I’ve just finished the main part of the filming with Roger Turner and Phil Minton and I am really pleased with the results. I have filmed them both many, many times and almost always the results are wonderful. Not just the music but my visual interpretation of it. They inspire me. My Youtube film of Phil singing the Cutty Wren (which was a drunken chance event where we both made mistakes and was never meant to be taken seriously) has had over 20,000 hits and been linked to many other websites and blogs. We were commissioned by Anne Bean and Matt’s Gallery 2 years ago to make Sea Shanties for the exhibition “TAPS - Improvisations with Paul Burwell”. I am showing 3 films made with Phil Minton at Zwei Tage Zeitung, a festival of free improvised music in Zurich in January. But this is the first time I am asking them to do something specifically for my film, my idea, my commission. And it hasn’t been easy. They agreed months ago to do the film but apart from booking a gig they don’t really do forward planning. I’ve tried sending them the proposal, tried having a meeting to discuss it, tried sending them videos to look at, asking them to read the blog, the Arts Council grant application - torn out my hair. But they just didn’t seem to get what the film is about and I can’t tell them what to do. It has to come from them. I was in a complete panic as they just didn’t seem to be responding to my ideas at all. I had a contract with the Cultural Olympiad to make a film with them (with a decent fee attached) but they just didn’t seem to be taking any notice. I did ask myself if it was because I am a woman or if its to do with the size of the camera and the way I like to work. Like Schwitters I like to work small and with what is with me at the time. I hate having a crew and all the palaver that involves - I did that for years - and nowadays I’m really interested in new little cameras and what I can do with them. (I also like to put my work online which also maybe makes it appear less serious, but I love getting emails from teenagers in Kazakhstan saying how much they like my work.) But in the end I asked the brilliant sound engineer Dave Hunt to do the recording so that I wouldn’t have to worry about sound quality and also to make them realise it was a serious project. It was a good idea. His sound recording is much better than mine anyway.
Maybe I was saved by a journalist called Stuart Broomer who wants to write an article about me for the very serious online music magazine Point of Departure. He really likes my work and sees what I am doing with free improvised music. He wrote to Roger and PhiI and asked them about how they collaborate with me. It seemed to work. They suddenly realised that actually they do collaborate with me - and took it seriously. Roger read the new Schwitters book I had lent him and put some serious thought into the project. They turned up and were brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. They may have been anyway. They just work in a different way. No planning. No research. No dialogue. I just have to accept that. And its what I set out to do with this project. (And lets be honest, they are both abroad on tour most of the time. Roger is now massively busy in Germany and France with Konk Pack and his duo with Urs Leimgruber, and Phil is now in Australia).
Click on the links to see the films mentioned.