If you’ve enjoyed the ‘behind the scenes’ video then we delve deeper by interviewing our filmmakers Ian Pinder & Conor O’Grady
Conor and Ian could you tell us about your involvement in the Northern Art Prize?
Ian Conor and I became involved with the prize in 2010, when we were approached through the Northern Film School in Leeds (where we had just graduated from) to participate in the making of a film about the artists in the prize, as part of an Alumni Production Scheme at the school. Working on this with the people at the Northern Art Prize was a really interesting and pleasant experience the first time round, so when we were asked to make the film again this year, I was really pleased to be involved.
What has struck you about visiting the artists in their studios?
Conor: Not to be too cheesy about it but the first thing that strikes you is how warm and welcoming the artists are. Their studios are very intimate personal spaces, full with things that are very precious them, and they let us have free rein in there.
In many ways their spaces are an extension of the artists, we film a lot of their spaces, wide shots, and small details, they can be very revealing. I say this in horror looking at my desk.
Ian: It has been interesting to me, to see the dedication and focus that the artists have towards their work. In a way, I think the film performs the same function for me as it hopefully does for the viewers of the film in the gallery and wherever the film is eventually shown. It offers a bit of a look at how the artists develop these ideas, and makes you feel more that you can see why somebody would want to dedicate so much of their time to their work. I see filmmaking itself as an endeavour that requires quite a lot of time and dedication to achieve anything that you are happy with, so I feel I can relate to this process a little.
What experience did you have of contemporary art before making the film?
Conor: I’m not an expert, I’ve never studied art. But I have an interest in art and would say I’m familiar with most ‘popular’ contemporary artists, the stuff you find on book shop shelves or the south bank show/culture show/imagine etc. I like those programmes, and would love to film them. And I have learnt a lot from working on the Northern Art Prize, and I have discovered artists I now like a lot through the long and short lists.
Ian: I have a number of friends who are connected with different parts of the contemporary arts scene in Leeds and elsewhere. However, I have always been quite specific to film with my interests, and filmmaking is a job that expands to fill every bit of time that you let it, so this was like an opportunity to spend time looking at a small section of contemporary art that I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have found the time to do. In that way, it was a really nice opportunity to find out a bit more about it.
What do your own work spaces look like? Pictures would be great?
Ian: Rather oddly, my work-spaces move around an awful lot as a freelance filmmaker. I do a lot of editing work, and at the moment everything is set up in a house in Ben Rhydding. I don’t have any pictures of this or any of my other workspaces that I have used. I work from home some of the time, and kind of like moving from room to room periodically to stave off the cabin fever that comes from spending endless hours in a dark room, editing at a computer. As much as filmmaking can be a social activity sometimes, there is often another solitary part to this, especially if you work as a film and video editor. In each of these spaces though, I start off with something approaching a clean desk, and as the end of the project gets close, things become more chaotic until things are done.
Conor: It’s a desk, I do a lot of my work there and therefore spend most of my time there. It looks like a bit of a mess, but it is where I keep pretty much everything that I own and love.
Do you perceive any commonalities amongst the artists in terms of their work and what it says about
the times we live in?
Conor: One thing we focused on in the film this year was the artists making their work. In the film you see each of them working on something, so that is something they all have in common. My God, I have no idea what that says about the times we live in. As with all time periods is probably much more exciting than it seems at the time.
Ian: I think that each of them has different concerns, and things that come first in their process of working. With the artists in the prize, you can see a willingness to spend time considering their reactions to things. Also, they are reacting to something in the world emotionally, and I think trying to allow viewers of their work to do the same. Maybe this is something common to many artists though.
What ties you to the North?
Ian: I have always lived in Leeds, and I also studied at the Northern Film School in Leeds, so everything I have done and all my friends have been based here. As I am considering studying an MA at some point soon, and it may be that I move for that but I have no reason to think that I won’t end up back here at some point, wherever I end up studying for that. I have travelled a bit for work in the last year or two, and that leaves me feeling like I need to spend some time living somewhere else at some point. Maybe I’ll move to a different country, if I can work that out at some point.
Conor: I don’t think I am tied to the North, I don’t feel Northern. But I was born in Preston and went to Uni in Leeds and now live in Huddersfield. I like the North, it has a lot going for it, I like a lot of music that has come from the North West.
What has been the biggest challenge in making the film?
Ian: The biggest challenge, for me at least, was trying to find a way of shooting each of the artists that differentiated them a little from each other. I hope that this has worked at least a little. Another of the main challenges was trying to make a film that gave a reasonable impression of the artists’ work, in what is a very short film. Again, I hope that this is how the film comes across. As we made it with a small crew of 2/3 people from pre-production until its completion, you get the challenge of being involved in every part of it too. This is very satisfying in one way, but obviously means you deal with all the issues making a short film yourself. All in all though, the process was a pleasant and rewarding one, and I look forward to seeing the work in the gallery when it opens.
Conor: I think time is always a challenge, there never seems to be enough time, no matter how long you’ve got. Its very hard to make a film, never mind a good one, so that’s always a challenge.