14 April: Final Thoughts and Influences.


Having had the experience of making the initial proposal I found this a most helpful and informative exercise and it enabled me in turn to investigate changes which needed to be made for the final submission.  After spending time looking closely at the films of a very diverse range of filmmakers from Jean Cocteau, through to Terence Davies, Zineb Sedira and Zarina Bhimji, it made me analyse and focus more closely on exactly what I wanted to achieve through my own video.

I found scenes that did not involve any human presence particularly thought-provoking and created for me personally a greater involvement with the chosen subject. However, I soon realised that it would be virtually impossible to avoid a human presence due to the subject matter I had chosen. As the video concentrates on people begging and living on the streets, a human presence is in fact pivotal to my video.  So my challenge was to try to find a common ground, to relate what I wanted to show and not merely depict people and scenes in a purely documentary way.  I also wanted to use other influences to guide my own practice but still use my own voice.  So the work particularly of Zineb Sedira and Zarina Bhimji influenced the  way I had previously thought about the importance of the speed, and the flow of one scene to another; the mix of incremental sound and audio and to create a general pace for the work as a whole .

As a first attempt at making a video it brought the need for technical expertise into play and also emphasised the importance of smooth panning shots, and the ability to create different levels of focus, through such things as zooming in on a subject.  The ability to be able to use my Canon 5D MKII to do the filming was a great asset, although I soon realised that the audio capabilities of the camera were somewhat limited, so in turn I used a Zoom H1 hand-held  recorder when I was undertaking the interviews. This also made it easier in the editing process when I wanted to treat the audio aspects separately from the visual recordings.

As a photographer such things as composition become almost automatic over time and filming itself was an exciting experience.  The general public seemed almost to disregard me and seemed less suspicious than if I was out taking pictures with my camera. It also highlighted the need for the necessary equipment, such as filming on a tripod or monopod and the ability to film on the move whilst holding a heavy camera.  This is something that I need to prefect with the acquisition of the correct equipment.

As a result of the initial proposal it was also it was also necessary to reduce the amount of content as the resulting work would have been too long, so this in turn made me look more closely as what was important to include and in turn what to remove.  For example,  I did not finally include any of the interviews I had recorded with members of the public but merely included those taken with people who had experience of begging and living on the streets.

The editing process, whilst time-consuming I found was personally challenging, exciting and  a very creative process.  It highlighted the importance of audio as an instrument to create atmosphere to the visual element of the film.  Initially I had intended to  include music appropriate to the subject matter, such as Tom Jones’ ‘I want to go home’, but realised that it is preferable to have instrumental tracks only, so as not to create any influence on the viewer, whether intentional or otherwise.  I was also interesting in being able to mix in different layers of audio and in turn fine tune such things as when sound fades in and out on a scene, and to lead in to the next scene.


The word count limit for the written element of the submission meant that whilst initially I had intended to compare a film by Zineb Sedira with one by Zarina Bhimji, I could realistically only focus on one film.  So I chose Yellow Patch  by Zarian Bhimji, which had made a lasting impression on me having first seen her work in December 2012.    The written element of this submission can be seen via the following link:


Personally I have greatly enjoyed discovering the work of people I may have come into contact with before but not looked at so closely.  As a result I now find that I particularly view film footage in a different way after having made the video.  With everything that one does we become more critical of our own work, or find ways that it could be improved if we were repeating the exercise.  In this respect learning in turn enables one to gain expertise and together with it the confidence to progress in the future.

8 Feb: Research – Patrick Keiller

The work I have looked at so far has made me realise, that I had moved away from the idea of ‘less is more’.  I need to cut down what I have worked on so far, and slow the pace down considerably.  The importance of ambient noise adds much to the atmosphere of what one is creating, as came through very much with the work of Zarina Bhinmji and Tacita Dean.  So although I have sufficient visual material recorded at this time to make the video, I need more ambient sounds, which is something I can do with a few more visits to the High Street both when it is quieter or when it is noisy.

I have also looked at the work of the following film maker.


