‘The In-Depth Stuff’

So I kick my feet up and relax, thinking my rather vague effort at the summer work has been done. But then a friend who cares way too much tells me posts are not in depth enough, and that I have possibly failed to carry out the rather simple task of researching into Spectacle, Memory, and Power.

Well (ahem)

As I mentioned at the beginning of my Tenerife blog, this year’s blog will be rather different and full of rants. Since I cannot get marked down for writing too much, this post is simply the (possible) ramblings of what the inspirations linked to my projects were, and still are.

Bob Dylan’s drawings were art paintings by their own merits. Art is supposed to have spectacle, memory and power in equal amounts. Places like The Tate Modern (which I visited about two years ago) plays around with cutting out pieces of the puzzle. I remember seeing a blank canvas with a slash down it. Sure, it stayed in my memory. But it wasn’t spectacular. The power was in it’s radical presentation, but it sought only to annoy me. I could have made it, therefore it was not art I respected. Better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you’re not, eh? Bob Dylan’s work was not well constructed. It did not inspire me. I sure as heck would not consider it to influence a person to do a film. I was more interested in the artist, and why he chose to try his hand at it (probably because he knew fans would buy them).

Massimo’s conversation was interesting because it showed you who were the people who have inspired you – you’d have them at your last supper because you would have things in common – things to talk about. Ultimately this shows you as a whole, but it would be hard for it to effectively influence one movie that you make. The conversation was about past inspiration, rather than me drawing inspiration from it. It certainly made an impression on me, so possibly it had power and memory (or, in English, ‘held gravitas’). Hard to comment on how a conversation could have ‘spectacle’ though.

An Inconvenient Truth was a film that I’ve wanted to watch – yet actively avoided watching – for half a decade. The reason is that I did GCSE Geography and I know about Global Warming. I also have lectures every day / week, so why would I watch a film where a guy lectures people on science stuff? It had a powerful message, but was memorable for being rather slow-paced and formal. ‘Spectacular’ it was most definitely not. It was an interesting idea for a film, but it did drag towards the end. I have often thought of filming a lecture in my own academic establishments, but they would surely amount to nothing more than fancy podcasts.

It is nearly impossible for me to watch a film I wouldn’t normally watch – I watch pretty much everything (except porn *cough*). I have a world cinema collection from Asian to German, French, Mexican, British (yes we are world cinema too!), obviously American, and some from other corners of the world as well. I have documentaries, ‘true stories’, animations and animes, in science fiction, western, and all other genres and genre hybrids. The last film I watched to possibly fit the description in the blog would have been Filantropa, as I have never seen a Romanian film before. It was a good film, but it was a one-off screening and it’s unlikly I’d have the chance to view it again until university started once more.

Jean Genet was perhaps the best experience in the summer relating to the task. It showed art that had been influenced by one man’s experience in a violent revolution. The power is there straight from the off – political power. Has democracy failed? When is the right time to revolt? When does freedom fighting become terrorism? To see these put into sculptures and art is something memorable indeed. The two films I mentioned in my post – This Is England and V For Vendetta – are also memorable movies with memorable topics and powerful performances. Spectacle again is probably not best suited for acts of militant revolt, although seeing people smash buildings to pieces in London certainly has ‘panache’.

UK Uncut – although a dangerous documentary to make – would certainly be an interesting idea to explore within these three themes. Given my professional experience last year down at the first of the riots, it would be interesting to see how everything has developed in a year. Are people more desperate? Has vandalism got to a state that Millbank now looks like a little scratch on some walls in comparison?

So, you might be asking – what DID inspire Shooting The Sunrise and TEOTA?

Shooting The Sunrise is about my personality as a whole. I’m ignorant, and when I get my mind set on something I don’t give up. It’s a lifestyle choice. Getting a video on the top of Teide – I wanted to do it, so I did. It took three attempts, but I consider myself victorious. There was no real inspiration, although the reason for choosing the particular location was because it was hard to get to in the first place, and also because of the beauty of the sunrise. Most of what Mother Nature has to offer is spectacular, even when it’s deadly. The film Hero uses a lot of colour in it’s narrative. It also uses natural props – rain, a still lake, a forest full of yellow leaves, a desert. These are used as simple mise-en-scene decorations, yet they make the film spectacular to look at, even without the martial arts. Put simply – nature is spectacular. Nature inspired me to make this film, and in being spectacular, it should be also both powerful and memorable.

TEOTA is the more difficult one to explain. See, TEOTA is a combination of older stories that combined to make the one we see (hopefully!) today. As a lecturer told me last year – ‘The first draft of anything is sh*t’. Humbly, yes I do indeed agree. TEOTA is the first draft of all the ideas. The inspiration to set it in a forest came from taking a walk in one (and what a spectacle it was). Much rather, where did all the other stuff come from. Well, let’s get the obvious things out the way first:

Well, considering I have posters like this up on my wall, I’m pretty sure Victoria Frances is an influence in my work, one way or another, and particularly on visuals. 

Also, you may check out the masterminds behind the bands Opeth and Nightwish in my ‘last supper’. Both deal with many gothic visual styles. My own works and aims therein are not so much to make literal gothic visuals like Tim Burton does (also included in my lineup), but rather to put a different spin on them. I see ‘gothic’ as a genre, with it’s own codes and conventions. It is my style to combine this genre with others to create new ones – such as a Gothic Western or a Gothic Rom-Com – and thus make new things that haven’t been done before. Things need only require a little amount of gothic edge to make them different from the usual – it’s a genre that seems rarer to find nowadays as oppose to rom-coms or sci-fis (but considering it’s a niche market, that’s understandable).

Inspiration wise, I got into the underground scene when I was a teen, and it profoundly affected me both in terms of my art and my lifestyle. But in terms of where original ideas come from, unfortunately this was not from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ – I’ve never seen that film before. This is just one of a few ideas I came up with, thinking it had never been done before, only to find it had. Where do my ideas come from… well, I don’t know. I go on a walk, picture a blank canvas in my mind, and two hours later walking through the front door, we have it. Nothing really instigates it, and that hopefully increases the chance of it being more original. I just need to be in a creative mood. Paul McCartney said something similar once – he didn’t know how he came up with such legendary songs… but he didn’t really want to know either (I’m not comparing myself to him directly, but I do fancy that our methods of getting inspiration and constructing ideas are similar).

This idea was no different – it came from a long solitary walk around Nottingham some place. I probably asked myself ‘what’s unusual that I can do with a fallen angel motif?’, and then just went through the usual mind-maps and elimination rounds. The initial idea usually gets scrapped, or merged with another idea I’ve already made, if I think they complement each other. At present I have over ten solid stories ready to be turned into scripts – I chose TEOTA as it is the most realistically achievable to do in curriculum time frames (the ‘SMART’ one, or whatever Business Studies called it…)

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