Strawberry Wasp (restoration & update)

SWfour_walking

This completed 20 minute 16mm film needs only to be transferred to digital (the visual portion) the audio needs to be extracted from a UMatic lowband tape (the only known surviving copy, apart from a poor quality VHS) The audio will then need to be re-synched, and the video graded. 

This film was my degree piece at Portsmouth University Fine Art, gaining me a first place in practice. It was shot using a Cinemascope anamorphic lens giving a striking physical proportion of 2.66:1. Its somewhat melodramatic subject is no less than good and evil, and is a sequence of six scenes, one introductory scene, four “character” scenes, comprising one character in each (Thief, Witch, Priest, Princess), and a short  outro sequence. The music is loud, distorted and monotonous, with one musical theme per section.
SW_alison

I showed this film many times during the late 80s and early nineties, but mostly at art events and concerts. I could never submit it for festivals due to its format, both being Cinemascope and it having a “Separate Magnetic” (Sep-Mag) soundtrack. It was, however in great demand at one stage and I was projecting it, at various locations, about once a month for a while.

Alison as "the virgin"
Alison as “the virgin”

Working methods and style

Rainy day on West Wittering
Rainy day on West Wittering

Visually, I think my work has an interesting feel to it, in some ways it feels hand-made, naive and charming, at the same time, dark and eerie. I have, often out of necessity, built strange devices and rigs to achieve shots that would normally only be possible using expensive equipment, I have hand-developed 16mm film in an old Russian Army developing tank, build a DIY film printer, punched holes in the film, filmed on Standard 8 film gauge and used it in a 16mm film (without getting cut) I have hung cameras from kites, swung them on rubber inner tubes and shot scenes backwards. Due to the physical handling of these earlier films, I expect them to be scratched, faded and aged, almost coming from some strange and distant past. I am, however, always concerned with good picture quality, strong visual imagery, strong audio, and filmic pace.

There is an element of the “gothic”, as in the films of The Brothers Quay or Derek Jarman, of “pop culture”, as I was and am a professional musician in experimental circles with my band The Cranes, and this forms part of my worldview, as well as a folklore or occult element, particularly as “The Great Work” features an Alchemist, two malevolent Freemasons, and an innocent Princess.