Archives for category: Common Ground

Last weekend saw both the completion of our crowd funding campaign for This is Cinema and the screening at the East End Film Festival of Circle/Line, our documentary investigation into whether people in London are happy.

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A poster for Circle/Line at the East End Film Festival screening.

We would like to offer our thanks to all those who helped to organise and who came to the screening (especially the team at the EEFF!) and to those who pledged money for This is Cinema via our campaign with LiveTree.

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Circle/Line screens in Old Spitalfields Market.

But this is not a moment to sit still, but a moment to carry on…

And so since Saturday 3 June, I have been doing some work on an essay-film, #randomaccessmemory, while Tom Maine and I went out on Monday 5 June to shoot more sculptures for our short essay-film, Sculptures of London.

The fourth day of our shot, Tom and I started at the Emirates Stadium, where we took some shots of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, before then heading to the site of the old Gainsborough Studios in order to capture images of the giant film reel that sits in Shoreditch Park and a curious bust of the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock himself.

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Hitchcock on the site of the former Islington/Gainsborough Studios.

We then travelled down to Liverpool Street and the surrounding area, where we saw Fernando Botero’s Broadgate Venus, Xavier Corberó’s Broad Family, and one of the Kindertransport memorials created by Frank Meisler and Arie Oviada. The last of these commemorates the effort of the British to take in nearly 10,000 Jewish child refugees in the build-up to the Second World War.

Richard Serra’s Fulcrum then followed, a statue that we shot in a style that rhymes with a similar shot of Bernar Venet’s Neuf lignes obliques in The Benefit of Doubt. We shot The Benefit of Doubt in Nice, France, where Venet’s sculpture lives. The film is a retelling of the myth of Ariadne, the daughter of Minos abandoned on the beach by Theseus and who then meets (in our film, two versions of) Bacchus.

Next we viewed Jacques Lipschitz’s Bellerophon Taming Pegasus. As Tom and I discussed creativity, I wondered (cheekily perhaps) that the City location of this sculpture about the mythical slayer of monsters capturing the monstrous chimera seemed somehow to symbolise the way in which the world of work also captures and hinders creativity – with creativity being the creation of monsters, in the sense that creativity brings into the world things and beings that have never before existed (maybe this is why we call children little monsters).

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Bellerophon Taming Pegasus

Looking at Antanas Brazdys’ Ritual in front of the Woolgate Exhange, I also wondered how this particular sculpture also seems very meaningful given its location and the material from which it is made.

This stainless steel piece offers distorted reflections of those who walk in and out of the building, thereby making us look again at, and perhaps question, the daily ritual that is the commute into and out of work. Why do we do this? Is there reason to doubt the ritual?

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Ritual

There followed shots of Karin Jonzen’s Gardener, John Birnie Philip’s Peace and Michael Ayrton’s Minotaur by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the Barbican.

Given the difficulty that we had in finding the Minotaur, which had moved since when we used it for a shot in En Attendant Godard in 2009, it seemed as though this minotaur really did live in a labyrinth – until a very helpful man called José helped us to locate it by leading us through the Guildhall’s staff-only area.

In En Attendant Godard, the minotaur is used to represent a bull – the form taken by Jupiter in order to rape Europa, in the film represented by Annie, who is played by Hannah Croft.

En Attendant Godard refers repeatedly to the mythical Rape of Europa – with images of François Boucher’s Rape of Europa featuring early on, before we then see Alex Chevasco’s character, Alex, being slain as a bull by a torero (Tristan Olphe-Gaillard), before Alex re-adopts bull horns and poses with Annie (who has now changed her name, although we not sure to what) by Lake Geneva.

At the time, we felt as though these images allowed us to investigate visually a link between the Rape of Europa and the concept of Europe: to be European means to be wide-eyed (from the Greek eurys/wide and ops/face or eye). In other words, it means to be open, to look others in the eye or in the face; it is a sign of respect. But perhaps Europa suffers for her wide-eyed openness as Jupiter descends to abduct her.

