“32 weeks of FAD” combines the contemporary phenomenon of social documentation with the traditional, analogue mediums used since the practice of time capsules in the 1939 World’s fair. After my previous pathway projects, artists such as Stefan Sagmeister encouraged me to experiment and work much more practically, while photo-documentarian Oliviero Toscani inspired me to pursue creative messages through design and film.
“32 weeks of FAD” is a short documentary film that grew from these influences, and is about the experience and atmosphere of being on the Foundation Art and Design course at Stourbridge College. After being on the course so far throughout 2012/2013, I saw that the Foundation year as an interesting bridge between higher education and University, but also between youth and adulthood, and a place where a unique atmosphere of artistic growth takes place. To convey this mix of vibrancy, stories and atmosphere – I saw the film format as an ideal medium. In my research, I looked to film-makers such as Werner Herzog, whose filmography of intimate documentaries charting individualism and the eccentric gave great impression to my pre-preproduction development. Telling compellingly and interesting stories are at the heart of Herzog’s films – so I devised three questions and themes to centre my film around – Art, Age and Memory. The questions posed to the students I interviewed were – Tell us about the art project you’re working on now? How have you arrived at what you’re doing? And, what’s your first memory of FAD? To gain a range of different perspectives artistically of the course, I worked with a single student from each art department – Fine Art, 3D, Textiles, Illustration, Graphics and Fashion.
I decided that the most intriguing way to convey these themes was to use formats and mediums that would contextually reflect them. Inspired by the work of Jennifer West and her experimental films with eclectic materials, I did research into revived analogue photography formats available today. Polaroid’s instant photography from the 1960’s, and disposable 35mm cameras offered the opportunity to create an original visual twist to the themes – with the manual, chemical Polaroid processing affording itself towards connotations of memory; and the fixed exposure quality of the disposables giving credibility to the age theme. The Art theme is conveyed with high spec HD cameras to represent the modern presence of the course.
I’ve become more self-disciplined with my goals and time management, and learnt professional skills in dealing with filming locations and pitching my film to those included in. I’ve kept to making regular aims that keep me focused, but have also had to be flexible in dealing with the issues with the technology that the film medium deals with.
My time spent on creating this film has developed a wide range of my skills, from directing to sound design – and in creating a film on the FAD experience, I’ve been able to realise and expand my vision of the course - taking valuable experience to my degree in film production that I’ll start in September.
James Hipkiss – June 2013