Tag Archives: film

Make Something Every Day – Film 001

I pulled “Film”. That’s tricky – make a film, on a Bank Holiday Monday… starting….. now! My first reaction was to cheat it, by applying it to all of the actual bits of film that I have lying around in various states of processing.

One way of looking at this way of working (I hesitate to call it a project) is to say “OK, if you were going to work on your most important and interesting XYZ project today, what would that project be and what next right steps would you take?” To which my creative inner says “Fuck off, you’re trying to get me to project manage again.”

I do think that part of this work is to allow the bumbling and improvisation to come through in the structure. The prompt isn’t a kind of trick to make me make a film or write a book or whatever, it’s a way to safeguard today from all the other things that could come invading in, if it weren’t there and allow the bumbling to stay roughly on one path instead of going into the long grass because I can’t remember why I started this sentence in the first place.

So although there are films I’d like to make and bits of film (moving picture) that I was thinking of when I wrote “Film” on the card, it’s OK if I spend some time with old (or new!) negatives or gels or filters or plastic bags, I suppose. It’s up to me how far is too far to stretch. I don’t think Film is ever likely to be “I watched Netflix all day” but it’s not always going to be tiny sober progress towards a magnum opus.

A little while ago I made a kind of soundscape thing called Grunt & Shuffle made out of sounds I recorded within a few steps of my front door. The idea came to me today to add some visual layers to that, perhaps put some shots from down by the river together with cars speeding past on the main road and that made me think of a kind of double-exposure thing, perhaps swapping the focus from greenery to road and back again in some way related to the sounds. I popped out and shot a minute or so of cars passing (it’s quiet on a Bank Holiday) and decided not to get fresh stuff from the river but to delve into my archive.

I thought I knew how to use a cutaway in iMovie to do a double-exposure effect, but I didn’t so I had to look it up. Even then, I had to poke around a few times and then restart my computer before I got it to work properly.

I chopped the cars going past up a bit to get the rhythm that I wanted. And I took off the audio. Then I slowed it down by 50% this sets the time at about 1 minute.

I took a very short clip of my feet walking up St Catherine’s Footpath from a couple of years ago and copied it several times so that it loops over the car track. Then I saved this as it’s own file so that I could put more overlays on. I remembered to start writing some notes (you’re reading them now, isn’t that neat?!) while the cogs grind in the software machine.

Now the question is, when you’re building up layers, do you start a new iMovie project (yes, I’m still using iMovie, stop judging me) so that you’ve got something to rewind to, or do you get rid of it, knowing that it was so simple and made out of things that you have saved, and you’ve written notes to remind you of what you did anyway, so you could just redo it if you needed to but you probably wouldn’t need to. That all feels complicated, so I just cleared the workspace and started again with the new one.

I like the way that the changing light levels in the walking clip shift the double exposure effect, so my eye switches between which layer I’m focusing on.

And then I needed some greenery – I chose a shot from the bottom of Ferry Lane across the river, a bit shaky and I think the camera was a bit overwhelmed by the green and made it a bit yellow, but I tried adjusting it and messing around generally and none of it worked, so I rendered that over the top of layer one as layer two.

To complete the video bit, I added some clips of a buttercup blowing in the wind. I chopped it up and copied a few bits to fill out the one minute clip. Then I popped a fade to black on the end before going hunting for the audio.

The only copy I could find was on soundcloud and I had to fiddle to download it onto this machine. I started with the very beginning, but that was overwhelming so I picked a piece that fitted the roughly one minute of video and which was a bit more calm. And I totally obsessed about how I could get the audio footsteps and my feet on the film to be better synchronised before remembering that really what was important was the realisation of an idea. And that was complete, if not perfect.

Here you go.

ADHD notes

I lost an hour (at least) yesterday looking for my old developing tank and thermometer, the final bits in the developing kit. Laura knew exactly where they were when I finally gave in and asked her – they were in the box that she puts her laptop on when it’s plugged into a monitor, so she sees it pretty much every day. She really can’t understand why I can’t remember that we put them in there together a few months ago when she was helping me organise. Nor can she understand why I would go through every other box in the bedroom, under the bed, in cupboards before asking her (partly because she knows that she knows where everything is)

Make Something Every Day – Writing 002

Today I rebelled. Slightly. Or perhaps I just tweaked the rules based on learning what works. I’ve been thinking for a couple of days that Sunday needs to be a review day rather than a full “production” day.