Further tying this myth to Beg Steal Borrow’s productions, Europa was the mother of Minos, the father of the minotaur, from which the afore-mentioned Ariadne, daughter of Minos and sister of the minotaur, saved Theseus by giving him the spool of thread that he used to make his way out of the labyrinth.

Ariadne is the name of the character that Hannah Croft again plays in The Benefit of Doubt, which is based on the myth of Ariadne, but here picking up the story from after she is abandoned by Theseus on the beach of Naxos (here, Nice) and then discovered by Bacchus (in The Benefit of Doubt represented by two characters played by Nick Marwick and Greg Rowe).

Ariadne is also a key figure in Letters to Ariadne, a film about which I shall blog shortly, and which is an attempt by me to help my niece Ariadne to make sense of the world.

Often life feels as though it is a labyrinth: a puzzle from which we can find no release, except perhaps through an act of love or kindness (as José gave to us at the Guildhall). I wonder (immodestly) that this is something that I try – in my limited way – to explore in my films (or at least to ask if to doubt, if not to know and yet to be open and wide-eyed – or in an etymological sense to be European – can benefit us).

And as in a labyrinth, where being lost we keep returning to the same places to try to make sense of them, so it is with Sculptures of London that we find ourselves returning to the same myths and themes from our other films, haunted by the same questions about what life is, and what the story is that the sculptures of London can tell us.

Indeed, as mentioned in an earlier blog, various of the sculptures that we shot in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park also feature in The New Hope, while other sculptures that we have shot and are yet to shoot for Sculptures of London also appear in Circle/Line and Common Ground, about which more later.

To return to Day Four of the Sculptures shoot, though, we then shot the four feminised personifications of CommerceScienceAgriculture and Fine Art that live on Holborn Viaduct, while also taking an image of a lion covered in scaffold tarpaulin. This gave it the appearance of a sculpture modified by an artist like Christo, who is famous for covering monuments with cloth: like Ritual, the tarpaulin that hid the lion oddly also made it suddenly more visible than usual.

Wandering further around the City, we filmed images of Antony Gormley’s Resolution on Shoe Lane, the sculpture of Samuel Johnson’s cat, Hodge, by Jon Bickley (who also made the pig sculptures we shot on our last sortie), and St George and the Dragon by Michael Sandle and Morris Singer.

While we failed to find Stephen Melton’s LIFFE Trader, we did find J Seward Johnson’s Taxi! sculpture, before then shooting various more ‘monumental’ statues of the likes of Queen Victoria (on Blackfriars Bridge), Queen Anne (outside St Paul’s Cathedral) and the Duke of Wellington and James Henry Greathead by Bank.

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Taxi!

Outside St Paul’s, we created a shot of Georg Ehrlich’s Young Lovers that echoes a shot of Dennis (Dennis Chua) walking around the cathedral in Common Ground – during a sequence that we filmed during the Occupy London movement in late 2011.

Meanwhile, in front of the Wellington statue by Francis Leggatt Chantry, we came across some pro-EU protestors singing modified versions of protest songs (e.g. Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’) in the build-up to the next General Election. They very happily let us film them, and we chatted briefly about their desire for the UK not to leave the European Union (and their desire for Theresa May not to win the election).

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Pro-EU protestors before the Duke of Wellington

There followed brief visits to The Barge Master and the Swan Master of the Vintners Company by Vivien Mallock, and The Cordwainer by Alma Boyes on Watling Street. Interestingly enough, Tom and I marvelled at how – as per the latter statue’s inscription – shoemaking only really took off as an industry in the UK as a result of leather imported from Spain, with cordwain being a corruption of Cordovan, or things from the Spanish city of Córdoba.

If this European connection were not enough, it felt apt that the statue would find itself on Watling Street, which Tom told me was both the site of Boudica’s defeat by the Romans in cAD60 and the dividing line of the Danelaw in the late 9th Century. This latter event saw Watling Street become a boundary between Wessex and Guthrum – which in effect were thus two separate countries at the time.

