Ben Rivers has kindly captioned these production stills from TWO YEARS AT SEA, which was filmed at the house of Jake Williams in Aberdeenshire. The photographs were taken by Eva Vermandel. Go to the bottom of the page for the film’s trailer & screening schedule.
1. Jake’s house, an ever-changing facade. The living part is on the left, bookmarked by the two chimneys – the rest of the building are barns filled with wood, lots of wood, workshops and tools, useful and not so useful things, the generator, an old Land Rover (seen in This Is My Land spewing black smoke), bikes, stuff. To the right of the picture hidden under shrubs on the side of the building you can just make out the back end of a car, transformed into a greenhouse – the full bags from the toilet go in there to grow tomatoes.
2. Filming Jake cutting up a tyre for the fire – I have my trusty Bolex in hand, Chu in foreground ready to record sound.
3. Jake, front room, preparing for shooting a crucial scene involving him coming in with a box of photos, which he then looks through – this is one of the last shots of the film and in some way explains the photos the audience sees throughout the film.
4. Directing: Unlike what the London Film Festival catalogue suggests, this film is in many ways a fiction – and Jake’s is fully aware of the camera, but does a very good job at seeming like he is not.
5. Team meeting / tea break, deciding what to film next, perhaps. The crew – me and Chu, who recorded sound aswell as made porridge every morning amongst many other jobs. Gizmo the cat, not really interested in the conversation, is the other star of the film.
6. Taking a break in the caravan up in the tree. A bit wobbly when we first went up there, but now it has survived a winter and several storms it feels pretty safe. Last time I was up at Jake’s, I slept up there very soundly.
7. I filmed this particular shot in the autumn, but then filmed it again in the winter and it was the wintery one that ended up in the film.
8. One of four attempts at filming Jake’s face lit by the fire. I had a very definite idea of how this should look, and had to make multiple takes to make sure I got it right – unnerving because each take was ten minutes of film. I first filmed it in winter and it looked good but I only shot 3 minutes and that didn’t seem long enough. So the next trip we took a long time setting up the shot exactly the same as the one we did in winter – I then shot it twice and thought I probably had it. Then we sat around the fire drinking whiskey for a while, all dropping off tired and a bit drunk. Just as I was leaving the conscious world behind something woke me and I realised I needed to film the shot again – it was around 2am by this time. I’m not sure why I thought I needed to do it again but it was this last take that eventually made it into the film.
9. Between takes. Getting sleepy by the fire.
10. Jake and me.
TWO YEARS AT SEA screenings :-
Friday 21 October 2011, at 9pm, BFI Southbank NFT1
Monday 24 October 2011, at 1:30pm, BFI Southbank NFT1