British Short Berlin 2023
January 12, 2023
Celluloid film is reconfigured into a graphic musical score, with obscure narratives emerging as the film is reanimated.
Hi Tim, it’s great to get to talk with you, how’s everything been going?
Hi - things are good, thanks. It's been quite a busy time which is great, with various projects in development and production. One recent project was a title sequence for a documentary about Japanese horror, which was in the style of a cursed video tape like in the film Ring. That was fun chewing up old video cameras and filming creepy stuff off TVs.
Congratulations on Cinegraffic Score being at the British Shorts 2023, how does it feel to be part of such an incredible line-up of short films?
It is always a pleasure to be part of British Shorts which has such a diverse and considered curation. My film is a bit of an oddity so how it sits alongside the other films in the program is anyones guess!
What did it mean to you to get a Special Mention at KINOSKOP 2022?
That was actually very special for me. I had recently finished a massive 4 year fea- ture project which just fell flat when I released it, with almost no reach at all. As a result I kind of lost my momentum creatively for a while. So in an attempt to reconnect with my film making I came up with the idea for Cinegraffic Score, which I had no expectations for and just made as a kind of therapeutic exercise. So for it to get accepted into quite a few festivals and then get the special mention really restored my confidence.
How important are festivals like British Shorts in creating a platform for short films?
I can only see it as a good thing. There are so many short films out there to navigate it can really help when there is considered curation and focus from a festival like British Shorts to help find the real gems.
Can you tell me how Cinegraffic Score came about?
In addition to my previous answer regarding KINOSKOP, 'Cinegraffic Score' conti- nues an ongoing interest in reconfiguring abandoned, decaying and orphaned ce- lluloid material into complex collages with ambiguous fragmentary narratives. The project also expands on previous experiments in designing graphic scores - where the re- presentation of music is achieved through the use of visual symbols as oppose to traditional music notation.
Where do you draw inspiration for your films?
Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time, and so it really pays to always have a note book handy in my pocket. I may be walking with my dog, chatting with an A.I. scientist or digging around in the local flea market and then I suddenly get an idea. The challenge is to note it down before it evaporates. I’ve lost many a great thought by not having anything to write on.
What are the biggest drawbacks of using celluloid film other than its fragility?
It’s time consuming, fiddly and unpredictable, and because my vision is not perfect anymore, working physically on such a small scale can be a bit of a strain on the eyes. But these are precisely the things I love about working with celluloid - the challenges and inconvenience breed wonderful creative solutions.
What where the biggest challenges you faced making this short?
Probably the biggest challenge was refining my workflow from when I made a previous celluloid collage film called ‘Films To Break Projectors’. That was done in a very haphazard and DIY style. The hardest part once you make the collages is photographing them satisfactorily, so I needed to build a bespoke rostrum camera type of setup in the studio as well as keeping track of all the technical obstacles. This took quite a lot of planning and sourcing of hard to find parts.
How much flexibility did you allow yourself once you start shooting?
In contrast to working digitally where you have almost total and predictable control of the image at every stage, this type of film making has much looser control and the unexpected can emerge at any time. You never really know how the collage looks until its photographed, seem at high magnification and in motion. And some- times things you think will look great are bland, and things you thought were bland look fantastic. This then informs how you move forward. So unpredictability plays an integral part in how things turn out. I love that. It’s a very fluid, spontaneous work process.
Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?
Without question, yes. Depending on how you count it, we have had over 130 years of cinema, which means that narrative and storytelling has been articulated in just about every way imaginable. However, that doesn’t mean the opportunities for fresh narrative structure have been exhausted. Cinematic language is rich and fertile, so when a film maker is truly fluent in that language they can begin to mould and re- configure it into fresh permutations.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking and how did Cinema iloobia come about?
I have been making films since I was 14, and back then I was using/misusing my dads super 8mm camera. He is a total film buff and has been showing me films for as long as I can remember - a diet of Hollywood musicals, monster movies, film noir and Buster Keaton. And in my early teens we had a VHS recorder and my mum would record strange movies and short animations from TV late at night, so when I woke up I would feast on things like the Quay Brothers, Ken Russell, and Jan Svankmajer. I had quite an expansive film education one way and another and this fuelled my desire to try and make films myself. Cinema Iloobia was the eventual realisation of me having my own little independent studio.
With over 30-years in the industry, looking back, what would you say have been the most valuable lessons you have learned about your filmmaking over the years?
I have for the most part been quite an outsider to the industry and so I have limited experience in more orthodox approaches to film making. What I really do value les- son wise is making sure I am constantly developing my own independent projects in tandem with commissions or client projects, which keep the studio running and
support the personal projects. And don’t get complacent. It is the death of creativity and challenging work.
"Cinematic language is rich and fertile, so when a film maker is truly fluent in that language they can begin to mould and re- configure it into fresh permutations."
What do you films say about you and the stories you want to tell?
Im not primarily motivated by telling stories in my films although there are excep- tions to that, however I am primarily driven by evoking mood, atmosphere, and planting seeds and ideas in the audiences minds to decipher. I like a more obscure approach to the films I make and I suppose I might be a bit obscure myself so that makes some kind of sense.
For any emerging filmmakers, writers, directors what would your top three tips you would offer them?
Thats a tricky question. Im not sure I am that wise! But if I had to, I would say:
1 - Make the most of every available resource. You have a film studio and distribution network on your phone, so if you want to make films, go and make some films.
2 - The lower the budget, the greater the creative lead you should be allowed on a project.
3 - Love what you do.
And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Cinegraffic Score?
To have 5 minutes of some kind of creepy synesthesic mind disco, and hopefully tweak them out of any sense of familiarity they may been experiencing.