Make Your Own Damn Film #1

The procrastination can continue no longer and I must sit down and start editing my documentary about the artist Bob and Roberta Smith. The final push has come via the invitation to screen some of the footage as part of an event at the ICA centred around Bob. I received an email yesterday saying that they need my ‘film’ delivered by 6th May.
This is only a work-in-progress cut running at about 20 minutes but it’s often daunting enough showing your closest, most trusted allies your unfinished work let alone presenting it in public at one of London’s most esteemed art institutions. It’s a great privilege though, the ICA is exactly where I’d love the film to end up so this is a kind of reversal.

Luckily I’ve shot some great footage over the last 20 months or so and my initial plan for the film to be a kind of bricolage looks like it works, which is a relief (for now). But this stage of an edit is a mixture of anxiety and excitement. Excitement that you are finally piecing together your film and seeing some great things in the footage. Anxiety over the inevitable technical hiccups to be resolved and the fear that you don’t actually know what you’re doing.

The diagram above is what you do inbetween the two states – I’m not sure it helps a great deal but you can look up and see it all there in little green bubbles, nod and then get back to the laborious task of transcoding hours of rushes.

Being as this is a fairly free-flowing profile of Bob, his work and his world filming never really stops – particularly as Bob is so active.

When I conceived of the idea of the film it was because I’d heard about this artist who lived in Leytonstone (where I also live) who had a gallery in his garden called The Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art. I had a vision of a short documentary about a man painting in his shed around the corner from my front door. We met for a pint in the pub that sits equidistant between our homes (and where I’m going in a moment). I got a call the next morning to film the opening of an exhibition that evening followed by a dawn assignment shooting Bob building a mobile brownfield site for the South Bank and it has carried on like that sporadically ever since taking me as far away from Leytonstone as New York, Walsall and Ramsgate.

Yesterday I was filming a protest in support of the imprisoned Chinese artist Ai WeiWei at Tate Modern. Bob was taking part in an ‘official’ protest outside the gallery when the spontaneous action in the footage above took place. It’s never dull with Bob.

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