Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Coca Cola ♥

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes set photos via Retronaut, many more here.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

so who wants one?

Issue 5 featuring


Available now direct, or this weekend (5th) from the usual and unusual stockists. Sells out fast, no hesitations!

Monday, 24 October 2011


from The Pictures #5, photo by LD&S

Becky Lawn-Darte: One day me and dang were sitting on my floor pulling out individual strands of my hair to attach to bread and I thought “we are obsessive”. We are obsessive and this is the best day of my life. The props are cult objects, the edits are weird conversations. We have a hard time letting go. After AB dang had probably huffed too many things and I was thinking about seriously stalking people. Tim & Vice could have gone on for a long time. Way longer than any of my real relationships. We get attached to shit is what I mean. By which I also mean there is a sequel.

Ambient Bummer, the doomed romance of Timothy Ziglar (Dang Steele) and Vice Magazine (Becky Lawn-Darte) is the second major picture from Lawn-Darte & Steele Productions, a duo of self described Manson Family Revivalists whose lo-fi distortion dramas are the best things we've seen grow out of the Columbus, Ohio art/film/music scene since one Bang Wash Productions (Becky L-D is half of Bang Wash too). Tim loves Vice, Vice loves Tim and together they live on warm beer in a crappy apartment where Vice dreams of travelling away on a v-a-c-a-y holiday. Desperate to make his girl's dreams come true, the solvent-addled Tim turns to lottery tickets and crime. How will their love survive?

The Pictures: How did you come to make films together?

Dang Steele: good question. i sort of had this crush on BANG WASH.

BLD: I think it started the first time we hung out. We were making a floor collage from disco glass and I left my glasses in Dang’s room. Then we were listening to ELO. Then we made movies. Our first one is called “strange magic”. It was kind of just like that. You did have kind of a crush on BANG WASH, though.

While Becky cut her film-making teeth with the legendary Bang Wash Productions, Dang was working up his own movie science experiments - see the likes of Gypsy Issue and The Big Wedding on youtube channel ‘danzotelevision’. The two first came together to produce RETINABALL!, a trip through mind altering spectacles that features a Ciccone Youth style take on Phil Collins’ Susudio, drug wine and an active volcano. The marriage of Lawn-Darte’s fuzzed out romance games and Steele’s knack for science, on a palette of kitsch special effects and nosebleeds was an immediate fit. The chemistry was obvious. Karina and Belmondo gone shitgaze.

It wasn’t to last. Steele’s relocation to San Francisco placed 2000 miles between the pair. Somewhere on Vimeo a sign was hung: ‘Lawn-Darte & Steele Productions (Now Defunct).’ Becky ventured out solo with horses in Romanticulticom IV, a comparatively angry film about selling work and being hit by a van to a scuzzy Righteous Brothers cover. Steele returned to his own work. But as Becky said, the the pair are nothing if not obsessive, and the internet has no care for distance. The two got talking movies again, and Tim and Vice were born over ethernet cables.

BLD: Our cursers hangout in a google document. Sometimes we just sit there. Sometimes reading the transcripts back I forget which one I am. We send pictures. We send songs. We video chat, but his camera is so blurry he looks like he’s wearing a him mask. It’s kind of sad in a good way, like the simplicity of it. We used to do most of our business over champagne brunches, which I miss quite a bit, though.

DS: i prefer the champagne brunches. i think its pretty good for being 2000 miles apart.

Very few scenes in Ambient Bummer feature Becky and Dang together but you might not have noticed if you didn’t already know. The film is a conversation and a love story in a classic Hollywood way, with each actor delivering their final monologues (read from a Motley Crue biography) in that old-time 50s style. Lawn-Darte and Steele play almost all the roles - the audience, the protagonists, the music and the police in wigs and costume. Still photos, collages, junk shop arrays, ambitiously handcrafted effects (see Vice’s stop-motion 2D tears or Tim’s hallucination of vacay seaside), hazy colouring,audience reaction shots, home-made Godard titles (FLOWERS ARE FOR GRAVES), chemistry how-to demonstrations - nothing in the film comes from outside of their pastel-graded world, including the DIY soundtrack.

BLD: the music in AB is my band when I'm singing, and Dang’s band when he is. Or when no one is. My band is called Albanian Mob Murder. We don't play out and we don't practice. We just drink and record. I sing and play the Xanax. The band started because I had some songs written that I wanted to record for the movies, but we got kind of fond of each other. Regs Tonti, the redhead in the movies does backing vocals. Jawsh is our main drummer, but we all play drums sometimes. Whichever of my ex-boyfriends I dislike the least plays the guitar, so you know... it changes. Oh right, there’s a 7 inch that exists that eastern-watts put out. I don’t have a copy, but the cover is me taking my pants off with a bad tambourine bruise.

DS: I dont really have a band. its just me. one day i got completely obsessed with hobos while staring at a wall, so i called it hobo seance. i kinda picture singing while standing in front of a barrel fire under a bridge. this is the future of my “band”.

Ambient Bummer is Spector heartbreak pop through filthy colour-correction filters. Tim and Vice pine for vacay and eachother, ever loyal when it all falls to pieces. In Vice’s solo protest for Tim’s freedom she’s Peggy Angel before her boyfriend came back; she’s Lesley Gore and this is her crashed party. Lawn-Darte and Steele are Danny Zuko and Sandy after the flying car and on a comedown. It’s feelings like this made us fall in love with their movies and we can’t wait for the sequel - 21st century rock’n’roll romance, with style and hearts they’re not afraid to use.


TP: What are Steele’s best/worst qualities?
BLD: best: disguising narcissism
worst: sensitivity

TP: What is your favourite film?

