Sometime in the latter half of last year Ana Cordeiro Reis (Hyaena Fierling) had asked me if I was interested in providing her with a half-an-hour of video footage that she could then compose to with a view to it being used in a live performance in the UK. Naturally the chance to work with her was all the motivation needed, and so we began discussions on the what, the where and the how.
I had recently had my work projected publicly for the first time (as opposed to being shown on a flat-screen TV in a gallery setting) and was thinking about the need to tailor the work to the environment in which it was to be shown, so my first questions were about where Ana was planning to perform. Locations in Birmingham and possibly The Gregson Institute in Liverpool were mentioned and I spent some time researching the type of places these were and the type of performances held in them, as well as looking at Ana's other recorded live performances on YouTube and Vimeo.
The spaces were fairly small and intimate (as opposed to stadium type) and the projection would not be on a huge scale. I had to consider peripheral lighting, possible people movement and that Ana would be weaving her magic against a backdrop of my imagery. To produce a narrative or anything too subtle seemed pointless, so the challenge was to make something visually interesting in such a setting over the space of half-an-hour as well as maintaining some continuity and having some alignment, if not meaning, with Ana's aesthetic.
We discussed via Skype a theme. Dreams, journeys, imaginary landscapes, juxtapositions...
Ana sent some footage via WeTransfer of road movies she had taken in Portugal and also some still images from her vast collection. I had also been working on footage from unrelated sources, so it was a matter of trying to find a balance between her suggestions and what I needed to maintain my interest and enthusiasm.
I had never made a video of this length before (10 minutes being the previous max). I also was used to working to a soundtrack, not in silence. I was not comfortable with using still images (seemed like a slide show) so I began merging the road movies with dream like snippets. At this point the combined footage ran for less than 20 minutes. I thought that to have some footage of Ana herself might be a nice touch, so that the audience could see that the film was specifically about her as opposed to some random imagery.
Over a few months life and work get in the way of the best laid plans. Other little projects crop up, ideas get modified, directions change. I was doing long road trips from one end of the state to the other, Ana was in UK one day, Portugal the next. Occasionally snippets would arrive, we continued our Skype discussions and I continued to try to build the film without really knowing what the soundtrack would be. I must admit at this time I was really struggling to maintain continuity, so when some more footage arrived of Ana dancing it became the catalyst to start bringing it all together. I compiled the film out to around 28 minutes and sent a rough cut back. I had called it 'The Dreams of Ana'.
It was only a matter of a few days when a 10 minute soundscape came back with the title of 'shadow chase'. From here on it gave me the direction I needed to start pulling it all together, and so began the tightening up and working out the colour harmonies and 'flow'. Also Ana sent some more footage of her hands and shadows which helped me to resolve issues I was having with the start and end. I got to a point where I thought that this was about as good as it is going to get, so sent off the second draft. She continued with finishing the composition, and so Shadow Chase was born...
The soundtrack will be released as part of an EP, and we will let you know when the live performances are likely to take place.
You can download the film from the Internet Archive here...
Our other collaborations have been:
Why is this happening?
The Illusion of Freedom
I forget you
Ana's website is: akousmata