Tag: photography

Principal Photography of The Raven On The Jetty Completed!

We have just completed the principal photography for The Raven On The Jetty.

Thomas Enters Hos room at his Father's Farm in The Raven On The Jetty

An extraordinary experience! We were blessed with good fortune and the contributions of all those who have helped us in Cumbria has been incredible. The cast and crew were brilliant. We all more or less lived together for two weeks and the working days were long and relentless. Despite this, the working atmosphere was great and in my experience of shooting, this has been one of the most enjoyable experiences. The cast and the production team really pulled together and we all willed the project to progress as painlessly as possible.

The Cast and Crew on The Raven On The Jetty

Mark Duggan Alex Gilbert Taddeus Walsh celebrate with Connor O'Hara

Just one week prior to shooting, Britain was covered in a thick layer of snow. I was starting to worry. However, when we arrived the day before shooting was to commence in the hills around Penrith, where most of the shooting was to take place, to our pleasant surprise much of the snow had disappeared. The remaining snow was just right to suggest the end of winter and the beginning of spring. I couldn’t believe it, but what followed was two weeks of not a single drop of rain. Unprecedented, apparently. But it was cold. The Helm wind, particularly on the farm where we were filming, Threaplands, tested the resilience of even the hardiest amongst us and we pushed on.

Taddeus Walsh tries his best to keep Connor O'Hara warm on The Raven On The Jetty shoot

Part of crew during shooting of The Raven On The Jetty

Our actors, in particular, suffered bravely, not least our young star, Connor O’Hara. It was absolutely incredible how he took on the challenge of our relentless schedule and the bitter cold on the hill tops. Unfortunately, the Farmer who owns the land reported to me that he had lost 3 times as many lambs as he normally would, all due to the relentlessly cold weather. While we were busy filming, they were busy trying to save as many lambs as possible.

It was a long hard winter for the sheep and lambs

Nevertheless, the weather for such sequences, for example, as the jetty on the lake was perfect. Though we had scheduled all the key outdoor scenes in the first week, in case we needed to move the schedule around to cope with any weather problems, we were able to follow our schedule more or less as planned.

Helen Teasdale and Connor O'Hara rehearse Rob O'Hara and Connor O'Hara rehearse

Connor O'Hara talks to raven

Over 250 camera setups and additional sound setups later, we have almost all the footage in ‘the can’. And it’s looking great (though I’m always a little nervous at this point about whether it’s all going to cut together and the story is going to work…) I now look forward to the editing and post production stages of the project knowing that I have some beautiful performances set in an evocative context and landscape. The visual imagery we were able to get has proved great and I now hope that some of the creative risks I have taken with the project are going to pay off. Apart from Mark Duggan and Amanda Belantara, I will now be starting work with a new set of artists involved in the project and I’m looking very much forward to this.

Setting up a car shot in Erik Knudsen's The Raven On The Jetty Mark Duggan and Erik Knudsen discuss a short

Sound Crew records a take with Connor O'Hara

Erik Knudsen explains and action to Connor O'Hara Connor O'Hara rehearses a shot

Erik Knudsen looks at storyboard on location

However, when I went back to our jetty locations yesterday to check we had left it as we found it, I was filled with a sadness. Just one week earlier, the location was absolutely abuzz with the production team, cast and raven handler working through the scenes in the context of a beautiful day. Now the location was forlorn, the snow on the hills in the background had completely gone, it was raining and the rough waters of Ullswater were starting to floor the jetty. Fortune shone on us and we move on to make what I hope will be a film the cast and crew, at the very least, will be proud of.

Soon there will be a new VLOG about the shoot, but in the meantime enjoy some of the photographs our resident photographer, Richard Mulhearn, took on the shoot.


Connor O'Hara has fun playing between takes

Connor O'Hara Entertains Himself

Erik Knudsen congratulates Connor O'Hara



Exhibition – Conexiones: New Photography From Spain and Latin America

Cervantes-Institute-Exhibition-AnnouncementA selection of prints from Erik Knudsen’s photographic essay, Cuba In Waiting, will be exhibited at the group show Conexiones: New Photography from Spain and Latin America to be held at the Cervantes Institute in Manchester, UK. The exhibition runs from 23 March 2013 to the 15 May 2013. This show has been curated by the Cervantes Institute, Manchester, and the Redeye Photographic Network.

Discovering A Theme

One of the things I do with my students when I go to the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television in Cuba to teach, is that I ask them to work on a little creativity exercise involving them playing with imagery from two unrelated habits in their lives. What is amazing is how, when you help them free up their minds about playing freely with imagery, strong themes start to emerge which they feel an immediate personal affinity to. Evocative themes and stories emerge out of what seem like unrelated imagery and with focused attention and loose minds, where we throw out as much conscious thinking as possible, meaningful and sublime projects emerge. Importantly, they are projects with themes that the students feel a necessary connection to. Actually, one could take random events from one’s life and once one does what Kipling says – ‘drift, wait, obey’ – the muse takes over and what is revealed is that everything one notices and everything one is interested in is connected by the person and in this connection lies the themes that probably will be with that person all their life. Each of us probably tells the same story over and over again, but we circumnavigate these recurring themes that we were probably born with, or at the very least developed in our childhood. In the circumvention, we explore different narrative forms in differing contexts and, hopefully, we become better and better at telling that deep seated story.

