Grilby Productions

Grilby Productions is an experimental film group incorporating sound and visuals.

Cirque

Project Report

For this project, I initially thought about George Seurat’s paintings. I love his use of colour and the humour in his work.

 I will be taking the painter Georges Seurat’s idea of using counterpoint. Instead of the use of painting, counterpoint may also be applied to filmmaking. By setting a foreground, with a theme and having a contrapuntal background, giving another dimension and counter theme.

 The title of this project is “I could not do this any other way”. The title focuses the feeling of despair of the central character and also highlights the overall process toward making the film. For example, counterpoint is a term in music to describe two or more melodies interweaving to make a harmonic structure, as Seurat exemplified in his use of colour.

I am loosely taking a theme from Seurat and moulding the ideas into a film idea. The film would have a background and a foreground, a double projection making a four-part site-specific harmony. The idea of counterpoint is to be applied visually to make this film.

I am also using “place” as an aesthetic. London and Plymouth. The foreground is the place and the background is of the central character- a man shaking his fist moving in and out of the projections.

The soundtrack is a piece of music and monologue capturing the man’s views on place. Initially I wanted to use a dark piece of music.   I wanted to create a sombre, cold no way out type of feeling. At this time I was playing with ideas in text.  

I brainstormed a few words and ideas:

 Sleep

Final

Concluding

Unbounded

Infinite

Decay

Fester

Slumber

Actions

Conduct

Unbalanced

Question

Uncertainty

Hope

Desire

Frenzy

Speech

Discourse

Reason

A Couple of Made up Words:

Tolidth

Breckuous. 

Ideas and happenings:

A man who keeps putting cats out onto the street but more appear at his doorstep.

Moving street lamps and buildings.

Lost and found posters. Is this streetlight yours? I went to post this on the nearest streetlight, but it had disappeared.

Someone is stealing the entire void. A hole was taken and replaced by an empty space.

Yesterday, a neighbour told me about a lump of cosmic void he had found at the end of the street. Today, I went to have a look, but I couldn’t see anything. Someone must have taken it. Or perhaps, the void was negated. In its place, I saw an empty space.

Many of these ideas I decided were not for this project, however, I will use them for later work, I settled on the last idea. I rigorously worked on the soundtrack with a musician. The music was exactly what I asked for, however, it did not fit with the piece, nor the imagery. We discussed and look at Seurats works and came to the conclusion- that his paintings are not as dark as this piece of music. It was slightly up beat and had a sense of humour. The conclusion was that it had to be a circus style piece of music.

 I am using circus music as the soundtrack as I want to create a fairground up beat sinister feel to the piece. Again reference to Seurat for his love of the  ‘idea’ of circus. The narration sits nicely at the end of the piece.

 “ Yesterday, a neighbour told me about a lump of cosmic void he had found at the end of the street. Today, I went to have a look, but I couldn’t see anything. Someone must have taken it. Or perhaps, the void was negated. In its place, I saw an empty space.

The title of the project “I could not do this any other way” is interesting as there are always different ways of ‘doing’. My idea is that the statement, “I could not do this any other way” should be, “I will not do this any other way”, because I am making the decision, perhaps someone would take a different approach. As trite as it sounds there is no such thing as could not, although the word does exist. The point is that there are many ways of ‘doing’. The fact is that I want to use a digital camera and use two projectors. In saying all this if it was not for the title, “I could not do this any other way,” perhaps I would not have thought about the final film. Therefore the statement, “I could not do this any other way”, is valid because I couldn’t do this any other way, as I did not think about it before.

 

In this I am not defying the criteria but merely exploring the context rather than the criteria itself.

I am not refusing to do this any other way because I have thought of many other ways of doing this and already using the first music made me realize that it did not make any sense in the workings of Seurat- baring in mind much of his work was based on the idea of the circus rather than the actual circus itself- which he found abhorrent.

The statement, “I could not do this any other way” is an impossible task.

By altering one word I am taking an impossible task and making it my own, making the impossible possible, but only for me. In which case I am not defying or changing the criteria, merely relating it to a personal goal.  Tailoring it to a personal discourse.

The statement is a realization, as is Plato’s The Allegory Of The Cave.  A dialogue between Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon,

 

Socrates: And now let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:- Behold! Human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over 
which they show the puppets.[1]

Plato represents the condition of man as being chained in a cave, with only a fire behind him. Watching the shadows on the wall. He sees the world only by the shadows.

If the chained man were released and let out into the world, some people would be frightened and want to return to the cave, and to the familiar surroundings. Others would look at the sun and see the world as it truly is. 

When one is blinded one can see through new eyes. One can see through a fresh perspective. Giving oneself a restraint is a good thing because it gives a box in which to think and lets one use all the limited restraints, in which one is thinking. One has to be a prisoner to be really free.  It is not about coping. It means that one has woken up to a different reality. The freedom that society professes to give us is a restraint and makes us more of a prisoner.

I have chosen London as one of the places to film for a number of reasons. It is a place where I used to live. I can call it a possible home, it is a place of energy and has a personal uplifting appeal. I can describe London as a colourful city and the word ‘roar’ springs to mind. I understand that it can be understood as a hard city in which to live. However, when we talk about hard cities to live in, New York City is the place of which I invariably think.  

I have decided to film in Trafalgar Square. I have chosen this site as it is in the heart of London and for its use of spacing and structure.  I want to film in a place that is bustling with people and activity, it is a place with tourist attractions and one of the most famous squares in the United Kingdom.

Another reason why I have chosen this place to film is that I am interested in Wordsworth Donisthorpe and his film of Trafalgar Square. I found a relationship with Seurat in that they were producing work at similar times within the latter half of the 19th Century.

Donisthorpe was a pioneer of cinematography in the 1800’s. He filed for copyright for a film camera, which he named a “Kinesigraph”. The object of the invention was:

“ to facilitate the taking of a succession of photographic pictures at equal intervals of time, in order to record the changes taking place in or the movement of the object being photographed, and also by means of a succession of pictures so taken of any moving object to give to the eye a presentation of the object in continuous movement as it appeared when being photographed.”[1]

In 1890 he produced a moving picture of Trafalgar Square. Today there are ten surviving frames.

The other place I have chosen to film in is Plymouth. I have chosen this site because I live here at present. I have also chosen to film at Plymouth’s Civic Square because during the holiday season there is a vibrancy of colours, street vendors a Merry- Go- Round, of which I wanted to make use.

I feel that Plymouth, placed geographically at the bottom of the country, would make a well-balanced juxtaposition. 


[1] Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema: A Worldwide Survey.[1] Plato, The Allegory of The Cave