I first met David & Louisa a couple of years ago, David was introduced to me as an artist interested in social and political history – although I’ve since learnt that ‘history’ encompasses everything right up to yesterday, so his interests are broad, sometimes unconventional but always well researched and delivered with passion.
I was excited when he asked me to make a film to promote Dekkle, his artisan printmaking studio in Hertfordshire.
Dekkle is a small studio that houses three very large printing presses and a handful of smaller ones. The oldest dates from the 1800s and all are still in working order. The atmosphere at Dekkle is dominated by a passion for art, and the ethos is to encourage experimentation and to create, to keep creating.
Of course my excitement was curbed by the daunting task of finding a way to capture this passion, this ethos, on film and to encapsulate the attitude, the dedication and the professionalism, not just of David and Louisa the founders, but the members that regularly use the studio, not just for creating prints, but for debating politics, history, and “what crazy things you can put through the presses’. Also to represent the Artists who claim residence once in a while to immerse themselves in the old fashioned surroundings, the calm ambience, and tap into David’s vast experience and technical assistance. And of course I had to provide a bit of information about the studio and the presses.
Together we looked at some reference films, the first was a short film called A Brief History of John Baldessari narrated by Tom Waits. To say Tom Waits is a hero of mine would be pushing it, but his deep soothing voice provided a bit of a back drop to my childhood along with other notable voices including Ian Dury, Lou Reed, David Byrne and that bloke who does the talking bit with The Small Faces.
So I was always going to like this film, however, the actual narrative and quirkiness is not only clever but worked because we all know who John Baldessari and Tom Waits are (and if we don’t, we know we should!) It s a great example of telling you everything you need to know about someone in just a few minuets, but like I say we come to that film with some context, some existing knowledge – a straighter documentary style was probably going to be a more appropriate bet for us.
The second film was about David A Smith, a traditional sign writer who painstaking designed the album cover for John Mayer’s Born & Raised. It’s a less creative and clever film than the first, but watching the creations is captivating and the use of the art in the film is beautiful.
However both, were probably made by more accomplished film makers than I, with team, a big budget and some good names involved.
How was I to make a unique film for Dekkle? Well, here’s what we came up with.
This is the full 5 min version, but its designed to be dissected into chapters, easy one minute chunks for viewing on the website or sending out to potential collaborators.
The full version has been premiered this month at The Print Show, an annual exposition for the printing industry at the NEC.