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Audiovisual Cultures episode 47 – Assunta Spina and the Badwills automated transcript


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hello I’m Paula Blair and this is audio-visual cultures support Casta explores aspects of an issues around cultural production I’m delighted to present quite a few guest speakers this week who were all involved in a special event at the Tyneside cinema centered around an early silent Italian film Assunta Spina accompanied by a live score by Italian folk band the bad whales the event included short documentaries made by women filmmakers and there’s an emphasis on reclaiming women’s from histories as Francesca Bertini had a large role in the production of Santa Sabina as well as starring in the title role in order of appearance you’re going to hear and Rochelle and I responding to you the whole event and then Rachael Pronger from the programming team at the hindsight cinema Juna Thompson from a kind of singing talking about commissioning the band to perform with the film a bit more chat and the aftermath of the event and then from Alistair Cole who is a researcher and filmmaker talking about being part of the band and making the music but also his research around language and film thanks so much to everybody who’s been engaging on social media and a big thanks to appear tree on members if you want to find out ways of supporting the podcast stick with me till the end and I’ll be back with some details and I really hope you enjoy the discussion

wonderful event the center of which was a colleague of your shoe gonna speak two years old and I’ve already recruited some thoughts fears this is gonna be an interesting one because normally I’m quite Connie about getting a quite linear saying that I can edit this one’s actually gonna be a patch-up job which I could normally avoid doing because that entails work it was even if you just recorded this an equipment linear fashion I just recorded the thing read just went to that would still be a patchwork anyway because we just saw a short film which was a mash-up of a 15 minute documentary about women protesters from the archives to BFI National Archive films one from 1941 to 1952 1953 an instrument southern Italian saber which made the experience of watching a silent narrative film really different from wonderful patchwork anyway one of the most important things for me was the band’s use of silence a couple of other people who regretted have said this and this is something that really struck me during the screening through a couple of moments in the film so the film is how would you describe it it’s a romantic drama put in intense drama there are moments of comedy here and there Alastor in his introduction to some said there’s two love triangles but really it’s a bit like a square I love square yeah but two triangles together the plot of it is remarkably simple there’s initially a situation of jealousy in a man about his lovers relationship with another man and then after the other man cuts the woman in the face yeah and goes to prison for doing that the woman gets with another man gets out early and then there’s a really record moment of yet again more jealousy about her relationship with another man and he kills the other man and that’s it there was a moment when it just suddenly ended and I thought the film just went and do that 1915 I thought I was being too hard to get up and go home something like two or three reels too early no the film it’s over by from work oh the rest your sales was the message there in those two pivotal moments of violence they may be at aftermath of the violence you know the music had reached a crescendo it became really frenetic especially after the murder of essences current lover Frederico Frederico by a former lover Michel a is that right I think it was mixture let me carry it sunny cooking Italian put Michael basically so Freddie and Michael have a great faith and Michael just hands Freddy’s asked to it yeah and then the music this sustains frenetic every single song we heard yeah cross the whole film we heard about 10 different songs they were existing songs Alistair referred to it being from an existing repertoire of southern Italian folk music every single song built and built and built and built and it got louder and louder more energetic and sometimes just actually faster and then there’d be this climactic moments followed by what seems to have impressed you more than me solids from me it amplified the seriousness of what it just happened both times so the first time it happened was when Mikael a heard struck us inter and then the second time was when he had just knifed Frederico it’s interpreted that he’s stabbed him with a purposes which is not easy I’m speaking as if I’ve done that now right imagine the physics of it would be but you just get this moment of gravity from the silence I mean I have I suppose a mild experience tinnitus so it really my ears were ringing it was painful the silence for me very early on in that I thought everyone’s playing into microphones everyone’s got their attached to an amplifier and those amplifiers are set properly oh yeah slightly painful but I did get used to it and I think it was important about it was that that achieve that yeah I need it to push over the edge especially at that end climactic part and then when music creeps and again and it crapped in at the start it was just the drums and they’re very particular types of drum I had a word with Alessandra who was the percussionist and as Alistair said when he did the introduction Alessandro was going to be his work was going to be all he can speak to it was gonna be percussion heavy music and there was that point where the scissor it it just happened in their climax and he sat down in that moment of silence and I could see him trying to slow his breathing yeah has he been standing up holding one of those drums in his hands and beating it so that it is exhausted and we’ve basically been dancing yeah he’s been sitting down for most of the performance and then as the music just suddenly and it was when Assunta and mikela were arguing is not right before he goes I’d and then in the streets stabs meets Federico in the street the instant he comes out of the house yeah the whole scene has been set up as Federico is on his way home he’ll be back in a minute Assunta knows this of you and knows this there’s cross-cutting to show that he’s leaving his work and he’s on his way home this is all very clear so he’s gonna be walking those doors at any minute so clearly our sons needs to say to me Shelly had to shack up with this guy I haven’t had any choice he’s on his way home and we know is gonna be in the door any minute so make Haley just runs out and the instant he goes out the door bumps into him fight in the street and back to a synthesis point of view and then Federico staggers into the room stabbed and Doris underfill well not quite because Assunta claims she did it but she finds a knife and hands it to the police he turn up and she claims that she did it there are problems I mean it’s 1915 it’s Italy there are problems in terms of domestic abuse domestic violence the reason why he’s been away as she shacked up with somebody else is because he violently struck her cuts and scars her fears he’s sealed for that basically instantly forgives him she instantly forgets him she actually lies in court and he gets shield anyway and then pains for him and the only reason he’s still in Naples is because Frederico who was the court Clark I’m trying hard core part yeah but in this world he does and you know she does a bit of a deal with the devil for me Kelly to stay and nipples rather than get shipped off to another part of Italy far away where she can’t visit him she does this and then she has to become Frederico lover and partner because there’s no real sense of anybody ever getting married in this place no it was just interesting and they don’t really ever know that’s going on waves Graciela is that right this is the first guy because it seems like he was a former lover that she spurns possibly in favor of Micheli and he still obsesses her he’s trying to see her he seems to get crush her birthday and Michelle Lake gets really jealous and that’s where he hits her in the first place I want to see the reworked version with race Mike and Fred duking it out it seemed all to be very fast and very frantic but of course the franticness that at least in part came from the music definitely yeah there was moments where I thought I’ve just spent the last 20 30 seconds or so not looking at the screen I’ve been looking or what the band is doing because the band of this is substantial amount of movement at the bottom of my visual field I’d better look back at what’s happening on the screen and