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Poetry in Motion, The Bespoke Film Company for C4.  Canon C300

Poetry in Motion, The Bespoke Film Company for C4. Canon C300

The rhythm and thrill of language, and the drama of life are explored in a new commission for Channel 4 by The Bespoke Film Company.  Shot with a pair of Canon C300s hired from VMI, the short film was inspired by an epitaph on a London park bench:

I was born tomorrow

Today I live

Yesterday killed me

These enigmatic lines of Parviz Owsia were subsumed into a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah who performs his new piece for the short film.

The beautifully shot opening moves from sunlight radiating through overhead leaves, blended with a shot of the epitaph scored onto a wooden bench. We then watch a sweeping, slow-motion, cloudless sunrise before the camera tracks the uphill walk of the poet dressed against the morning chill. This tranquil scene of the natural and gentle rhythms of the day is suddenly upset by the words of the poem: “I remember my birth well. It happened tomorrow. My birth happened like that hurricane that is to come.”

Throughout the piece there is a continually jarring interplay between reflection and confrontation, between slow motion, time lapse and fast edits, between gently sweeping mist and unexpected camera angles. Subtle details of nature are replaced at an instant with blown-out highlights, lens flare, silhouettes and disconcerting de-focusing techniques.

Cameramen Andy Boyle and Craig Murdoch selected the C300 to give the director this level of camera control. They needed to cope with each type of shot, to give the director the ability to pan in a single take from the glare of the sun, via a silhouette of the poet to a shot capturing natural skin tones. Finally, its requirement to capture different frame rates was a determining factor.

Director Natasha Serlin notes: “The camera gave us what we wanted on the day in terms of handling and responsiveness. Now in its final edit, we are delighted to see the way it reacted to the challenge of the extreme lighting conditions we worked in.”

The short film airs late in 2012 on Channel 4.

We are grateful to Catriona Gray for permission to use her images.

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