In other words, the shoes that we wear to cross boundaries are themselves the product of materials crossing national borders, and which are made on the site of a place that itself became a national border and which played host to a battle about national sovereignty. It would seem that today’s disputes over national borders and boundaries have long roots in our past – which we can begin to discover by looking at the public art that surrounds us both in London and elsewhere.

After a trip to Aldgate to see Keith McCarter’s Ridirich, Tom and I popped by the Tower of London to shoot the Building Worker Statue by Alan Wilson, which was created to commemorate the lives of those who have died undertaking construction work in the city.

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Tom Maine shoots Ridirich

We then visited St Katharine Dock, where we saw Wendy Taylor’s Timepiece and David Wynne’s Girl with a Dolphin, a companion piece to his Boy with a Dolphin on Cheyne Walk and which we shot on our previous day of filming (as mentioned here).

In contrast with his Boy, though, the presence in Wynne’s Girl of a fountain that sprays up on to her body, and which spray darts around in the wind, lends to this particular piece a pornographic dimension.

Crossing the river, we then discovered that Eduardo Paolozzi’s Head of Invention has been moved – although we have not yet discovered where to (but it was not in Butler’s Wharf as we were expecting), while we could not find a bust of Ernest Bevin on Tooley Street, either.

We ended, then, with Jacob the Dray Horse by Shirley Pace in the Circle on Queen Elizabeth Street, and John Keats by Stuart Williamson in the Great Maze Pond by Guy’s Hospital in London Bridge.

It is apt that we ended in a maze – another sign that we are all in a labyrinth through which we struggle to find our way.

‘Sure a poet is a sage; A Humanist, physician to all men.’ In The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, from which these words are taken, Keats suggests that the poet is on an endless quest for knowledge, which in turn means that the poet is plagued by doubts, never reaching the point of understanding, but always seeking, open-mindedly, to understand further.

Furthermore, in the poem, Keats suggests that humans should suffer and seek the spiritual, rather than follow or create the words of false poets: not those who create (poiesis), but those who destroy.

Filming these final two sculptures of the day in London Bridge, we came across a multitude of people, including many wearing Muslim Aid-branded clothing, taking part in the vigil announced by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for those who died during the terrorist attack that took place at London Bridge on Saturday 3 June.

It would seem that such horrific incidents haunt Beg Steal Borrow’s films. On 14 July 2016, there was an attack involving a truck on the civilians of Nice, where we filmed The Benefit of Doubt, while this attack took place just hours after the screening of Circle/Line at the East End Film Festival.

Such catastrophes are hard if not impossible to comprehend. London is a city full of paradoxes, just like a circle that is supposed also to be a line.

However, if the vigil can teach us anything, it is that above and beyond the stories that are told by London’s sculptures, London is a city full of loving, open-minded, wide-eyed and welcoming humans – of innumerable races, religions and other types of category that we use to define ourselves. Of the sort who I would like to think are open to taking in refugees, perhaps especially children, and even if the current government recently scrapped the so-called Dubs scheme.

With each other’s help and support, perhaps we can come to learn the benefit of not knowing all the answers and perhaps not knowing at all. If we not only learn the benefit of doubt, but also share our doubts with each other (by writing poetry), then perhaps we can also learn to be Humanists, physicians to all humans, and to give to ourselves and to each other the thread that will help us to find our way out of this labyrinth.

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Fans of Beg Steal Borrow’s film will be pleased to know that we have made available for free both Common Ground and China: A User’s Manual (Films), two films that we completed in 2012.

The former played at FEST Film Festival in Espinho, Portugal, in 2013, as well as being selected for American Online Films Awards Spring Showcase 2014.

China: A User’s Manual, meanwhile, has had very few screenings, mainly because it is too smart for most audience to understand and thus is not really fit for selection in a lot of places. Smart, or boring. Whichever way you feel about the film, it likely says as much about you as it does about the film and its maker.

Either way, if you fancy watching either film (and in the case of China, there is black leader in between sections because the film is designed to be seen in small chunks), then please do!

Here are the links:

… and…

Three main things to report here!

1. Selfie will enjoy a preview screening at the Cinémathèque québecoise in Montréal on Saturday 28 March at 7pm. Entry is free and all are welcome, although space is limited at this preview screening.