nothing had changed so it seemed that if we’re watching that was completely different musical accompaniment we might well have been bored because there was really long seasons really really long takes I know they built tension in some cases but I spoke with Alessandro afterwards because I wanted to talk to him about whether he was in pain hey you think you wouldn’t beaten his hand to a problem and he showed me a callus on his thumb and he said that when they first saw the film they worked quite bored by it and they knew they needed to bring something very live into it and even the film easin even has a score so the print they showed it with is accompanied by of a musical score dude he didn’t say when that comes from but that it is suitable for the film but they wanted to do something that was much more intense more phonetic partially because and I’ve listened to a few of their performances because they’re on the YouTube and the bad rules listen to them and that’s the main characteristic is the repertoire they play is frenetic yeah all-night dance music which apparently is the plebeian popular culture form of southern Italy yeah where the film is set so although only appropriate in that sense and it may seem unorthodox when we’re used to hearing some films accompanied by one person on a piano and I’m gonna say it by one going on a piano usually have seen it was the woman doing it you have where in Belfast with Irish silent films there’s people who specialize in it and it’s American Irish seven films to be specific was it the okay no I think they were more obscure than that remember it was the day of my survivor so really and you’ve done a talk with Stephen horn who’s one of the Jackson Neil Brandon point a classic yes I think always always listen to it all from the beginning he’s bringing better even the saver mic because remember like I was gushing about him because he wasn’t always just playing the keys in piano sometimes he had the piano open when I was playing the strings of the piano so even that was really different and challenging one example of what he does is that if he wants to make the impression that it’s raining yeah they lean inside the piano will flick some of the higher known strings so sound like the clinking of rounds just so gorgeous

vanitas that sort of stuff for having a band yeah one thing that I did notice was there was never any choice never any moment where the bad roles went hey what we’ll do here as you create some sort of sound effect to simulate what’s happening in the story space there’s none of that several reasons for that but one is the mood they’re creating is substantial enough anyway and the mood they’re creating is not supposed to be anything like what it would be like to be physically present in the space the mood they’re creating is what it would be like to be a center what it’s like to have the subjective experience of the character when you do that thing when you try and create sound effects to simulate what it’s like to be in the space you lapsing into a different sort of sound well I suppose what you’re doing is you’re trying to use the things you usually use to create non-diegetic sound an incidental soundtrack using those tools to create diegetic sound say his footsteps on the floor for example or as they went know we’re gonna have none of that at all we’re just gonna hit you over the head with what it’s like to be in your centers skin it was trying to find her emotional landscape through the science cape if makes a better sense yeah there was a lot of turmoil and in parts there was some really beautifully romantic parts as hinting so reportedly talking about that earlier because that was just phenomenal because that vivid green I don’t think I’ve ever seen not before yeah I think grain tent but not like that and it was on this beautiful shot of a Center and Mackay Lake and a little rowboat against the sunset and it was just absolutely gorgeous and the music at that point was beautiful I just I was probably the most delicate yeah you know very romantic and beautiful just really pretty it was pretty and it was just trying to be pretty it was such a gorgeous image and the green really works I was talking that’s earlier in this reality but my encounters later in this podcast about how certain tints appear really commonly in films of this period because they they are by convention used to reflect daytime or afternoon ish and be because they’re cheaper than the others and so that green was probably quite effective because it was used really rarely across the film I gather it was one of the more expensive tints to use I suppose what we’re describing is on about six different levels that was an intense experience color just how loud the sound was the abnormality of having a full six person roughly ten instrument band playing at the same time the particular style of music they were using this was a lot more levels than you usually get yes but also is same with it Alistair did point out that that’s rare and that they’ve made a particular decision to use that member of the bad girls who seems almost always to sing when they’re playing even though having a voice as part of one’s music it implies you’re trying to dub an actor’s we’re gonna do this in part because it’s part of the culture tradition or drawing on witches from around the place with the thermos thing but also because it creates that mood which the special reflects what it’s like to be our main female protagonist and given that she was also the co-director of the film was appropriate but their singer was a woman and was but that was important so it was not just Italian but it was the dialect specific to the place I just know a few words in Italian and they picked up glittery things like I would like you know things along those same song begins with those words oh there it is again so it’s about self that should like them so overall we had a bit of a chat with the band afterwards and they’re from various different parts and Italy except for Tim who’s from Cornwall okay because Tim was playing the violin for some other time and that did stand out is being particularly attacked with some of the other band members in this and yeah that makes us a bit of a hybrid band because that sound is not particularly Italian also we were watching a print which as is quite normal silent films was not one that was released in Italy it was you know that all those drinks of the version released in Italy have not survived so that’s normal for its own folks so the one that has survived is from Portugal yes and the restorations had happened in Latin America yes it has been put together out of two separate prints and it seemed although we may have to check this that the entities and although they were also subtitled I mean there were boats that looked Italian but I think I just don’t know what Portuguese looks like very well but I know it’s different enough that I would say probably was I mean it said at the start that they were Portuguese and then we had the English translation that was quite a European medley River just an english subtitle set of Portuguese language yeah intertitles at the time as subtitles for an Italian produced film and they’re clearly speaking Italian then in the film I would love to do a project with lip readers to identify moments where nobody sitting there did you just go to your trailer I’m sick of your nonsense or something like that so how much you being paid for today because I think still the time still quite normal to pay people by the day yeah having a long-term contract a weekly salary do you think it’s the sort of thing where you do as much as you physically can in one day and they don’t they can’t fund or do you think they would have tried to meticulously planet what do you think the Italian film industry was one of the most well established film industries of the world at that time so we can expect them to have developed one of those factory production line systems in which you’ve got perhaps three units working on the film at any one time with this chanita oh we’re talking before even that’s not even a thing so having multiple units working on a film at any one time and having a production schedule for a film where you’ve mapped out how long it’s gonna take in advance and you’ve booked the people for specific scenes on set at specific date that is a rough norm across Europe and particularly in Italy but let’s also remember that this is continent at war at the time and also that some of that stuff not really applicable because as soon – Francesca Bertini she needed to be in almost every shot so the whole outfit had to kind of revolve around her anyway so you probably couldn’t have multiple units shooting at the same time maybe could have a second unit doing a few scenery shots and a few other shots where