And then I pulled “Writing” again. The first repeat. And while I have done some writing and thinking about writing today (and I’m writing this) I gave myself permission to do some of the things I’ve been wanting to do, remembering that the important thing here is that I make something everyday and don’t get pulled into chores and duty all day long.

I think what I learned from the other day’s Writing assignment is that I need a longer term project. It might only be a short essay, but I need a goal for a series of writing sessions, rather than starting from scratch each time. What do I want to write? Well, the things that came out onto the page last time were the tweet storm about what I’m doing and the beginnings of a “What were the eighties like?” piece. Also the tweet storm about my dream the other day (though that was the day after – I am drawn to this form for writing short stories with a twist).

Perhaps another way of coming at the 80s would be to write some short stories and then try to tie them together, rather than starting top down to express the feeling of being there for me without explaining what I was doing.


I’ve been meaning to make a fire in the back garden for a while. It’s good for me to build it properly and see it burn well. I have plenty of earth and water and air in my life, I miss fire. So I put it together from the dried grass and weeds pile and some of the weedier rosemary twigs for kindling and then built it up with bits of a pallet that was broken and I’d chopped up into reasonable chunks.

I had a go at making drawing charcoal from some of the larger rosemary twigs in a little tin. I punched a tiny hole in the lid of an old vaseline tin (like a shoe polish tin only more like an inch and a half in diameter). The lid goes on very tightly, which isn’t ideal for this, it turns out, because heat and metal. I’ll look out for other more suitable vessels.

Then just as the fire was nice and hot and settling down to embers and I’d popped the tin on the top to cook, it started to rain. Of course, it’s the Bank Holiday weekend, obviously it’s going to rain as soon as you start burning anything.

Anyway, I left it, the rain went off quite quickly and the embers were still hot enough. When I couldn’t see any gas or smoke coming out of the hole in the tin, I lifted it out to cool.

When I opened it, I was pleased to see that it had cooked – I’d been worried that the rain would have spoiled it. It wasn’t perfect – I’m not sure that rosemary is the best material for drawing with, but it’s what I had immediately to hand and it was dry. I might go down to the river tomorrow and see what I can find in terms of hazel and willow. Anyway I made some carbonised wood, I tried a new process and it worked – and it’s pretty in it’s own way.

I should have taken photographs throughout the process, but all I got was the final result.

rosemary charcoal

35mm film

The other distraction is that I now have all the bits I need to process black and white film, so I can’t see me resisting the impulse to use that tomorrow as well as reviewing the progress to date.

Passport to Pimlico

At some point in the late seventies or early eighties, the BBC ran a comprehensive season of Ealing Comedies. It stands out as an important part of my adolescent television experience – which many would say explains a lot.

A favourite has always been Passport to Pimlico (1949) for the location shots of immediate post-war London as well as the plucky defiance of the residents of Miramont Gardens. What’s disappointing of course is that it’s actually filmed in Lambeth on the other side of the river rather than in Pimlico itself. Nonetheless it formed an important picture in my young mind of “that London”.

If you haven’t seen it, get it and take a look. Spoilers may well follow…

Watching again, this weekend, I noticed many motifs that echo what I’m thinking about a lot with respect to self-organisation and emergent behaviour, but in particular two examples of herd activity – firstly, the way in which the idea spreads through the community that they are Burgundians and therefore need no longer comply with the post-war austerity measures or indeed any English law they dislike and then later how the crowd gathered to witness the defeat and evacuation copy the kids who have come to throw provisions to their parents (the kids who got the idea from seeing the penguins fed at the zoo).

And I laughed out loud a lot too.

City of Men – Cidade dos Homens

Thanks to another @danlight & @sizemore collaboration I went to see a screening of City of Men tonight – it’s a follow-on from two things I haven’t seen so I can’t do the comparisons that others might, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt like Macbeth meets Romeo and Juliet in a very hot place with guns and motorbikes.

It made me think about being a father, having a father, being a let down as a father, being let down by your father, being let down by your friends, being a let down to your friends, the stuff everyone knows about you except you, finding hope in the smallest things, having hopes dashed repeatedly, motorbike taxis wtf?, not knowing what’s going on, losing everything, carrying on, the difficulty of attacking an enemy with an elevated position, what it must be like to shoot a gun, being in a gang, being on the outside of a gang, unconsciousness, what it must be like to be shot, to see a flash and have your flesh ripped by a bullet, how hot it can get, how good it is to shout in the sea.

So yeah, quite a lot really.

Photo from adman_as on flickr by-nc-sa