The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

The Odd Sock Exchange

The Odd Sock Exchange is now out in paperback from Cinnamon Press. It's a wonderful collection of poems by my good friend, David Mark Williams (or Mark to his friends).

On Saturday 21st November he's having a book launch at the Gordon Memorial Hall in Castle Douglas. Needless to say I felt it my duty to provide him with a new promo pic.

Meanwhile, over the past few months we've also been working on a four short videos where he reads a poem to camera. It's been a great opportunity for me to develop my filming and editing skills, and we've decided to release them now to help promote his book on the run up to the launch.

So over the next few posts, I'll be putting up the videos along with written pieces by Mark about his experience of performing his poems to camera.

I did do a post about the first video, "The Solace of Cupboards" about 6 months back, but I'll put it up again for those who missed it first time round, or would like a reminder.

Mark is used to performing his poetry on stage, but he found doing it to camera to be an entirely different experience. Below the video you'll find his comments about it.

Making Films with Mr Ayres

Overall the most important benefit I’ve gained from making these short films with Kim is how much the experience has stretched me. What I’ve learned has been well beyond what I could have anticipated. There were challenges along the way but also a great deal of fun, exhilaration and ultimately achievement.

Very early on in our collaboration came the realisation I would have to work without a net, that is, a script in front of me. It doesn’t come across that well on camera if you are reading from the page. The eyes need to focus on the lens. It’s also about ensuring that you interpret the words, act them in fact. It was scary to step onto that tightrope and there was a lot of corpsing and outtakes but the great thing about filming is you can always go for another take. Sometimes even then Kim’s utmost editing skills were called upon to make for a watchable end product.

I’d never been directed before and this pushed me to more refined and intense performance levels. It made me think about what I was saying and not to fall back upon the default position of merely declaiming. This taught me so much about the poems we’d chosen and also about writing poems in the future. It made me realise more about the architecture of the poems, which ones flowed when spoken aloud and which ones felt more like bricolage. With the latter I had to find a way to bind them together in performance that was already strained through working from memory. It’s to Kim’s credit that he pushed me with his gentle but firm direction into new ways of expressing the ideas in my poems.

The other thing about the medium of film is that it is much more intimate than being on stage. With the latter you have to project, take a broad brush approach so that everyone present feels they are being addressed. With filming, your audience is the camera. I did miss the energy from being in front of an audience. I had to learn to generate that within myself but that made for a different kind of intensity. It was more toned down but still had to be effective.

The other novel aspect for me was to think about setting. We’d agreed beforehand that we didn’t want to make films that were a montage of images with a voice-over. It was essential that we try to capture how I perform my poems. To this end we therefore had to think of how we set up the shots. The first film was relatively easy, Solace of Cupboards, as all we required was me sitting in a dark cupboard. But as we went along our ideas grew more elaborate and bolder, no mean feat considering we were working on a zero budget.
David Mark Williams

Come back on Friday for "The Devil's School of Motoring" and discover Mark as the driving instructor from hell...


Mavis said...

I am so impressed - by the photography - the words - the delivery of the poem and by Mark's very interesting comments about the experience. I look forward to more, and to joining Mark next week in Glasgow, Castle Douglas and Edinburgh.

Pat said...

He seemed at ease in front of the camera which is a great asset.
Great collaboration.

hope said...

I loved this one....looking forward to your newest collaborations. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Mavis - thanks for taking the time to comment. Tomorrow I'll be putting up the next video in the series :)

Pat - He's been putting up with me photographing him for years :)

Hope - watch this space :)

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