from the scenes where she’s not involved as very few things but it’s probably only a slightly more efficient version in fact okay we all get together and every day and we film whenever we can and if we get it done we’ll move to the next scene on the next day we’re talking here about a five reel film so what would have been called the feature film at the time but Italian films were inordinately long in this period in film history so that’s hardly unusual in Italian film production to have something that’s five reels long by 1915 I imagine they made this film a mess sleep adult if they would have been so practice that and as Alastair Pinto Francesca Bertini was a already a powerhouse in the industry versus an actress and a producer as well so I imagine this was knocked out in couple of weeks it was already completely normal for film companies to knock out a single real film in one week if they’d have done that with this film we’re talking five weeks to do the entire film well that’s just a tutor of course then there’s already technical work on editing and Tintin but we did also learn about there is a documentary about and just in which we need to note about really I had not even heard of her I know that’s the thing and it’s so exciting to witness part of the work of reviving and recovering these women’s histories a little bit about the John Grierson and his filmmaking sisters I had the great privilege of learning about Ruby and Marion grierson from another show nationally and he is another Scottish from researcher from the ding women film and television history number three I think conference about three years ago now so the first film that was shown Pavlos the ruby career syndrome i had actually seen before she’s meeting us I mean myself a nurse thing or two about they also said yeah so they also serve it’s a war propaganda film during the Second World War there were a lot of these homes some of my Master’s dissertation was by Humphrey Jennings and his war propaganda documentaries so they were quite a lot of filmmakers under Grierson’s gpo you know the general post office unit and we’re starting to learn from this recovery research that actually his sisters were hugely involved in this movement as well but of course have been erased from histories this one by Ruby Gerson was about a heist wife who was basically mum to her whole straight yeah of course it’s fictional but it’s the idea of stirring up the high fives and it’s actually drawing attention to the unseen work of the housewife and how important it is so there’s this very strong implication that her husband was a soldier and managed to survive the first world war I know he’s working night shifts and possibly a munitions factory but a factory of some sort so she’s caring for him her next-door neighbor is a young wife whose husband is a soldier in the currents for the Second World War and she’s doing a lot of looking after them then there’s her daughter is going out to work because this is a time where women finally are needed in the workplace so there’s this workforce that’s never been utilized before I suddenly being utilized and her daughter’s part of that then is it her son there’s a boy who’s been evacuated I think it is her son because it’s the next-door neighbor isn’t it so the husband he Adam this fishing rod is way off fine in the war so he has donated basically his fishing rods to their young son their young son has been lucky it is so they’ve sent it to him to wherever he is in the countryside somewhere I suppose that true free I mean device such a way into this family and it’s his wife organizing everything she’s doing the laundry for her next-door neighbor she’s preparing food for her because she’s out to work all day as well so she’s keeping everything running she is the unseen taking over of everything she is making sure everyone else’s life is bearable during this really difficult time we also watched Joel Craig used to be a woman both of these phones made intense efforts just share of just how much work women already are doing yeah these are women who were working from the moment they wake up until the moment they collapse finally giving it value importantly because the second term from the early 1950s of course post-war and it’s what do you do with these women who’ve become part of the workforce you know in fair fight for equal pay for equal work at this point already having been holding a country up for five six years and Joe Craig II pointed out will head narrator point out that the UK has already signed the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which includes equal pay for equal work that was a powerful picture still not I mean it’s 2019 and we still need to put this message out there that’s scary seventy years man I’m just an answer the rather not chronological character of this podcast these two films from the BFI National Archive so ruby grace and mice and forties they also serve and Joe Craig is from 1951 to be a woman those were both being presented to us as responses to listen to speak responses that we saw before we saw just been complimented it very well I’d like to actually seen them as responses but I think the team menu that we don’t be to absorb this interest many of us in our and the band are playing and then they news while everybody would want to talk to the band and you know so no I think it was in the right order

my name is Rachel broker I am a programmer at sensing cinema and I’m also the co-founder of a project called invisible women which I co-founded with Camilla buyer in 2017 invisible women is an archive activist project the whole idea of it is that we find exciting and interesting films that have been made by women from the film archive and we screen public audiences and we draw attention to the stories of the women behind the camera and also to the amazing work that does exist in our Moving Image archives and we also ask questions about gender and the archive and politics and why certain films get preserved and certain films don’t and why we know what we see and what it tells about sin a ministry so for the census being a project I chose two films that were kind of response to some of the ideas and themes that come through us in subpoena I was particularly interested in themes around women and labor and also women resistance the first film that I chose is called they also serve which is from 1940 and it’s a short propaganda film that celebrates the silent courage of women during the war the film is directed by Scottish filmmaker Ruby Grayson she’s a sister of a better known filmmaker called John Griffin John Christmas often referred to as the father of documentary and he’s seen as a pivotal figure in the development of the genre in the first half of 20th century but what I find really interesting about John Grierson and what myself and Camilla have really dug into you with with our visit women is that John have not one but two prolific filmmaking sisters Ruby is one of those sisters and the other is Marion Grayson who was also another fantastic filmmaker and write made some really interesting quite experimental documentaries in the 1930s both sisters were really prolific and there’s a lot of evidence that they also worked from credited and a lot of their brothers films as well Ruby in particular was credited after her death with pioneering some of the key documentary innovations that John is widely celebrated for but what is also really interesting is both Marion and Ruby stopped making films quite abruptly around 1940 Marion stopped because she got married and Ruby because she was killed by a torpedo well on her way to film in Canada and for years they’ve been kind of written out of film history and their films have been buried and forgotten well the kind of star of their brother John has only risen and he’s very much in every textbook so it’s really exciting to see their films screened for public audiences and to talk about why those films might even forgotten and why their careers were curtailed and the second film that we chose Oh such a subpoena is called to be a woman and it’s a short compelling documentary from 1951 directed by Jill cranky Craig he was also quite a prolific short filmmaker and in the 1930s in the nineteen forties and she worked as director and a screenwriter and she also made one feature film in her career blue sky which she made in 1949 which is a really empathetic and sensitive socialist drama set in a Welsh mining community which is really worth watching but like the Grace and sisters her career was also quite short to be a woman was the last film she made before quitting directing having become disillusioned by sexism in the industry there’s a really interesting sort of continuity there between Joe Craig anubian Marion and also Francesca Bertini who was uncredited as co-director