Thursday, May 21, 2009


Originally, in a break from the furious and usually misguided and occasionally terrible short filmmaking of my early 20s, I started the Buoy Archives, a series of small film and video sketches as a form of consolation for inactivity and a yearning for that elusive something - voice?- that I didn't seem able to quite find in the films I was making. I kept wanting to make films that somehow had in them a swagger, a vulnerability, a musicality, a restraint and a deep sense of the human that I didn't seem able to harness. Possibly this was and is because these things are often contradictory and probably it was and is a matter of craft. In any case, I came close to finding that elusive thing in a half hour 16mm film called 'Charm' - which had a humanist storyline, a musical swagger (in as much as the soundtrack was courtesy of Yo La Tengo, June of 44, Chavez and Blue Tile Lounge) - and with some later shorts and documentaries. But the way that I dealt with performance and visual style in the beginning was far too interested in it's own cleverness. And therefore the balance between vulnerability and strength in a human sense dissolved in the face of self-conscious style. It was a visually self aware approach to the form rather than an emotionally responsive approach. That is, each moment of emotion, performance or action emerged from a desire to stage for the formal elements. What I wanted and what I saw in the films I loved, was a form that emerged from a more intuitive grappling with human interaction and human emotion and a visual and formal approach that read like an evolving curiosity rather than a predefined realisation of something already established in the filmmakers mind. At this time, I became inspired by the ideas that I heard articulated by filmmakers who made films without necessarily knowing how or why the film would take the narrative or formal or stylistic course that it did. Of course, this is an almost impossible path to justify in making films here and now, where market end points, targeted narratives and broad appeal seem to be the main concern.

So then, the sketches of the Buoy Archives, as clumsy and brief as they are, are safe in their role small moments of curiosity. Moments in which an image suggested an idea without a place, or a narrative without a scenario, or an emotion or impression without any sense of context. As I worked on them in spare hours, they were forming a dialogue with the photos, notes and fragments of writing that were emerging alongside any longer pieces of film writing or any other films. These were the bits that slipped into the cracks. Some will always remain unseen. Some I'll post up here as I get to them.

In beginning this page, though, I am trying to reinvigorate myself into working on them again and into approaching my other work with their intent in mind. At it's heart film is a yearning art. An art fixed on desire and the need to connect... mostly with our inner lives, sometimes with others, sometimes with the world. But the process of trying to make or successfully making films is also one of yearning. When I look at the images or fragments that hang around the edges of my studio, they do all speak of yearning... trying to intellectualise beyond that is difficult. But I do think they all strive, whether unsuccessfully or not, for the cinematic - where yearning is made active, where stories are propelled by desire, images by beauty, sadness, seductiveness or thrills, performances by human connections or moments of transcendence. How to make sense of all this? By archiving and looking for patterns or trends or signs as the work progresses.

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