Toyoko Ito (T): First of all, can you tell me briefly about the areas you have explored as a filmmaker?
 

 
Steven Eastwood (E): For about ten years now I've been working across film/video gauges, experimenting with narrative structure. In recent years I've also made documentaries. Now I am bringing together these disciplines, exploring the relationship between fiction and actuality and the thresholds of film and documentary narrative systems.
 

 
T: Why are you so concerned about the areas?

 
 
E: I believe that the moving image is now indelibly etched into our consciousness and I am interested in pushing an audience's reception to moving image. For me, when a film text falters or fails (either purposefully or not) new possibilities are thrown up. I like it when a story corrupts, when a documentary behaves differently to our expectation, when we feel dislocated as viewers.
 
 
T: How did you become interested in filmmaking in the first place?

 
 
E: I saw Star Wars when I was six. I was given a super 8mm camera for Christmas when I was eleven. I saw Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice at the NFT when I was sixteen. Then when studying Foundation Art, painting and story-writing naturally fused into experimental filmmaking.
 
 
T: Are there any filmmakers or artists who have inspired you?

 
 
E: The usual suspects probably: Keaton, Powell/Pressburger, Hitchcock, Godard, Roeg, Tarkovsky, Antonioni, Cassavettes, Herzog, Lynch. More recently Kiarostami, Solondz. In terms of more avant-garde makers: Brakhage, Hill (Gary and Tony), Marker, Kotting.
 

 

 Steven Eastwood, Of Camera, 2003
 
 
T: What do you most care about when you make films?

 
 
E: Sleep. Getting things wrong in the most right way possible.
 
  
T: Tell me about your recent short film, Of Camera, which was screened at Brief Encounters, Bristol last year.
 


E: Of Camera explores the abortive attempts of two people to be together in the same space. Their situation is a disagreement fuelled by technical difference: the woman exists on video and the man on celluloid film. Events replay out of story sequence as the two realise they are incompatible, that they are being filmed and that there is an audience watching them. The film describes a dread, a noir(ish) situation - that of becoming aware that one is in a frame, is cast inside a narrative which is in the control of others. The differing textures and attributes of video and film become a metaphor for differing traits in people. This is an examination of dissimilarity and the nature of a moving image.

When speaking of film we often refer to filmic space - diegetic space - which accepts that the fourth wall (the camera) will be reinstated in the reverse shot. Shot/reverse shot is now one of the fundamental principles of film process. We as viewers have learned to suspend this space - we know that only eyes or camera have the means to see what we are shown but we have let go of the logic that what we have seen needed eyes or camera to see. In short, when we cut to the reverse, we are not surprised that we don't see the camera that filmed the angle from which we have just cut. The space is completed. We accept this even if the room projected is an empty room, where there are no character eyes to see and show us what they see. When we watch, we are of camera. We have allowed a synthesis between our minds and the process before us. And if this process collapses (crossing the line, a boom appearing in shot, lapses in narrative continuity) we break that contract; that synthesis is lost.
 
 

  
T: The work has been described as "an attempt to expand the notion of 'performing' ". Can you elaborate on this a bit more?

 
 
E: Godard once said filmmaking finally was about deciding when to say action and when to say cut. I am interested in the theatre of filmmaking and in the relationship between the performative attributes taken on when part of a film "take" and the performativity already taking place within the everyday. I like seeing untrained performers on-screen alongside of actors (like Bruno S in Herzog's films).
 
 
T: I've heard that you've organised a number of live events and founded a film club "OMSK". Can you tell me about it?
 

E: "OMSK" is a collective of artists who work in any combinations of moving image, sound, live art and visual art. We orchestrate site-specific events that act as a platform for makers to showcase works in progress. We're East London based but have toured internationally. At "OMSK" nothing goes to plan and everyone has a good time.
 

 

 Steven Eastwood, The End, 2002
 
 
T: What are you going to show in the Minus One exhibition?

 
 
E: The first two parts of a self-referential film trilogy: I Make Things Happen and The End. Both are single-screen works shot on DV. I don't ordinarily show my work in the gallery context and so am curious to see how they are received.
 
 
T: Tell me about these films a bit more.
 


E: For me, both films speak of a "possible space" between the film text and the film construction (ie, between the diegesis of the internal film world and the respective "real" of the edit suite or the film theatre). Each character exists in this possible space, caught between worlds. They are operating on a cusp between what is possible to them as characters or protagonists and what is possible to us as viewers or makers. They are able to comment on the film system they are sliding along.

Ideally, in The End, Ava would spend hours - an eternity even - sat with those titles, until we as viewers would become forced to exit the film and it's text. Even more ideally, in I Make Things Happen Jo would manage to transcend the text (comparisons with Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo notwithstanding) and by clicking her fingers change the film as it was occurring. These films propose a curious synthesis between film possibility (technical), film possibility (narrative) and the possibilities of the real.
 

 
T: Do you think the venue - a disused tube station - might affect the presentation of your work?

 
 
E: I believe the nature of the building will lend itself to all kinds of reading of the work. The problem with durational video or single screen work is that people only usually commit to 20 or 30 minutes in a contemporary gallery.
 
 
T: Some filmmakers make films which are only shown in the gallery context. How do you feel about showing your work in such a context?
 

E: I could talk at some length about this but won't. This country separates commercial film from gallery artists moving image and in my opinion the strongest film practice falls between or outside of this polarity. I think that critical / experimental filmmakers are now obliged to reinvent themselves as artists in order to receive funding and have an outlet for their work. I don't enjoy the rarified and distilled environment of the white walled gallery although I accept that this context works best for some pieces. If you go to a modern art gallery in Spain or France you can see a Fellini feature film in a room adjacent to a Marcel Broodthaers film loop. And you will also be able to see international narrative features on more than one screen.
 

 

 Steven Eastwood, I Make Things Happen, 2001
 
 
T: What themes and areas are you currently interested in?
 
 
E: Flash mobbing. Borges. Deleuze and any-spaces-whatever. Deliberately crossing the line. Basically making films wrong.
 
 
T: Would you tell me about your coming projects?
 
 
E: I hope to be doing a residency in the south of England, responding to a small town and its inhabitants. I want to make an expanded documentary that incorporates all the things documentary is not supposed to, like imagined sequences, thought process, key-lighting, inappropriate sound-cueing and scoring.
 
 

Steven Eastwood
A filmmaker whose works have screened nationally and internationally at arts cinemas, galleries and festivals including the ICA, BAFTA, The Edinburgh Film Festival, UPLINK Arts factory Tokyo and Anthology Film Archives NYC. He has also lectured extensively in fine art moving image, documentary/fiction production and in film theory, while he has organised a number of live events as the founder of an artist collective,OMSK. He is currently undertaking an Mphil/PhD practice-based research project through the Surrey Institute.

To see his film works, visit the web site below:
Those Who Are Jesus
Of Camera


Venue

Aldwych Underground Station
The Strand
London WC2B

Opening Hours
Private View
30 January 2004, 18:00 - 20:00

Exhibition: Minus One
28 & 29 January 2004, 14:00 - 20:00
30 January 2004, 14:00 - 18:00
Admission: free

Underground Party
31 January 2004, 19:30 - till late
By invitation only, Admission charge: 10GBP
All proceeds will go to WellChild to raise funds for sick children.
For more information visit www.minusone.org.uk


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