BLD: I really liked our JCVD new years marathon. Also Point Break. They say that Keanu Reeves doesn’t look for the camera, he let’s the camera find him. We could all learn from that, except I am not really sure why anyone in a movie would be looking for the fucking camera.

TP: If you could take anyone to see one of your movies, who would it be?

BLD: Probably Dave E McManus. I don't know why but it it just seems right. Or Crispin glover. He’d probably bring some kind of weird snacks. Both good options, I think.

TP: What is the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?

BLD: Well I usually put my credit card and ID in my bra in case I get mugged, but don’t always remember to take them out and put them back in my wallet. So sometimes the first thing I am trying to figure out is where in my apartment I took off my bra. Then I check all the paper that’s all over the wall by my bed for any notes I may have written myself while half asleep.

TP: What would be your perfect Vacay?

BLD: I’ve been thinking about cruises a lot. I think I would probably either love or hate them. I’d be making a movie, someone else would make the cocktails.

TP: What's your favourite scene in an LD&S movie?

BLD: Definitely the scene in RETINABALL! Where Dang and I are sitting around the volcano.We were surrounded by dry ice, but we still kept forgetting we were filming. You can tell because we are holding glasses of colored vinegar for the volcano and Dang's lips are blue because he kept accidentally drinking it. Later he made the music which was this perfect fake jukebox first date lovesong, and I edited the scene and turned him into a creepy talent agent drug pusher type. He wasn't mad. Everything was just about perfect.

TP: Politics?

BLD: None. Not because I am disillusioned or distrustful of the system or anything, but because I just don’t really care enough to stay up on it. I’m pretty self absorbed, you know.

TP: Would you rather have to spend a whole day acting, in public, as if you were the lead in a musical or be at a good party and have your parents turn up and hang out?

BLD: I actually wouldn't mind the musical thing. As long as I could bring a drummer. I'd probably just hangout in a laundromat all day. That's the perfect place for that kind of shit.

TP: Do you believe in ghosts?

BLD: Nah, and it's partially because I'm a materialist, but partially the
same answer as the politics question. Self-absorbed. Life is for the living.


TP: What are Lawn-Darte’s best/worst qualities?
DS: best: obsessing
worst: moving on

TP: What is your favourite film?

DS: In an imaginary world id say Electric Dreams. i saw it when i was a kid but only remember the theme song, so i just make it up in my head. its insanely romantic. surreal. soul shattering. Ive never seen Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence either.

TP: If you could take anyone to see one of your movies, who would it be?

DS: Becky. seriously. maybe the girl from Domino Dancing.

BLD: Ima punch that domino bitch if she’s a real person.

TP: What is the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?

DS: i heard iggy pop does fifty pushups right when he gets up, thats why he looks so good. i dont even know if that story is true.

TP: What would be your perfect Vacay?

DS: wall papering my yacht followed by serious clam diving.

BLD: Remember when you wanted to get a gambling problem because you thought somehow you would get a yacht out of it? and you made a to-do list? I think having a fundraiser was on it. Eff cruises. My perfect Vacay is on Dang’s gambling yacht.

TP: What is your favourite scene from a LD&S production?

DS: aside from the telepathy. broken noses, endless skittles, car chases.

BLD: Yeah, I don’t take any pictures so in a weird way these movies are kind of my
fucked up photo albums.

TP: Politics?

DS: this party is lame. you wanna get outta here? im a photographer.

BLD: Oh yeah, and we’re shallow. Like disco shallow.

TP: Would you rather have to spend a whole day acting, in public, as if you were the lead in a musical or be at a good party and have your parents turn up and hang out?

DS: the reality of my public persona being an act already is somewhat crushingly sad. my mom would have cheap beer in a cooler that looks like a purse.

BLD: Let’s actually do this. Bring drums. And your mom.

TP: Do you believe in ghosts?

DS: when i get lonely enough.

BLD: Sell-out.

LD&S Blog

Poster: Mary Marie

official site

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Still Corners - Cuckoo

here's the amazing new Still Corners video by Lucy Dyson - quite a few folks caught a preview of this at our Yes Way cinema last weekend, and it officially dropped yesterday. beautiful isn't the word. you can read a full interview with Lucy in the latest zine (link a couple of posts down)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Way Out

good weekend! thanks to all who came to see movies, all who made them, and all at UTR for being amazing and putting on such a good show.

if you're here about the free zine, right click and save as this link here, right here (it's an 8 meg PDF).

you can get all our other zines for free if you do a bit of scanning around the blog too.

there'll be a physical edition shortly with some extras that aren't in the online version. and we'll have some new movie nights starting up provisionally around October (with bands and things too). details here or you can follow @picturesfilm on twitter.

very tired. sleep now.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Monday, 8 August 2011

New Zine / Yes Way

(too) long-promised but finally almost here, that's the cover for Pictures Zine #5, David Wojnarowicz drawn beautifully by Tom Moore. the issue has interviews with Angelique Bosio, Lawn-Darte & Steele, Bruce LaBruce, Emmaalouise Smith & Lucy Dyson, plus a piece by Tom Moore on Wojnarowicz, awesome artwork, new releases, society pages and the usual. It'll be winging it's way to the usual locations (and a few new ones) over the coming weeks or you can contact us. Plus...

So we're completely thrilled to announce that we'll be presenting a pop-up cinema short film programme at this year's Yes Way, the ever fantastic Upset The Rhythm weekender which this year is at Peckham's Bussey Building (incidentally, one of the filming locations for this here masterwork). it's an amazing lineup on any or all three days, with our film bit running on the Saturday and Sunday. bring a date!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pretty En Rose Pledge Drive

Llik Your Idols/Advocate for Fagdom director Angelique Bosio (interviewed below and in our upcoming zine about her second feature) has spent the past year or so shooting a film about Parisian lingerie designer Fifi Chachnil, and is looking for funds to complete the project.

