris’ 4784 Self Portraits and Jonas Mekas As I Was Moving Ahead I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty. They are all about our relationship with time, memory, personal narrative, representation and the visual image.

Simon is convinced I should create a peice of work about people who are documenting their lives in this way. In many ways this is exactly what this website is an attempt to do.  I have always seen the site as a peice of work in itself.  Alongside documenting the process of making the film, the website documents the research and development of ideas behind the film. A film which in itself is about the desire to document.

New work will almost certainly come out of this process. But it’s good to be reminded of this as sometimes I forget.

#22 Small cat arrives in post
4 March 2012, 6:50 pm
Filed under: ALL, Responses to the project | Tags: , ,

Someone in Singapore sent me a very small handcarved wooden cat in the post with a note describing it as a “woody pal” to brighten my day, which it did immensly. It’s not strictly a response to the film but was such a nice thing to receive I thought I would share it here. As my first (and may be only) ever peice of fan mail I will treasure it accordingly! Thank you.

Thank you. Sam

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