I've made two short films with fellow artist Lois Norman, and thanks to her entering them into film festivals worldwide, we keep on winning things! Before you ask, I'm afraid you can't watch them online yet as they are still doing the festival circuit.
The first film we worked on together was Swivel, a gender fluid dance film, for which I did the sound design. It's won numerous awards for all sorts of things, most recently crediting me with Best Sound Design at the New York Movie Awards!
The second is a film that sprung from a group project I facilitated during the second UK lockdown, shortly after Lois's father died. She had written a spoken word piece for his funeral, and I created some black and white imagery to illustrate her words that won me the Best Visual Effects award, as well as two others for Best At Home Covid 19, and Best Narrator for Lois. Gosh!
After learning about how trees communicate with each other in the book 'The Hidden Life of Trees', nurseryman Philip Nieuwoudt was inspired to plant a little oak woodland on a corner of his land in South Devon, so that the trees could talk to each other. As a creative person who spends his days growing multi-stem ornamental trees for landscape designers, Philip decided to plant his oaks in a spiral, so that hundreds of years from now, they might be seen from above and wondered at by anyone flying past... It's also an example of a healthy seven-year-old woodland in a meadow rich with unexpected biodiversity.
Thanks to Philip Nieuwoudt at New Wood Trees: www.newwoodtrees.co.uk
In this film, we visit the Morton family – Andy, Jane, and five-year-old Thomas – to ask how they use the woodland and what each of them loves most about being in their woods. With plenty of imagination and hard work, they've used the space and its abundant natural resources to create opportunities for a range of activities with different groups of people: building beautiful structures, shelters and a private family cabin for overnight stays; as a resource for forest school activities and running craft courses; using wood, water and clay from the land; being with friends and meeting other young families, and as a special place where they can simply be together, with everything they need to be comfortable away from home. What would you do with a woodland of your own? A film for Woodlands TV by Jemma Cholawo at Sallerton Wood. www.sallertonwood.org.uk
Growing a Woodland: Ten Years In
Pam Macdonald introduces us to her now ten-year-old woodland at Higher Druid Wood on the edge of Dartmoor, showcasing the different species and reasons for growing, including carbon capture, climate resilience, creating a wildlife corridor, increased biodiversity, soil replenishment, and edible produce. It's surprising how tall trees can grow in only ten years!
Hazel for Coppice and Nuts
Pam is growing several different blocks of hazel for various purposes, including coppicing for making hurdles and other useful structures, and using the nuts for making hazelnut oil and other edibles. We learn about the difference between cobnuts and filberts, and how coppicing benefits the landscape.
Growing a Woodland: The Tree Nursery
Pam shows us round the community tree nursery, explaining why growing from local seed is better than shipping from commercial tree nurseries located elsewhere, and the different types of trees that will go on to be planted in the new woodland on her land, and wherever the trees are needed around the nearby town of Ashburton.
Owning a Woodland: Sharing Health
Does it make you feel better to have spent time in the woods? As a woodland owner, Pam at Higher Druid Wood in Devon noticed the positive changes in herself from spending time working and being on the land, feeling stronger and healthier both mentally and physically. So she decided to invite the local community to come and join her, so they could feel better, too. From forest schools to women's groups, sharing health, sharing skills, and shared experiences by sharing land – this is a film about nurturing good health and offering that experience to others in a way that helps create a ripple effect of benefits into the wider world.
If you go down to the woods today... you might just hear a special performance by Concord Clarinets of the classic Teddybear's Picnic in a woodland near Bristol.
East Devon artist and musician Matt Calder turns sculptural forms using spalted beech and sycamore, inspired by his experience of Japanese ceramics. Matt has a particular passion for "things inside things inside things..." originally inspired by his wife's pregnancy, and in this film he makes an egg form.
A film by Jemma Cholawo with music by Matt Calder: www.calderart.co.uk
A kuksa is a traditional Scandinavian bowl or cup. Here in the dappled sunlight of Sallerton Wood in West Devon, Andy Morton shows us how to make one!
Another film sponsored by Woodlands TV.
Chainsaw artist Ella Fielding created this phoenix sculpture for a school in Mitcham while the pupils were away on half term. Ella started carving ten years ago with the Tree Pirates, and she is now a full time sculptor and mother of two young children. As an artist, she thinks in 3D, and after some brief sketches to demonstrate her idea, Ella uses the form of the wood to guide her instinctively, working with the grain, the knots, any nails and rock pockets becoming part of the finished piece. You can see more of her work on Instagram @ella.fielding.sculptor.
For those who are missing the annual wood fairs this year, here's Ian Sanders making tree tables at the Oak Fair last year.
