Click here to buy Michael Proudfoot’s new album…
Thanks, friends, colleagues and family, for all your support throughout the month of Movember. I am genuinely humbled by the level of generosity and I have been amazed by the rich variety of jokes (and abuse) aimed in my direction. I am particularly grateful to my gorgeous wife who has been unfailingly polite to me for the entire month whilst obviously hating the thing and refusing to show it any affection.
I wish I could say that all the kindness and generosity has made the month easier – 30 days is scarcely a long sentence, after all – but a moustache is a unpleasant, itchy beast that should be kept in a box in a locked cupboard, not publicly displayed on one’s top lip. Mine is also extremely ginger. But in just a few hours it will all be over and, who knows, maybe I will miss it just a little bit.
But I doubt it.
Posted by proudblog on November 30th 2009 at 4.54pm
The Compulsion to Make
Now here’s a thing…why do artists make art? Aware as I am that I lead a privileged life where I am fortunate to meet interesting people and absorb whatever it is that makes them tick I want to share with you here some accumulating thoughts I have had over the last few weeks.
A couple of weeks after Chris Morphet and I went to see Geoff Ridgen’s talk at the APT studios in Deptford we returned for the Open Studio day. This is an annual event where all the artists who work there put up their art in their studio space and anyone can go and look for free. They also sell their work, which is a cheaper way to buy, if you are in the market, because gallery fees etc are not added on. It was a beautiful day and Chris and I had a great time talking to John Mclean, Mali Morris and others. The art on view was pretty fantastic and it led me to think about these artists and what motivated them to explore their work with such scientific dedication. In all of the painting and sculpture on show you could see varying degrees of discovery, blind alleys, re-visiting of a central idea and probably points where the whole thing had come to a standstill while the artist had to re-group and begin again. There are certainly a few artists working at APT who have got their work to a point where they seem to be surfing an area of technical complexity, intellectuality and originality that will keep them going for years. The work of these artists seems to provide the viewer with endless opportunities of different experiences all played out through the particular universe of their work. I came away from APT thinking that there is no “success” or ”failure”, just a higher level of endeavour for these artists. Making the work is both a compulsion and a journey.
Two weeks later and I’m sitting in front of Martin Scorsese interviewing him for our Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative films. This is something of a moment for me as I spent most of the seventies as a young film student watching his films over and over again trying to figure out how he had done it. Undaunted by sitting in front of one of my heroes (again) we chatted for about an hour. Marty (if I may be so bold) touched on many things about his past career but we spent much of the discussion talking about making movies and his approach to film directing. A couple of things I will never forget, one was when he quoted Orson Wells who once said you can teach the mechanics of making a movie to anyone in about four hours, cameras, lenses, tracks, dollies etc but its all meaningless unless you have something to say. So a lesson for all you young film makers out there planning the endless Steadicam shot; just stop to think about WHY? you are getting the toy out in the first place.
Scorsese works with a pretty tight team of collaborators, Thelma Schoonmaker, his editor, Tom Fleischman, his sound mixer, Robbie Robertson ex of The Band, who Scorsese met while making one of the best rock movies of all time, The Last Waltz still advises on music. These people, and many more, have all been around him for years. Scorsese is most definitely the author of his films but he relies on the skills of these collaborators and craftsmen to get the movie finished. He described working with Fleischman for weeks searching for the exactly the right “silences” for each different room atmosphere in “Shutter Island”. Scorsese revels in the thousands of minute details that make up his films and the decisions or choices he has to make in order to get them close to the movie that is running in parallel in his head. At one point he used the world “euphoria” when it all comes together, but there are also times when after all the planning and setting up, he is surrounded by hundreds of technicians waiting for him to say “Action” the scene before him dissolves into something he can’t believe; at times like these he and his trusty collaborators have to work hard to bring the movie back to life in the way that he imagined it.
As he has got older and more experienced Scorsese has found ways of “guarding” his “energy”, presumably stripping away things in his life that get in the way of the act of making (including talking to people like me). Having said that his office displays all the evidence of a normal guy: photographs of family and drawings by young children.
Just like the artists at APT I am struck by Scorsese’s compulsion to create, even though it must involve raising thousands of bucks, having to deal with unsympathetic studios and a overcoming a lot of practical obsticals. Making movies for Scorsese is almost a spiritual (a word he used) need.
Posted by proudblog on November 25th 2009 at 4.31pm