on a subpoena for most of her likes and was only credited later on in the 1980s and I also think that their stories really resonated today because we still have a situation where lots of amazing female filmmakers have very short careers they have to stop making films at pivotal stages in their career and it really means that we’re losing a lot of incredible potential work so I was hoping that by sort of presenting their stories the stories of these filmmakers we can kind of talk about what the history women in cinema is why it is I think is and why the canon as relatively limited as it is and kind of maybe start addressing those issues that still exist in the present-day film industry as well I’m the founder and curator of a kind of seeing which is all about showing archived films all over Scotland in the UK as well archive and silent film it’s really connecting audiences with place and with some themes that were all gonna be thinking about today as well so there’s quite a long journey to get to here in Newcastle that you’ve been on with the since SP no we take to give us a brief background I’m not sure so it must have been probably roundabout 2010 when I first found out about these films that are made by silent divas in the early Italian cinema and those seven divas is very much a modern phrase for the better these actresses and filmmakers who were really leading the industry and I found them when I was working on the Hippodrome silent film festival as a producer for that and Boris in Scotland they didn’t quite happen at that time as so what happens I really wanted the authentic Italian female voice and I hadn’t really found a musician to go with that and then I met the bad rules our party actually always starts at the party and yeah met Al and then he said well Elena is a singer in the band that was saying we could make something I could maybe give us into a voice and that was perfect and so then in about 2017 the end of 2017 I have approached the Glasgow Film Festival and said as soon as a bigot are you community in class how would you be interested in commissioning this score and they were up for it which is incredible and it was gonna happen at the festival in the March 2018 last year but a beast from the east came in and weather yeah and then we did that me in Glasgow and also an Edinburgh as well and then we go with money from film up Scotland and then ers for music Foundation and also the film up north British Film Institute’s changing times funds and so we finally went on to November last year 2018 and sorry it’s gig later so it’s great after we’ve made this far so you’ve done quite a good sure Ryan Scotland mostly and then the north of england i with the newcastle leg you know and you just managed to take it to the island since that limit i think is really important yeah I mean in Orkney there is a really close connection with Italy as well there’s the Italian Chapel on the islands there and I think people have a connection there we did as well as this show in there we did obviously the screening of the film with the band playing live but also there was new music it was around International Women’s Day so there was actually some new writing by local writers as well that sort of connection I do a lot of work on islands in Scotland and I think a lot of those islands are looking over its in terms of international a lot of live there they’re maybe not from originally and that’s very much embraced in the islands as well so it’s really such a it’s almost like going home sometimes we do a show and like working at the west side sediment strongness the guys they’re incredible and the audience comes and loved it and they loved it dancing as well who showed the film with the band playing live and then there was dancing afterwards and they loved a raffle – there was a Haiti trip for the band oh no the travel was a bit surfers weather in the morning of that day so it was a very quick turnaround big shot a source and engineer Perry Jackson’s star and the screening tonight Bari got already special mention please no mercy the whole time and I was here tonight the sign design of it is really incredible because it’s not just that the instruments are there it’s the way they’re being amplified and the way they’re being used in the space and what gets focused at any time and whatever is happening with Alana’s voice at any time as well yeah just has more of an emotional punch you know so they have searched definitely some engineering going on there absolutely and it’s about the different spaces you completely right we’ve done it in cinemas that are beautifully padded sales office because that’s what they’re meant to do for their Elaine Oh Dolby surround sound systems it is it’s very compared to soar like Strom net stone Hall which is like a big echo chamber basically so that the minister could give a sermon and then you’ve got life art sensory Keith mass which is very much a theatre space it’s a beautiful space in life as well yeah it’s been quite challenge I think a challenge for Barry to see brilliant sound engineer it’s been great knowing that the Sabine is really important for me as a producer like this is that I don’t pretend to know how to do sound as well the technical side of things to sort of work with teams and sound engineer is rolling tambourines are really difficult to amplify and Barry knows stuff as he knows the band it was slick yeah I am NOT a signed expert but it with proper slack there were times when I was getting distracted by just watching the bands and all of them I’m not an old wait I should probably be Watson Feldman’s is listen to them but just what they were all doing together was really incredible yeah sometimes you forget that there’s somebody in the room playing yeah and I always think it’s a moment when just after the big climax at the end to all go silent and the film carries on I love these assignments that the bands have but also saw tonight was the first time I’d seen it that malice and in replace integrity is constantly beating out the rhythm he’s finished in six days just like you can see him physically making it just like the exertions that it’s

he was really the beating heart of it and I thought when it really climaxes towards the end there’s just a crescendo of things happening and he is really driving that you know it’s getting dying for most of the performance and then he stands up and it’s frenetic you know it you can feel the energy he’s putting into the drum thank you so much thanks so much thanks for coming along as well the audience this year so each of them has a codified meaning so if it’s that light brown that’s afternoon if it’s green that’s out in the country if it’s blue that’s in the evening you know really basic stuff like that and what you do is there’s quite a factory process to the entire thickness you create an intermediate positive as distinct from an inter positive but an intermediate positive where you’ve got the film cut on two reels where all of the shots are arranged on reel which is going to be dyed that particular color so you you print your positives then you get them tinted and then you recut it again into your finished version I had a journal which is all about this kind of nerdy business and somebody didn’t article for it recently where they analyzed how a German film studio did it and the whole idea of putting a cut together and then making copies of it and then tinting that cut it’s completely impractical so what you have to do is you have to decide what your cuts going to be then create a cut which is that real is all of this color that reels all of this color that was always come so you make a cut which is completely out of order and then you recut the entire thing for every single positive print of the entire film having done the tinting so it’s quite labor-intensive to create the color version but you can charge more for it as well there were scraps of indications of that because the intertitles had those numbers on those were clearly about okay personally right now has to cut the tinted version into the positive get it into the right order leaders of each of those shots to correspond with was going to come after it I always forget about four years across Europe where somebody just went hey we can use these colors clearly blue is evening right yes believe me he’s moving and everyone just seemed to go yeah okay blues even so yeah after every year that that wobbles that becomes the convention and then expense creates a bit of pressure cuz some of the dyes are more expensive than other dyes so we saw very little green I think that that was one of the more expensive dyes

even though we used to