This pledge-based funding model (used so effectively recently by Summer Camp in funding their debut album) is a really interesting one, and one with huge implications for filmmakers if it does take off. The target is €4200, and there are plenty of goodies on offer for your euros. You can read about the project (in French) and consider your pledges here. Well worth your time and diminishing single european currency.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Video Is The Only Constant

Sunday July 3rd our friends Video Is The Only Constant are holding their regular showcase of video, film and performance in the Mile End Victoria. 5pm-11, free entry, the lineup is looking great, and includes a trio of videos created for tracks from Shape Worship's 2010 self-titled EP. More info and links below:

here is the programme.

Video Is The Only Constant

Ambient Bummer


Saturday, 11 June 2011

what if South Park has just ended?

this is a blog post related to the mid-season finale of season 15 of South Park. it's not our usual sort of post I know but I had a few thoughts and wasn't sure where else to put them. this comes with a SEVERE SPOILER WARNING. do not read on, do not even be tempted to read on, if you enjoy the show and have yet to see Season 15, Episode 7, entitled You're Getting Old.


This past week there has been a flurry of internet rumour and speculation surrounding the mid-season finale of the most recent season of South Park, fuelled not least by reports of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's very public dismay at the continuation of the show, expressions of exhaustion and outspoken questioning of how both audience and network expect the show to continue. It has been mooted that, far from a mid-season break, this finale is the surprise ending to the series as a whole and that Parker and Stone will not complete their network commitments and choose instead to end South Park as of this episode. Whatever validity or lack of may exist in these rumours, on which we won't speculate, it raises an interesting question of where the show would stand if this was to be the ultimate end.

The episode centred around Stan's 10th birthday. From the point of his turning 10, the music that he used to listen to, the opinions he used to hold, the things he used to do with his friends all began to seem like purposeless, meaningless shit. He was diagnosed with 'being a cynical asshole' syndrome. He became weary of his friends, his surroundings and his life as it stood. The episode ended with a completely unexpected emotional montage in which Randy and his mother - usually one of the more comic, puerile relationships in the show - had a serious heart to heart and decided to divorce, related in a closing montage of Stan being ripped from his home and moving to a new place with a single parent, with a suitably sombre emotional soundtrack, equatable to the 'Goodbye To You' sequence in Buffy The Vampire Slayer perhaps.

That this would be an ending point for the series as a whole does make a certain amount of sense - we're not in "KING OF LIMBS 2 IS COMING IF ONLY YOU FIGURE OUT THE NUMBER SEQUENCE' territory here. It would represent the ultimate South Park controversy, a huge peak, to pack up and go out on an emotional high and deny an audience anything else at a time when its creators are resentful of the show and feel that most such peaks are behind them. It'd cost them money for breaking contract, but that's money that they could afford to pull off a move that would cement the show's infamy in TV history (a place already assured, yes, but all the more so in these circumstances). When the show started, and to some extent throughout its run, shock value has been prized above all else, and what better shock than to unexpectedly pull the plug, and on such a note?

It would fit South Park's internal logic to end on this note, a stunt not a million miles away from dropping a huge cliffhanger and then returning after 8 months with a 20 minute Terrence and Phillip adventure and no answers. It fits thematically too - this has always been a show with a heart, and that heart is rooted in childhood. The fact that it's everyman character (or one of two, the other being Kyle, but note that Matt Stone has had few writing credits this season) began to slip and then was wrenched out of childhood by catastrophic events in his life means the show cannot go back to that 'innocent' childhood state. Permanent story arcs that have arisen before for various reasons, such as the death of Kenny, and the boys auditioning replacements (a move that led to the fleshing out of much of the supporting cast - Butters, Token etc. - that reinvigorated the show in a lot of ways) that were ultimately reversed do not apply here. The fact that this is happening to Stan's family, a keystone of the show, has a certain weight that hasn't applied before. It could well be that this is a reinvigoration and that new storylines will stem from this point but that's not the track I'm going down here.

When you consider where those storylines could go, how they could develop the show beyond the point it's already reached, there isn't much room for development where there has been in earlier arcs. Recent disappointing episodes, such as the episode with the comedy robot who boils down all modern humour to a terrible event followed by 'awkward' suddenly make much more sense in light of the disillusionment of the show's creators. Going out on a sour note would not be to everyone's tastes, but might just be the right ending to go for.

South Park has always aspired to prove itself as something greater than a vulgar children's cartoon. It is well beyond the point of needing to prove that, it succeeded long ago, but there has always been an inherent urge to take things further. Parker and Stone wanted their huge moment when unveiling their representation of the prophet Mohammed. They were denied that moment, one with far greater reaching implications than anything they'd have done before, by the machinations of the network to which they are contracted. Presuming then that that desire to go through with something so huge has not dissipated, then why not do something that is within their grasp, curtailing a hugely popular show on a massively pessimistic (but somewhat realistic) note, with no prior notice or expectation. Parker & Stone have always been showmen, and this would be a very showmanly move to make.

Of course, anyone taking the whole thing as seriously as this may simply provide motivation to continue. As a fan I do hope this to be the case, and of course don't pretend to have any huge insight into the creative process of Parker or Stone. It felt though like the scenario above, should it not pan out in reality, was a potential path worth pausing to think on.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

we'll meet again...

so it's been two and a half years and the real world was always gonna catch up some time. yes, sadly, outside commitments mean that as of this month there'll be no more regular Pictures Film Club at Bardens.

we're not dead, just sleeping, and it doesn't mean we can't go out with a bang.