2. Our lovely friends at FilmFest on TV will be showing En Attendant Godard again on Sunday 29 March at
9pm, as well on Saturday 4 April, also at 9pm.

3. Our video for Extradition Order’s ‘Boy in Uniform’ is about to go live, while we have also filmed a new video for their song ‘Love an Eyesore (LBJ ’60)’.

The Montréal screening of Selfie coincides with the annual Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Conference, which is taking place there between 24 and 29 March. Sequences from Selfie were filmed at the 2014 SCMS Conference in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the FilmFest on TV screenings of En Attendant Godard can be found on Freeview channel 8 or Virgin
Media 159 in the Brighton area or online across the world at www.thelatest.tv.

We shall announce in a separate article when ‘Boy in Uniform’ goes live – but the video is currently ready and we are awaiting word from the band’s label regarding when to let it loose.

Nonetheless, in the meantime, we recently shot a second video with the band, ‘Love an Eyesore (LBJ ’60)’, a song that is about Lyndon Baines Johnson’s misguided efforts to be Presidential Candidate for the Democrats in the 1960 American general election.

The video features the band dancing and performing in LBJ masks and will be edited over the coming weeks.

Drummer Radhika Aggarwal wears her LBJ mask during the shooting of 'Love an Eyesore (LBJ '60)' for Extradition Order.

Drummer Radhika Aggarwal wears her LBJ mask during the shooting of ‘Love an Eyesore (LBJ ’60)’ for Extradition Order.

In other news, En Attendant Godard recently enjoyed wonderful screenings with the Associazione Kilab at the CinemAvvenire in Rome, at B-Film at the University of Birmingham, and also as a film screened as part of the Film History & Criticism module that is taught to first-year undergraduates at the University of Roehampton, London.

Common Ground also enjoyed a recent screening as part of FilmFest at 8 on thelatest.tv on 1 March.

We hope that further screenings for SelfieUr: The End of Civilization in 90 Tableaux and The New Hope will also take place in the next few months. Indeed, we are keeping our fingers crossed, and hope that the Like that Sheffield Doc/Fest recently gave to Selfie on Vimeo is something of a good omen.

Beg Steal Borrow are very excited about various upcoming screenings in the UK and further afield.

Firstly, En Attendant Godard has its Italian premiere on Saturday 28 February at the Associazione Kilab in Rome. William Brown will be at the screening, as hopefully will star Hannah Croft, who will also be out in Italy at the time to help promote her film, The Repairman, directed by Paolo Mitton and which is being given a nationwide release in Italy from the end February.

Associazione Kilab's poster for En Attendant Godard's Rome screening.

Associazione Kilab’s poster for En Attendant Godard’s Rome screening.

Shortly thereafter, Common Ground will have its UK premiere on thelatest.tv, the channel that also screened En Attendant Godard and Afterimages as part of their FilmFest at 8 season in late 2014.

And, finally, En Attendant Godard is also enjoying a screening at B-Film, an interdisciplinary and international research centre at the prestigious University of Birmingham. All are welcome to all three screenings!

Meanwhile, both Selfie and Ur: The End of Civilization in 90 Tableaux have now been confirmed as ‘real’ films as a result of their having each an IMDb page.

Finally, Beg Steal Borrow is gearing up for some more productions, starting with a second music video for Extradition Order’s song ‘I Love An Eyesore (LBJ 1960)’, and then hopefully a feature in the summer. And final finishing touches are being put to The New Hope. Busy busy!

After a successful run at the American Online Film Awards (AOFA) Spring Showcase in May, Common Ground has been invited to take part in the AOFA’s follow-up Autumn Showcase.

Common Ground is a contemporary film noir set against the backdrop of the economic crisis and Occupy. It tells the story of Dennis (Dennis Chua), a Guatemalan in London who goes looking for his missing brother – only to discover that his brother owes money all over town. Common Ground was shot for a mere £500 (or US$750).