maybe the crew just flooded the street because I was the only one so many other scenes were actually also seem to have in mind the importance of her public profile because she very rarely had her face turned away from other people looking at her just looking particularly when she’s trying to flee with them Michaela go kill Federico there’s lots of her not actually looking at this bleeding she’s just talking four words burned on the retina of her extremely pale face that’s because she

people referred to things were films vocabulary cinematic actor they wanted to they recognized that it was different from a stage acting so determining what is it’s a bit different from stage acting was proposing of course not posing in the sense that someone’s going to take a photograph so you have to stay still or you’re below the photo book posing in the sense of impersonating someone and for about five or six years that was basically the standard term for film acting

that’s going on

my name’s Alistair Coulomb picture and film practice at Newcastle University I’m a documentary filmmaker and a part-time musician in an academic sort of filmmaking scholar a practice based research if you want and now I’m part of a unit here at Newcastle University will film a culture lab and we’ve got a couple of undergraduate programmes and Steve’s and post grads but really what we’re about is you know exploring the world through documentary filmmaking through knowledge and filmmaking and engaging with cultural studies anthropology Media Studies were housed with the media culture and heritage so we sort of fun bring those links together and really look at practice and specifically film practice and nonfiction practice well maybe come on to your research and your practices research in a moment maybe we can just virtually reflect on how you feel about how your event last night one with the bad whales doesn’t this mean oh yes I mean it was fun it was a project a live school project that we have been working on for almost a couple of years now and this is the last stop in a tour that will be had all around Scotland were you this is just at eight shows on a tour and it’s been quite a big undertaking it’s been a really interesting process as a musician and brought up as a researcher and as a film scholar as well to take a film and to take a commission that was the original project was a commission to write a new score for this film and that was given by the Glasgow Film Festival in 2016 no story 2000 99 2017 there must have been we took that and the the first performance is then and then we took it and repackaged and work with a woman Shona Thompson who is of a kind of singing she was involved in the original commission as well and the idea behind that was really to explore traditional music and additional southern Italian folk music which we played anyway is musicians it’s what we’ve been doing for ten years to see how that might work as a soundtrack it’s done well I mean at last night this is the first show with a sheet n in England not there’s a great difference in audiences between Newcastle and in Scotland but I think we we have a public and Scotland that come to my shows that’s nice so this was interesting because it was also the music itself was finished a lot of people’s ears it wasn’t um you know no and through from the audience so that was quite fun than to be out introduced this genre of music and what we do a little bit to a new audience is nice and yeah we’ve got positive reactions beautiful cinema to play and as a musician it’s great to play in cinemas because they sound amazing the actual the deepness of the sound is great and you have a seated audience they’re not drunk and dancing and they actually just need to use us it’s quite nice just kind of rare for what we do I was it because normally with your bands you were all saying last night you normally played your dance halls and people are dancing and clubs and things and I was the processing of writing music for something as specific as a silent film I mean it was huge it was part of the decision to even do it was that we kind of wanted another challenge and for a long time we you know we’ve been running a successful world music night and in edinburgh we’ve been playing first of all we’re doing bands do but i think a lot of bands would take this opportunity like this because it’s musical it’s creative but it’s really different and it’s a different process of thinking about it so i think for me i was backing to a minnesota took me to we but on the project’s not musically but also just to get us in the frame of mind of how we were going to do it and we had to approach the film specifically with what the film was about and we made a very conscious decision when we started scoring or we sat down and watched it all together we sort of talked a lot about the film and something didn’t like the film some people did like the film and we’ve now seen it probably any time so we’ve learned to love it but it was also the role of the soundtrack in there what was that gonna do what was the actual nature of this and we were given a very open slate by the Glasgow Film Festival and show no and I always said it was what we wanted to do was you to try and fit this traditional repertoire and we had to write a lot of pieces to make but it was more than perspective that was interesting and we had to decide as a man at the start what we wanted to do and we sort of somewhat collectively decided that it was about getting inside the hunters head and we were gonna be here voice we were gonna be here so it’s quite a complex film anyway and there’s a lot of different understanding people types where there’s a lot of different readings of that film depending on who the audience is and it has been historically as well and elderly as well people read it very different ways so we were partly to give the voice because we were going to use some traditional songs as well we wanted it to be her voice and we wanted to be her heartbeat and here we were going to be inside her brain and we had to go run with her as much as we could to the film which is a good restriction because suddenly you then you’re kind of restricting and what you’re doing and how you’re doing the score otherwise you can really follow the film itself and you can imitate the film like it may be a score but normally or you can be a soundtrack and actually do the sounds of the film if you want but we consciously stayed away from there and just tried to get into Assunta and you were innocent through hopefully four nights 70 minutes and that was the idea like it all of it was the idea for us could ask his well about their decision to use silence because that was something that had a big impact on me especially watching it there’s these two moments in the film that are crucial and something quite massive happens and the impact of the music suddenly you know very abruptly just stopping for a moment and it’s quite an unusual you know I think a lot of sign tracks don’t necessarily value silence enough yeah I think it was we sort of were feeling our way through this a lot and we talked a lot about them we wanted to do that we didn’t always know when and we knew that was easy this kind of two dramatic moments I think we just felt right and it was also about how you as what’s before and after the silent as well and both livid very intense pieces of music for them and then to re-enter or so again that’s sort of where we thought Assunta was at that point as well those moments of silence were sort of like when everything went black for her in some ways as well you know and everything had collapsed around her and that was a bit you know like nothing good sound designers do it as well and in a way like a penance they put you inside the head of someone or good cinematographer as well and so while we did it with music it relates back to their respective thing I think him it was conscious and I think it gets exasperated when you suddenly have six musicians bashing away your eardrums for 20 minutes and they suddenly stop and they like god that’s right there’s the room sound going on here but it was repeating we total up with this I mean there’s been some instances where it has to be really silent and there’s been the odd audiences that have kind of laughed because it’s a very you know it’s a classic silent film with is a lot of overacting to explain things and some audiences thought it’s hysterical and I would just laugh at this and it kind of screws it all that but in a way that’s like like I said people take different ways but we had this incredible show in Edinburgh you know a really grateful house there’s a scene where like in the middle of film we’re at Sony brew dramatic happens and explain it cuz I son just wounded and rushed in and everything drops silently but at their moment in the outside of the venue there’s a siren a police siren we passed and it was the most perfectly time siren you could imagine because it was the police