Make Your Own Damn Film #5

Tomorrow sees the ‘world premiere’ in of my documentary Make Your Own Damn Art – the world of Bob and Roberta Smith in the East End Film Festival. It’s 3 years almost to the day that I started filming – first at the Portman Gallery in Bethnal Green then damn the next morning as Bob created his mobile brownfield site to sit on the forecourt at the Royal Festival Hall.

The prospect of the post-screening Q&A has forced to me think again why I made the film in the first place. In truth, the possibly unexpected answer can be found on this blog – it came from my fascination with Leytonstone and wanting to learn about the place I had just moved to.

I’d seen a poster for the Leytonstone Centre of Contemporary Art and wanted to learn more about it and the artist who created it. The film in a way is the result of that curiosity. So although it’s about a unique voice in British art and the importance of art in society it is also as much about localism for me personally.
I wonder how that will go down at the Q&A tomorrow.

In the afternoon tomorrow I’ve got the huge honour of hosting the discussion and Q&A with Andrew Kotting and Iain Sinclair following the screening of their film Swandown.

I’ve been following this project – a psychogeographer’s dream ticket – ever since I first heard it mooted in 2007. So tonight I’ll be skimming back through my Iain Sinclair archive and re-watching Andrew Kotting’s short films in preparation – what a hardship.

Swandown

Iain Sinclair Andrew Kotting Swandown

My sister Cathy Rogers took this photo of Andrew Kotting and Iain Sinclair enjoying a well-earned pint beside the river Medway as they make their way along a series of inland waterways from Hastings to Angel Islington in a Swan shaped Pedalo. The project is called Swandown and had already began to garner a mythic status before they plonked their vessell in the water in late September – two of our great topographers on an epic crazed quest – I’m just waiting for Joblard to emerge from the Medway mist.

There’s more info, pictures and video on the Swandown website http://swandown.info/

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Super8arama

I’ve fallen back in love with Super8 after doing a fantastic workshop at No.w.here lab a couple of Saturdays ago. The course was in Super8 camera techniques and development. I’ve become such a resolute DV user over the last 5 years or so – viewing the PD150 I use at work as the videographer’s AK47, and had also recently started to develop strong feelings towards the Sony A1E we recently acquired for vodcasting. But this workshop managed to take me back to the passions aroused during my first adventures in film. It’s rare these days to meet the true enthusiast turned expert but our tutor was that, translating a teenage passion into a profession. I’d bought my Canon 814 Auto Zoom straight after seeing Andrew Kotting’s film Gallivant at the Sydney Film Festival in 1997. I was beguiled by the scene where he posts the small yellow packets of film off to the lab to be developed – entrusting the bulk of his film to the postman. I took the Canon with me on a 6 week journey through India the next month and shot my first film (see 2 minute clip below – I realise that digitising and giving it a video edit is against the super 8 ethos). So eleven years later I was discovering what all those knobs and dials on the camera did – our group lusting over our cameras became like a Super8 festisher’s support group. We each shot 25 feet of film around Bethnal Green Road and Weaver’s Fields then took them back for the magical process of development as James talked us through the heating, applying, rinsing and fixing of the chemicals in the E6 process. Then the films were dried on a clothes airer before we set up the projector and watched the films – the results better than anything I’ve ever had from a lab. Since then I’ve been planning on building a darkroom at the back of my kitchen and have acquired a copy of the brilliantly geeky Small Format magazine. Super8arama!

Incidentally that is my sister in the picture with her Canon 514XL, who I gave a super8 camera to when she was at Chelsea College of Art and bought her a copy of Gallivant. She is now studying Film at Maidstone College with Andrew Kotting.

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