Above is the trailer for a very short fragment of film made in collaboration with the writer, Iain Sinclair. Though I had been thinking about doing something with the poems of Harold Pinter for the some time, I had left it to stew away rather than properly organise it as with other, simpler films. With initially failing to get in touch with Iain, I had virtually shelved the idea as, with the poems being about Pinter’s relationship to Hackney, there was really no one else who I wanted to read them. There was, of course, also Sinclair’s direct link with the very medium I work in, being one of the country’s most important “super-8-ists” as Andrew Kötting suggested as a name for us as practitioners whilst chatting in Iain’s hallway. However, by a sheer chance, contact was made by Robert Macfarlane about the project and Iain was quickly on board, the poems only being a few lines each. This should account for why the film is going to be so short (only one reel). Though part of me wishes that I had take a few reels of the walk it is based on, the trailer should show how fragmentary the poems are and why such a snippet of film should work well in conveying them.
For A Walk By Waiting (named after one of the two poems in the film) is about a glimpsed view of 1950s Hackney, walked by Pinter alongside his teacher from Hackney Downs Grammar School, Joseph Brearley (who is the subject for the second poem in the film). The actual walk that went into the film can be read about in an earlier article here and should give further indication of what a crisp and clear day it was. I’m loath to talk about the rest of the walk in too great a detail here as that can wait for when the film is fully released. But the film should feel enshrouded by chance; the potential to turn off down the road from Stamford Hill, down to Clapton Pond and veering to Hackney Downs. This heightens further when considering how limited the filming was by only having one feel; what to put in from the walk, what to leave out? So many interesting things happened on the filming day that it did need that earlier write-up to expand on it all. A Walk By Waiting should condense it into something more compact but at the same time more mysterious; it is the deliberate equivalent of a cine-poem.
The film will be released by Caught By The River on the 4th of June (my thanks to Jeff Barrett) and more details of the project will be available then. It also has a wonderful score by In Atoms again though the trailer was made before this part was finalised. For now though, it should hopefully whet the appetite for those after a short fix of London psychogeography, of Pinter’s direct, hypnotic language, and Sinclair’s sage tones: “Number the winter flowers, walk by the season of voices.”