would have been arriving at that time like it was hysterical and everyone burst into laughter it was still he was struggling to play because it was but then you kind of have to keep going because they re in truth needs to be really dramatic but you also lose the audience if you don’t have this island tour in the bang-on so last night was nice because it was a cinema and it was closed when you’re at some of the venues who played it and there is outside noise there silencers need to be silent or they’re not as opposed to the laughter or Strayed police sirens really straight off just ask about yourself what’s your dual life like as an academic filmmaker and then a musician as well and how do they do they flow into each other I mean my life is a documentary mic it kind of came from music a little bit I studied music and my undergrad I was playing and I studied a lot of ethnomusicology and from there ended up in dead kind of decided that I would keep music on the side keep playing but from Anthropologie was always he’s working in films and working sounded films originally because I knew enough about my ex that I can do it on their own I was fascinated by the documentary world and really came at Anthropologie through via thermal musicology and working sound and films and then started making my own films so they’ve always kind of lived in parallel since then but then this opportunity for this project came up and it was it’s actually the context of Newcastle University squad interesting the way of a school of arts and culture that within there is music film and heritage as well in this project it suddenly fell into all three of these cases which is rare especially for you know I like to cross three areas you might get the odd soundtrack project and film but this one was a genuine piece of you know like an opportunity to explore the minute and it to be fear it’s a bit off piste for me in some ways for what I do I’d normally would make my own films I explore a lot around language subjects around within linguistic anthropology but exploring them through film and I write a lot about subtitling and translation so that’s kind of been my main area but this was an opportunity to something else out to also explore practice-based research through performance because it was a live project we’re going to record at and we’re going the studio next month to record it but actually the perogative was always this live experience and it was about live cinema and the impact there and the audience response of that and playing it live so well I don’t know what we’ll do with the recording but it’s these live with these 10 or 15 shows order we’ve done other kind of hard on the practice if you want and we have a written score for them for our thing but it’s really about these performances and that gives you a bit more to grab onto I think when you’re reflecting on it and so yeah my practice itself is broadening which is nice and the research kind of I mentioned about the film the kind of goals but the researchers is very much about exploring the capacity of the traditional repertoire I am thalipeeth secured to be as neutral to work in surgery my visit but there’s a filmmaker at work the room closes a lot but I have actually scored my own films in the past as well with some of the musicians here but I’ve worked with composers and you know like normally you have a remit and it’s very much from scratch you’ve got a blank canvas for a composer but it’s not actually what we wanted to do we wanted to see if they were below clear this was a very true this was a film that had its roots and traditional Neapolitan opera and traditional Neapolitan music anyway the story of spinner is in some ways quite traditional in that cutting over face that happens is unfortunately a you know very sit with a Neapolitan culture installed today you can go to Napoli and you can see especially older ladies with cigars and we’ve had Neapolitans come to the performances and be in tears also because of their because we extracted a little the music but also the film does really relate to life there so we thought it was quite no an important thing to not just go with the blank canvas and to relate this to the music the riveter that we knew well but we also wanted to explore more it worked and i think there’s been some great soundtrack projects out of scotland and like if you think of like scotland with love which was done back in korea so sit in the front condition but original music he took bits and pieces but really to restrict us to say this is we’re gonna just use this repertoire we’re gonna dig and they can take us behind the songs at work we’re gonna rearrange them and twist them and push them and prod them and every which way we can to make it work was fun then the men that became a collective research project about digging through the archive digging through traditional songs as well and going and just sitting finding old records and recordings and singing Eleanor is any she had studied a lot with you Vanna Marini who’s a quite an amazing singer in Rome and the music school took lead to start and she’s a collector as well a song collector you know they have these amazing corpses of books and songs that have been collected in villages and once you can start cracking over those repositories of music you can really find links musically but also opted of the words and the themes of the songs that were the air so there was often songs there and that soundtrack that the themes of the songs even if we weren’t singing them that were chosen because of the nature of that traditional song had a relation to what was going on for a century at the time and his very few people that could watch that performance there’s a couple there last night which was nice Sicilian in the ippolit and speakers and they know the songs and they also know why we chose him and they understood the words in relation and it was nice but it’s very few and far between anyone can be in an audience and understand the words but that’s fine for a lot of people was nice they don’t understand they get a sense of the drama through it but there is a very strong link between them and so it became this great research project for a whole winter basically we did that and I got to hear dig through a lot of our cards running these pieces and set with the guys and set keep working piece by piece and section by section and going through it until we had something that we thought worked so it was research on their level and then to reflect on this ability of a female work was on a silent film which is taking a lot of initiative but rocket of like it’s not really right to give your voice is it your trash to the soundtrack you know we can do it because we’ve got a blank slate for this project but the normal composer wouldn’t do that you know not in the middle of a film a normal filmmaker probably wouldn’t give the composer the chance to do it so we were taking a lot of liberties I think but we always thought as long as we stayed with the Sunter and stayed in their head in the words we were using because we wouldn’t rewriting the words we were taking them from traditional songs we were taking soon reverses all the technical minds and it’s having specific ones that fit it then it was about relating it back to this bigger culture of southern Italian folk music folk cinema folk storytelling in this wider cultural document that is the film and to link it all together so yeah a lot of that is just interesting and funded there was a research you know and I think hopefully we can have this recording and people can look at it as a bit of an example that it it did work I think we got great feedback and we think that the moments of the voice to add something to that from new contemporary audience or an audience that would never have seen that film otherwise it would never have seen nineteen fifty Napoli and when the heard of Francesca Bertini and that’s also the beautiful other thing about this project is that it explores this invisible history of these amazing female filmmakers and actresses and producers and they were rock stars you know they were absolute stars really and Francesca patina up to the 80s and 90s was written out of these credits but it is even more value to doing all this and it even more value to taking the position of Venus and Asada’s here in pushing her stories of protagonist and the film story I’m just thinking maybe the liveness of the project is very integral to it but do you ever think there’d be an opportunity to do a recording for a DVD release we would I mean so we’re doing it we’re gonna do a stupid it’s at this stage we’re doing it because we as a band want to make sure we do it we’ve got live recordings of it we’ve got a couple of very good live recordings from a couple of the shows that we have fully tracked out and we can mix them that we did those live recordings thinking we could pull off something that would capture the lightness of things but then me and we listen to them whenever we should get it a good recording the interesting thing is if you could then listen to the soundtrack without the film which you know if you produce it as a band where there’ll be you saw we think it would be interesting listening for someone but to be able to release it with that version of the film Oh chilly tickety B’Elanna who restored the film who are amazing organization and their DVD releases from the early 90s there has a soundtrack that they commissioned then so that’s 20 years old they know about this project as far as we know no one’s done a school for this film there’s been two or three schools done so you’re more potentially I don’t know have touched on Tanzania Napolitano which is another genre of Neapolitan song but more modern and not really what we’re doing but this as far as engaging with somebody after the in talent talent Pete Seeger we don’t know it’s done so it would be an original release and that since and we would love people to see it we would love people to be able to watch it whether it has the same effect I’ve no idea

