Exploring Sicario


As you know from a previous blog post, I’ve been taking part in an online course, Explore Film, with the NFTS / BFI on the Future Learn e-learning platform.

I did this predominantly to help inform my scriptwriting and to learn a bit about the physical aspects of filming – thinking of light, sound and music – particularly when editing anything together for the LitFest.

I didn’t realise how much I’d absorbed until watching Sicario last night, when the cinematography of Roger Deakins and the score by Johann Johannsson completely knocked me out. I feel like I’ve watched a film properly for the first time ever. It’s an awakening!

Tutors Jon Wardle, Pete Fraser and Tom Woodcock will be so proud. Although I’m completely ruined for watching films now. I’ll probably revisit lots of old favourites and spend the entire time picking holes in them …

While Deakins feels we should be too immersed in the film to notice his work (see video above) he can be assured that while entirely immersed, I nevertheless saw the beauty he created, particularly in the most memorable scene for me – and others, it seems – with the sunset silhouettes, as the task force headed for the hidden route to Mexico, then the switches from night vision to infrared giving an almost game like feel. Trust me, it’s 9m 22s out of your life you will not regret. And pay attention to the sound too – more on that in a minute.

From the opening scenes, where the slants of sunlight illuminated the characters one by one (reminding me of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, actually) through to Benicio Del Toro’s ruthless (yet still I was rooting for him) dispatch of the evil drug lord, I was aware of the editing that created the movie’s pace, the perfectly pitched lighting – particularly of Emily Blunt in radiant blue at the cowboy bar – and every sound: the dog barking, the door slams, the slightest muffled footstep – now knowing that these have been added in after (probably), and not just filmed ‘live’ which, having no experience of how a film is made (apart from the odd bit of sweding) I always assumed was quite natural (how good are these people?).

How have I never heard of Johann Johannsson? I listen to Classic FM, I know Hans Zimmer, John Barry, Howard Shore, Thomas Newman – I need to have a word, because in all my time listening to that station, I’ve never heard them play this Johann. And I even watched Trapped, for God’s sake, and thought how haunting the soundtrack was. To be fair, the credits ran into the hundreds of thousands, so little surprise I didn’t catch his name.

I mean, I don’t get out much and it’s only because of the LitFest working with the Rochester Film Society recently that I’ve seen 3 films in the last few weeks (that weren’t repeats of Bourne or RED) but still … *note to self*: email Andrew Collins with a suggestion.

Sicario’s incredible score doesn’t sound as though played by an orchestra, reminding me of Week 6, where we captured our own ‘found sounds’. With its thumping heart beat mimicking your own “like the throbbing heart of a beast charging at you” as Johannsson says himself, it creates a menace to match the brutality of the film. Read the interview that quote comes from here – it says everything I was thinking, and is perfectly captured in the clip above. I’m off to listen to The Theory of Everything.


Rochester LitFest exhibiting artist Fitzy selected for ‘Draw’

The very first artist to submit their work to the Rochester Literature Festival exhibition ‘Other Worlds, Other Voices’ has been selected to exhibit at a prestigious London event by the Society of Graphic Fine Art.

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Glenn ‘FITZY’ Fitzpatrick, an artist based in Canterbury, has been selected for DRAW 13, the 92nd Annual Open Exhibition of the Society of Graphic Fine Art (SGFA). The exhibition, which will run from 30th September to 12th October at the Menier Gallery in London, will be officially opened by Tim Lihoreau, Creative Director of the radio station Classic FM.

The SGFA is the only national art society dedicated exclusively to drawing. This year’s exhibition attracted submissions from artists across the UK and Europe. 219 works of art by both members and non-members made the final selection. Traditional and contemporary drawing techniques will be on display in a wide range media; from etching and aquatint to charcoal and sgraffito. The scale of the Menier Gallery gives scope to hang works in a range of sizes from the tiny 6 by 4 inch lino cut, to an oak panel with egg tempera and gilding at 65 inches tall. Society members will give free talks and demonstrations during the exhibition.

Fitzy, a Gulf War Veteran 1991, started drawing images on tanks, icons of identity and luck. After leaving the army he pursued an art career and finished art school with an M.A. in Fine Art (2001). Since then his choice of weapon is pen, a medium he can utilise with great intricacy, creating highly engaging artworks that command both distance and close proximity for viewing, allowing the voyeur to discover drawings within drawings which always reveals a different narrative to the first encounter.

The SGFA was established in 1919 to promote good drawing and draughtsmanship. An early President was Sir Frank Brangwyn. Past members include Dame Laura Knight, and both Ronald Searle and the painter-printmaker John Piper exhibited with the Society. Honorary members today include Royal Academician Professor Ken Howard OBE, the award-winning illustrator, Victor Ambrus, and Ronald Maddox, President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour. The Society’s members work in both traditional and contemporary styles, in all drawing and printmaking media. Membership elections are held twice each year, with applicants submitting a portfolio of their artwork. The Society organizes local and regional events throughout the year, culminating in an annual open exhibition in London.

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Society of Graphic Fine Art

Call out for an MA in Doing: Collaborative Research Group



CRATE are pleased to announce a call out for applicants for a Collaborative Research Group, an alternative education programme conceived of as an MA in Doing.

Collaborative Research Group will bring together a group of 6 regional arts practitioners (artists, curators, organisers, writers, researchers and thinkers) based in Kent who are interested in collaborative working and the pluralities of contemporary visual art practice (producing, curating, organising, writing, etc.). It is envisaged the researchers will already hold a qualification at degree level in a related subject, and have started to establish a practice post-University. This programme is proposed to be both an alternative and complimentary to post-graduate and research-based education, and places itself directly in the art-world and academia.

CRG will run from September 2013 until April 2015 and is generously funded by ICR European Regional Development Fund, Kent County Council and University of the Creative Arts.

Please refer to the website http://www.collaborativeresearchgroup.co.uk for further information about CRG and details for how to apply.