Every year the ICA's STOP PLAY RECORD programme supports the planning and production of 24 short films with young people aged 16–24 who are based in London. Films commissioned by STOP PLAY RECORD then have the chance to be included as part of the Channel 4 Random Acts series.
STOP PLAY RECORD filmmaker Léna Lewis-King writes about her experience making a film on the programme.
Like many people my age, I started making films on my phone using Vine (which made video loops of six seconds). When I started out on the STOP PLAY RECORD programme (referred to as SPR), I only had a basic idea of filmmaking and what my film would be about. Making paintings, drawings, sculptures and sound pieces are a vital aspect of my life, so visually capturing the artistic process is a central focus of my films. Yet there aren’t many places young people can go to learn about both conventional and arthouse filmmaking processes – especially teens from disadvantaged backgrounds.
By attending the incredible workshops that ICA Moving Image Project Coordinator Tom Wightman put together on animation, writing, sound and different moving-image media, I have been given an education in film that is unique and has transformed my life. These workshops gave me new skills that allowed me to visually explore the process of art-making, and to see how making a film is an art in itself. I have met so many phenomenal creatives throughout the program, and have been greatly supported in expressing new ideas through film.
I have been given an education in film that is unique and has transformed my life
My film, Untitled Sequence (2017), is an artist film that explores the material processes of filmmaking such as visual narration, cinematography, soundtrack creation and film editing from the perspective of a young female artist – a perspective that is still under-represented in conventional filmmaking. The film engages with contemporary issues of identity and allegories of artistic practice, and is influenced by Jean Cocteau and Maya Deren’s films (particularly their creation of visual ‘dreamscapes’), Nobuhiko Ôbayashi (especially his editing processes) and Lee Miller’s embodiment of both the artist and the artist’s muse in her work both in front of and behind the camera.
The process of composing and editing zines is a means of creating a bridge between painting and filmmaking for me via the activities of developing image sequences and narratives, which eventually led to making animations and film.To document the making of Untitled Sequence, I am putting together a zine (titled FERAL – an ode to the camera rental company) that features behind-the-scenes footage. The zine is due to be released in February and is dedicated to Untitled Sequence’s cinematographer Gabi Norland.
PEOPLE AND PLACES
I was partnered with SPACE studios and they have been a supportive and grounding presence throughout the sometimes scary and overwhelming process of making of my film. SPACE put me in touch with cinematographer Gabi Norland, who is the first film professional I have ever worked with and became fundamental to realising the vision of my film. Every time I hit a wall during filming, Gabi contributed solutions. She understood where I was coming from and was able to translate my personal thoughts into a visual reality.
Under the watchful eye of SPACE mentor Pierre Vella, the young filmmakers on the SPR programme watched each other’s’ films and discussed ideas together, giving us a supportive critical foundation for producing our films. Pierre supported and assisted each of us in finding the best way to accomplish the things we didn’t understand or were inexperienced in, and was always there to help us any time a hitch or crisis arose. Tom has likewise been a great support throughout the SPR program, always giving guidance whenever needed. He also helped me with making my first film during the under-18 film course Into Film (a collaborative film course taught by Nick Street) at the ICA in 2015. Without Tom's support, my entire journey into filmmaking would not have been possible. Saskia Dixie has also provided crucial assistance and advice throughout the filming process. To be able to talk to someone who has been through the SPR program before and with whom I can freely discuss ideas has been an invaluable asset.
Lastly, I would also like to mention my mother Michelle Lewis-King, who assisted me with the plaster cast props and the soundtrack: I used her soundscape Dreamscape 1 as the main background sound in Untitled Sequence. Phil King (my father) made the miniature set and helped on set during the shoot. The artist Nick Fudge also helped with the set – his work deeply influences the way I think about art and technology.
Before starting the programme, I had no semblance of professionalism. I was very much a daydreamer and spent my time painting and watching films. SPR has made it possible for me to understand how to create professional films for commission, as well as giving me a lifelong passion for watching and making films. ■
Léna's work can be found on Vimeo and on her website. The launch event for applications for SPR 2017-18 is on 28 January.