I met James at the Getty Gallery in London on 24th November 2011 when I was asked by Clare Park to come along to the ''Hidden Gems'' charity event there. ''Hidden Gems'' comprised the work of 25 top photographers who were each asked to take a photograph in the same location i.e. the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. I was introduced to quite a few photographers there including the lovely James who announced that his wife had just given birth to a little boy and he showed pictures proudly on his mobile 'phone. The interesting fact here is that his wife's father has Parkinson's disease too. I explained to him what my project was all about and he seemed very keen to work with me and so I wrote to him the following day and he confirmed what he had had said the the night before, that he would be very happy to photograph me at his studio in Camden.
However, as with all good and successful photographers, I had to wait for the opportunity which came on a lovely sunny day in July 2012. Once we had arranged the date, James wrote "I thought I'd shoot a bit of film with you if that's ok?" an understatement if ever there was one. I duly turned up at his studio which was in a converted church and was beautifully kitted out. He introduced me to his assistant for the day and to Max Sobol who was going to assist as well as interview me.
|James and Me|
It was a fascinating shoot and I loved every minute of it. James explained that he wanted to make up a collage of images on the screen and over dub some of the things I said in my interview. At one point, he asked me what music I wanted to hear and I asked for Madness and chose the Liberty of Norton Folgate. In the process of making certain expressions for the camera requested by James, I improvised a bit and, at one point, I mimed to the words of the song which James asked me to repeat. We also talked about his father-in-law and I offered to write to him suggesting a possible chat or meeting because apparently, he was having a hard time of it. I did write but I have not received any reply which is not particularly surprising because I know, from personal experience, that you don't really want to become part of the Parkinson's World especially in the early days of the diagnosis.
A few months later, James asked me to meet him and Max in an office in Hatton Garden so that we could re-record my narration because the sound quality of the original was poor. I saw the film for the first time and I was very impressed and quite moved - not only by the content but by the amount of effort and care which had gone into the making of the film. The redubbing was difficult in that I had to make it sound spontaneous but I think we just about got there.
Eventually, I received the final version in February 2013 and I was so pleased. I sent it to a number of people and they were completely knocked out by it. It also given its first public showing on Valentine's Day when I gave a talk at Photo-Forum in Euston. Again, it was rapturously received. I sent it to Parkinson's UK and they were blown away by it and asked if they could use it in the Parkinson's Awareness Week. But none of this surprised me. James and Max have produced a stunning piece of work which I thoroughly enjoyed making - they are wonderfully talented and such nice people and it was a real honour for me to work with them.
By the way, you may find that the version of the film on Vimeo is better quality.