Brighton Road Movie

Year of release: 2010
Original format: 16mm colour reversal
Running time: 3 minutes
Screening format: digital screening versions available
Credits: A film by Kayla Parker and Stuart Moore
Production: Sundog Media
Supported by a Research Award from MADr, the Centre for Media, Art and Design Research, University of Plymouth
Distribution and sales: Sundog Media

Images of cruising along the seafront at night explore film materiality and memory.

Production notes
Sequences selected from 300 feet of 16mm VNF, shot handheld on a clockwork 16mm Bolex camera mostly from a moving car, on a visit to Brighton in 1989 or 1990 to experience the awesomely loud Bow Gamelan at the Zap Club (chainsaws, car bodies, whirling splatters of paint). The film was free stock donated to Exeter Film and Video Workshop by Television South West (TSW), the ITV station based in Plymouth at that time.

I shot the film in three (approximately) 100 foot lengths and sent it off to be processed by the BBC technicians for the bargain price of two pound coins per 100 foot. I viewed it on a Steenbeck and thought I would maybe make it into a road movie with a working title of Brighton Rock, but made other films instead…
Photo of 16mm can containing 300 feet of film shot in Brighton
The 300 feet of film ended up in a re-used metal can that I moved around with my 16mm and 35mm film stuff over the next 20 years. When I watched the filming again in autumn 2010, I was surprised to find that I only had a faint recall of the events and images recorded. The memories captured that weekend in Brighton were fugitive. On seeing the footage after a gap of two decades, I could remember only fleeting glimpses of these moments as they were replayed through the film. My memories seemed to have become part of the fabric of the of the film itself, embedded in the cellulose acetate substrate, and its emulsion layer of gelatin and colour dyes. Working with the 16mm material shot at night from a moving car, driven by Mark Cosgrove, we wove together this 3 minute sequence, Brighton Road Movie: First Run, for our screening at Lighthouse in Brighton.

VNF is Video News Film: this 300 feet was donated free by TSW, the ITV company operating in the south west during the 1980s. It’s Kodak colour reversal stock, probably 7250 because of the night shots, although I preferred the denser black and saturated colours of 7240 to the faster (and grainier) 7250. VNF came in 400 feet lengths, wound onto a plastic core. I had to break the film down into four 100 foot lengths, and then wind these onto 100 foot metal daylight spools (making sure it was emulsion side inward and the right way round) to run the film through my 16mm Bolex camera. This used to take several minutes because the unexposed film had to be handled in total darkness: even a faint amount of light could cause the film to be fogged. If the film got tangled up, which it often did on the last 100 foot because of the tight curl around the core, I used a Steenbeck with its screen switched off to straighten it out: 7240 could stand a small amount of indirect light for a few minutes as it was ‘slow’ film, but even the faint light coming from a Steenbeck could cause the images shot on 7250 to be diffuse and milky. As I only shot 300 feet for this project, it’s likely that I fucked up transferring the last 100 feet of unexposed film to the daylight spool, and had to discard it.

TSW shot its news stories on 16mm colour reversal VNF film until the end of the 1980s. When they got back from assignments the cameramen (there were no camerawomen) handed over their exposed rolls of film to be processed in the in-house lab at TSW, off Derry’s Cross in Plymouth. Several rolls I’d shot for earlier films and during animation residencies were developed free by TSW: it used to take just over an hour for 100 feet to be processed, washed, dried and wound back onto its spool. TSW changed over completely to video for news gathering at the end of the 1980s and shut its 16mm processing lab. After this, the only place to get your 16mm film processed on the cheap was at the BBC in London where the techs would develop 16mm colour reversal footage unofficially for artists, for beer money: the going rate was two one pound coins for each 100 foot, or 4 quid if you wanted your film back quickly. This ended at the beginning of the 1990s, when the only option was to negotiate an artist’s discount with the London labs on their commercial rates. I worked with Filmatic in Notting Hill Gate: the lab gave me a good deal in 1989 on my Looks Familiar screening prints and the processing of footage for Nuclear Family and continued to offer me discounts on successive films, and it was close to Paddington station.

Publication and comments

Rushes Soho Shorts Festival: Sunset Strip, Project, Teign Spirit and Brighton Road Movie: First Run screened in the Spiritus Sancti and Ghost Radio programme - a celebration of the analogue and the supernatural - presented by London Short Film Festival; followed by a preview screening of Sonus, the new short film from Arthertz and Ridley Scott Associates, and a performance of Ghost Radio by ArtHertz collaborator Spacedog accompanied by live light projections by Julian Hand; the Run Run Shaw Space, BAFTA, London (24 July 2011)

Hand Eye Visions: the Films of Kayla Parker and Stuart Moore Cine-City the Brighton film festival; Lighthouse, Brighton, UK. We presented a programme of 17 direct animation films, made over the last 20 years, for the third and final Hand Eye Visions event, curated by Ian Helliwell. The programme included a premiere of the first film to be made from the footage, which we called Brighton Road Movie: First Run (27 November 2010)