Guerrilla Filmmaking Festival 2014

Film education

I run a module at my university, and it is called Guerrilla Filmmaking.

As mentioned in a previous blog, students are asked to make a series of short films in relatively short order and without necessarily having access to traditional filmmaking equipment. I shan’t explain this too much in detail, since it is mentioned (at much greater length) in that previous blog.

Indeed, the changes between last year and this year were minimal in terms of the exercises set for the students. Nonetheless, the films produced were equally excellent, and so I’d like – belatedly, but finally – to curate a bunch of them on my blog for people to look at.

Remember – this is about making a film with minimal resources, on a set topic and always with a formal constraint. Along these lines:

1.     Make a film that does not feature moving images and which responds to the question: what is the meaning of Europe?

2.     Make a film that does not feature any synchronisation between image and sound, which does not feature any music, and which documents an issue of concern local to you.

3.     Make an experimental, animated or found footage film that deals with recent political events, be those global or local.

4.     Make a film about a human rights issue using only a mobile phone and/or other telecommunications technology (i.e. do not use a dedicated camera).

5.     Make a silent film that consists only of one take, and which is about multiculturalism.

So, without further ado, here are some excellent films from the Class of 2013-2014!

1.     Make a film that does not feature moving images and which responds to the question: what is the meaning of Europe?

The Foreigner by Anaurelino Negri da Costa Silva

Evropa by Maya Djurdjevic

En Tourist by Anders Hammer

Postcards from Europe by Marc Moyce

Europe by Lerke Sofie Bruun

2.     Make a film that does not feature any synchronisation between image and sound, which does not feature any music, and which documents an issue of concern local to you.

Aylesbury Estate by Maya Djurdjevic

Aspiration by Joshua Bessell

Guilt by Anaurelino Negri da Costa Silva

Anxiety by Michael Athan Ryan

Open Your Eyes, Benita by Benita Paplauskaite

Film #2 by Josh Fenwick-Wilson

Getting the Train Home for the Weekend by Seb Barnett

Local Concern by Anders Hammer

3.     Make an experimental, animated or found footage film that deals with recent political events, be those global or local.

We’re Here For Your Safety by Michael Athan Ryan and Lee Upton

Eat My Fear by Anaurelino Negri da Costa Silva

Film #3 by Josh Fenwick-Wilson

The Life Blood Machine by Marc Moyce

Political Events by Mary Burnett

4.     Make a film about a human rights issue using only a mobile phone and/or other telecommunications technology (i.e. do not use a dedicated camera).

Private Moments by Mary Burnett

Final Cut by Steven Russell

5.     Make a silent film that consists only of one take, and which is about multiculturalism.

Dilution by Myles Bevan

Access by Marc Moyce

Film #5 by Josh Fenwick-Wilson

Multiculture by Benita Paplauskaite

Multiculturalism by Seb Barnett and Will Davis

My Cultured London by Parisa Heydarkhani

Portobello by Jethro Gayanilo

Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre, USA, 2014)

American cinema, Blogpost, Film reviews

It’s perhaps the effect of the ‘new sincerity’ – its evident conclusion. And that is to be up front about the life selfish – and to feel okay about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Bible bashing anti-abortionist, though I have my reservations about abortion in that I do not believe it should be entered into lightly – and (full disclosure) kind of do consider it to be a form of life ending (because, quite simply, it is). That said, and the disclosure remains full, I reserve this view to myself and cannot and will not impose it upon anyone who chooses otherwise (and it is quite possible that I have no children at this point in my life precisely because of abortions – though if this is the case, I am not aware of it and would be somewhat surprised were it so).

Bringing you up to speed: Obvious Child is about a young woman, Donna, played superbly by Jenny Slate, who, among other things, becomes pregnant after a seeming one-night stand with Max, played equally well by Jake Lacy, and who decides to have an abortion.

Back to the chase: I have seen the photos of aborted fœtuses. They touch me deeply. But if a human is not ready to have a child, then a human is not ready to have a child. Maybe they should ‘become ready’ and simply commit to what they’re doing/what has happened to them. Quite possibly. But I think that Obvious Child works well in bringing us to the point of not judging Donna for her decisions. Instead we have a lot of empathy with her, and like her – not because of her decision, but ‘in spite of’ her decision (it is hard to condemn her, even if we disapprove of her actions). Narrative cinema is perhaps best at this: allowing us to understand other people.

