So I really wanted us to do this joint blog thing, but obviously my insides have decided that today is not the day for anything other than me sort of lying in bed holding my stomach between little bursts of typing and reading (today, This Bridge Called My Back, beautiful as always, Open City by Teju Cole, a little boring, a tedious protagonist, and trying to get to the end of Black Skin White Masks – the Lose Your Mother of this weekend, I want to be done with it now. I’m also dipping in and out of a book called Imagining Home, which is about Pan Africanism – I’ve ignored it all week, convinced it would be boring, but I’m actually quite taken with it). So I thought I would write a little, then you could write a little, and though imperfect, that could form the basis of our first joint Indiegogo blog to the world on land.
I’m feeling very proud of us both this week – I know I keep saying it, but I am! From being, pretty much two strangers a fortnight ago and then two people really struggling to find a common language about a week ago to now being in a place where we are starting to work together on how we support one another as artists and as people. Forging these kinds of connections is not easy work, is not work done lightly. It has been at times a very hard process, with lots of risk, bravery, patience and vulnerability needed by both parties, but I’m feeling happy about where we are now – if a little anxious about the coming weeks – months! There is so much to do, and I think we’re partners in ambition as well as other things – as we sit together on the edge of language, knowing what we’re getting at, but not really having the signifiers to depict it, I still feel that we’re meeting in a common place.
We meet usually twice a day – sometimes just once – at 10am (tea, focaccia, donuts, smiling Luis) and then again at 4pm (tea, biscuits, amused Luis, bit of embarrassment cus he’s going to clean my messy room) – and I’m loving the questions that are coming up – from the filmic:
What are the different ways of capturing movement without moving the camera, how can the presence of people be captured without focusing on the body, can we project onto salt, how can we tell a multiplicity of stories visually?
to the practical:
What should our code of practice be when negotiating with border control and other officials, what is the best way of our working with the therapy support that we have in place, how do we set up guidelines to protect our working relationship and ourselves?
To the slightly more whimsical:
What is the place of subjectivity, solipsism and solitude in the work, what is gained and lost by the use of both film and theatre, what is it to work with the sea as an artistic material?
We are getting there. In our way, we are getting there – and I’m looking forward to being reunited with internet, with other people, with proper actual freedom (eat what we want, go where we want, not have everything so scheduled, being able to film) to actually begin to try things out, to put our planning into practice – maybe to fail, but in doing so, to learn that this is not the end of the world and to then try things another way.
Enough of me – over to you!
Blog Post: Filmmaker At Sea
I have really been thinking about how we can document our journey together, be it creative or more mundane daily things we do together. Well, it’s has been over two weeks since we left the UK. By the time we leave the ship on Friday, it would have been exactly three weeks at sea. What an experience it has been, these last few weeks getting to know one another, as passengers and artists on a fully-fledged cargo ship.
The first week from the 12th to 19th February, we spent the first three days stationary at the port in Antwerp. We had our first Pizza Day with the crew! We were treated to Italian TV; I think we said our favourite was the cooking show, as we were amazed by an authentic Italian cuisine that we were unfamiliar with. We were blown away by the view from the bridge at the port but when we were at sea, it was almost surreal. I began going up to the bridge after lunch, as I found it energising. And you tended to go up to the bridge to write. What an inspiring place to write?
On the 15th February we had our first project meeting, which was great! We spoke about ‘Checking-In/Out’, Pre-Production, and our plans to watch Sankofa (Gerima).
Then on our second day at sea I was overwhelmed by seasickness. It was a nightmare, I couldn’t eat and I was anxious doing pretty much everything, as my body was in flux. Selina kindly gave me some seasickness tablets, which I took immediately. Then one of the seamen (2nd Mate) gave me a box of Valontan (Adulti) and instructed me to take one tablet in the morning and one at night. I followed his instruction, as the instructions on the box were in Italian. Within three days I felt better and was happy eating Italian food, all three courses.
I started reading Sisters of the Yam (bell hooks), which I finished it within the week. It’s a great read; I want to buy it for all the women in my family. It was a life-changing read!
I started an Audio-Video Shopping List, which included what I would like to capture in terms of sound and image. At that stage I was very much responding to my environment, so ‘monotony’ and ‘repetition’ were the themes that came to mind. This influenced the Themes and Feelings log, which in hindsight is a bit depressing but it was a way of expressing myself.
Before the trip, I bought a new camera and didn’t have time to look at the manual; luckily I brought the manual with me. It’s almost 600 pages of camera information, instructions and guidelines. It’s been fun getting to know my camera. It’s more advanced than my older camera and the picture quality is beautiful. I’m really looking forward to filming in Ghana and Jamaica too!
Within the last week we’ve really made a lot of progress as a team, which I am really happy about. We’ve had some really inspiring moments shared. We have watched Nine Muses (Akomfrah), which really found useful in terms of identifying different ways of articulating and using tone. We have talked about our mentors and what we have learned from them. We have discussed what productions have inspired us. Our next meeting we will be talking about Pre-to-Post Production (filmmaker’s perspective) and Scheduling (film and live performance production).
We have recently past through the port at Abidjan, Cote D’Ivore and Cotonou, Benin. We spent moment’s people watching and wondering what it would like to be on land in the countries we have visited only from the insulated vessel.
Next stop is Lagos, Nigeria! There has been a lot talk from the seamen about Lagos, there’s anticipation in the air. I am happy to welcome a new experience and different perspective from the bridge.