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April 25, 2007

scouting out locations

Just finalised the location for the fiilm I'll be shooting in June: Bates Mill, Huddersfield. An excellent empty untouched-for-years top floor space. Big space, you could drive a car round in there [we won't, Nigel, promise]





Posted by john at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2007

John’s in the café and all’s well…

Or so Liz said on Saturday when she found me at my usual table in Verve.

Cafés are a Good Thing. For a while they only existed sur la continent, with the exception of Ye Merrie Englande – which doesn’t count. Now you can’t move for cafés in the High Street. Sadly most of them are ghastly franchise affairs with a manufactured atmosphere that arrives in a box along with the corporate carpet and etched glass windows.

Verve is independent, so gets my custom, it also plays good music. There is something to be said for getting out of the studio to a different environment with no distractions and good coffee, where people drop by and talk about stuff. It can be very inspiring.


working on the BABBLING FOOLS script



notebook pages, ink and coffee on paper.

Posted by john at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2007

Blink/Subject Ratios

There must be a formula. Something like the number of people in the photograph, over the number of blinks per second, times the speed of the shutter, equals the number of shots needed to get a photograph where no-one has their eyes closed.

I was photographing nine people this afternoon. There was plenty blinking going on. But I got some good shots too.


Posted by john at 11:18 PM | Comments (3)

April 21, 2007

It's Physical


I know the whole idea is that it looks graceful and effortless [while backstage the dancer takes off her pointe shoes and pours out the blood] but ballet is physical, dancers work hard. I like that.


I like the fact it is so physical, I like the way a dancer pushes her [or indeed his] body. And I want to see that effort. It’s all part of my fascination with the body and its physical potential. So I got Rachel to dance the piece over and over until she was exhausted, the last take was excellent.

Please note: no animals were hurt during the filming. [Though I later discovered the woman downstairs kicked her cat, but thankfully while we were having a cup of tea, not while we were turning over.]

Posted by john at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2007

More dancing, possibly

Today: a long good day filming Rachel dancing.


Tomorrow: back to the plumbing.

[damn, I never asked Rachel if she could juggle, or braze a joint on a 22mm pipe for the matter of that]

Posted by john at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

Degas and digital dancers

The white top and tutu the dancer is wearing in the new film piece:


reminds me of Degas' Dancer , aged fourteen:


I've started a painting of a similar image:


and tomorrow is the second day shooting the dance piece...

UPDATE: as it's now past the midnight hour and Movable Type puts this post on a new day, the tomorrow mentioned above is in fact today. Now I must go and get a can of Midnight Oil out of the cupboard.

Posted by john at 12:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2007

Filming, painting and juggling.

Between filming, and during the editing I’ve been painting.


I find it easier to do more than one thing. There seems to be a creative atmosphere that builds up when things are going well. Some say the brain gets into a different state, the alpha state, when the right-hand side gets a look in. Americans would say I was in the zone.

You can’t work at full creative output for too long or the Dilithium crystals burn out. So having a break is called for – a cup of tea and a sweet biscuit perhaps. But then the danger is that you go off the boil, your brain reverts to being bossed around by the left-hand side, you drop out of the zone.


I find I get stuck if I stay with one thing, a staleness creeps into the zone. If I do two things, painting/editing, writing/drawing, I can switch between the two disciplines and keep fresh. The optimum number of works to be engaged with is seven, though you need a couple of three days clear to work up to that kind of creative output.

The title of this piece should in fact be: Filming, Painting, Plumbing and Juggling. For, as is a well know fact, painting pictures and making films is not the most efficacious way to keep the large hairy carnivores with big teeth, of the genus canis lupus, that roam throughout Northern Europe, from the wooden article mounted on hinges serving as a barricade in the opening used to gain access to an enclosed space. And other enterprises must needs be attended to.


Juggling work is all part of the business of being a self-employed artist, so painting jugglers is about right, mind you filming me painting jugglers plumbing would be more correct.

Posted by john at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2007

White paint and the dancer

Don't ask me why I do the white paint. Well you can ask me why I do the white paint, but don't expect a coherent answer.


The computer can desaturate the images, but it's still not as good as working with white body paint.

The black and white button doesn't do either, no, get the white paint right [no easy matter it has to be said] and the results are terrific. Well I think so anyway.

Posted by john at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

The Walkthrough

First comes the music and in this case it’s another piece by the extremely talented FortDax. Then comes the dancer, Rachel. Then I walk through my ideas.






photographs: Katrin Freitag

I create a series of setups with different ideas coming together with Rachel’s interpretations and FortDax’s music. I don’t have a fixed plan, a storyboard, or notated choreography. I just have an idea, which is often only a feeling.

Painting can be such a solitary business, it’s good to work with other people.

Posted by john at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2007

Possible Dancing

Been working on a new dance film. I’ve built a white stage in the studio, with a white cyclorama. On which a dancer, painted white and wearing a white tutu and top, will dance. This really plays havoc with the white balance on the camera.


The white dancer dances on a [white] plinth, while all manner of exciting things go on round about her.


We spent most of Friday working out the moves, moves of both camera and dancer.


The camera is a Sony Z1 mounted, for the most part, on a Manfrotto FigRig, as devised by Mike Figgis for his film Hotel, which was all shot on the Z1.


photographs: Katrin Freitag

Posted by john at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)