Wednesday 11th we'll be screening one of our favourite things, let alone films, from the last few years, Adam Curtis' psych history collage

plus we'll be closing with a double bill of Lynch's

and we've got a celebratory line-up of DIY No Future Shorts, music videos and murmurings from the first and finest contributors these past few years including
& yet more TBC

and one last round of FREE POPCORN

Bardens Cafe
Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XJ
Wednesday May 11th at 7.30pm

Get down early for the best seats!

(and keep your eyes peeled and keep in touch - Pictures zines, one off events and special screenings all coming your way)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Poignant Defenestration Fatalities

Publication Download Fest!

We're all sold out of all back issues of our Pictures zine, but hope is not lost.

Issue 4, the Documentary Issue featuring Frederick Wiseman, Ondi Timoner, Rita Ribas and loads more is now online in succinct PDF form here:
Issue 4 (11MB - right click, save as)

You can already get Issue #0 (6MB) and Issue #1 (10MB) too, for all your ancient history needs.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Bruce LaBruce: The Advocate for Fagdom

Angelique (Llik Your Idols) Bosio's excellent new documentary Bruce LaBruce: The Advocate for Fagdom will follow a triumphant appearance at the Berlinale with a trio of screenings at the BFI as part of the 2011 Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

We're beyond psyched for these screenings, this is not to be missed - the film is a captivating collage of interviews, archive and LaBruce's films and art, woven together into a an insightful and entertaining biographical portrait of the man, his work and his dreams, and featuring the likes of John Waters, Gus Van Sant, Harmony Korine, Vaginal Davis, Jack Sargeant, Richard Kern and more. Bosio's previous film Llik Your Idols was the centrepiece of our first official Pictures night, and it's great to see her work progress and delve into new and emotional places.

"an illuminating portrait of one of queer cinema's most vital transgressors." - Michael Blyth, BFI

The screenings are as follows, and keep reading for the trailer and a quick Q&A with Angelique Bosio.

Friday 1st April - 18.40 in the BFI Studio
Saturday 2nd - 12.20 in the BFI Studio
Monday 4th - 18.10 in NFT1

Priority tickets are available now, and general tickets on sale March 18th via the BFI.

Angelique Bosio Q&A

TP: What drew you to making a film about Bruce LaBruce?

AB: The distributors of my previous documentary, "Llik Your Idols", offered me to direct a DVD bonus for the French edition of "Otto; or, Up With Dead People". I was a bit hesitant at first. Indeed, I didn't want to appear as a one trick pony since Bruce LaBruce was in my first documentary and since the subjects seemed at first quite similar. Nevertheless, I felt frustrated that I had had to cut the whole part specifically about him in the final cut of "Llik...". I guess that's what ended up convincing me to make this film. As the French edition of "Otto..." was canceled, I kept on working on this project but made it a full documentary.
I have to admit that I didn't know much about Bruce. I got more and more interested and passionate about the film and him as I was filming and discovering that he embodied a few issues that were so dear and important to me. And the person himself was so nice and generous that the 2 year adventure turned out to be quite a pleasure. I know it sounds cheesy but...

(photo by Richard Kern)

TP: What can people expect when they watch it?

AB: I hope they won't expect anything !
I mean I tried to make a film that could interest people that are not necessarily cinephiles, gay, queer, or into Bruce's work in the first place. To me, it raises questions that are linked to Bruce but that are not exclusive of what and who is not Bruce. It's not an experimental documentary when it comes to the form but the rather academic form helps me attract more people I think, trying to change their mind more softly or to make them wonder about subjects that are generally subjected to prejudices that we are hardly aware of.
Even when one has a very liberal speech on an every day basis, I believe they (even I) have deep rooted prejudices about some specific issues (relationships, religion, races, sexuality etc...). Here I tried to use elements that, put together at the right moment, would make us aware of the limits of our liberal minds.
So I guess people can expect to ask themselves at least one question. At least I hope so.
But what they shouldn't expect is a fiendish biography of Bruce.

TP: What was the best and worst thing (or things) about making the film?

AB: It's quite hard to reduce more than two years of my life/work with two opposite moments or feelings...
I guess doing something after "Llik Your Idols" was quite liberating. I felt I was growing up ! To be able to work with the people I had met along the years and to be able to count on them, to realize I had a crew actually, was fantastic. To travel and meet new people along the way that (for some) are going to stay in your life, it's great too. And the best moment for me was the evening I spent in Portland at the Union Jack watching pole dancers.
When it comes to the worst things... Well... I guess me and my producers weren't on the same page and it was sometimes really difficult to make things happen in a peaceful, easygoing and emulating atmosphere. Also I have a real job that I keep doing even when I am filming my documentaries. I am a production secretary / assistant, so the whole making of this film (and my third one at the same time) really drained me out of energy and physical life ! I have spent more than two years trying to keep my head out of the water so I think that's the worst part of it ! Now I'm fine and happy to show the film. It's a reward.

TP: How does it feel now it's out and being screened around the world?

AB: Like I said, the screenings are like the candies and lollipops you get after going to the dentists. It is an incredible opportunity for me to defend the issues raised in the film and discuss it with the people I meet at festivals, and to travel, simply.
I just hope I will get strong reactions from the audience and be able to really discuss things.

An older Angelique Bosio interview from The Pictures zine
Official Site

Monday, 28 February 2011


all technical problems fixed, this month we've a brand new lineup of film goodness, plus we're re-showing the few that went wrong last month, so:

David Cronenberg's CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (1970)
details the wanderings of Tripod (Mlodzik), sometime director of a dermatological clinic called the House of Skin, who is searching for his mentor, the mad dermatologist Antoine Rouge. Rouge has disappeared following a catastrophic plague re...sulting from cosmetic products, which has killed the entire population of sexually mature women. Tripod joins a succession of organisations including Metaphysical Import-Export and the Oceanic Podiatry Group, and meets various individuals and groups of men who are trying to adjust themselves to a defeminized world. Written, shot and directed DIY style by the young Cronenberg

plus films with/by

it went down such a treat last month that we thought we'd let the series run on

prizes to be won!


