Filmmaker: Marc Neys

Envoi by Hugo Claus

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Claus’s poem is adapted to film by his fellow Belgian Marc Neys AKA Swoon. The poet’s reading is courtesy of Lyrikline and the English translation is by John Irons. Marc used footage by Jan Earala, but everything else—concept, music, editing—are his own.

Marc told me recently that he’s moving away from writing process notes, preferring to let the films speak for themselves, as witnessed by his new, stripped-down, portfolio-style website. Last year, he made a pair of films for another Claus poem, “Halloween,” the second one also using footage from Jan Earala. Here’s hoping that more Hugo Claus filmpoems might be in the offing.

Mor säger att det är ett minne / Mother says that it’s a memory by Eva Ström

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The filmmaker Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon writes,

My last video for 2015 is also my most personal. Mor säger att det är ett minne ​is a poem by Eva Ström I found on lyrikline earlier this year. ​I decided to use it with the footage I shot during my mother’s last week. […]

I used the audio by Mechner (Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, 2005) as base for the music. Around Eva’s reading I composed a frail piece of music using only a piano and an old clock; [SoundCloud link]

The translation by Maria Freij was used as subtitles. […]

In the film you see my mother clipping her nails after bath. She had come home to die (after her decision to stop all treatment and medication). She wanted to spend her last days at home, with her children close by.

I am well aware that this video speaks to me and my family on a whole other level, but I also believe that the combination of this footage with the poem and the music works well for other people…

Thanks to Marc for his willingness to share such personal footage and go so deep.

As Mãos / Hands by Bernardo Pinto de Almeida

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The words and voice of the contemporary Portuguese poet Bernardo Pinto de Almeida are featured in this new film from Belgian filmmaker and composer Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, who writes, in part:

I used the reading on Lyrikline (Audio production: Casa Fernando Pessoa, Lisboa 2004 ) to create the soundtrack. The audio version is based on a former version of the poem before called ‘Maturidade 2’
The translation [by Ana Hudson] was used as subtitles.

Bernardo Pinto de Almeida has a natural capacity for weaving a cloth so that the poem reveals itself as if a picture of a living body on a canvas of words and images.’
(Guy Barker, British poet, 1964-2009)

Guy Barker’s quote (and the content of the poem) led me back to the footage Eduardo Yagüe made for me during the summer of 2014.
I guess I almost used every bit he filmed and am grateful for his ‘eye’

Bringing it all together was fairly easy.
I graded some of the footage for a higher contrast.
It was the flow of the reading and the pace of the music that gently steered me to the cutting choices I made. [links added]

Abschied / Parting by Sophie Reyer

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A videopoetry collaboration between Austrian writer Sophie Reyer and Belgian artist Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, who writes:

Last summer I was invited to give a workshop at the dotdotdot Kurzfilmfestival in Vienna. During that weekend I met Sophie Reyer.

We decided to collaborate on a video for one of her poems, Abschied.

[…]

Spohie is also a composer and a filmmaker. In our mailing back and forth I received some of her compositions and a short film she made a few years ago.
I decided to take pieces of her music and a short sequence of her film ‘Die Erfahrung’ and re-mix and build a new work on those pieces.

A soundtrack came first; [Soundcloud link]

​Most sounds and noises you hear in this track (except for the clicks, the birds, and the piano) are all made out of samples of Sophie’s music and voice.
She also provided me with a subdued reading and an English translation for the subtitles.

I used the tempo (and clicks) in the soundtrack as a guide to edit the chosen film sequences. Using a lot of repetition to create a form of visual rhythm.

Once the videopoem was done I asked Sophie to do a small write up;

Image and sound. Words and pictures. In “Abschied” i try to talk about letting go and starting a new. In my work with marc neys we focused on sound- and picture- material that i associate with the subject of death. we used it as a playground. mark re- arranged and composed the material, put it into rhythm, added new layers, used filters and interpreted the fragments in a very intelligent way.

We both like what came out of this and might collaborate again in the future, but then with newly created sounds and film…

For now, enjoy Abschied!

 

Contusion by Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath would’ve been 83 yesterday, and to mark the occasion, Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon released this film, Don’t look at me (Contusion).

It’s not the first time I create a work using her poems. But I consider this my best effort to capture something of her spirit.

Contusion was one of the first poems I wanted to make a video for (5-6 years ago) but I never got a satisfying result out of the process. This time tried a film composition with text on screen and I had a clear idea what kind of images to use. […]

I composed a track especially for this project. Called it ‘Don’t look at me’ (and kept the appropriate title for the film composition) [Bandcamp link].

I had to re-edit the length of the composition to the footage I had gathered. Contusion is a rather short poem (compared to some of her other works).

A lot of night and dusk. Dim images. I especially wanted the footage of a swimming lake (deserted and empty) by Bart van der Gaag. Also some snow and winter footage by Jan Eerala, stuff filmed by me and a few pieces of Videoblocks. I composed all the footage to the lines of the poem (using a small and almost unreadable font and placement of the text by times) and the pace and feel of the soundtrack. I also graded some of the footage for an even darker feel.

As I said before; I’m happy with this one.

Play full screen (and preferably with headphones!)

Despedida / Farewell by Cecília Meireles

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A text by the 20th-century Brazilian poet Cecília Meireles, read and translated into English by the London-based artist Natalie d’Arbeloff, has been translated into film by the indefatigable Belgian videopoet Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon in a lovely and moving tribute to his late mother. He writes:

My mother passed away.
This is a tribute to her and the way she directed her own ending.

[…]

The soundtrack is the end of this, re-edited with a reading by the translator Natalie d’Arbeloff. [Bandcamp link]

For the visual part of the video I used a split screen. Footage of leaves floating, a fish, reflections of leaves (by me), an old tea kettle drifiitng on the sea and the shade of a butterfly (Credit to Jan Eerala)

Sober and tranquil.

I know this work is personal, but I think that the beauty of the grief transcends the personal aspect. Anyway enjoy…

I never met Marc’s mother, but I almost feel as if I knew her, since she appeared in a number of his films over the years. I’m honored to have played a small role here in having brought the translation and reading to Marc’s attention by publishing them at my literary blog Via Negativa.

Ghazal Before Morning by Colleen Michaels

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A new Swoon (Marc Neys) film using a text from The Poetry Storehouse by Massachusetts-based poet Colleen Michaels, in a voiceover by Nic S.. In a blog post, Marc notes:

I had images of jellyfish and other ‘floating creatures’ in mind for this poem/soundtrack. I found what I was looking for at Mazwai; filmed by Justin Kauffman & Randy Perry.

The music in the soundtrack is, as usual, Marc’s own composition. It’s also included on his Timorous Sounds album.