Stay the Same

A small escape at spring equinox
20 March 2012, 10:55 pm
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So here I am. I’ve been filming every day for nine months now. Less than one hundred days of filming left to go! This means I have gone outside and stood on my platform whatever the weather over two hundred sixty fifty times. So far I seem to have retained my sense of humour if not any sense of perspective.

The last few weeks of filming have been difficult though with a fine mist or drizzle always in the direction of the camera lens. Today it started raining bang on 8.30. I have also started dreaming about tunnels . . .

It was very well timed then, when serendipty gave me and my mum (who is visiting right now) the chance to escape to the Isle of Eigg for a day.  It was a fantastic day, the sunniest day we have had in months. We went to the beach drank soup from flasks and caught up with some dear friends on the island. Everyone agreed this has been the worst winter in years, not so much cold but relentlessly windy and rainy. Everyone has been struggling with this particularly on Eigg as it is even harder to leave in bad weather than Knoydart. We were all quite giddy with the one day of glorious weather.

A trip out to a beach on a different island with a very different view was just wonderful. I stood outside on the boat the whole way home. As we flew across the water I thought about the relative freedom I have had for the last nine months from any major decision making. Suddenly the idea of this project ending was nearly as anxiety making as the prospect of it continuing for another three months.

Moon shots
15 January 2012, 11:47 pm
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As you can see from these pictures, this week the moon has been in shot during my filming! (The pictures also show how different the light can be on consecutive days this time of year). I imagine it will only happen once during this year that the moon exactly in the right place at exactly the right time. It was certainly pretty special about coming out and finding it there on a still clear morning.
Today, someone asked me today how long I had been filming and unusually I had to think about it for a moment before answering (it will be seven months next week). I am no longer counting the days and no longer feel claustrophobic. In fact I am beginning to be slightly concerned that time will run out and I won’t achieve everything I want to during this year.
Some of this might be because I have been travelling to Mallaig on an almost daily basis this week as I have just started a community film project with the children at the primary school there. This has taken quite a bit of careful organising. There is a boat which usually leaves at 8.30 am but now waits for me to finish filming, pack up the camera and cycle like mad to the pier (my record so far is 8.48, which is exactly 8 minutes from switching the camera off to being on the boat). This is partly why the blog may be a bit quieter over the next few weeks as I focus on helping the children with their own creative vision. It is really nice to be doing both of these projects at the same time. Doing this project has helped me think about how to help the children be creative and I am looking forward very much to finding out what they think about this film! I have also encouraged them to start their own blog as their film is going to be mainly distributed online. So here is a link to it and the work I am doing with them . . .

Mallaig Primary School Film Project Blog!

I don’t think the travelling is entirely what has brought this change in perspective though. I think it is  just the adjustment that comes with time to any given situation. It has become normality now, and now I have to be guarded against complacency, especially during filming. The tapes are beginning to pile up which is dangerous as watching them back is always a stark reminder on the importance of being present. I am looking forward to spending a long day capturing and reflecting. It is going to be very interesting looking back over December.  I went on a walk through the woods the other day and am still slightly shocked by the amount of devastation caused by the storms (we lost more trees between Christmas and New Year as well as power again for a few days). My walk felt like I was awakening from a dark sleep, rubbing my eyes and still not quite believing what I was seeing wasn’t part of a strange dark dream. Usually January and February are the hardest months here but I am not sure this is going to be the case this year, we shall see.

Response #12 Abby Boutlebee

Mending Wall

‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,’ Robert Frost, 1914

This is a clip of hands (mine and the instructor’s) mending a drystone wall near Edinburgh as part of an employability project for homeless young people. As we worked, I started thinking about you and your film project. Frost’s poem was also in my head throughout the three days, and it all seemed to fit together somehow.
Frost’s poem, for me, has always been about impermanence, and about questioning the attempt to create boundaries and maintain them. It’s as much a poem about time as it is about space. Why spend time building a wall when ‘something there is…..that wants it down’? It strikes me that what you’re doing with ‘Stay the Same’ is a bit like mending a wall: spending time redefining boundaries and exploring limits in an attempt to create something permanent. You’ve set your own boundaries (the exact place you stand, the frame you’ve chosen, the distance you can travel, the length of the project) , and now you’re discovering the limits (the project’s and your own). But to me what’s most interesting is what’s happening within those boundaries, and the minute yet recordable changes that are taking place within your defined frame.
Your project, like a drystone wall, is very much subject to the will of nature. Your struggle against it in order to maintain what you set out to do strengthens the creative process and gives the project definition. Like mending a wall, by creating your film, you are momentarily at least claiming a space both physically and in time.
Building a wall is a careful, skilled process, much like writing or film-making. Or it should be if it is to succeed. And that’s what you’re doing – using your skill, spending time, to craft something that will last, for a while at least. By being carefully pieced together, the finished work will have purpose, and will last longer than the scattered individual moments.
‘Spring is the mischief in me’. It always has been, and I hope that this coming Spring will also be the mischief in you. Keep it going Sam!

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