I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for single-shot videopoems. The text (by Neil Flatman, from The Poetry Storehouse) could so easily have elicited something melodramatic. The above remix is by Charles Musser, with music by Youngest Daughter. Nic Sebastian also did a remix of the poem:
Still fairly low-key. I like the use of text-on-screen. The soundtrack is more subdued, with a jazz piano ballad by Fabric.
Concept, camera, direction and editing are all credited to Christopher Hughes (Shining Tor Productions), though I can’t help thinking the content of the film might have been influenced by the title of the book in which the poem originally appeared: Dangerous Driving by Chris Woods (Comma Press, 2007). Regardless, it’s a good example of how a narrative approach to filmmaking can work with a lyric poem.
Not Talking was “Made in partnership with Bokeh Yeah and Comma Press”; Bokeh Yeah is kind of the successor to the earlier Comma Film project, as I understand it. One way or another, at least four films have now been made based on poems from Dangerous Driving, each by a different director. Manchester would seem to have a very active poetry-film community indeed.
Christopher Hughes blogged a bit about how he came to make this film:
It seems like an age since Adele Myers approached me to come along to her group, Bokeh Yeah, and join in their poetry film challenge. Even though I agreed, I was initially quite dismissive of poetry films as they didn’t appear to worry about the things I worried about with narrative short films. Things like continuity, dialogue, plot, character, etc. They could shoot any abstract images they wanted and juxtapose them in any way that took their fancy under the general heading of ‘artistic interpretation’. It all seemed a bit too easy to me – or at least, that’s what I thought.
Anyway, I’d said I’d do it so I chose a poem that I liked and came up with a concept that gave me a chance to reference my beloved spaghetti westerns and away we went. I won’t go into more detail about the film, just watch it for yourselves, except to say, that I’m quite happy with it.
A text-on-screen-style videopoem by Swoon (Marc Neys) with a text from Night Willow, a 2014 collection of prose poems by Luisa A. Igloria. Back in September, Marc blogged some process notes about the video, calling it “The latest experiment in my series of videos where I re-think the relationship of image, sound, and text”.
Combining lines from the poem with the suitable footage, trying out different fonts and sizes for the text on screen, placement of words… It’s a puzzling way of editing.
I’m not only editing film anymore, I’m carefully trying to blend sound, image and text in one cut. It feels more like composing. It makes me rethink the way I worked (and still work) with audible videopoems.
These ‘film Compositions’ are meant to be played full screen and loud!
Marc talked about this style of editing in a brief interview I filmed for Moving Poems, Swoon on finding a new angle in videopoetry composition.
Australian filmmaker Marie Craven demonstrates one way to get away with out-right illustration in a videopoem. Had she used footage of pinball games in a poem that references pinball, it would’ve seemed merely redundant, I think. But instead she hit upon the idea of using colorful still images (by Donald Bell) alternating with dark, silent-film-like title cards bearing the lines of the poem. Cut these images in time with up-tempo, pinball-esque music by CIRC, and rather than simply depicting a game of pinball, the video actually enacts or reproduces the effect of a highly kinetic ball careening around in an inert cabinet. “The whole thing / goes tilt.” And the poem is raised to a new level, I think.