Wednesday 9th, Bardens Cafe, Dalston
Early seats are best seats

*Happy Endings Productions are running a jingle contest, to accompany their new logo. Go here for details (quote 'Underground' to get an extended deadline til March 14th!)

Monday, 31 January 2011

PICTURES in the air


'ON THE AIR' pilot episode (David Lynch & Mark Frost, 1992)
The team who brought us Twin Peaks went on to devise and produce a short lived sitcom. Set in the 1950s in the fictional ZBC television studios, the show follows the cast and crew (many of whom are played by TP alumni) of 'The Lester Guy Show' through chaos, calamities and incompetence as they struggle to put together their broadcast. We can't honestly say we've ever seen another sitcom like it. The series only made it to 7 episodes, only 3 of which were shown in the US. Brought to you in the glory of full Standard Definition, taped off the telly in the 90svision

an amazing programme of shorts, music videos, DIY movies and documentaries with and by...

DJs & soundtracks & Ludovico visuals

Free chance to win a torrent-tastic set of all 7 On The Air episodes, on the finest quality DVD-Rs our Tesco has to offer (we only offer the best), plus other prizes in SCHWARZENEGGER BINGO


Free Popcorn

Free Entry of course.

Wednesday Feb 2nd
7.30 for 8.00pm prompt start, be on time for the best seats

(though head down a couple of hours early if you fancy sampling Bardens' new food menu, om nom nom)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Trish Keenan RIP

(photo from thedecibeltolls)

The Pictures has always been about music, almost as much as film, and especially that place where the two come together - this is why we have bands play our nights, this is why we always have one or two music videos in our monthly lineup, this is why we talk in such similar terms about filmmaking (especially our kind of filmmaking) and musicianship - they're really not a world apart.

Awful news came this morning that Trish Keenan, lead singer, multi-instrumentalist and founder member of the band Broadcast, has passed away from pneumonia, brought on by contracting swine flu while on tour. Anyone who has been to one of our nights and heard our between film playlists, or seen any of the silent movies we've selected contemporary soundtracks for, will know that Broadcast were always one of our very favourite bands, from their cinematic analogue synth soundscapes and beautifully crafted songs, hauntingly sung in Keenan's unique tones, to their innovative light-and-projections based live shows, expanded cinema at its best. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to all friends & family. We felt like we couldn't let this pass without expressing how genuinely gutted we are at this loss, and paying a small tribute to Keenan's unique presence and talent, a warm and welcome voice in our ears for many years now, and many more to come.

If you're not familiar with the band, take a little while out of your day and watch these videos, we promise you you won't regret it.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Ondi Timoner

from The Pictures #4

has produced some of our favourite documentaries of the past decade. You’ll most likely know her from DiG! (2004), the odyssey of Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown Massacre and their friendship and jealous feud with The Dandy Warhols as both bands struggle to make it (or struggle against making it), and from last year’s We Live In Public, the story of internet pioneer Josh Harris.

Harris was one of the first to cotton on to the potential of the internet, and set up a series of pre-broadband web TV channels, before launching an auspicious Big Brother style project called “Quiet: We Live In Public” in which 100 artist residents were denied all personal space save an open bunk, filmed around the clock on myriad webcams and able to watch eachother 24/7. The results were chaotic, fascinating and occasionally depraved, as self-control was abandoned, positions of authority were abused and the experiment began to disintegrate under it’s own conditions. Harris followed this by rigging his own house with hundreds of cameras and putting his daily routine and relationship with his girlfriend under constant surveillance, broadcast to the world via the internet, and allowing the world to interact and chat with the couple. Harris’s relationship collapsed under the strain, his fortunes soured, and eventually he fled the country to avoid his financial woes. Ondi’s film follows Harris from the glory days at the turn of the millennium to the present, ultimately asking powerful questions about our use of the internet and the extent to which we share our private lives online.

Ondi Timoner’s documentaries are very much about time, accompanying their subjects through years of their lives and witnessing these lives unfolding. Join Us (2007) follows the intimate story of a group of families as they grapple with the emotions and crises faced when attempting to leave a small-town cult and un-do years of brainwashing. The families are candid in revealing their experiences – their horror at their own blindness, their feelings of loss and loneliness, their compulsions to return - and Ondi’s camera is open and sympathetic, yet when meeting the cult leader, the Pastor of their church, the film does not assume a position of judgement, allowing the Pastor to voice his own seemingly heartfelt, if delusional, side of the story with equal emotion. The disappointment and confusion of the Pastor’s faithful wife is particularly affecting.

In spending such lengths of time with her subjects and immersing us in their world in such a direct and honest way, Ondi has created a series of unique and fascinating films, each one bringing to the fore the larger questions and implications of the story, while remaining at the same time intimate portraits, films about groups of people who are at turns lost, obsessive, misguided, driven, destructive and brilliant. We recently had the pleasure of speaking to Ondi about her own journeys and obsessions.

The Pictures: How did you get into filmmaking and what did you make of your early work, did you enjoy it?

Ondi Timoner: My early work? What do you mean, do you want to talk about the very beginning?

TP: Yes, I do.