Man Smokes A Cigarette With Birds in Halifax UK

As I have rediscovered an old passion of mine, photography, I have been going around seemingly randomly taking photographs. (Nothing is random, just like there is no such thing as a coincidence – a discussion for another time.) Sometimes when I look at other photographers’ works, I see that they often pull everything together in themes that usually are related to a physical place, a specific culture, or an identifiable person or group of people. The theme in question often comes out of a specificity that has some socio-economic or cultural parameters that is generally well understood.  Not always. However, as I go around taking photographs, seemingly randomly and often in circumstances that have been brought about because I am somewhere for other reasons, I could find no obvious ‘project’. I love just going somewhere and taking photographs. There is no ‘assignment’, no ‘project’, no ‘statement’ and no specific ‘exploration’. I work myself into a state of mind where I’m not thinking, into the zone, as Beckham said about taking free kicks, and in that state I just see and press the shutter.

Destitute Crosses Street in Hong Kong

However, as I start to reflect on what I’m doing, I realise that there are themes that emerge from these apparently random shots; themes I was not aware of when I first started shooting them. I realise that my themes are not bound by a place, a particular culture or a particular socio-economic context. I am drawn to feelings, specific feelings that transcend any particular culture or particular context. These are feelings that permeate all my work and no matter what I do, they will seep into everything I create. Having said all of this, photography is, by its very nature, about the specific physical surfaces of the world in which we live, including place, space and people. However, the beauty of what can be done is to take your viewer to a timeless, space-less place where feelings and thoughts have no form: they just are.

Woman On Doorstep in Havana Cuba

I am now starting to collect and curate my photographs into narrative collections which hopefully will start to reveal these themes and work for other people. In the photographic section of the One Day Films website, you can see examples of how I am starting to put together themed collections from what were originally – seemingly – random shots. First my collection around my regular trips to Cuba, which is now starting to take shape as Cuba In Waiting and, more recently, my exploration of feelings of spiritual doubt in a series tentatively entitled, Doubt. Enjoy.

Foreign Subjects

I was recently in Arles, southern France, where I went to the photography festival they host every year. This is a large and extensive festival and highly recommended. The settings for many of the exhibitions – and there were over 28 venues – were quite stunning and helped bring the photographs alive. Watching the many exhibits, I was struck by something that I have long thought: that when it comes to documentary, it seems easier to make something from situations that are foreign to one’s experience than close to it.

For example, when having lunch with a commissioning editor from the Danish Film Institute a number of years ago, I asked about what the various Danish documentary filmmakers were making films about at that time. He proceeded to list all the various film makers and they were all making films abroad: China, the USA, Latin America, Africa and so on. No one was making a film in Denmark. On reflection, most documentary films and photographs tend to be shot in situations far from the home territory of the maker, whether this be culturally speaking, socio-economically or in terms of physical setting. Even if shooting within their physical territory, subjects are often foreign in a number of different ways. Documentarists seem attracted to the exotic, the deprived, the dramatic, the conflict ridden and the freaky. Perhaps because these situations provide the easiest access to striking imagery that directly evoke and provoke. Usually the consumption of these images are for the middle classes and bourgeoise in the developed and more well off contexts and documentarists are providing images that satisfy certain needs with regard to guilt, compassion, outrage and political expression.

Woman looking at wall of gruesome images

In some cases I would suggest that such documentary making is exploitative. I know many Africans are enraged by how documentary filmmakers come to Africa, find the most dramatic and exotic situations to make a film about or photograph and then take these works back for consumption in Europe and North America with the unspoken tag ‘this is Africa’. But who is making documentary films or photographs about their own home environments? A few, in relative terms.

I notice this in my own work. In my films, I try to only make films about things I can understand my own personal connection to, or that sit within my sphere of experience. From this vantage point, I believe I can reach universal themes to which people can connect their own experience. When it comes to photography, I find it easier when I’m traveling, for example, to capture striking images than when in my ‘home’ environment and it is always tempting to do what many others do; find something foreign to my immediate experience and environment. To see what is immediately under one’s own nose and then to be able to see how that might connect to wider issues is a difficult creative challenge that I think many avoid.

‘A small subject can provide the pretext for many profound combinations. Avoid subjects that are too vast or too remote, in which nothing warns you when you are going astray. Or else take from them only what can be mingled with your life and belongs to your experience’. (Robert Bresson, 1975)