Shoot Shoot Shoot Broadsheet Newspaper (2002)

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Broadsheet newspaper programme notes for 'SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative & British Avant-Garde Film 1966-76' film exhibition curated by Mark Webber for LUX in 2002. Includes essay by AL Rees and information on films by Malcolm Le Grice, William Raban, Lis Rhodes, Chris Welsby, John Smith, Anthony McCall, Annabel Nicolson amongst others.

Transcript of Shoot Shoot Shoot Broadsheet Newspaper (2002)

THE FIRST DECADE OF THE LONDON FILM-MAKERS CO-OPERATIVE & BRITISH AVANT-GARDE FILM 1966-76INTRODUCTIONThe London Film-Makers Co-operative was founded in 1966 and based upon the artist-led distribution centre created by Jonas Mekas and the New American Cinema Group. Both had a policy of open The Co-op asserted the significance of the British films in line with international developments, whilst surviving hand-tomouth in a series of run down buildings. The physical hardship of the organisascreens in an oblique formation. Gill Eatherley literally painted in light over extremely long exposures to shoot Hand Grenade, which runs three different edits of the material side-by-side. Light Music developed into a series of enquiries into the nature of optical soundtracks and their direct relation to the abstract image. The film can be shown in different configurations, with projectors side-by-side or facing into each other. Anthony McCall succinctly demonstrates the sculptural potential of film as a single ray of light, incidentally tracing a circle on the screen, is perceived as a conical line emanating from the projector. The beam is given physical volume in the room by use of theatrical smoke, or any other agent (such as dust) that would thicken the air to make it more apparent. More than just a film, Line Describing a Cone affirms cinema as a collective social experience. single flat screen area. This film works well in a conventional film theatre when the top left screen spills over the ceiling and the bottom right projects down over the audience. It is the same image on all three projectors, a double-exposed flickering rectangle of the projector gate sliding diagonally into and out of frame. Focus is on the projector shutter, hence the flicker. This film is about the projector gate, the plane where the film frame is caught by the projected light beam. William Raban, Perspectives on British Avant-Garde Film catalogue, 1977 William Raban & Chris Welsby, River Yar, 1971-72, colour, sound, 35m Sally Potter, Play, 1971, b/w & colour, silent, 7m David Parsons, Mechanical Ballet, 1975, b/w, silent, 8m Chris Welsby, Wind Vane, 1972, colour, LINE DESCRIBING A CONE sound, 8m David Crosswaite, Choke, 1971, b/w & Once I started really working with film colour, sound, 5m and feeling I was making films, making Malcolm Le Grice, Castle Two, 1968, works of media, it seemed to me a com- b/w, sound, 32m pletely natural thing to come back and back and back, to come more away from (Total running time approximately 97m) a pro-filmic event and into the process of filmmaking itself. And at the time it all boiled down to some very simple questions. In my case, and perhaps in others, the question being something like What would a film be if it was only a film? Carolee Schneemann and I sailed on the SS Canberra from Southampton to New York in January 1973, and when we embarked, all I had was that question. When I disembarked I already had the Malcolm Le Grice, Castle Two plan for Line Describing a Cone fullyfledged in my notebook. You could say it RIVER YAR was a mid-Atlantic film! Its been the story of my life ever since, of course, where Im located, where my interests The camera points south. The landscape are, that business of Am I English or am is an isolated frame of space a wideI American? So that was when I con- angle view of a tidal estuary, recorded ceived Line Describing a Cone and then I during Autumn and Spring. The camera made it in the months that followed. holds a fixed viewpoint and marks time at Anthony McCall, interview with the rate of one frame every minute (day and night) for three weeks. The two Mark Webber, 2001 sequences Autumn and Spring, are preOne important strategy of expanded cin- sented symmetrically on adjacent ema radically alters the spatial discrete- screens. The first Spring sunrise is ness of the audience vis--vis the screen recorded in real time (24 fps) for 14 minand the projector by manipulating the utes, establishing a comparative scale of projection facilities in a manner which speed for the Autumn screen, where comelevates their role to that of the perform- plete days are passing in one minute. ance itself, subordinating or eliminating Then both screens run together in stopthe role of the artist as performer. The action until the Autumn screen breaks films of Anthony McCall are the best into a 14 minute period of real time for illustration of this tendency. In Line the final sunset into darkness. Recordings Describing a Cone, the conventional pri- were made of landscape sound at specific macy of the screen is completely aban- intervals each day. Each screen has its doned in favour of the primacy of the pro- own soundtrack