OT: Starting at the very beginning. OK, well I was 19 and I asked my parents if I could have a you know little consumer video camera for Christmas or the holidays and they said yes and they gave me a camera that I ended up calling Flo, that was her name, and I took her on the road and first thing we did, me and my brother was go across the country and we interviewed people in toll booths and convenience stores about what makes them happy and what they fear the most and what they think of gays in the military cos those were sort of the questions of the day and I quickly learned that my camera was this bridge into worlds that I could never otherwise enter, and that it was in fact you know, a way to learn, and, in an extraordinary way that I had never had access to before and I’m not the kind of person that, I’m not like a book learner you know? I’m a, more of a people learner, I learn from other people and from interaction and, even at Yale where I was, at Yale at the time, I would get so much more out of the lectures you know than I would out of the books and so this camera became like this way in and by my senior year I only took classes where the teacher would agree to let me make a film instead of write a paper for my final project.

TP: Oh cool.

OT: So by the end of school I was making a film about women in prison called Voices From Inside Time for a class called Transgressive Women in American Culture and it was really quite, quite an incredible way to learn and so when you know I graduated, a lot of people graduate from Yale and go on to these very high paying jobs and everybody was kind of looking at me when I said I was gonna go be a documentary filmmaker but I felt like it was just the perfect yin-yang because I would go out into the world, say I went to the prison, I would have this access to speak to these women you know and really humanise them and find out why they were in there and that they loved their children and break down the stereotypes you know? And learn myself and be there for as long as it took and give myself over to the muse, and then I got to go to the edit bay, and Yale had no production facility so we did everything at this public access station, ha, and you know, thank god for the public access station but I would go to the edit bay and be in this quiet room, in all that I had learned and sorted out and figure out a way to communicate it for other people you know? So that they could learn and so it was like to me a perfect yin-yang and to this day you know the editing process is where the writing happens and you know I followed these films, these stories over a long period of time and it’s absolutely incredible to… to give, to basically work for 21, you know the first time on my movie Join Us I showed up at the cult treatment centre and shot for 21 hours that day, and I was blown away that these people who had just been through a mind control situation where their lives and their privacy and money and everything had been taken, their children had been beaten and yet they were opening up to me, and I just followed the muse you know and then you just, you put yourself in these situations where it’s not about you at all, it’s totally about life and capturing the serendipity of life and capturing the nuances of human experience and then, you know, then you go to the edit bay and it’s all about private time, quiet time, sorting it out and figuring it out and that’s where the revelations come a lot of the time, and so anyway it’s just been a beautiful process but I’m also moving into narrative films now.

I hate the word narrative, I’m sorry. Documentaries, my documentaries have narratives, ha, they have stories and they’re also dramatic so what I say is pre-scripted films with actors is what I’m moving into.

TP: Yes, fiction? So you mentioned that the films have very long stories and you have all the time to get to know the subjects, and I think that makes them really satisfying as well, that you can see everything unfold over such a long period… How do you tend to choose subjects, and is it always the case that the story goes on for a long time and you’re around for a long time, or does it sometimes cut short or… do you tend to try and find stories where there’ll be that length to it?

OT: No these stories find me. I can’t even take credit for finding them per se, I just have a strong intention, like for Dig I was really intent on exploring the intersection of art and commerce cos I’d made this film about this one woman in prison after the one I mentioned to you and that was called The Nature of the Beast and I had this woman’s life rights to go try and get it… I realised that people weren’t watching documentaries in the early ‘90s, and so I tried to get it to you know a larger audience by turning it into a TV movie or what have you, something to get 2 million housewives to write letters, and I quickly realised that you know the integrity of the story was being threatened by the industry, you know so here I am 21 years old and they’re like ‘this is a great story, you’re a producer, now get out of the way’, basically and so I started filming bands on the verge of getting signed to look at what would happen to me, and I was filming 10 bands over a year, that was my goal, and then I met Anton and he’s like ‘forget about those other bands, I’m taking over your documentary’ and I thought yeah right, and then he did, he did you know because I had my eyes open and he was, he was so compelling because he had such an antithetical relationship to the business and he was much more of a hyperbole than a lot of the other artists and musicians that were cowering in the shadows of the industry, do you know what I mean?

So he was quite, you know quite exciting, and then he actually said go meet the Dandy Warhols, we’re gonna start a revolution together, and I thought well I’ll go meet them and I did and they had no idea that he was planning to head up there to make a record with them and I thought well this is incredible, here they are, totally on the verge of getting a record out on Capital Records, ready to play the game, comfy cosy, totally stable band in Portland and this guy’s coming and they don’t even realise it, he’s coming to like start a revolution with them, haha, so…
So eventually really I realised that I could look at everything I was looking at with the 10 bands with these 2, and then the story just kept going you know, and it’s not like I chose it as much as I just sort of you know stuck with it, I have tenacity and a sense of you know, I have tenacity and a sense of where to show up.

TP: Do you see yourself as… How involved are you in what actually happens in the films, like do you see your role as kind of a journalist-investigator, or are you more of a participant, or do you think it’s somewhere in between?

OT: I believe I’m an Interloper, it’s like what my company’s called.

TP: Oh, I see!

OT: Yes, I’m in the group but I’m taking notes at the same time.

TP: I didn’t notice that, the name of the company.

OT: Heh.

TP: But you’re in, briefly, a couple of the films, I think you’re in..

OT: Yeah, I’m in the bunker.

TP: What was it like staying in Quiet? Were you there the whole time? It looked pretty crazy…

OT: It was somewhat like playing dress up or something, it felt like this totally artificial community where we were supposed to be, you know all of us together and friends and you know it just kind of felt really, I don’t know how to describe it. It didn’t feel real and it felt uncomfortable and then it also kind of felt fun sometimes, like cereal bars, I expressed in the movie, but it was uncomfortable to be around these people that you didn’t know who they were, what was gonna happen or what they really were thinking about, you know like that woman attacked the other woman and there were people there, there was not a feeling of security to the place.
It’s kind of amazing that it came out, that Josh got off as easy as he did.

