Ffresh Lessons

I watched my fair share of screenings over the last two days, some thought-provoking, others entertaining, some just not to my taste at all and the talks were interesting. Over the last two days I like to think that perhaps my mind was expanded and intrigued, even if only a tiny bit. I’ve seen new ways of working but I think I gained the most from the talks.

I spent most of Thursday in screenings though I did get a chance to see Jon Ronson talk. He didn’t really say much about his process of work, things like getting funding etc but he did spend a lot of time talking about his experiences with the people that he’d filmed over the years. What ensued was an hour of mad stories, hilarious clips and just an enjoyable talk from an interesting person. Despite the strange and sometimes dangerous people (he made a film with terrorists once) he was quite a cheerful and happy guy. When asked how he got into contact with these people, and how these people allowed him to make films about them, he answered interestingly. He was interested, genuinely excited to meet them (whoever they were) and enthusiastic about undertaking the project which is something that communicates to these people. It’s his energy and enthusiasm for the project that gets him to these people, and gets them to open up to him. I thought that was interesting.

On Friday I went to 2 interesting talks, one was by Noah Harris who has done extensive work for E4 as well as other advertisements for Talk Talk and Ford Fiesta, which I was surprise that I knew about. It felt like I was in the room, so close to, a real life famous person. Not someone like a film star (I’m convinced they don’t exist) but someone on the spectrum of fame between ridiculously well known and a regular person. I find them far more impressive.

Anyway, Noah Harris talked a lot about his work, inspirations, his processes (both production and pitch) and it was just generally  interesting. Boundaries: he tries not to have those, and he said that his background in graphic design informs his film senses, in terms of colours relating to each other and what not. Two seemingly disparate fields blend together in his mind, which only strengthens my suspicions about illustration strengthening my work and imagery. I took some tiny scribbly notes on my festival programme: When doing proof of concept, doing it crudely is a good idea as it gives a basic idea of what things might look like while giving you a little wiggle room to work with should things change. He also said that people often worry about looking like they’ve stolen stuff wholesale from other references. His advice was, don’t plagiarise but having inspiration and references are very important in art. One thing he said that struck with me was that although he started out in graphic design he’s leaning more towards directing now as he progresses in his artistic identity. Which somehow brings me to the Semiconductor talk.

Semiconductor are very much experimental filmmakers and while I’m not usually a fan of experimental films (since I’m such a concrete, linear minded person) I found a lot of their stuff absolutely fascinating. They work a lot with the natural world and how we relate to it and so on. I’m not selling it very well but to hear them explain about working with scientists and raw data, you could very much feel the excitement they had for their projects. The ones about the sun and magnetic fields were the ones that I found most interesting. They said that they often redevelop the same work for different audiences to increase exposure and create a different viewing experience. When asked how they survived financially, they said that they have money coming from different sources. They don’t limit themselves to just an art crowd which is great that they should point that out. They said they wanted to create a dialogue with a wider audience which is something that I want to do as well. No point in creating something and then hiding it away for your stereotypical pretentious filmmaker to come be snooty and put their nose up at it. A conversation is much more interesting when more points of view are involved so I will definitely be taking that on board with my work. Another thing they said which struck me was what they said when asked how they got into their field. Scientific/Space related animation, imagery and sound is new to me and I was wondering how they got to that stage. Ruth Jarman (the one I spoke to) said that the work revealed itself to them as they did it. They didn’t consciously set out to do one thing, but their interests led them down the path that got them where they are now. That is something that linked in with Noah Harris’ talk, the idea of the work growing into something other than what you intended to get into. That and the idea of working across artistic fields so that is also something that I will try to take with me into my work.

This post is dragging on now so I’m just gonna wrap it up now. When I was watching the UK graduates documentary section there was a documentary about Hirashi Suzuki, a well known Japanese silversmith. He was talking about his work and this is what I got from it: Only in art do you talk about creating imperfect work on purpose as part of your illustrious career. Still that concept was from a documentary I watched during Ffresh. Nature is full of beauty, unspoilt, untamed and asymmetrical. Perhaps we should pay homage to that instead of paying lip service to some jumped assembly piece of an idea that we dont fully understand. Another lesson I plan on taking with me.

All in all I enjoyed Ffresh though these were the highpoints for me. Hopefully next year I’ll be pleased enough with my film to enter it into this festival and maybe even come out with a holy cheeseboard award for myself.


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