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Contact me: laurachopinemsley@hotmail.com

It is lambing season on a farm in County Durham.
The filmmaker and the actor leave the cottage and head to the nearby field to film scene (2), (6), or (9). The actor has no name- this is not important. She exists relativistically- what happens between her and the other elements is more important than her individual actions. They pass two dead lambs by the barn on the way to the field. Collateral damage.

The night they finish filming, a global pandemic forces the country into lockdown. The film cannot be processed, scanned, or edited. It remains in a box on top of the freezer in the garage. This distance, between the moment of capture and processing, is greater than ever before. The film exists only within memory, and is yet to be confined within the image’s frame. But, not all is lost; completeness has no counterpart in real life.

A couple of weeks earlier she shot the greengrocer on Brasenose College grounds in Oxford. He fell to the ground and died immediately. It was a somewhat rushed affair- she was moving out of her room for the easter holidays, although she would never return. This created a conflict with the use of celluloid which required, at this stage, complete decision. There is no auto focus, auto aperture, auto anything.

Pull the yellow socks, to the right, towards you and the tree. Pick up only 4 pears, leave the rest on the ground.

The mechanics of celluloid film determining complete decision, also provide elements of complete indecision. When filming Snowman- two eggs, two toast, coffee two sugars, Noah’s ark breakfast and a pear- the filmmaker pushed down the trigger on the Super8 camera whilst her brother lay motionless on top of a Swiss Mountain, but the celluloid didn’t expose this particular image. The filmmaker wasn’t to know until the footage was processed 2 months later. With digital film there is a sense of overwhelming possibility, no material is resistant to the idea.

In Oxford, passers by apologised for making too much noise. I informed them that the camera was incapable of capturing sound. The mute celluloid film is detached from its sound, which takes on its own narrative. There are no hierarchies and neither one depends on the other, although interplay can form another layer of meaning.

Editing digitally only alleviates this indecision to a certain extent- you cannot edit what you have not captured- this of course can be choreographed, but not completely controlled.

During filming, the filmmaker used a wind up 16mm camera made in the former soviet union. The maximum take lasts approximately 25 seconds at 24 frames per second. After the actors had finished their instructions, the filmmaker continued to film until the camera needed re-winding. The footage following the actors’ preplanned actions, shows them falling in and out of role. The filmmaker gives no more direction, nor responds to their subtle puzzlement.

She opens the red curtains, purchased on Amazon Prime, that lead onto the garden patio. I am playing Shostakovich’s Fugue in A major on the piano in my family home. It hasn’t been tuned since last Easter, but the show must go on.