TP: It looked like it had the potential to be pretty disturbing…

OT: Haha, it was, it was loud too, it was anything but quiet. He called it Quiet: We Live In Public and it was, you know, loud.

I was only there to direct it more than anything. I do believe that I should try to experience and be a part of what I’m filming to the extent that you know it’s good for the film, so I was there and I had a pod but I also had a hotel room and I also, you know, my thing was I had a walkie talkie and I had four camera people besides myself and I had a multiplex system where I ran the 110 surveillance cameras into one machine and then recorded to 12 different VCRs so I could record 12 different individual cameras and then one that I could do 9 screens or 4 screens so that was part of the art to me, was to record the pod situation or the virtual box situation as a metaphor for the virtual boxes that we’re all sort of in now and also use that as a way to monitor the place and know where the action was and be able to deploy real digital cameras with people behind them, you know what I mean?

TP: Going back to the way that the stories are very long and also that they have a lot of different film formats within them- I don’t know if that’s done in post, or if you experiment along the course of filming, but it gives a collage effect to the whole thing. Is that conscious and were there any particular influences on that style of filmmaking, or is it more just about experimenting with it as you go along?

OT: What was the original… experimenting with what? I think I missed…

TP: The look of the image, and the different formats that things are filmed on, like I don’t know if that’s done during filming or it’s a post-production thing.

OT: In all my films?

TP: Maybe not so much in Join Us, but in DiG certainly and in We Live In Public…

OT: Yeah, well in Dig, what happens is you end up filming over time and then technology changes, so you know I was filming on Hi-8 cameras and then me and my brother, back when my brother and I were following the bands in the early, mid ‘90s we had those kinds of cameras, then I remember the Hi-8 camera got stolen and it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me probably because it forced me to upgrade to digital and thank god because the avid wouldn’t read Hi-8 and we always had to transfer the Hi-8s to digital, and when we transferred the Hi-8s to digital they went through sort of an effect where they started to look different and then you know we had Super-8 which we always loved to shoot and then we had 16mm and 35mm by the end, so there was just a lot of time going by and the ability and financial resources changing and technology changing and then at a certain point with Dig you know it’s all about putting it in a washing machine basically and making it look like it sort of fits together, like a quilt or something you know? And I love that, I think it’s totally appropriate because I think the goal of any film that, I mean certainly a documentary film and probably any film, but it’s easier with a pre-scripted actor film to create an environment that makes people feel like – people meaning the audience – feel like they’re there, they’re immersed you know. When you’re doing a documentary my whole thing about filming stories over time is that time provides the greatest narrative, and because suspense, even the slightest not knowing what’s gonna happen next, allows people to interact with a film in the way that a historical looking back film cannot do. Just does not happen. So that’s why... Hang on that’s my phone. Hold on OK?

OT (returns): …I had to talk to her, she’s my producer.

TP: Oh don’t worry about it. Umm…where were we? Talking about a quilt, and Dig, and….

OT: Quilt? Oh yeah yeah yeah. So it’s a very organic process of just kind of you know, whatever works. The form should follow the content. It’s very important that the film feel like what it is, so with We Live In Public it’s more of a silver bullet kind of film and even though some of the footage may look degraded cos it was recorded on a VHS, it’s still put inside a graphic motif that looks like today, it looks like our lives with the internet today and it feels like you know the music and the images and the graphics all feel like a combination of the cold steely technology and the kind of warmer humanity breaking through or trying to break through or how the virtual and physical worlds interact, you know I feel like all of that is in the look of We Live In Public, and so I’m quite proud of that and I feel like, or you know not proud but I’m happy that that’s how it turned out, then Join Us, same thing, Join Us feels very pastoral and is slower and quieter and it’s not as many formats because all that worked for that film was digital because it had to be extremely low impact because we were in on these therapy sessions, we were running into the cult leader’s house or we couldn’t really do anything more than that and then there was some surveillance when they go to the church, and then there’s Super 8 because it’s appropriate for them, you know?

But as soon as I put John Lennon – God in, on the credits, it was like no way, no way that the film could, the story could handle a big song, it needed like you know, it needed to have Iron and Wine and it needed to have Sufjan Stevens, whereas We Live In Public could have Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails and needed to have that, so, yeah, hope that makes sense.

TP: It does, and I think it’s a good parallel to draw between the music and the type of film it is cos in that type of documentary it can often feel quite musical, the image and film itself can feel quite musical, I mean especially in your films I think-

OT: Yeah, music’s really important, to me music’s the most powerful art form, hands down. It has the power to infiltrate your soul and your mind and your subconscious in a way that even film can’t do it in the same way, any visual medium can’t, you know it’s just, you’ll be able to listen to a song and the lyrics will go into your brain because of the beat, because of the rhythm of life and how that interacts and how the music actually is that, you know?

TP: Yeah, it’s really personal, it’s talking to you as you listen…

OT: Yeah and so you don’t even realise sometimes, you can be asleep and listening to music and wake up and have the lyrics in your head, that just doesn’t happen with any other art form, so it has the power of osmosis and it’s crucial to film.

TP: It is… I had three more questions, um, two of them fairly heavy, one nice

OT: Uh-oh.

TP: So… it seems like a lot of the subjects in the films are really driven people, but a lot of them in two directions at once, so they’re looking for very positive creative and producing very creative things, but often in a very self destructive way.

OT: Yeah.

TP: Like somebody in Join Us mentions their paths leading to death, I think the people in Dig talk about Anton’s house smelling of death.

OT: Yeah, well that’s cos he was on heroin you know?

TP: Yes, not so good.

OT: Haha.

TP: So is that dual path something that interests you in particular, or is it something that just tends to exist in the types of subjects that you look for?

