MIA Screens is an online showcase featuring contemporary experimental films and artist moving image works with introductions by the artists who made them.
Jason Moyes introduces Frames, Shapes and Symbols:
I shot Frames, Shapes and Symbols in the summer of 2017 and edited it that winter. It had its premier at the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in 2018.
That particular film festival has significantly shaped my tastes, understanding and appreciation of experimental film over the years. In 2017 the Creative Director was Richard Ashrowan. I’d been fortunate enough to attend many editions of the festival, and with that get to know Richard and the filmmakers along with their works that he programmed.
I have a special photograph of myself and a number of other filmmakers sitting in a row during a Q&A session at the Alchemy film festival in 2017. My film Red Lights and a Solstice Moon was included in a programme that also featured a work from the American filmmaker Robert Todd. I still lack the vocabulary to explain what was so compelling about his films. But having something of my own included in the same programme as him, and being able to share the collective experience of watching his poetic and personal experimental films was quite special. Despite the inevitable imposter syndrome and the fear of talking in front of an audience, it was a truly rewarding experience. In the photograph Robert is closest to the camera, I’m at the back, we are both smiling.
The final day of the 2017 Alchemy Film Festival was a special film walk led by the artist filmmaker Andrew Kötting. He was another regular visitor to the festival and a filmmaker who I have a great admiration for. His Animal Head Trilogy was particularly influential to me around that time. He led a procession to the sinister and atmospheric Hermitage Castle, a walk that included songs and performance as a companion piece to his new film Edith Walks.
Robert Todd was there too, chatting as he walked, taking in the landscape and atmosphere of the event. At the castle I stood a short distance behind him as he shot film on his 16mm camera, in an attempt to see what he saw. To understand what caught his eye and how that would translate to the frame.
‘Frames Shapes and Symbols’ was shot in some beautiful woodland very close to my home. A place I visit regularly, for the ever changing landscape, the solitude, the sense of calm offered by the trees and ferns, and also some more unusual features. Making a film there was a way of slowing my pace and taking time to stop and immerse myself in the space, as Robert did. To breathe slowly and feel the air, to listen deeply to the sounds of buzzards and the wind and for the landscape to guide my route. The more I meditated on the words frames, shapes and symbols during my walks, the more the forest presented to me.
Around this time I had been able to get to know Richard Ashrowan a little better, away from the joyful buzz of the festival. His passion and knowledge of experimental film is vast, and through various conversations at our regular Moving Image Makers Collective meeting, I gained a good insight into the artists that inspired him. I had studied his films online and he was always generous with his time when it came to advice, recommendations and feedback on works in progress for example. I consider him a good friend and a mentor, and always embrace the opportunity to see his work and hear him talk about it. We both had work shown at the Spectral Film Festival in Wisconsin last year, Frames, Shapes and Symbols and Richard – his film Substitute. Checking in with the festival staff it became apparent that not only had our films been included in the same programme, but they were shown one after another. Another special moment in my artistic journey and one I wish I’d been there for.
I have made four films in that forest now and continue to spend time there, looking and listening for those signs of what to do next.
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