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. Three drivers, Toru, Goto and Chikako, 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.