I have 24 minutes to finish writing this blog, since I have to get up very soon to go and shoot my new film, The New Hope, a zero-budget adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. But I have been thinking a lot about Obvious Child since I saw it at the BFI on Thursday 21 August 2014, and feel compelled to write this. I won’t do justice to my thoughts in 24 minutes.

What do I mean by invoking above something called ‘the life selfish’? Hold this thought.

In an interview, director Gillian (pronounced with a hard g, apparently) Robespierre says about the Paul Simon song from which the film takes its name and which features in the film:

It felt perfect, because it had a sort of ambiguity to how people were going to see that title. Is Donna an obvious child? Is it just the song in the movie? It’s one of those things where I hate to overanalyze it, but people seem to love to overanalyze it, and I really like that.

And so here’s my over-analysis. Aside from being a wonderful song that, in moving through three (arguably four) different phases takes on a kind of ‘the continuity of life’ quality, ‘The Obvious Child’ also brings to mind two things. Firstly, in its lyrics regarding how the narrator in the song is ‘accustomed to a smooth ride’ and who then has Sonny, who in turn grows up, the film speaks of class – those who, although not necessarily where they want to be in life, benefit from choice. That is, choice – including choice surrounding abortion – is arguably one that is accorded only to a privileged few (and although in Robespierre’s film there is a financial dimension to the abortion in that it costs US$500, and Donna is not sure where to get that money from, we infer from her parents and friends that this sort of money is not going to be hard for her to find).

[The film sits well with Joe Swanberg’s Marriage Material (USA, 2012), which features a conversation about how having children in fact costs nothing in the USA. And yet a couple decides, without an abortion, that they don’t really want a child. The films make interesting bedfellows.]

The class thing we’ll come back to – because it connects to ‘sincerity’ (and its apparent novelty, such that sincerity is allegedly ‘new’ these days). The second thing that the title ‘obvious child’ brings to mind is its etymology.

Obvious is derived from the Latin preposition ob-, meaning various things, but it is to do with impeding movement and direction (a sense of ‘againstness’ – as in obstruction and obstacle), and from viam, meaning ‘way’ – such that ‘obvious’ means ‘in the way’. In some senses, this ob-servation is in itself ‘obvious’ – but the ‘obvious’, that which is right before our eyes, is also tied to a sense of being in the way. But in the way of what? What does it block us from? Well, it blocks us from the future. But what future is that?

This is going to be precisely my central question. But we still have a word to look at: ‘child’.

Here’s what the Online Etymology Dictionary says about the origins of the term ‘child’ (forgive me if it is inaccurate):

Old English cild “fetus, infant, unborn or newly born person,” from Proto-Germanic *kiltham (cognates: Gothic kilþei “womb,” inkilþo “pregnant;” Danishkuld “children of the same marriage;” Old Swedish kulder “litter;” Old English cildhama “womb,” lit. “child-home”); no certain cognates outside Germanic. “App[arently] originally always used in relation to the mother as the ‘fruit of the womb'” [Buck]. Also in late Old English, “a youth of gentle birth” (archaic, usually written childe). In 16c.-17c. especially “girl child.”

So in effect, we have, as Robespierre herself ob-serves, both a sense in which the fœtus is ‘in the way’ (‘child’ as ‘pregnant woman’). But maybe Donna is also ‘in the way’, being a ‘girl child’ rather than perhaps a ‘woman’.

This is not a criticism of Donna along the lines of ‘ooh, she should grow up and stop being a child and become a woman.’ But it is about the territory that the film explores.

I’ve got about three minutes left, so now having done my set-up, I type for my life.

How can a child be ‘in the way’? Well, literally, when a woman is pregnant a child emerges on the road/way of life. But we think about things being ‘in the way’ as an ob-stacle a lot of the time, and it’s that sense of the term that I want to run with. What world is this where a child is ‘in the way’? A strange one, but it is one about futures.

We look at our lives and we all (perhaps as a result of the media – but that is not the topic today) project forwards to a hypothetical life that we wish to lead. We live so much of our lives now in the future: where we want to go. As a result, we do not particularly live in the present. Paradoxically, by trying to write in advance our futures, we also (try to) deny the futurity of the future: our lives are not uncertain (the future has ‘futurity’ because it is ‘open’, or unknown), but instead our lives are already written (we know what will happen if those ambitions are realised).

