With due tribute paid to the energy of the kino cinema movement, the cinepoems team organised a 48hr filmpoetry event in Glasgow on a dreich December weekend. 13 teams entered: exactly 48 hours later, 13 brand new filmpoems were delivered. Read on for more about the event and links to all the filmpoems, or jump to the cinepoems YouTube channel here.
The challenge was devised in a moment of creative madness, with the hope of engaging and exciting poets/film makers who were curious about filmpoetry, but hadn’t yet had a chance to explore it. The kino ethos emphasises DIY effort above all things: rough and ready is the nature of it all, thus putting less pressure on those who just want to get out and do. We prefaced the challenge with a crammer workshop introducing the context and history of filmpoetry, some of our favourite examples, encouraging the audience-participants to discuss, choose favourites, criticise, and to explore the building blocks of image, sound and text. The chimes strike 6pm on Friday, and the countdown begins.
It soon became apparent that, far beyond the wildest hopes of the cinepoems team, there was a level of collaboration happening internationally, wholly due to the initiative of participants themselves calling out for collaborators on Facebook and Twitter. We had stipulated that the films must be delivered by the deadline to the Andrew Stewart cinema in person, in an attempt to bring some sort of structure to the event (it was loosely designated a competition, although challenge really was more accurate). Participants took full advantage of social media, apps, the possibilities of the digital and online world to team up (as strangers) between Berlin and Glasgow, and, in one case, a team operating simultaneously in Scotland, Ireland, Spain and Australia. One member from the latter team, Ally Gillon, explains:
‘[the ideas came together] very fast and in a Whatsapp group with the three poets on the team deciding the theme in advance (we would draw on our respective international locations and our proximity, in all cases, to rivers) . Rico suggested that we could follow a character, whom he named Riddles and we laid out a timetable for how to divide up the 48 hours, since we were all in different countries. Then on the Friday night of the event, we took turns to write. First Rico, then me, then Clare, each writing our stanzas in response to what the previous poet(s) had written.
Gonzalo and Brian waited until the poem was finished before Gonzalo visualised the storyboard and started sending this to Brian, who illustrated the whole thing. Brian then sent his scans back to Gonzalo, who animated them and put everything – words, sounds and visuals – together.
We didn’t use any cameras or live action. Brian’s illustration work was physical and Gonzalo did everything else on his Mac! They both worked at home collaborating closely via Internet over the weekend. It was pretty impressive.
It was hugely enjoyable to see our ideas come together. They did so as if in dialogue, since the separate parts of the poem were written in response to one another, and the visuals were created in response to the final text. We also responded to our physical surroundings, so the poets’ local rivers Hawkesbury (Sydney), Andarax (Almería) and Forth (Fife) all played a part, which I enjoyed.‘
The winning filmpoem
Although the emphasis is much more on the DIY challenge than the competitive element of weekend, we invited a judging panel comprised of poets and filmmakers to the screening to provide some critical context. We asked all participants to respect the 48 hour creation period, requesting that all creation, filming, sound and editing was done within this time. It’s fairly impossible to enforce this, of course, particularly when facing with teams varying from first time film makers to experienced film school graduates. Interestingly, our team of judges unanimously awarded first prize to a pair of first time film makers (although experienced poets), deeming their efforts to be the freshest and most responsive to time and place, following the logic of the physical act of making films on the streets of Glasgow to shape their filmpoem, rather than coming to it with a pre-determined idea.
We’re absolutely delighted with the complexity and variety of all the filmpoems, by the energy and sense of accomplishment that all the teams shared, by the unexpectedly international collaborations that seemed to naturally arise. And that there are now 13 more filmpoems out there, and a newfound enthusiasm on the part of the artists for this slippery, addictive artform.
Winning filmpoem – Word:Association from Fiona Stirling and Michelle Fisher.
‘Michelle [Fisher] and I had hoped to collaborate for a while, but hadn’t found the right project. The 48hr event offered us a set structure, with an interesting goal. Importantly, neither of us had any experience in this area, so it was a real adventure together. We really had no knowledge of filmpoetry, what it entailed, or what it required, so it was a bit of a gamble working with someone new with such a tight turnaround. However, from our first discussion about the project we found our ideas flexed and intertwined to create a concept we were both excited about. I think it helped that we have similar humour and philosophies about life and living. Michelle is also someone who works from her gut, and we would often be led to a creative choice through her ever reliable goosebumps.
Our idea continued to evolve throughout filming, as we adapted to batteries dying and light fading. It really helped that Michelle had the confidence to approach strangers and ask permission to film – this is something I never could have done alone, and it got some of our most powerful images.’ (Fiona Stirling)
- Second Place: HONEY – co-created by: Dan Minghella, Anna Rising, Max Syed-Tollan, Andrew Ward, Toby Wilson and Yvonne Zhang.
- Third Place: Gag – co-created by: Annelyse Gelman (Berlin) and Martin Collet (Glasgow).
‘For me the challenges were more learning as I went as this was my first foray into film poetry, so the workshop was invaluable ( I used imovie), and the technical bits were a real learning curve. Doing it all in 48 hrs added to the excitement, you saw me running to get it in on time! Seeing my work in the big screen was simply amazing and everyone else’s of course. I’m so delighted and excited to have been involved.’ (Janet Crawford, Beacon)
*the winning filmpoem – Word:Association – is shown above, as is Deciphering The Dust. The team who produced Gag requested that their filmpoem was not added to the channel. Details of the participating teams and artists can be found by clicking through to the details for the videos.
Tiredhappycrazy. The cinepoems team, judges, and participating filmmakers and poets.