On Friday 18 December a group got together at Hospitalfield tasked with learning about 16mm filming, processing and screening. The next couple of days and nights were full of discussion, chemistry, consideration of influential examples of 16mm film and making their own.
On the first evening the course leaders proposed an exercise in concrete poetry and collective writing exercises as a starting point for thinking through content for the film and also preparing an approach for the editing process.
The group worked in two alternating parts with one half starting filming, taking advantage of the silvery light of the east coast during a session at Arbroath beach; catching sea life, surf and remnants of deco buildings. The other group meanwhile were working on making and testing the chemicals needed to develop, bleach and fix the film. The workshop was using Tri X reversal film, its beauty being that it is used to both capture the image and project the image (no need for a ‘print’).
The processing and experimentation was all done in the Patrick Allan Fraser studio and adjoining attic dark room with a few trips to nearby supermarket and B&Q for useful ingredients. Slight changes in the mix can make big effects, during one test the film literally dissolved before our eyes, while in others the image appeared to sharpen as we inspected the drying film.
Changing places again the film makers got some double exposure footage inside, focusing on a moving shot of light caught in the crystal chandeliers. They also filmed some text shots influenced by the initial poetry session and the experiences out filming. Filming inside the studio was a totally different prospect made possible by using lights and became a performance in writing for one of the participants.
One of the final elements of the film to be prepared was a sound track, partly recorded, partly found audio and partly computer generated. After thoroughly getting to know the footage they had shot, the group decided on a length for the film and therefor the audio, bringing the two together just minutes before everyone had to leave at the end of the weekend.
Mat Fleming and his collaborator Christo Wallers, who were running the course, have been to Hospitalfield several times and Mat also did a residency here in 2009 as part of the Newfoundland project connected to Scotland + Venice. Mat and Christo have been key to artist led film activity in Newcastle as founder members of Star and Shadow Cinema and both have contributed to a resource for other film makers in the form of FilmBee a film process lab and locus for working creatively within analogue film culture.