(Maybe a potential child feels to many people as precisely a ‘writing’ of the future, such that we would be chained to parenthood and not able to pursue anymore our ambitions, but I query this. Kids or not, you can still lead your own life – but maybe this is a man talking, because motherhood arguably is completely different from fatherhood and does entail more of a sacrifice of one’s open future. In this sense, maybe Donna is completely justified in the abortion since she has ambitions to pursue.)

But I think that this is the strange sensation that the film captures so well: that we are all unsure about the life that we are leading. Are we in the right place? Are we with the right person? And we do not decide a lot of the time (‘we’ being, here, a middle class human likely from the ‘global north’), because we dither over what it is that we are supposed to do; what is ‘best’ for us, drowning in our ignorance because how (the fuck) can anyone know what is their future? But we struggle with the present, because we are worried that what is ‘in our way’ is going to stop us from realising future ambitions (in Donna’s case, being a successful comedian, hopefully at some point – it would seem – on the television and/or in the movies).

This is a terrible anxiety – because we do not know if our futures are going to be the ones ‘we wanted’. In short, choice is a privilege, but it is also an unbearably light (light in the sense of being something only certain people can afford) privilege, almost intolerable. And while Donna makes a decision, and while we admire for her decision, that sense of ‘am I making the right decision?’ pervades the film in an unspoken fashion.

This is the life selfish: deciding what is ‘right’ for oneself. Robespierre makes a film that, while funny, arresting and charming (and the comedy of the film, the fact that the film is a comedy, merits some analysis, too, in that comedy is a com-munal experience that allows us to be ‘beside ourselves’ with laughter – i.e. looking at ourselves as if from the outside), explores this in the most serious terms possible – by making this about the life of an obvious child.

Is one right to think for oneself? We can never know, we just have to decide. And while choice is surely a privilege for those who have a ‘smooth ride’ – those who have choice still must choose. Having chosen, we can always stand by people’s choices. But the film captures that moment when one is stuck, struggling, tormented: projecting into the future, such that what is glaringly before us (a child!) seems ‘in the way’.

I’m still thinking about this film – but wanted to get this down. I am permanently worried that I make the wrong choices, that I just ‘drift’ and if only I’d done x or y then maybe I’d be closer to ‘where I want to be’ (because somehow the life I have is always not quite the one I want, it is ‘obvious’ – right before me, but also somehow in the way, blocking me from the life I feel that I somehow want, perhaps even ought, to be leading).

Maybe others have similar feelings – that is why I’ve tried to write this down (hastily, for which apologies). If no one else does have such feelings, then at least this posting can function as something like therapy for myself.

Now – The New Hope awaits…


Prosthetic Costumes in Film

Blogpost, Uncategorized

I delivered this paper at the University of St Andrews in 2009. It’s about ‘prosthetic costumes’ – i.e. motion capture and the way that actors ‘wear’ digital imagery. Since I am not going to publish it (and have never pursued publishing it), I’ll put it online here as a blog…

Here we go…

Recently researching an article on Motion Capture as used in Robert Zemeckis’ 2007 adaptation of Beowulf, I was struck by a comment made by actor Bill Nighy with regard to his experience of motion capture not in relation to Zemeckis’ film, but with regard to Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), in which Nighy plays a rather monstrous version of Davy Jones.

Interviewed about the motion capture technology used to construct his performance, Nighy commented that he considered the motion capture suit he wore to be his “digital pyjamas” (Marshall, 2007: 3). This prompted me to think about the possibility of such a thing as ‘digital costume’—and what precisely this might be or how we might theorise it.

Several ideas, as well as several problems, immediately spring to mind. First the problems: we can understand that digital technology may add or remove details from an image, for example removing or adding tattoos, body piercings, or simply making a character look older than the actor playing him (I am thinking of Brad Pitt in David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008). In this sense, digital technology is used in the services of, and in many respects is not much different from, traditional make-up. When it is not so much make-up but costume that the digital technology modifies, or rather if, as in the case of Nighy’s Davy Jones, it is both make-up and costume that is modified in order to create a coherent (if somewhat unpleasant) appearance, then the dividing line between make-up and costume is blurred: where does make-up end and costume begin if both are equally immaterial, in that both are the creation of a or a team of computer animators?

