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I Blog, Therefore I Share

I have often felt compelled to write. I respect the medium greatly. It is a moment to muse and be introspective, and then to dance with language to try and present the intangible of one’s own mind with clarity to others, to perhaps reverberate and resonate, to connect and share.

It is a gift to yourself and to others in so many ways, and yet it can be so hard to do.

So this is me making a big step, a step I have made many times, but never consistently pursued. But I will try.

I’m sure you have gathered if you know of my work that I am a filmmaker. My journey since a child has been dreaming of being an artist (of course not realising at the time that all children are born artists and scientists). As a child I loved to draw. I smile as I reflect that I was always trying to draw motion to tell stories, making mini scenes of films.

A long story short, I studied as an artist in Leeds and fell in love with socially engaged and cinematic artworks, interested in kinetic, organic, and people driven works. I truly believed (and still believe), that the arts are there to make our world a better place, and that has always been intrinsic to the ethics and philosophy of my working practice.

I appreciate that one of the most powerful elements of my studies was outside the institute of education; it was my part-time job in a pub just across the road from the Grand Theatre. It was a funny place, an ‘old man boozer’ by general classification, but with a subculture element, an unofficial safe space for diverse communities, as well as a place of the arts with theatre audiences, the stage hands, and sometimes the actors/ performers. In short, everyone who came to the bar had different life experiences and views on the world, and I was fascinated by talking to everyone. I would hear people’s take on the world, from the day-to-day, to the world wide, I would hear views that would inform me, others I would wholeheartedly disagree with. It was a space of dialogue and a format that fascinated me, and has absolutely informed my methodology for interviews with people in all my films.

Let’s leap to another significant part of my journey - ice sculpting. I know what images will have jumped into your heads when I say the words ‘ice sculpting’ - believe me, there was no ice swans. I created ephemeral ice sculptures, usually spherical, almost planetary structures, frozen in layers and infused with various materials including inks and metals. I would suspend these giant ice orbs in huge glass tanks of water and let the sculptures slowly melt during exhibitions, with their material properties creating fascinating and visually intriguing reactions and shapes, suspended in slow motion in the ice cold water. The pieces were visually magical, but there was also a sense of the awareness that they are temporary, that they cannot be viewed twice, and an urgency with the audience to pay them attention. Interestingly, I was going through a rejection of digital documentation at that time, and would actively prevent imagery of the works so that they could exist in the tales that would follow the exhibition. So very little imagery exists of them to this day. But I loved that they existed in stories. And that you, reading this, will have a certain picture in your head of what they look like, and that interpretation belongs to you.

These pieces were 3D cinemas, as people would watch through their glass screens as the sculptural film would play out, just for them, for one time only. It was not long after this I immersed myself into filmmaking as my core artform, and Tarkovsky really resonated when, years later I heard of him describing film as ‘Sculpting with Time’. My films are a culmination of my interests in art, and I have been striving towards them throughout my whole artistic journey, often without knowing at the times. My art practice within social engagement, the live moment and sculpture come together as I make my films.

My journey as a self taught filmmaker has been an incredible one. I am honoured to embark upon this journey as I am welcomed into people’s lives, into their passions, their hopes, their determinations, their dreams, their realities and their unique life experiences. I am invited to document unique moments in culture and humanity, to represent them for appreciation and understanding in the present and future. And I am trusted to create stories that can catalyse social change, empower important initiatives and shine a spotlight on voices that deserve to be told. I am so incredibly honoured and truly value what it is to be given the responsibility of representing these precious stories. I meet tis responsibility by working tirelessly to share these stories with authenticity, integrity, originality, compassion and beauty. And every encounter, every moment of film, broadens my world view, and makes me a more informed, more compassionate, more empowered person. And I truly hope I can gift this to all those who watch my films, for the belief of a better future that we all deserve.

To this date I have directed, produced, filmed and edited well over 1000 short form films, and I am ever growing on my journey. My studio is made up of wonderful people all around me who are incredibly talented, passionate and wonderful people, and I will be telling you more about them as we go.

These blogs and articles aim to share the journey of a self taught filmmaker who started with a £200 camera and a determination to tell stories as they deserve. So many people have supported me on this journey (and still do), and I will be excited to share their stories too. This blog area will be around honest sharing of successes, challenges, hopes, inspirations, silly moment, and powerful impacts, for myself and others. I want to share these stories to build a community of like minds, and to tell more about these amazing stories I film - stories which mean so much to me and to the people they involve.

My alternative title for this article was ‘I Blog, Therefore I Mustn’t Overthink.’ This blog post is a huge step for me, one that has been 16 years in the making. I wish to give you and myself an honest, raw and organic sharing of my stories and thoughts, and I am knocking down the barriers of perfectionism that have prevented this to date. I hope it is of value, and thank you for joining me in this momentous step.

Image Credit - Thomas Williamson

John x

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