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somewhere


Maryport Bata factory
date unknown...

Maryport pathos

Frank Zappa sang ' I come from nowhere, and you should go there, just try it for a while. Cos the people from nowhere always smile'.
I have a weakness for nowhere places, as does Nina - we're from there, and for us they are truly somewhere.
Recently posted on the beguiling YouTube site are two archive films featuring our beloved Maryport, one of the 'nowhere' towns featured in our first film ''Bata-ville'. Apparently it was made in 1979 by Thames TV and according to the site its 170 minutes long, which makes me think it must have been a series....
Making the film (just a few years ago but still pre-YouTube!) we were stumped for good archive of the former Bata shoe factory on the outskirts of town and sourced this one aerial photo which appears in the film. It seems so odd now that noone we came into contact with mentioned this film (by - I think - Ray Gosling), assuming it was broadcast that is.
In the first instalment online the sense of a disappointed and downtrodden town which we experienced decades later is pervasive, a talking head even dates the ennui back to the times of Napoleon! Working now in nearby Egremont from time to time, I come into contact a lot with the "Why on earth would you want to do something up here?' line from locals, which funnily enough was the case in West Cumbria in the 70's - when in the film, the presenter comments on the number of locals who have asked him why they're bothering to film Maryport!
I think this might be a clue to why the film was never mentioned to us during our research - the local mindset is so fixed in its belief that noone's interested that the film has been edited out of the collective consciousness - because it refutes that.
As new bits go online I hope to catch a frame or two of the old Bata factory, the shop, or even some of our Bata bus passengers, though if I do I will be just a little sad we didn't source this in time for our film....

You can look at the films here and type in 'Maryport Archive'...

The final countdown

As Nina finishes her packing before we join 1578 for our new film shoot, I thought I'd share my latest craft outbreak - a range of bespoke Tudor handbags to conceal our stuff. The one on the far right is - sad I know - exactly tailored to hide a one litre plastic water bottle.
I think I might have become a fully paid-up re-enactor....

The sadness of editing

Nina & I have been esconced in one of our favourite conceptual and actual places recently- the video edit suite. We’re wrestling some footage of us re-enacting (for the 3rd year in a row) into submission for our project Sometime Later, with our editor of saintly patience, Doug. Luckily (for him) I am not able to be there every day, and so the stereo headphone-effect of Pope & Guthrie has a few days off. Interestingly, Nina and I seem to find it easier to agree in the writing and production stages of a film project than in the post-production. This first emerged when we split the editing of our 29 pilgrims in our ‘/broadcast/ project – two very different styles emerged, one lengthy and eliptical, one pithier and led by juxtaposition and unexpected humour. Interestingly I can’t remember whose was whose.
More interestingly, this tension - coupled with Doug’s comparitive ruthlessness (he’s from a TV background) – seems to produce results. It’s undoubtedly not the most time-efficient way of working - with its negotiation, occasional blind alleys and indulgences – and yet the work seems to thrive on this elasticity, to find its resting point.
Editing documentary footage – for me - is akin to sculpture, maybe carving in fact. It’s very intuitive, even for professionals like Doug it seems, although we can all rationalise why shots work the moment they do. With every cut there’s a poignancy as you lose unique moments, but then there’s a clarity emerging which is truthful I hope. I can’t imagine editing drama can be anything like as cathartic, where you have so few choices, driven by both the narrative and the available shots. But then I guess the ‘infinity element’ is there in the writing of drama and fiction, not in the edit. The opposite is true of the documentary.