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Short Film Collaboration – a painter and photographer talk

Andrew Fitzgibbon (photography level 3) and Paul Butterworth (painting level 2) met up to discuss their recent collaboration on Andrew’s short film, Leeds and Liverpool.

Paul, who is a professional actor, liked the idea of swapping modelling for some headshots and posted his suggestion on OCA Discuss. Andrew was near completing his BoW project and was considering replacing his own voice-over with a Northern English accent. He said, ‘I was thinking about making the change later, during the final sustaining your practice module, with a known voice like Guy Garvey’s, who is from Wigan where the canal passes’. However, when Andrew saw Paul’s post (and role in The Full Monty) he decided to take a punt, suggesting headshots for a voice over, rather than modelling. He knew Paul was far away in Cambridge but hoped it might be difficult for a Yorkshireman to resist a trip back to god’s own country.

When Paul looked at those interested in his proposal he said, ‘firstly, I found myself thinking about whether the photographers had looked at the links I put in my ‘brief’? And did they point me to relevant work in their portfolios?’ After careful consideration, Paul decided on Andrew, and Guy Garvey was given the elbow before even being asked. Paul commented, ‘Andrew had been a street photographer so I knew he’d be comfortable with people. I also liked his sculptural composition and the highly finished quality of his work which came from working with RAW files.’

The two discussed what they were hoping from the collaboration. For his headshots, Paul decided that he wanted a neutral shot rather than a ‘character shot’. He said, ‘we worked forensically rather than emotionally and it became masterclass on tight close ups.’  Andrew commented that shaping an actor’s image with the face as the context to the eyes was fascinating work, even without a broader environment.

For the voice-over, as well as the northern voicing, Andrew was looking to retain some of melancholic feel from his own version but with a professional take that would better carry the narrative.  Paul made different takes by reading the poem as a whole, in verses, and while looking at the images. Andrew commented, ‘as soon as Paul started riffing off the images, I knew it was what I was looking for.  I asked Paul to just go with it and not worry about timing; I’d sort that in the digital cutting room’. 

They both learned a lot from their collaboration; new ways of seeing and representing visual images and new sound recording skills. Andrew and Paul believe that they produced something impossible as individuals. But most importantly, they made a relationship that they can carry forward into other opportunities. 

The completed short film can be watched at www.leedsandliverpool.co.uk. Best enjoyed with a cup of fine Yorkshire tea.

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Posted by author: Andrew Fitzgibbon
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