The Lost Generation Strikes Back…..?by Asha
It’s a few nights before Christmas, and I enter a busy pub in Salford, – inside a kind of Christmas bohemia fills the space, in the corner is the worst Christmas tree I ve ever seen, but it has some sort of northern charm, even though a drunk local, bumps into it on his way to the bar, this is the kind of place you could get lost in.
Which is pretty apt, as I’m here for a 3 minute interview with ‘Lost Generation’ director Mark Ashmore, or as it is now known ‘Project Lost Generation’.
Mark skips past me, on his way to a table to collect some empty glasses, so the next rush of punters that cram into the bar can have a seat, ‘I will be one minute’ he says.
10 minutes pass and I’m onto my 2nd pint of real ale, and Mark finally takes his seat, the interview commences.
Sarah Shaw in Conversation with Film Director/Producer and Transmedia story architect Mark Ashmore, The Black Lion, Chapel Street, Salford, 20/12/11.
Sarah Shaw (SS)
So when is the film going to be finished, been a year in the making, must be pretty close now?
Mark Ashmore (MA)
(takes a deep breathe) – finished…. I want to see this movie finished, but the process, the rules we set, kind of dictates that we reflect what is going off in the world, anything that could or can relate to (does air quotation marks) to the ‘the lost generation’ then we have to process this and get it into the movie.
As you know, a lot has gone off this year, from the Arab uprising, to fighting an air war in Libya, to the Occupy movement, to well… everything, I saw a group of old ladies protesting outside Barclays last week, I stopped, looked at the situation and thought, I need to get this in the story somehow.
The story then, is evolving or have you captured the moment yet.
I think in my head, I think the 31/12/2011 will be the last day of using daily stories as reference points for the film, and then the fiction part of the film, that will use 2011 as a kind of social commentary, 2011 will be our timeline, I think?, and also make a few daring future predications, like I did when I made ‘Your State of Emergency’ in 2006, which by the way, went viral a few months ago, now something like 18,000 views on You tube, and 30,000 views on Daily motion.
So is the ‘Lost Generation’ a documentary film, or a fiction feature.
Well it started off as a fiction exploitation film, the cast and crew workshopped current events, and then put them into the story, the 90 minute narrative.
but with so much going off, this fiction piece can only capture some of the artistic work we have created, and we are not a generation to waste! . so now with using transmedia story telling, using different media platform’s online and offline to continue, evolve or back up the fiction narrative in both documentary form and fictional form, we are now able to tell a broader story to a much bigger audience.
But as you can expect most of 2011 was spent watching some kind of wonder moment as our generation rose up and found a voice, and what we where creating as fiction was actually becoming reality, this is a difficult situation for a storyteller to be in, as you suddenly find you are telling a kind of truth, and in doing so, you don’t want to be create an obstructive point of view, by getting things wrong, or having too much of an opinion… hang on scrap that, you can’t get anything wrong, everything is subjective.
Ok last three questions, first, you filmed during the recent ‘pension cut’ protests in the UK, why?
2011 has been a year of protests, from the student fee protests, to the summer riots, to a few anti war demo’s and then the mass strike action by about 20 unions, to call the biggest general strike in living history, the rules of this film say we must film in real situations, and so, we looked at the script, figured out how we could create a scene, that would put our leading character into the protests and then the date was set, not by us, but by the unions, and then we went with a small crew and filmed it, we also used the backdrop of these protests to introduce ‘Blair’ who is the leader of the ‘Unknown’ a group of kind of resistance freedom fighters.
So you filmed scenes for your film, with 30,000 extras, lets talk logistics and why and how!
We had our two actors, we chatted about the day and the performance and the logistics in-depth over facebook and a couple of meetings, and I did the same with the crew, I had a shot list, and an idea of what we needed to film, but, working in the public arena, I knew that anything could happen! So plan a little, but leave gaps in your plan for ‘special’ moments to appear. On the day we all met up here, at the Black Lion, we shot on 3 camera’s all 550D, a sound recordist and an assistant director and me the director and 2 actors, we then headed up to the march starting point and started shooting for 6 hours, to get the 30sec of film we needed.
How did the march organisers and the police take this?
We where such a small crew, and really nobody noticed us, the camera’s look like stills camera’s and we didn’t draw attention to ourselves, except when the actors where performing, Vicky who play’s SJ, was acting ‘drug induced’ and so she kind of slowly stumbling through 1000 people as they came past, people offered her help and even kept a wide birth of her, such was the power of the acting!, Blair is just hardcore, she came down in her usual attire and took no shit from anyone, even though she was not leading a direct action today, she got stuck in, walking past cop’s and protest organisers and press, hooded up with scarf over her face, like she was going to kick off at any moment, this was a days film-making like no other.
And so what’s left to do on this project?
Loads! We have about 50% of the film, the fiction bit left to do, and we are in the process of figuring out how we want our digital space to work online, and what it needs to do, to tell the story.
Things are going slower than I would like, due to funding and the fact I’m now artistic director of the Black Lion, so we have been setting up a Theatre and Cinema, arts space in the middle of LG, – but my aim, my focus is to finish filming in Jan/Feb 2012 and edit through the year, while also working on the user generated content aspect online, there are gaps in the fiction story narrative for our audience to fill up. Lets now hope there are not any more major incidents in the world, otherwise we have to ‘stop the presses’ and somehow get it into this film.
Project Lost Generation – Chapter 1 is online now http://www.projectlostgeneration.co.uk
Sarah Shaw 2011