WRECKED WIP I

Having spent some time collecting various material, both primary-source landscape and interview from the Island and research around the wreckage, this project has lead to some unexpected thoughts around framing the narrative of this. The story around the sunken SS Richard Montgomery was always secondary, my interest in it initially sparked by the reaction to it by the nearby community. Stories of tidal waves engulfing the island, driving islanders to live in fear. Having spent some time thinking about this, it occurred to me this narrative, the narrative of misinformation, is so tied up in the socio-political make-up of the community – a community noted for nationalist views and all that come with that – that my very purpose for the project has acquired new importance since I began. It is representative of the faults I see in the global socio-political climate: of a status quo devoid of reason or fact, instead built on collective belief, thought steered by tabloid media warping facts in interests of the economic gain.

I was asked to pitch the project to the Guardian recently and wrote this summary of its contents; perhaps a useful starting point for the narrative:

In August 1944, American Liberty ship the SS Richard Montgomery ran aground in the Thames Estuary just north of the northern Kent Isle of Sheppey, breaking it’s back with 1,400 tonnes of explosives aboard. If these explosives were detonated, it would allegedly be the largest non-nuclear explosion in recorded history. They remain at the wreck- age to this day and continue to be a hazard to the surrounding area.

It’s three masts visible above the water’s surface at all tides, the wreckage leaves a lasting visual impression of the inhabitants of the nearby island since its sinking; convinced the explosives will one day create a wave that will engulf the island, an impending sense of doom hangs over the islanders like a sword of Damocles, permeating the very fabric of life in the community. Despite the grave-sounding nature of the projected danger, in reality, the wreckage poses no actual threat.

This film is about misinformation.

The footage I’ve captured so far consists of set-up shots of the island landscape and the decaying architectural relics of WWII that litter it, documentary footage of a journey to the wreckage, and interview footage with local shop assistants. I also have an archive of iPhone footage, the format and content of which might give a better sense of the residential locations.

My first thoughts of filmic structure are as follows:

  1. Open with long, coastal landscape shots that set the scene, paired with a droning score made from incidental sounds and a bleak, colour-drained grade that give a sense of the bleakness of the environment.
  2. A sharp cut to faster-paced footage of inhabitants of the island; opening with interview footage of a single person, perhaps whose voice continues to soundtrack iPhone footage of the town giving a sense of the space, and ending with a long string of back-to-back interviews explaining the story of the wreckage in the chinese-whispers-style way I first came across it.
  3. Cut to a journey to the wreckage itself, beginning in the muddy marina and ending at the wreckage itself with scratchy, shaky hand-held mini DV footage that abruptly cuts short.

I’m unsure where, if at all, to include actual factual information about the wreckage. My thought is as a final note, a reveal that pulls the curtain on the myth. The nature of a gallery screening, though, would mean this set up allows for viewers to enter the story at any part, and therefore learn the reveal before the word-of-mouth account. Perhaps a fitting format reflective of the subject?

A War on Beauty (Short Film Project)

I am going to attempt a condensed (1-minute) version of the documentary output of my final project. Using the vehicle of SORT, the zine I co-creative direct, and the existing structure, aesthetic, ideas and following that already exists around it, I will create a fictional cult narrative, presented in mockumentary form.

Presented as an extreme political group made up of young people from a range of backgrounds, the cult narrative will centre on a core belief in rejecting contemporary western ideals of beauty –seeing such ideals as contributing to a system interfering with society making real change and a structure used to maintain an oppressive status quo – and through it express shared ideas found in existential nihilism and similar philosophical theories and belief structures.

Structurally the organisation will have a horizontal or flat hierarchy, with all members viewed with equal importance but a core group of founding members acting as spokesmen, documenting and distributing literature and media about activities.

Visually, members will be seen to adopt clothing and grooming styles that might be deemed (by wider society) as ugly, distasteful, grotesque, provocative or conversely adopt extreme versions of beauty conventions as a means of questioning their purpose or highlighting their absurdity. These will be seen in waves with large numbers adopting the same styles, including: shaved heads, extremely long false nails, (with chains) proportionally extreme pairing (extremely high waists, exaggerated shoulders, etc.), seemingly nonsensical styling (e.g. socks over shoes), sexual, fetish and military attire, contact lenses, symbol tattoos, etc. There will be no differentiation of styling across genders; all styles are deemed gender neutral and appropriate for anyone who choses to adopt them.

Activities performed by the group (seen in the film) will including ceremonial shaving of the head, hedonistic sexual and drug-fuelled gatherings, flyering and ‘corner preaching’, and conversely burning of literature (represented here by SORT zine), and conversely proclamations of a wish for anarchy.

The cult will adopt, adapt and misapply symbols from a wealth of religious and political sources not limited to, but including, Paganism, Christian religion, Western esotericism, Nazi propaganda, and The Tarot.


[Board of references]

SORT Zine 2 Teasers