He began by studying  and practising architecture and later fine art, and has been making films since 1981.  His interest in building and the environment is evident within his work which adopts a documentary approach.  In 1994 he produced his first feature-length film London, which depicts a year in the life of the capital through Keiller’s protagonist, Robinson.  The Guardian interview (30 November 2012) states that it, ” … concerns itself with “the problem” of the capital … its lack of charisma and of functionality compared to other european cities and is “more concerned with tracing the city’s cultural past”.  It also adds that he was intrigued with the Surrealists’ idea of changing a city just by altering the way we look at it.  Perhaps my own video will be able to achieve some of this idea as well.  The commentary to the film is narrated by the actor Paul Schofield and a small excerpt can be viewed on my video page CLICK HERE

Screen shot 2012-06-23 at 10.12.23 PM

The following image was taken from the film.


His short film, Robinson in Space (1997) part of which can be viewed rom my video page CLICK HERE  shows wide static shots of car factories, supermarkets and container ports, often seen from a distance through fences; together with a narrative commentary and the ambient sounds within the environment.


His latest film, The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes (2014) retraces the hidden history of the places where we live.

After looking at the work of other film makers, my opinion on the work comes down to personal choice as a viewer.  The earlier visual work by Keiller, whilst it seems rather dated compared with more recent work is thought provoking, and he is depicting aspects not generally looked at in detail.   I was not able to download even part of his most recent work, but it will be interesting to view this to see how his work has developed over time.

1 Feb: Research into the avant garde

I have spent some time reflecting on the work I have produced so far and it was pointed out that I need to pare it down considerably, or my 3 minute video would be about 30 minutes in total.  I also realised that it needs to become less of a documentary but more of an artistic interpretation.  This is similar to how the Surrealists expounded on a theme and took it beyond the original, by delving into the subconscious and taking the viewer into different realms.

I began by looking at two films by Jean Cocteau, The Blood of a Poet (1930)


and The Testament of Orpheus (1959).


Whilst I do not want to emulate this this style of work, I used them to enable me to think beyond the expected and predictable. I was also interested to see how the work of Cocteau had developed over the intervening 29 years since the first film had been made.  Both are black and white, apart from a brief introduction of colour towards the end of The Testament of Orpheus.  

I originally saw these films previously as a student in the early 1970s and thought they would be more meaningful today, but they still leave the viewer feeling uneasy and not sure exactly of what is taking place. There is an almost constant expectation that something gruesome is about to occur, but even when it does it is very tame compared with what the public sees today.  The other drawback was the fact that the subtitles did not fit on to the TV screen, so much was lose in translation. The films are however strong in symbolism and the influence of the surrealists.  Both possess a dream-like quality, the suggestion of an alternative reality and the fight between life and death.

Today we are used to films with more explicit story lines and computer generated effects and the steps which film makers take to maintain the interest of the viewer.  With this in mind I watched both to see how the effects were created, and whilst rather disjointed at times Cocteau managed to produce instances of dramatic effect by the reversal of frames in the film.

I now need to look at the work of photographers who have also worked with film to see how photography has influenced their work.  I also need to look at other short films about the same length as my end result will be, to see the best way to depict what I am trying to say within my film.

15 Jan: Looking at the Surrealists


I was first introduced to this film through a recent TV programme, where they described it as the most horrific film that was ever made.  I only watched a short portion and it was enough to shock me but led to further thoughts about it.  My investigations into the work of the Surrealist revealed that the eye was held to be of great importance to them, so this is probably why the eye is featured in the film.  I also discovered the following images but did not include them, as  they related to the eye but not to my work on the elderly.


This image by Man Ray entitled Tears 1933 shows an elaborate exaggerated, theatrical interpretation. This is very different to his earlier work on solarisation and rayographs as shown in the following image of Lee Miller produced in 1929.

Solarizedportrait2The work shows his interest in experimentation and of using the human body in differing ways, as shown in this image of  Le Violon d’Ingres 1924 where the body has been transformed into a musical instrument.

Man Ray Violin d'Ingres

14 Jan: Research into photographic genres


Whilst a portrait is usually associated with the face, it can also denote a total representations of a person.  The  photographic process to be widely used was the daguerreotype, which consists of an images portrayed on a highly polished, and sensitized silvered copper plate, which is covered by a piece of glass.

The following image of an elderly couple was made in 1839.  They are looking straight at the camera, which no emotion or contact with each other.  It is known that they would have had to maintain the pose for a long length of time.  Possibly they have dresses specially for the occasion.


The following image of a woman with her dead child was made in 1850s as a ‘memento mori’.  Despite the quality of the copy and there being no expression on her face, her body language and the expression in her eyes shows her extreme sadness. 36Post-Morten%2022Portrait,%20Woman%20holding%20baby,%20c_preview