I have been meaning to write about the progress of Circle/Line for some time now.
In short, editing progresses not necessarily apace, but steadily.
There have been some frustrations along the way. First and foremost is that it appears that we have lost the video files for one interview conducted at High Street Kensington, all of the interviews that we conducted at Gloucester Road, and part of the long interview that we enjoyed at South Kensington (the very final interview that we conducted).
I guess these things happen – and we still have the sound files, so not all is lost; but this might mean that to include those interviews in, say, a finished film, would mean having the sound over other images, which might seem odd with regard to the look of the rest of the film.
Either way, though, having been through all of the footage it is clear that we have numerous wonderful interviews with numerous fascinating people – all talking about happiness in lots of different ways/approaching it from lots of different angles.
How to arrange it now becomes the big challenge.
I hope that the ‘film’ will in fact take several different shapes.
Firstly, I would like to edit together a film in the traditional sense, which includes footage from a range of the interviews conducted, although not necessarily all of them. I shall return to this shortly below.
Secondly, however, I hope also to create a website with all of the interviews (at least in part) uploaded – in 27 instalments, with one shorter film for each stop on the Circle/Line.
This not only will provide a space for visitors to browse far more of the footage than I can ‘reasonably’ include in a single film (unless watching six and a half hour films is your thing), but I would also like to make the footage available for download, so that visitors can then use the footage potentially to edit a completely different film to the one that I put together.
Finally, more ambitiously and more unlikely, I’d love to find a space where I could mount 27 screens, one for each station, and then allow visitors to come and browse the films at their leisure – for as long or as little as they would like, with each monitor (as per the website) screening footage from that particular station.
Obviously, a yellow theme as per the Circle Line’s appearance on the standard London Tube map, perhaps with a ‘yellow brick path’ around the space, might also be good.
Now, I am editing both the 27 short films and the feature film simultaneously – and what is quickly apparent is that it is very tough to know what to include and what to exclude, in the feature film at least.
It is clear that various themes emerge over and over again: the weather, sport, comparisons between London and other cities – both in the UK and abroad, and so on. I shan’t be able to include all of these, and it becomes clear to me that I am editing a more ‘political’ film, in which issues like the cost of living, work, religion, housing problems and other issues are explored, than I am necessarily editing a ‘feel good’ film (although I hope that the film conveys a lot of the optimism of the people that we interviewed).
Tom Maine – with his customary elegance and sensitivity – has captured absolutely beautiful portraits of the people whom we have interviewed, and so I generally feel happy with the look of the film and in a sense edit more to what people say.
However, sometimes one also edits not only because of what the interviewee does in terms of gesture or facial expression, but sometimes one also edits because of chance events that occur in the background.
I am still undecided as to whether it will make the final cut, but Tom has done shots for example through a taxi that pulled up between him and me/an interviewee at Cannon Street – and which look absolutely fantastic.
In addition, small things like a moving crane also can provide visual attractions that do not necessarily belong to the interview. The vertical framing does, in my humble opinion, work very well – and so the point is that while Circle/Line is a vox pop film, in that it features people talking, it is also – I believe – a very visual film.
Indeed, we set out to create a portrait of London – or at least of London’s Circle Line, the people that pass through and/or inhabit it, and a sense of the relationship between the two by staging the interviews in the street, near public transport, and with an emphasis on the vertical in order to see the human figure in relation to the giant buildings that surround her.
I hope that others consider the film to be successful in presenting not just a series of portraits of people interviewed in London, therefore, but also in many respects a portrait of the city. In the spirit of Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s film from which Circle/Line draws inspiration, I hope also that the film is a ‘chronicle of the summer’ of 2015 in one of the world’s most vibrant cities.
The next time I post, I hope that it will be to announce that a cut of the film is ready. But everything continues enjoyably and hopefully with the result of producing a watchable and engaging piece of work.
Below are some stills – from interviews at (clockwise, starting top left) Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Embankment, Edgware Road, Notting Hill and Bayswater.
And also keep an eye out for a trailer and a poster somewhere in the pipeline, too!