Have you ever wanted to just take your cat and a tent and be alone in the woods for a while? Lola did! I met her in the woods on the Falkland Estate in Fife, beginning a new carving project. This is her first carving in a while, and she was feeling inspired to practice her skills and enjoy the peace and solitude of working with wood in the woodland, while camping in a bell tent with her adventurous cat, Mushu.
A film about starting your first period and what to expect. Made for Bell House as part of their series of educational period events for parents and daughters.
Another film I made for WoodlandsTV, a challenge to film singlehandedly in torrential rain... Well done to Luke Bryant of Cumbria Rivers Trust for being such a weather-resistant presenter and continuing even when his mouth was full of water...
I made these films on the Bamff Estate in Perthshire, where beavers have been introduced to restore the wetland habitat. Louise Ramsay explains why beavers are really important for regeneration, water purification, climate change, flood prevention and biodiversity. It was amazing to see these elusive creatures in the wild and quite tricky to film as they only come out at dusk – all of the beaver footage was shot in about half an hour over two days. Good thing I'm happy hiding quietly in the bushes... The music is by Sophie Ramsay, daughter of Louise and Paul who own the Bamff Estate. After filming, they kindly welcomed me into their lodge for dinner and highly astute conversation in a cavernous, ancient kitchen... All I can say is: beavers are great. We need more beavers!
I made this little series for WoodlandsTV, featuring the wonderful Fi Martynoga, expert forager and writer of Scotland's Wild Harvests.
A community film celebrating the life of botanist and illustrator Rev. William Keble Martin, with recollections from local people who knew him. We also explore the ways in which the landscape has changed in the 50 years since he lived here, and what we can do to take care of our beautiful parish. I made this documentary as part of the Woodbury Wide Awake celebrations of 2019.
I went to see our dance film, Swivel, on the big screen at Exeter Phoenix last night, showing as part of the Two Short Nights film festival. It was brilliant to hear the soundscape (I did the sound design) from all sides in the cinema, and feel the audience following the tension and release that we worked so hard to create. Swivel was amongst a very inspiring selection of films from local film makers, and it was lovely to catch up with these really talented people from my neck of the woods.
Nobody likes a smear test, but in this film I made for Bell House, we learn why they are so important, and what to expect when you go for the test.
When you first start out looking for edible mushrooms, it can be a bit daunting to know which ones to pick. In this film, Margaret Lear takes us on a little foraging adventure to discover some easily identifiable mushrooms to eat. A film for Woodlands TV.
I've been away for almost a month, travelling around the UK making films for WoodlandsTV, covering everything from beavers to biodiversity, rewilding, woodcraft, sustainable forestry, huts in woods, edible mushrooms, and more. One highlight of this epic marathon film making trip was making a little series of foraging films with Fi Martynoga, expert forager and editor of the wonderful book 'Scotland's Wild Harvests'. The films will be published by WoodlandsTV, hopefully very soon! Here's the trailer so you can see what's coming...
I've been asked to make a series of environmental education films for Woodlands TV, which is great! These films are designed to educate, engage and inspire people about woodlands, wildlife and all things outdoors. Here are two short films about the surprisingly interesting world of lichen, filmed in a secret location somewhere in the Wild West of Wales...
Pine martens are elusive, quick, nocturnal animals that were almost extinct in the southern half of the UK – but they are coming back! I went to meet naturalist Martin Noble with his two captive pine martens (born in captivity) to learn about this characterful creature and its status in the UK. Martin has been recording sightings in the wild for more than ten years, and numbers are gradually increasing...
A film for Woodlands TV.
Update: we just won an award for Best Art House Film at Brighton Rocks Film Festival!
I was invited to design the sound for this short film, in collaboration with director Lois Norman and dancers Iron and Sparks. The full version hasn't been released online yet as it's doing the festival circuit, so you'll have to wait for the full immersive sound experience!
My role here was to take the existing sound of skates brutally scuffing ice and turn it into an expression of the emotional tension and release between the dancers, using extracts of cello and other effects I created through experimentation. Lois wanted the silence to be as meaningful as the sound, and I had to tone down my original version so that the dancers took priority over the audio; so that they lead the story, not the music. It was a new experience for me to reign in my creative expression to fit with the director's vision, as I usually work alone – and it made so much sense once I wrapped my head around it. In the silence, we focus intently on minute movements; touch, pause; attract, repel; harmony, chaos, our own emotional memories... I really enjoyed the challenge and appreciated the clarity and depth of her vision. Through her eyes and through discussion, I saw new aspects emerge, and was able to read and therefore contribute more and more into the film through working together.