which mixes with the jection event. According to McCall, a other in the space of the cinema. William Raban & Chris Welsby, NFT screen is not even mandatory: The audience is expected to move up and down, in English Independent Cinema programme and out of the beam this film cannot be notes, 1972 fully experienced by a stationary spectator. This means that the film demands a Chris found the location.which was an multi-perspectival viewing situation, as ex-water mill in Yarmouth on the Isle of opposed to the single-image/single-per- Wight, owned by the sons of the historian spective format of conventional films or A.J.P. Taylor. We managed to get it for an the multi-image/single-perspective for- astonishing rent of 5 a week. One of its mat of much expanded cinema. The shift upstairs windows happened to look over of image as a function of shift of per- this river estuary, it was the kind of view spective is the operative principle of the we were looking for, so it was ideal in film. External content is eliminated, and many ways. Wed worked out the concepthe entire film consists of the controlled tual model for the film, how we wanted it line of light emanating from the projec- to look as a two-screen piece, more or tor; the act of appreciating the film i.e., less entirely in advance. We also knew the process of its realisation is the what camera we wanted. There was realcontent. ly only the Bolex camera that would be Deke Dusinberre, On Expanding suitable for filming it on. I made an elecStudio International, tric motor for firing the time-lapse shots Cinema, November/December 1975 that was capable of giving time exposures as well as instantaneous exposures. Unknown to us of course, the first period of shooting coincided with the big coal * * * miners strike, in the Ted Heath governDOUBLE SCREEN FILMS ment, so the motor was redundant for most of the time; we had to shoot the film by hand. And it was quite interesting Widening the visual field increased the because we werent just making River opportunity for both spectacle and con- Yar, we were down there for six weeks in templation. With two 16mm projectors the autumn and three weeks again the folside-by-side, time could be frozen or lowing spring, so we were also making fractured in a more complex way by play- other work. I was doing a series of tree ing one image against another and creat- prints in a wood nearby. And we invited ing a magical space between them. Each people down to share the experience with screening became a unique event, accen- us, so Malcolm, Annabel and Gill all tuating the temporality of the cinematic came to stay. experience. William Raban, interview with Mark Webber, 2001 River Yar is a monumental study of landscape, nature, light and the passage of time. It employs real time and time-lapse photography to document and contrast the view of a tidal estuary over two threeweek periods, in spring and autumn. The film stimulates cosmic awareness as each day is seen to have its elemental events. Sunrise brings in the light and sunset provides the ultimate fade-out. The use of different film stocks, and the depiction of twins seen in a twin-screen format, emphasises the fractured and David Crosswaite, Choke slightly disorientating view from Sally Potters window in Play. David Parsons refilming of a stunt car PLAY demonstration pulses between frames, analytically transforming the motion into In Play, Potter filmed six children actually, three pairs of twins as they a visceral mid-air dance. Wind Vane was shot simultaneously by play on a sidewalk, using two cameras two cameras whose view was directed by mounted so that they recorded two conthe wind. The gentle panning makes us tiguous spaces of the sidewalk. When subtly aware of the physical space (dis- Play is screened, two projectors present the two images side by side, recreating tance) between the adjacent frames. With a rock music soundtrack, Choke, the original sidewalk space, but, of suggests pop art in its treatment of course, with the interruption of the right Piccadilly Circus at night. Multiply frame line of the left image and the left exposed and treated images mirror each frame line of the right image that is, so that the sidewalk space is divided into other or travel across the two screens. Castle Two immediately throws the view- two filmic spaces. The cinematic division er into a state of discomfort as one tries to of the original space is emphasized by the assess the situation, and then proceeds a fact that the left image was filmed in long, obscure and perplexing indoctrina- color, the right image in black and white. tion. Is that coming through out there? Indeed, the division is so obvious that machinery itself which imposes this relationship. The image throughout is composed of straight lines. It need not have been. Lis Rhodes, A Perspective on English Avant-Garde Film catalogue, 1978 when the children suddenly move from one space to the other, through the frame lines, their originally continuous movement is transformed into cinematic magic. Scott MacDonald, A Critical Cinema 3, 1998To be frank, I always felt like a loner, an outsider. I never felt part of a community of filmmakers. I was often the only female, or one of