The idea of the immaterial nature of a digital costume leads to a second problem: given that the costume is added in post-production, and given that the costume never existed (even if it seeks to replicate the look and feel of conventional textures and fabrics), are we simply talking about a literalisation of the Emperor’s New Clothes scenario? That is, what can we say about a costume that is in fact non-existent, and underneath which somewhere—but where exactly?—is the naked actor, who wears a numerical (i.e. digital) costume that erases or at the very least covers over that nudity?

We can of course argue that all costume functions in the same way: any costume covers up as much as it reveals the human body from which it hangs. However, given the indexical relationship between a photographic image and the material costume that it depicts, a costume that has genuine fabric and texture, we do not so much feel that the Emperor, or in this case Davy Jones, is naked underneath the costume, as that the costume is real, that it did exist in front of the camera/in a pro-filmic manner at the time of shooting. Since we can have no such faith in the reality of a digital costume, since it is made not from fabric but from numbers, perhaps there is something different going on here. 

Realism is seemingly the goal of digital animators (certainly this is the case in a blockbuster of At World’s End’s ilk), and a majority of audiences may therefore not notice the entirely false nature of a digital costume. Indeed, the ‘costume’ that Davy Jones wears seems convincingly to mimic historical trends and uniforms (he wears a sea captain’s uniform, worn at the edges and covered in cockles after years of submarine existence). In this sense, it is still a costume that signals to us information about his character in a way that traditional or analogue costume does: corrupted power, masculinity, and a red-grey tint that suggests the threatening colour of crabs or the squid that Davy’s visage is made to represent. However, I would still contend that there is room for theorising the digital costume, or what I term here the prosthetic costume (by way of signalling the above blur between make-up and prosthetics and costume).

And so having addressed some of the problems involved in thinking about digital costume, let us move on to the ideas that come to mind. Firstly, digital technology offers to filmmakers an unparalleled level of control over the image. This means that if a filmmaker is dissatisfied with the way in which a real costume moves or its colour, he can change this detail, or re-clothe his actors in a completely different style. Not only might this happen in such a way that an actor’s clothing and appearance are consistently modified throughout a scene or a film, but this may happen within a scene or even within a single shot. I have not knowingly seen this happen yet in cinema, but there are hints as to how this might work: if in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), it is through cutting that Helen Mirren’s Georgina can change dresses from white to red as she moves from one location (restaurant interior) to the next (lavatory) without any apparent lapse of time, this is not the case with the character of Rorschach in the recent film, The Watchmen (Zack Snyder, 2008), whose face mask is constantly morphing within frame and without the need for cuts. Of course, the relationship between Georgina’s location and her costume plays an important part in Greenaway’s film, and the point here is not to suggest any deficiency in Greenaway’s work. However, the shifting costume that Snyder presents to us suggests the possibilities for morphing costumes that may serve a similar function to the morphing appearances that Vivian Sobchack and others have so thoroughly theorised (Sobchack, 2000), and which have perhaps found their real-life counterpart in Generra’s Global Hypercolour line, a series of garments, predominantly t-shirts, that changed colour at different temperatures, and which were popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That is, rather than costume becoming a means of expressing an identity that is at any moment in time fixed according to class or gender, the morphing costume has the potential to suggest instability regarding such matters, a certain freedom from the constraints of costume, even if most filmmakers choose not to use digital technology to this end (and even if Rorschach is definitely gendered as male within The Watchmen’s male-dominated narrative).

Stella Bruzzi (1997: 9-10) has correctly argued that the Gaultier-designed costumes worn by Mirren in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover are spectacular, and there is a sense that spectacle plays a key role in understanding the morphing clothes of Rorschach in The Watchmen, as well as of the morph more generally. Furthermore, Sarah Street (2001) has identified how costume can often play a spectacular role in the kind of science fiction or fantasy cinema with which digital technology, in the form of special effects, is generally associated. However, while there is definitely potential for the digital or prosthetic costume to be spectacular (over and above the role of ‘real’ and spectacular costumes in The Matrix (1999) and other films analysed by Street), I would argue that this is not always the case. The practice of changing details of clothing because they distract us from the narrative, i.e. because they are too spectacular, also suggests that the digitisation of costumes can be carried out in the services of narrative, which potentially means that a filmmaker can undermine the work of her or his costume designer if they feel that they are unhappy with it, or that it somehow takes precedence over the story being told. In other words, like traditional costume, digital costume can be, as Jane Gaines and Charlotte Herzog put it, either subservient or spectacular (Gaines & Herzog, 1990).