OT: Um, you know… I’m not clear on why it is that I have been sort of swept up, I mean Josh Harris called me and asked me to document the bunker, Anton said he was taking over my film, you know with Join Us it was more of Bush won the election and I thought there was some kind of mind control in America and I ended up at a cult treatment centre and once again sort of a megalomaniac male, person who can’t help himself at the crux of the story. I don’t know why that is but I think the films are really all about us, and not only because these people are hyperboles of characters that have some relatability to all of us, you know whether it’s feeling like, it’s really man vs. system you know as a central conflict, even my film about prison and about this woman in prison it’s just kind of like, they’re all like that, and right now my first scripted film, pre-scripted film is about Robert Mapplethorpe and him like you know, busting through with this imagery that made people go crazy over here, freak out and say oh it’s pornography, is it art? And he couldn’t help himself. He was a catholic and he couldn’t help himself. I don’t know if that’s just what appeals to me but I wouldn’t make, really I wouldn’t have made for example the film about Josh if it wasn’t about us. We Live In Public is really only in existence because of Facebook because I saw the Facebook status updates and went holy shit, I get it now, I get why this is, as opposed to Josh being Bill Gates or something, he’s not. So it wasn’t like I was like let me make a film about this crazy man who sets up this bunker, who’s like a web pioneer, I didn’t think it was that important for the world to know about Josh Harris until I realised that he was this big huge walking cautionary tale and also had some visions that have, that he created, whether he knew it or not, a physical metaphor for life online that is, you know granted, a fun house mirror but still food for thought for all of us at this crucial time, and so yeah, I don’t know if I’ve answered your question but… there’s more information haha.

TP: Yeah, you kind of answered the next one as well, it was, I put it in different terms, but it was about how the kind of male, almost religious leaders tend to be these central characters and they do tend to get people following… I mean obviously the most literal example of that would be Join Us, but in Dig there’s that bit where they go up and somebody says “are you in a cult?” and they say “oh, I don’t know” and, yeah, I think you kind of answered that.

OT: Well there is this idea, it’s about what we’re willing to give up to have our lives matter, that’s what the films are all about, every single one of them. They’re not about those leaders because- I mean they are to some extent but the real, the real point of interaction between the audience and the material is around the person’s life themselves… Like, I make these films for all of us, not because I think those people are extraordinary, not because I’m obsessed with cult leaders, but what these kinds of charismatic leaders do and you know charismatic and conflicted and misguided and inspiring and you know gruesome characters do is they somehow compel people to give up their privacy, their freedom, their you know whatever the hell else they were doing to follow them you know? And it’s like what are we missing that we need that, and why, and what are we doing every time we go and post something on Facebook because that’s not one person but we’re giving stuff up all the time now, cos we need our lives to matter, we need to feel significant, we need to feel like we did something on this planet, even if it’s post a digital photo and have somebody say “you look so cute!” you know?

TP: It’s true.

OT: It’s like a phenomenon that I think is pretty compelling.

TP: You really don’t realise who stuff is going out to either, I got an e-mail this afternoon from someone working for a TV company saying that they’d read a story that I’d posted on a forum about two years ago about almost being mugged and fighting the guy off, and they wondered if I’d be up for being interviewed on camera and I thought how the hell did you track me down from a post on a forum two years ago? It never crossed my mind…

OT: It makes you wonder if Josh was right, that actually the computers are gaining consciousness. I’ve got to admit that I’ve wondered this myself now because I have this Google alert on my name and on We Live In Public and literally the internet generates these stories, it’s pretty wild, like they’ll come up with something from two years ago and re-post it and it’s like who’s doing that? I can’t imagine someone sitting there doing that you know?

TP: No, it’s strange. OK, the last question – what are you working on next?

OT: I’m leaving for the Sundance Lab on Tuesday to workshop my first feature film about- hold on I have to write one thing really quick… OK. So I’m taking my film, my first pre-scripted film that I intend to make, that I’m producing and directing and writing with another writer Bruce Goodrich who generated the project originally like 8 years ago, and we’ve been developing it ourselves for two years and me and Eliza Dushku are producing it together, and it got into the Sundance Lab which is an incredible workshop for directors that is just amazing, it’s highly competitive but it’s just incredible, they’re basically investing in my film school education and I’m going there and shooting a bunch of scenes and it’s gonna be awesome.

TP: Sounds like a lot of fun.

OT: Yeah, doing it on Tuesday, I’m going to Utah for three or four weeks, they’re flying me in and putting me up and we fly in actors and we shoot, we then work on the script and you know make a movie, so we’re doing that and that’s gonna help a lot and then also I’m completing a documentary right now about climate change and the climate change debate and that as the sort of debate around it and then Bjorn Lumberg the very controversial climate or political scientist-economist who is sort of at the centre of a lot of this climate change debate, and I’ve been shooting that for a year and that’s what I was on the phone about and we’ve got editors here, and I’ve got to get off this Skype thing and start paying attention to that, but that’s gonna come out in September, October, so another documentary. One last one for now and then my first pre-scripted actor film which I’m just absolutely thrilled and excited about doing. I really think that you know I’ve taken documentary about as far as I can right now, We Live In Public, and that it’s time for me as an artist to stretch my wings and tell stories in a different way and I think I can bring all the authenticity and all the knowledge that I gained from these incredible 17 or 18 years in documentary to really help me with the narrative films, or the pre-scripted films, and then motherhood, I’m mother to an incredible young man named Joaquin who is six years old, and it’s a full time job. So I’ve got three full time jobs, haha.

TP: Ha, that sounds exhausting.

OT: Yeah, it’s very exhausting but I live a very rich and full life, I’m honoured and glad and please send me a link to this when you have it done, I do have to run Garry but I wish you the best of luck.

TP: Thanks and bye.

Interloper Films