this phenomena I don’t think I would ever quite the same effect because you’re in a cinema you’ve got to be you know and with silent film anyway you need to be quite focused yeah you don’t we used to a world of film and cinema repair you know animal sounds and transformers rushing any screens you know like how can you I mean there’s a hundred and five years ago it’s a different way of doing so you need to be quite focused so you would need to a big word I then watch it we would hope that if we didn’t release it or did we something would have been the score itself would attract people to have a go at watching the film at home we would love to keep performing and a thing but it’s hard logistically we’ve had some offers from Italy to go and play there so we that it’d be nice if it happens and potentially a few more shows in England but at this stage that’s the end of the tour and it’s there it’s written we can get us off together and play again but the next stage is to test the waters of on recording and and see it’s any as you said see if it does stand up I mean if you could release it online the films out there and the wider world anyway because it’s out of copyright I believe so it’s feasible that we could even put it out there I think I actually don’t know do you think you could have your recording and people be able to synchronize it at they sir I mean you could yeah there’s something you do I mean you can potentially get permission to do it you know yeah a lot of these things that a certain date they become valuable for an organization the attorney ticker or US or to release this is actually the other interest thing about doing it as an academic project you know we obviously get performed fees in the band get looked after and we’ve been really lucky with be if I had a firm hand but this isn’t a commercial project and there since we’ve all got other jobs and things and it means that you can produce a sort of thing in a negative context you know produce a cultural document and not have the commercial imperative to make money on it and some it means potentially it can get out there and be used and be seen without the need to someone to be earning off it so be nice that’s a bit of watch of the space I think over the next few months hopefully but September we’ll know we’ll have it recorded and mastered and better put it out there and it would be lovely for a especially I think for people to see it and to get feedback because it’s such a great conversation for us to have both have the film scholars with other filmmakers with other musicians with other folk musicians but really with southern Italians from any corner they speak the dialect that know their history their well probably a lot of them haven’t seen us under subpoena because it’s been disappeared for 80 years and maybe they know the kind of story it’s engaging with but for them to see it and then to just tell us what they thought of the decisions we made you know because we had to make very specific decisions around the songs we chose to interpret good or bad you know like it’s these are great conversations to have with people about what worked and what didn’t do you think it’s something you and the bands would ever do again succour another film and you do something like that with it or you have you met that challenge and you’re gonna move on there’s something else I think we would be fun to hook him because you would be a lot faster at thinking this because we didn’t know I mean I think part of it was a challenge and we genuinely didn’t know where to start there’s a lot of bands that have done this and there’s a great Bank wouldn’t Mauritius bagel in Scotland is it a beautiful document you consult with Atlanta and they really said a few years ago and we head over to a few they’ve about the process of it but you’ve got to figure it out yourself as a band of how you even start mapping that out the 70 minute piece of music would have all that you need to be able to play on cues of the films we were looking at used for the film when the dawn came on-screen and we knew what we had to do next we the screen in front of us will reclaim and that took ages to figure out us as the band how we were gonna do that and you know we probably it’s been an extra two months doing at this time just figuring out the process of that for us in the how it works but yeah I wouldn’t mind doing anything because I think it would be a lot I’ll back to the documentary because I think there’s a different role for music sometimes in documentary and it’s obviously my territory as a filmmaker but I also like working with composers for my own films because you to caught up as a filmmaker and other things and the conversations you have so to do it to existing archive projects we may look at then I maybe I talk to Shona don’t send us and if not yeah the band we could do other things yeah probably a year I think in the future at some point it’s also a good one because your families you can bring kids to the cinema to watch these things you know you can’t bring kids to a dancehall at midnight that helps I’m just wondering as a documentarian and for so many examples of early cinema there’s so much unplanned there’s so much contingency in an early film honestly one of the reasons why got really into it I mean I remember talking to Andrew childish I was here Newcastle about this film when we first got the opportunity and I was like do you know anything about Deva cinema and 19 teens in lead it’s like you kind of let’s talk and he gave me a brief rundown and I you know it really wasn’t my territory but as soon as I saw it and I suddenly did a bit of research and started looking in the background and realizing it was this precursor to neo-realism or and they were standing on the street with cameras watching it then the documentary value has been credible and it really does act as a scene and they’re cleaning up but the background is spontaneous half the time people are just walking around and they’re so then you have this amazing window and what any good documentary does it provides you a window into a world in that film is a piece of a crime as there as absolutely as valuable as any documentary at that time and I think that’s part of the attraction of the whole project was that once I sort of got my head round a few things about the film and how and why it was made and what it did and even its role I think as a documentary filmmaker was interested in our films why I’m interested in our films received at the impact of him timeless was a big film you know some spin it was a mess of box office success and Italy and and at the time it made Franchesca pertaining one of the highest-paid Boethius people in cinema in 1915 but they don’t got forgotten pretty quickly after that that cultural significance of it it’s been remade in Italy in the seventies I think and so it’s got a place with an especially a Napoli in Italy Italian cinema history as a story and think that side of it as well as the great Explorer unticking involved with them it’s always about in some ways for me and what we’re doing the relationships with today in the society and the real if you want and you can find that in a lot of places you can find them in any cinema if you want to go down that path you know the cultural significance of a piece of cinema is still super fascinating do you want to say anything about your research more generally and your films more generally yeah it’s interesting to think about the links of this and also the language like I’ve always been really interested in language and linguistic anthropology