John Makepeace is one of the most admired and honoured English furniture designers and makers of his generations.
At the same time as I was working with John on this film, I had been going back and forth to Srebrenica (the scene of the genocide in 1995) filming the town through the eyes of local young people for what became CANDLES AGAINST THE NIGHT. It was difficult to switch between the nightmare filled town to John’s highly refined aesthetic.
John and I were politically wary of each other although I held tremendous respect for his work. None the less, I believe I was chosen by him rather than by the Arts Council (who financed the film) which was a credit to John. He said at one point that he liked a bit of grit in the mix…I guess my politics were the grit. But as the project went on, I began to increasingly appreciate John and his attitudes. It’s fascinating how often political opinions are emulsified by someone’s humanity.
When I began to assemble the film, I felt at a loss. My first efforts were stodgy, pedantic, concerned with description. I was overly concerned with his procedures, techniques and opinions. The edit was going nowhere. I metaphorically paced for a week and then I remembered the wonderful sound of the wind whipping through the bare winter branches of a forest we were in and the wonderful bird song of a sunny spring day when we were looking at felled trees in another forest.
The sounds gave birth to the idea that so much of what John had said to me made sense in terms of his embrace of the forms and materials of the natural world. His first comments in the film represent that.
I had shot the story; I simply needed to understand what I had done. The material talked to me.
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