In his PhD thesis, Richard Dyer explained the relationship between haute couture, luxury, wealth, refinement and power (quoted in Studlar, 2000: 165). While digital costumes do not at present mimic haute couture (and nor, necessarily, does haute couture mimic digital costume), the element of control that digital technology avails to the filmmaker over his actors’ appearance and costume does indirectly reflect a similar relationship between luxury, wealth and power. It is not necessarily that the digital costume itself suggests wealth, refinement or power, although any digital costume that evokes, say, Givenchy’s dresses will bring with it the same connotations of class that Givenchy’s real dresses do, even if the immaterial/digital nature of the ‘fake’/digital ‘Givenchy’ hollows out these associations if we are sharp-eyed enough to see the fakery and/or even bother to stop to think about such matters. However, it is not the costume itself so much as the element of control that the filmmaker has over digital costumes that suggests in a different sense both luxury and wealth (the ability to use such technologies while constructing a film), as well as power: the filmmaker has direct authority over all aspects of the film’s design. Power shifts from the couturier to the filmmaker, from the actor that inhabits the costume to the filmmaker who covers the performance with a numerical skin—and digital effects, including digital costumes, reflect this power, in much the same way that Bill Nighy becomes unrecognisable in At World’s End.

In spite of the above argument, it might be worth noting that to spot a fake Givenchy, be it digital or fabric, is to reveal oneself, i.e. the wearer of the fake costume, as belonging to a certain class: someone who cannot afford the real Givenchy! While Rachel Moseley (2002) has suggested the sense of empowerment that dressing up like a film star can give to filmgoers, I would argue, after Dyer (quoted now in Herzog, 1990: 155), that in some respects there is no substitute for the real thing. While it has been widely recognised that computers have improved the lot of architects, in that now they can more thoroughly model their designs, this is not the case with the fashion industry. Annie Phizacklea (1990: 53-71) has explained that computer-aided design robs the UK fashion industry’s labour force of its skills, and that it is best suited to companies specialising in a large number of short runs. That is, computers are deemed appropriate for clothes designed for mass consumption, but not for haute couture, where there remains an emphasis on manual design and production (without the space to explore here the exploitation of labour forces in the fashion industry as Phizacklea does in her book, Unpacking the Fashion Industry: Gender, Racism and Class in Production). What is true of computers within the fashion industry may remain true of them with regard to cinema and fashion: that is, digital costumes suggest not the elegance and luxury—i.e. the power—of bespoke designs, but, particularly in the case of digital costumes made to mimic pre-existing fashions, an impoverishment of elegance and luxury, a diminished power. In short, knock-off products are considered inferior (by those who can afford the originals?), such that there arises an ambivalence with regard to the digital costume: it suggests wealth (digital effects are expensive), but it also suggests inferiority to the ‘real’ clothes that could be worn. Maybe the Emperor really is naked…

Charles Eckert (1990) has famously established the historical links between the fashion industry and cinema. In the case of digital costumes, the relationship between the two may not be so clear. Without a real-world referent, the digital costume does not serve to sell any real-world clothes, except perhaps party costumes that refer back to the costumes, digital or otherwise, worn by characters in certain films. However, with regard to films like Pirates of the Caribbean, and others such as the Star Wars films (various directors, 1977-2004), we may get a sense of the consumer tie-in through the relationship between cinema and the toy industry. The relationship between cinema and toys remains under-analysed, but if cinematic narratives do play a role in the marketing and sale of toys, perhaps including computer games, then we may be able to identify a sense in which digital costumes, as much as digital special effects in general, are marketed predominantly towards young males, which in turn would suggest that although a morphing costume could in theory undermine fixed notions of gender and class, in that one’s appearance is always shifting, for the main part, e.g. in At World’s End, digital costumes are incorporated into male-dominated narratives in which gender identity is reaffirmed—even if Keira Knightley plays with swords in the films, even if Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is somewhat effeminate in the film, not least through his pronounced use of eyeliner, and even if Will Turner is played by the effeminate Orlando Bloom. In fact, from this perspective, digital costumes as associated with Davy Jones, etc, may come to stand for a threatening masculinity within the film. Meanwhile, the very notion of play that is associated with dressing up, and which has a concomitant potential for reversing or making unclear gendered roles and identities, seems paradoxically to be undermined by the digital costumes within the film: playfulness may be infantile, and digital technology, especially through its use in computer games, may be playful, but the association of the digital with threatening masculinity, and the association of digital costumes with toys targeted at young male viewers, suggests that masculinity underwrites the use of digital technology in cinema, including its application to physical appearance and costume. That the virtual emerges here as being linked to the masculine is perhaps made clear in the virile etymology of virtuality, both coming from vir, the Latin for boy.

