Thursday, 5 December 2013

THE BIG FREEZE by Alison Palmer

Still from The Big Freeze (movie) by Alison Palmer
I met Alison at the talk hosted by Mini Click in Brighton in the summer of 2013 when we got chatting with a few other people in the break. She was very direct and serious but, as I was to discover, she has a nice laid back sense of humour which comes out when she has relaxed with you. It  is clear from my emails that we discussed working together although I don't remember doing so. I wrote to her asking what she had been thinking since the talk and she replied with a loooong email first of all saying how moved she was by the talk particularly because she had had first hand experience of illness in her family. She laid out some ideas for the shoot but, reading them now, I'm not sure that any of them ended up in the final film but that often happens - it is not always what you write but rather, it is the act of writing that opens your mind allowing it to become creative. 

She suggested a few dates for filming and eventually, she came to our house to have a chat and we watched some film of my mother and the documentary I made about her house, my childhood home, and both got quite tearful in the process. Alison said that this shared emotion tapped into the idea that, no matter how and what our current physical vessels are experiencing right now today, we are all intricately connected through our DNA make up, our physiology and our mindscape, to all of those family members who have gone before us, some of whom leave very powerful markings on our personalities, physical stature and reside within and under our skin whether we want them to or not. Afterwards she wrote again at some length with various ideas, some of which never transpired including me carrying my mother's old wrought iron gate down to the beach! If you have ever seen that gate, you'll know why this was never an option - it weighs a bloody ton. 

On the day of the shoot in December it was quite cold and initially, we stayed inside and Alison interviewed me and did some filming. It was a long day and I remember feeling quite whacked at the end of the day but also very satisfied as I felt that we had got some good footage. That was December and I did not get to see the first version of the film until the following August (after the editing was completed by Ken Plas) because we were both so busy. Jane and I watched it and we were very moved by it because it showed me as I was before my operation. I made a few comments to Alison on this first version and was concerned that Alison didn't feel put out by my suggestions as I know how I tend to take over films in this way because of having made so many myself. However, she took it as constructively as it was intended. I have now seen the final version and this time I was a bit more detached and I think it is excellent but I do feel that it is for others to judge because I am too close to it really.  What I can attest to is its authenticity and the fact that, although it will move some people, there is no surfeit of sentimentality. It takes a committed and talented film-maker to achieve this and that film-maker is Alison Palmer.

The film will be shown at upcoming exhibition at Create Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe from 4th to 17th October.

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