and that was as much the country in musicology into anthropology I particularly started to explore them subjects around linguistic anthropology and language and society and this project like I mentioned was about reversing giving voice in this role of female voice I mean it was a fairly tangential but it does link to my other work my previous film feature film which is out now school colors of the alphabet and that was a observational documentary film shot in Africa over the course of a year we were exploring mother tongue education but there was a sense that it was about silencing a voice as well and silencing a language and I write a lot about there my research and about the ideologies around language choice and the ideologies tied up with the multilingualism in the film’s explore there but through the lives of three grade one students going to the first year at school maybe more in reflection I see the lengths of these interests and it is like any academic you go down past that interest you but their work and my previous work you know it has a specific impact we released the film colors they offered me last year and languages across Africa and there was part of a ESRC impact project that we translated the film alongside over this tribute Accord every Doc’s who have a broadcast channel across America but because the film was about language into our multilingualism we wanted the film to also function in a way that was reaching linguistic communities but also saying listen media can be produced in indigenous languages we were making an argument in the film about the importance of indigenous language education let’s make the film function for that as well we rolled this project and involved training 50 indigenous African language speakers from across Africa yeah we had trained them in translation and subtitling skills and we created a workshop and gave them the job when they completed the qualification and they was a paid job to work on the film and there became the first critter and as a result of that we’re launching an African film translation Network the translators from their project that forming the basis of but it’s a place that filmmakers can go to they’re releasing a film across Africa and find ways to get your film in to you and Yong Zhao and Devine burro and Shana and languages that are spoken by millions of people in them and so this is a big language is this why helium and Zulu and these languages people know but actually millions about the can that we hit for the 30 languages we did covered 418 million speakers and there’s a massive distribution network online now on phones you know this is why I fight out there you know there’s a lot of ways people can consume media in Washington and be available in their language and you know we did it out of the 30 languages we did YouTube had capacity for eight of them at the moment and they wouldn’t gonna bunched and resting ly we had to hard-code them and for a release that was done a lot it was locked down Derek it was free across all of Africa but we had to hard-code in subtitles in because they were options so there was even a point where we were advertising in these languages and we were getting blocked from advertising because they didn’t believe it was language areia until you ever I mean this is the point where you’ve got you know people are really cut out of in world but the language communities over there we’ve did a big social media campaign on Facebook and we managed to tap into a lot of these communities and obviously the comments and everything was going wild and in Shona and pull out something and language I have no idea what’s going on by it great people working with us that could respond and engage and it is tough for this language communities but I think is a real Anglophone of it’s happened with media and I think film has it brought a play in there and why not work to be also pragmatically as a producer if you want people to see your work then get it and languages and produce multilingual versions and look outside of Europe and realize there’s 500 million speakers of way more than that across Africa sorry and there were just the languages we chose so that’s been great that’s launching next month and it’s a continuation of exploring these themes of language and translation and exploring ways of getting films my own film in this case but also in the future other people’s films can get in front of audiences that’s the idea that’s the idea of the network so there’s the website subtitling effort of all it’ll go live next month we’re advertising it in the film industry and the documentary industry is specifically but across the board is these people we train make them do the job you’ve kind of got no excuse in a way all your kind of matter if you don’t as a distributor or producer especially an independent producer if you could find funding for her and it’s about accessibility which a big key words for these funders but credit to the funders they wore actually being a bit of support accessibility and be a blind or incitive audiences or multilingual audiences but it’s often you know we’re subtitling and a lot of these things often comes down to the producers the film’s to do it it’s the capacity out there and so hopefully this project will provide a bit of a bridge there that there are some value in it and commercially that someone gets viewers and they can reach new audiences or um for accessibility reasons they can get their projects and to language communities feels like a quite a powerful resistance actually to angle census ISM which is at a very interesting time for that the reality is the massive change in online distribution and these things have opened this after some reality it’s not impossible anymore and there’s no reason and it has helped me this is the thing that’s happening on a lot of mediums we work with a great organization called Amara who have built a really brilliant subtitling platform you know they have these incredible communities of subtitlers across and the very few and efforts still but across other parts of the world that are doing all the TED talks they’re doing although you know the content on YouTube is there some films but not but they’re producing them for the human reason they’ve engaged in subtitling but there’s also the question around quality assurances are making shorts done well as well it’s not just the thing at the end of a production line that you know I should off to some student that talks to languages it’s about recognizing translation for film and subtitling is a very specific art that needs to be trained it’s very difficult and as much as poetry translation is damn hard subtitling is as well and to do a write and media is full of they love stories about when people make big mistakes and films but that’s because it’s tough you know and they call it the naked profession and translation because we very exposed the subtitle that we know if anyone speaks the two languages that are on screen they can call that a subtitle for this the decisions or mistakes if you want they made but it’s very easy to do because if you’re not well-trained and if you’re not you know engaging it as a profession and being paid as a professional and been supported so it’s two sides of it it’s yes using the technology that’s there and you’re skating it but doing a well and making sure people are aware and embracing it as an art form it’s not just has been two languages that make this happen so it’s an interesting time it opens up to things like audio description which is again really interesting that’s starting to happen a lot more with film releases and finding mechanisms to have people that need audio description or subtitles to view whenever they want wherever they want not just in the cinema at 10 o’clock on a Monday morning or something you know I like to find opportunities and it’s the exhibitors and things to figure this out as well but technology’s there people are there very soona shouldn’t be a conversation we keep happening about more and more inclusion should get included all you’ve been listening to audio-visual culture with me Paula Blair and huge thanks to Andrey she’ll rachel Pronger Shona Thompson and Alastair cold this episode was recorded and edited by Paula Blair and the music is common grind by air tone licensed under creative commons attribution 3.0 if you like the show please help cover production and distribution costs by donating to paypal taught me /pe a and libera PACOM /pe I Blair please read share and subscribe on your chosen listening platform as this helps others find the show for more information visit audio-visual cultures dot wordpress calm and follow AV cultures on Twitter and Facebook we’ve also got an email address which is audio-visual cultures at gmail.com thanks for listening and catch you next time