Pam Cook (1996: 43) has written that “[c]lothes mark the threshold between the body and the outside world, between the private and the public. They can hide or reveal, but either way they expose our vulnerability.” Digital costumes, particularly when worn in conjunction with digital make-up (the digital prosthesis that is motion capture), blur this distinction: the body disappears under digital pyjamas more fully than it does under real pyjamas, for the very thing that disappears from the digital creature, clothed or otherwise, is precisely its skin, the peau that can be ex-peau-sed in the first place. Real fabrics are removed and instead we have creatures that may well be in the world of the film, but they are neither in nor of the world of the viewer, which is the tantalising role that fashion and costume seems so often to play in analogue cinema: that you could possibly look like that in real life. Anne Jerslev (2006) may have pointed to the possibility for cosmetic make-over in real life through plastic surgery, through the invasion of Trinny and Susannah, through tattoos, piercings, dyes, fashion, make-up, etc. But it remains an elusive and perhaps undesirable goal to look something like Bill Nighy’s Davy Jones, not least because this would involve the removal or effacement of the skin that grounds us in reality. In other words, if Pam Cook (1996) feels that fashion offers us the opportunity to change places out of our everyday roles, digital costumes offer not an escape grounded in the body, but one grounded on virtual air, on nothing.

In a certain sense, the digital costume paradoxically can become even more exclusive than a Givenchy dress: when not imitating existing fashions, or at the very least when allowing characters to wear fashions or uniforms that no longer exist, as per Davy Jones, the digital costume has the potential to suggest an escape that is even more rarefied, perhaps precisely because the digital allows a modification and personalisation of appearance that far exceeds even that of a bespoke dress. No wonder the playful and sometimes disturbing appearances that real life humans give to their digital avatars in virtual environments such as Second Life or World of Warcraft, environments that some users or players feel is the best outlet for their self-expression, in a continuation of the liberating tradition of designing one’s own clothes and/or imitating the fashions of stars that Jackie Stacey (1994) and Rachel Moseley (2002) have identified. If Pam Cook (1996) identifies clothes as a fetish object, then here perhaps the digital costume truly is a fetish: it is a virtual symbol that comes to stand in for the desired appearance that reality cannot offer, the missing appearance that would make us ‘whole’ in real life.

Pam Cook (1996) also explains how nostalgia is a sentiment often associated with costume. And while the freedom enabled by control in the use of digital technology as applied to cinema might indeed allow Davy Jones to wear a sea-drenched costume that is reminiscent of sailors’ uniforms from centuries past, it is interesting to note that this digital costume evokes nostalgia not necessarily for anything real or anything that once we could have known (since no one on Earth was alive to see the real Davy Jones or his locker), but a nostalgia for a past that is non-existent and unknowable or, more precisely, if existent and known, it is only existent in and known through the media. The role of existing costumes no doubt influences the design of virtual clothes or prosthetic costumes in cinema and by users in virtual environments alike, allowing us to indulge our nostalgia for and to fetishise a self that never existed anywhere except in our imagination, a self that typically we characterise as existing in the past (hence, nostalgia), but which may well exist in the future (make-overs giving us real appearances as idiosyncratic and bizarre as those of our Second Life avatars) and even in the present (the virtual present of virtual environments that do now exist alongside the real world in visible and interactive form). No wonder Bill Nighy called them his digital pyjamas: free from the skin, the digital costume does not so much expose/ex-peau-se us, as give us the (at present, but for how long?) illusion of freedom and wholeness of identity that is known only in dreams…

Works cited

Bruzzi, S. (1997) Undressing Cinema: Clothing and Identity in the Movies, London/New York: Routledge.

Cook, P. (1996) Fashioning the Nation: Costume and Identity in British Cinema, London: British Film Institute.

Eckert, C. (1990) ‘The Carole Lombard in Macy’s Window,’ in Fabrications: Costume and the Female Body (eds. Jane Gaines and Charlotte Herzog), New York/London: Routledge, pp. 100-121.

Gaines, J. and Herzog, C. (1990) Fabrications: Costume and the Female Body, New York/London: Routledge.

