Situation is key to my conception of film, in both a poetic and physical sense. I am drawn to ideas that exist as their own “theatres”, showing a slice of the world within a defined frame. Place is also a “provocation to reality”: how we encounter the world shapes our perception of it, and the construction of situations can act as a catalyst to revealing character, both in front of and behind the camera.
The car is a paradoxical space for situationist intervention - both confined yet embodied in a landscape, fixed yet transient and holding its own social dynamics in microcosm. It acts as a metaphorical container for interior and exterior “journeying”: through psyches, landscapes, and cultures. In two new films I explore the transience of life through the car.
The below films are currently in production, and also constitute part of my ongoing research exploring the car as a provocative documentary situation.
A Japanese Ghost Story
Many years ago, I heard that in the north eastern reaches of Japan, taxi drivers were picking up passengers that turned-out to be non-existent - ghosts or imaginings, perhaps due to the grief felt almost a decade on from the tsunami. Regardless of the reason, no one wants to talk openly about it. A Japanese Ghost Story is an inquiry into memory, myth, life and death using fixed cameras in the taxi cabs of the small port town of Kamaishi. Four drivers: Konno, Iwasaki, Goto and Koike, weave their way through the streets picking up occasional passengers and conversing with an unseen stranger about their lives.
Image: Keith, still from The Divide
Keith & I
I met Keith in 2014, when I was making my previous film, The Divide. Keith is nearing the end of a 30 year sentence for a minor drugs offence, imprisoned in Texas in 1996 as part of the US’ “three strikes” law. I had continued writing to him after our initial meeting in the film. After 3 years of doing so, I received a letter I didn’t expect. He was incensed that what I had thought was a sympathetic film had “got [him] so wrong”. I agreed with him to try and set it right, and make a new film when he was released. Then began a further 5 years of correspondence...and a film in progress that is turning out to be not quite what I expected.