Live Update: Artists’ Long-Form Filmmaking
17.55 JPW: Artists’ Long-Form Filmmaking talk ends.
17.51 JPW: Ogborn observes that within the film industry shorts are no longer a place for experimentation. Comer agrees, adding that funders increasingly see the short as a ‘rehearsal’ for the feature. This is a concern.
17. 46 JPW: Audience member asks “Is there an economic reason to encourage long-form artists’ filmmaking?” Maybe it is a conscious attempt for the artist to reach a longer audience. Rivers is interested in reaching a larger audience. Is there an element of subsidy for getting them into cinemas? Akomfrah: “Yes and no. You have to resort to different calculations.”
A condition of Akomfrah receiving money from the UK Film Council in the past has been that his work is ‘cultural’ rather than ‘commercial’.
17.44 JPW: Ben Rivers describes how Steve McQueen puts on different heads for Hollywood and the gallery. This, for Rivers, is unimaginable.
17.40 JPW: Why this dichotomy of long and short film? Akomfrah notes that Bauhaus made short and long-form films: “It was always an art historical distinction, rather than one made by filmmakers.”
17. 38 JPW: Ogborn: ” Every film needs a star. The artist is the star… Art is so hip… film feels old, bored and tired. It wants to reenergise itself by plugging into art and fashion.”
17.36 JPW: Stuart Comer: the nineties saw an explosion of Hollywood film cut up. The art world becomes a filter on the history of film, and the filter becomes a thing in itself in the art world.
17.32 JPW: Akomfrah is fascinated by how this debate has come about. There is a sense that if, as an artist, you produce long-form you are breaking a mold of some kind. Where is the mold? Chris Marker is a key reference in this debate – a signature figure. Marker’s work is always working across forms and conventions. We are so enamoured by Marker for his disregard of forms.
17.29 JPW: For Akomfrah long-form was part of the process by which a sideways understanding of the canonical avant garde came about. Over the years Akomfrah has made more long-form films than shorts.
17.24 JPW: John Akomfrah speaks. The long-form was Akomfrah’s first exposure to cinema. Recalls attending cinema off the Fulham Road, Chelsea. Bunking in at 14 years of age to Pasolini and Rosselinni and “not understanding a fucking thing.” Only at college did Akomfrah see shorts: Brakhage, Frampton. Akomfrah was involved in screening artists’ film in many settings: classrooms, flats and community centres – there was no privileged cinematic site.
17.22 JPW: Comer: In the art world you can make a DIY film for nothing and sell it for six figures; feature films can be made for millions and each unit sell for £12.
17.19 JPW: Rivers explains that when producing feature films more money is involved and more consideration has to be given to budget. Mo’ money mo’ problems: increased budgets come with many more considerations. Rivers remains wary of professionalism in spite of the increased budget. How does the filmmaker retain integrity to his/her core values with budget increase?
17.17 JPW: At a screening of Two Years at Sea in Cambridge one guy in the audience huffed and puffed. When asked if he was okay he exclaimed, “it is boring! is there no voice of dissent?”
17.14 JPW: Rivers’ recent show at Matt’s Gallery screened Slow Action in anamorphic format. At Matt’s all aspects of the screening environment could be controlled: the right beanbags, colour of walls, headphones…
17.12 JPW: Screening in the gallery affords Rivers greater control over the viewer. Even when Rivers’ films were screened in galleries he would send off material to film festivals.
17.10 JPW: Rivers describes a decisive moment where he scrapped story boards and narratives. He went out into the world. Length became a secondary consideration; duration was dictated by the form. Only later did the film find its length in editing.
17.06 JPW: The only route for Rivers was art school. In Falmouth at art school he produced sculpture and watched short films – these acted upon one another in these formative years. In the early years outside art school all Rivers wanted to do was produce narrative feature films. Comer asks whether Rivers’ early short films were stepping stones to making feature films.
17.05 JPW: Ben Rivers is represented by Kate MacGarry as an artist and currently has a feature in cinemas nationwide.
17.01 JPW: Kotting’s Random Acts is currently being screened: a fibre glass swan pedlo bobs in the brine.
16.57 JPW: Wearing is a voracious consumer of television. Rightly so, her film Self Made will be aired on Channel 4.
16.56 JPW: Ogborn’s other film is the collaboration between filmmaker Andrew Kotting and Iain Sinclair’s where the two take a swan pedlo along the south coast and up the Thames. ”A gorgeous film” – Ogborn. An offshoot of the Kotting/Sinclair relationship has been the commissioning of several shorts for Channel 4′s Random Acts where guests are invited to pedal along.
16.53 JPW: Wearing’s film found diversified sources of funding. A discussion was had with Wearing’s gallery whether a freeze frame from the film could be sold as an editioned print.
16.51 JPW: Ogborn is screening a clip from Wearing’s film Self Made. A woman on screen is being encouraged to throw crockery against a gallery wall. “Who annoys you the most?” she is asked. “People driving on their mobile phone.” “Okay, throw the plate at that person.”
16.45 JPW: Kate Ogborn is a producer who has worked in different roles within the moving image industry. Ogborn started at the BFI – a long time ago! Ogborn learnt about collaboration and facilitation at the BFI. Her time there gave her a freedom of approach and respect for the filmmaker’s vision that stays with her today. The first artists long-form film Ogborn produced was Gillian Wearing’s Self Made. From the outset Wearing knew she wanted to show her film in a cinematic space and accepted she would need assistance in a world unfamiliar to her own – enter Ogborn.
16.43 JPW: Comer’s view is that the conversation on this subject tends to account for funding structures in the difference between mainstream and artists’ moving image.
16.40 JPW: Stuart Comer begins by stating that the subject of this talk is currently a live issue. After 20 years of multi-screen artists’ moving image with an ambulatory spectator we are witnessing a renewed interest in the conventional single-screen cinema as a space for artists’ moving image.
16.36 JONATHAN P WATTS: The doors have opened and the auditorium is filling steadily for this afternoon’s final talk at the LUX / ICA Biennial of Moving Images Artists’ Long-Form Filmmaking. Tate Modern’s Curator of Film will be chairing a panel featuring filmmakers Ben Rivers, John Akomfrah and producer Kate Ogborn.
For the final talk of the biennial, Jonathan P Watts will be posting live updates of the Artists’ Long-Form Filmmaking talk this afternoon. Curator of Film at Tate Modern Stuart Comer will chair a panel including filmmaker John Akomfrah, artist Ben Rivers, and producer Kate Ogborn. This is now the Biennial Reader describes the event:
A distinguished panel discusses the realities and practicalities of artists’ long-form filmmaking. With the rise of artists working in feature-length productions, questions of audience, sustainability and infrastructure are raised.
In light of this description, Live Journal has a couple of queries regarding the forthcoming discussion:
- In what respects has digital media enabled long-form filmmaking?
- Does artists’ long-form filmmaking sit comfortably within the cinema space?