‘Quiet Sounds’ is my second video collaboration with the marvelous UK poet and performer, Lucy English. Both have been made as part of her great, multi-artist project, ‘The Book of Hours‘. The earlier video, ‘The Last Days‘, started with images. This one started with the poem and sound. The soundscape is comprised entirely of Lucy’s voice and small noises in the environment. I wanted the ‘bed’ of the soundscape to be quietly musical and constructed it from a collection of sounds recorded by various artists, and found on Creative Commons licences at Freesound. The central element is the metronomic sound of a clock ticking. I edited Lucy’s voice in loose rhythm with the clock, elongating the pace of her reading and leaving spaces for the various other sounds to have their ‘solo’ moments: a pheasant and a wood pigeon, a sheep, a cow, an old fridge, air traffic. I carefully built up the soundtrack piece by piece until I had a complete first draft. Then I looked for images that might add further to the audiovisual experience of the poem. The poem describes a moment of solitude, a hush when a woman becomes aware of the little sounds in her environment. It is implied she is inside a domestic space at the time. In my net wanderings, I found a marvelous series of interior shots by Carol Blyberg (aka Smilla4 on Flickr), also available on a Creative Commons licence. I worked with the images using zooms and slow dissolves that changed in rhythm with Lucy’s voice. For such an apparently simple piece, it was time-intensive to make, especially in the refining process that saw both sound and image go through many drafts. I gave a lot of attention to subtle details, in a meditative way. Maureen Doallas has since featured ‘Quiet Sounds’ on her wonderful blog, Writing Without Paper.
See Vimeo for the text of the poem, as well as links to all the soundtrack sources.
I can’t say enough good things about this animated film by the ever-inventive Kate Sweeney. It works equally well as a poetry film or as a lyrical promo for vaccination; the transition from prose narration (by Dr. Mohamed Osman) to poetry half-way through is natural and powerful, and the poem by Christy Ducker is extraordinarily good. Here’s the description:
An animated film highlighting the research and fieldwork into finding a cure for Leishmaniasis, a chronic disease affecting millions of people in areas such as Sudan and Syria. The film was made as part of a collaboration between poet Christy Ducker and artist Kate Sweeney and scientists working at York University at The Centre for Chronic Disease.
Working in collaboration allows access to an other’s research, in this case, the work of scientists who are actively working to find a cure, and to study the causes and exacerbations of the Leishmaniasis disease. Dr Mohamed Osman sent me photographs he had taken when in Sudan of the people he was working with, trialing a vaccine for the disease. I was able to interview him, talk to him about my interests in stories and how we tell stories to frame experiences and use his response and his photographs in the initial part of the film. The second part of the film is an animated response to Christy’s poem that explores metaphorical links between medical vaccinations and the grieving process. Where the loose style of the first part of the film reflects the nature of conversation, the more structured animation in the second part reflects poetry’s structured, considered language.
Filmmaker Rhiannon Tate collaborated on this film with spoken word poet Emma McGordon and composer David John Roche. Endellion was “produced as part of Endelienta‘s Artists in Residence 2017, held in St Endellion, North Cornwall,” according to the Vimeo description.
Hat-tip: the Poetry Film Live group on Facebook.
The winner for Best Animation at Rabbit Heart Poetry Festival 2017, where it was also a finalist for Best Overall Production. Filmmaker Kate Sweeney notes in her c.v. that the 2016 film is a “2.05 min hand-drawn animation. In collaboration with poet Christy Ducker and Centre for Chronic Diseases, York. Funded by Wellcome Trust.” It’s one of at least two films that came from that collaboration, as well as a pamphlet of photography and poetry called Messenger.
Drawing on the science of immunology, Messenger explores how we wound and how we heal. Whether the focus is a tiny molecule or a global problem, Christy Ducker’s succinct poems offer ‘hope and a warning’. Illustrated throughout by Kate Sweeney’s striking photographs, Messenger shuttles between science and art to suggest alternative ways of looking at recovery.
For more on Ducker, see her website.