Herzog, C. (1990) ‘“Powder Puff” Promotion: The Fashion Show-in-the-Film,’ in Fabrications: Costume and the Female Body (eds. Jane Gaines and Charlotte Herzog), New York/London: Routledge, pp. 134-159.

Jerslev, A. (2006) ‘The Mediated Body: Cosmetic Surgery in Television Drama, Reality Television and Fashion Photography,’ Nordicom Review, 27:2, pp. 133-151.

Marshall, L. (2007) ‘Rise of the Machines,’ Screen International, 1606: 3.

Moseley, R. (2002) Growing Up with Audrey Hepburn, Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press.

Phizacklea, A. (1990) Unpacking the Fashion Industry: Gender, Racism and Class in Production, London/New York: Routledge.

Sobchack, V. (ed.) (2000) Meta-Morphing. Visual Transformation and the Culture of Quick-Change. Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press.

Stacey, J. (1994) Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship, London/New York: Routledge.

Street, S. (2001) Costume and Cinema: Dress Codes in Popular Film, London: Wallflower.

Studlar, G. (2000) ‘“Chi-Chi Cinderella”: Audrey Hepburn as Couture Countermodel,’ in Hollywood Goes Shopping (eds. David Desser and Garth S Jowett), Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 159-178.

Here comes The New Hope

Beg Steal Borrow News, New projects, Selfie, The New Hope, Ur: The End of Civilization in 90 Tableaux

Exciting times for Beg Steal Borrow Films!

As final touches are put on to Ur: The End of Civilization in 90 Tableaux (with festival submissions to take place as soon as is ready), and as Selfie is about to go into post-production, shooting is about to begin on new zero-budget feature, The New Hope.

The New Hope is an adaptation of the first part of Miguel de Cervantes’ classic novel, Don Quixote. It tells the story of a man who claims to be Obi Wan Kenobi, and who spends his time going around London trying to right wrongs as per the old Jedi knight errant way.

Oh, and this Obi Wan also challenges Ewan McGregor to a duel – in order to prove that he really is Obi Wan Kenobi and not just some actor playing the part.

The film features Beg Steal Borrow regulars Dennis Chua, Alastair Trevill, Kristina Gren, Nick Marwick, Andrew Slater, Alastair Hird and Deanne Cunningham. And the film will of course be lensed in part by the ever-present and wonderful Tom Maine. Alexandra Brown will also have a brief role in the film – together with her gorgeous new daughter, Ariadne Bullen.

And the film will also feature new Beg Steal Borrow collaborators, including Aleksander Zerov Krawec, Grace Ker, Samuel Taylor, Millad Khonsorkh, Lucia Williams and others.

Filming takes place in and around Hyde Park between 23 and 25 August and 30 and 31 August. A whole feature in a five day shoot!

Passers by by are welcome to interact and to change the film if they spot us.

Otherwise, here’s a teaser featuring Obi Wan and a statue of Karl Marx – explaining how being, rather than acting a Jedi knight is the new source for hope in a world that’s blowing itself to pieces right now.

Afterimages screens in Lithuania

Afterimages, Beg Steal Borrow News, Screenings

It seems as though Afterimages has found its spiritual home – Lithuania!

After two screenings in Kedainiai City in late 2013, Afterimages recently enjoyed another screening in Gelgaudiškis at Cinema Camp, an event run by Meno Avilys, an NGO based in Vilnius that specialises in film education and restoration – as well as producing DVDs of great Lithuanian films.

Around 70 people were at the screening, making it the busiest Beg Steal Borrow film screening so far – and the Q&A afterwards was enthusiastic and engaged.

Afterimages screens at Cinema Camp in Gelgaudiškis, Lithuania, on 25 July 2014.

Afterimages screens at Cinema Camp in Gelgaudiškis, Lithuania, on 25 July 2014.

Afterimages director William also gave a talk about 3D cinema during the event, which also featured works by artist-filmmakers Francisco Janes and Saulius Leonavicius.

William would like to thank all of the organising team for a wonderful welcome, for fantastic hospitality and for all of the kindness and generosity that everyone at Cinema Camp, especially the Meno Avilys team, showed.

Cinema Camp, run by Meno Avilys, took place in this beautiful country house under a glorious sun.

Cinema Camp, run by Meno Avilys, took place in this beautiful country house under a glorious sun.

Maybe this will be the next in a long line of events and screenings in Lithuania!