The Showcase runs from 1 October to 14 October 2014. It features numerous films from all over the world. So if you have not yet had a chance to see Common Ground, do be sure to log in and to watch it at/on the Showcase when it starts.

Meanwhile, Common Ground star Musa Okwonga has just completed a two-part radio documentary for the BBC on the forthcoming football World Cup in Brazil – investigating how football was adopted and adapted by Brazilians. It is available via the BBC World Service here. In Common Ground, Musa plays Dennis’ boss.

Furthermore, Common Ground‘s Charlie Partridge, who plays an outspoken tramp, has just completed a new music video, ‘Change The World, Change Your Status’, with his comedy group, the Slacktivists. You can see it below and here.

These are simply the latest exploits of the Common Ground gang. As mentioned in previous posts, star Alex Chevasco has recently been selected for the Sundance Lab in the USA, while co-star Laura Murray will be performing Macbeth in the grounds of Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, England, over the summer.

 

We are delighted to announce that Common Ground has been selected for the 2014 version of the American Online Film Awards Spring Showcase.

The Showcase starts on 1 May 2014, and participation in the showcase means that Common Ground is eligible for the various awards handed out by the American Online Film Awards in New York at the end of the year.

Common Ground has been accepted into the American Online Film Awards Spring Showcase 2014.

Common Ground has been accepted into the American Online Film Awards Spring Showcase 2014.

Naturally, everyone at Beg Steal Borrow, and all those involved in the production, are immensely excited at the prospect of the film’s involvement.

More news hopefully will follow shortly!

Beg Steal Borrow’s third feature, Common Ground, has enjoyed a screening at the University of Central Lancashire in Preson.

Director William Brown was invited to introduce the film to various students and staff members at the university, in particular those studying a course on British cinema with Professor Ewa Mazierska.

William spoke about zero-budget filmmaking in contemporary Britain with an enthusiastic group of students, before holding the screening to a gathered audience of around 30 people.

Common Ground was screened at UCLan on 7 April 2014.

Common Ground was screened at UCLan on 7 April 2014.

William was delighted by the invitation – and considers it a real honour to be considered a filmmaker of sufficient significance (?!) to be a representative of contemporary British cinema – even if only of the possibilities that zero-budget filmmaking opens up for contemporary filmmaking in Britain.

The screening took place on 7 April 2014.

Beg Steal Borrow has added its first four features to Vimeo for viewers to watch for free.

Please go to the Beg Steal Borrow Vimeo page and see our first four features for free!

Please go to the Beg Steal Borrow Vimeo page and see our first four features for free!

Anyone who has had a chance, therefore, to catch En Attendant Godard, Afterimages, Common Ground or China: A User’s Manual (Films) is welcome to go to the Beg Steal Borrow Vimeo page and to watch the films there.

Please pass on the word – and enjoy the films!

 

 

 

 

Common Ground is today (29 June 2013) in competition for the Silver Castle at FEST 2013 in Espinho, Portugal.

Fingers crossed that the film meets a good reaction and that it acquits itself well in competition.

The film was made for a mere £500. To get this far is a wonderful achievement.

Well done all who made Common Ground.

And if you happen to be in or near Espinho, please go along to support the film…!

Common Ground has been accepted into FEST 2013, Portugal’s most up-and-coming film festival.

The film is one of ten features in competition and it will be screened on Saturday 29 June in the Casino de Espinho.

Here is the trailer on the festival’s YouTube channel:

The festival takes place in Espinho, Portugal, and runs from 24 June to 1 July.

The festival also includes Training Ground, which is a series of masterclasses offered by leading professionals from the film world.

Speakers this year include Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo (The Fighter), British director Peter Webber (The Girl with the Pearl Earring), DOP Christian Berger (Caché), editor Tariq Anwar (American Beauty, The King’s Speech), director Scandar Copti (Ajami), production designer Stephen Altman (Gosford Park), screenwriter LM Kit Carson (Paris, Texas), actress Marika Green (Pickpocket), Variety film critic Martin Dale, and distributor Saul Rafael (Lusomundo).

We are honoured to have been selected for the festival – and are keeping our fingers crossed for the competition!Image