For my last film of the year, I wanted to put into practice some of ideas that I explored in my presentation at this year’s Folk Horror conference, held at Queens University Belfast in September. I had already filmed the footage before I presented my paper (though didn’t get it developed until a good few weeks after that) but had already been forming the ideas behind what makes a Folk Horror film well before then. I knew that the piece would be short (Super 8 does after all cost roughly £70 per three minutes in total) and that it had to be non-narrative work due to its role in the Coven exhibition it would be part of in 24 Kitchen Street. It’s taken a while but Tarot, as it was eventually named, is now complete and has just finished its run of screenings at the exhibition. For such a short film, the process behind it has been one that has been quite stressful and time consuming; arguably more so than The Coastal Path in spite of that film being double the length of Tarot. Perhaps it’s because it is a far more distilled vision of a rural horror and therefore needed more time to cook and stew away.
Initially, the first aspect that was commissioned were the title cards by illustrator, Katie Craven (my exhibition cohort and partner in occult crime). They’ve been in the works since early this year due to their detail and, even though they were only on screen for roughly 10 seconds, were probably the most complex part of the film. That’s not to say, however, that the film was an easy ride. The next problems were finding two witches and a stone circle within reasonable distance; a difficult feat on Merseyside. Both were, however, surprisingly straightforward after a bit of research and there’s aptly far more going on in the North West than meets the eye.
The circle is in north Wales near Llangollen though I’m loathe to say exactly where because it’s so hidden, unspoilt and beautifully empty. It may not be Avebury but its naturally stunning views and absence of people meant that shooting was pretty easy in terms of composition. The location is also a place of strange happenings, supposedly having some Roswell-like event covered up by military in the 1950s. This hit home even more on the location rekey when not only two fighter jets came and checked us out, but also a helicopter which we managed to get a snap of. There’s definitely something odd about the place at any rate.
As for my witches, I managed to persuade Adèle and Siân of ethereal Gothic band, Bird, to come along and perform some ceremonies. I’d seen their band photography and knew they’d be perfect performing some Crowley-esque rites. They even had their own costumes, aside from the gowns of course. Suffice to say, it’s reassuring to know there are other creatives on the same wavelength in the local area and I’d love to do more work with them and their superb music in whatever form it eventually takes with their recent bad news surrounding their name.
It’s been an interesting year for filming and I hope Tarot shows the potential future direction of where I want to go. The reaction to it and exhibition it was part of was great and though several projects are already beginning to form for next year, I think I’ll look back on this year with nostalgia for some of the frankly bizarre but ultimately rewarding things I’ve ended up making. To another year of weirdness to come.