Sunday, 29 March 2009

Poem Film Manifesto


1. The poem film must be an original creation.

2. The poet and film-maker should work on an idea for a poem film. They should explore the idea together. The process of exploration should take no longer than a day. 

3. The film-maker should not interfere with the poet's writing. Similarly, the poet should not interfere with the film-maker's filming. The film and poem should be created in no more than three days. 

4. Both poet and film-maker should push the boundaries of  the poem film. 

5.  The poem film must be shot on film.

6.  A minimal crew must be used for the shoot. Preferably the film-maker and a camera. 

7.  The poet can discuss the poem with the film-maker. However, no lines should be cited by the poet. The film-maker cannot read the poem before filming is complete. 

8. The film-maker can discuss the images they have filmed with the poet. No rushes can be shown to the poet. Sketches or storyboards are prohibited. 

9.  The poet can only show the film-maker the completed poem on the last day of filming. The film-maker can use the remaining time to shoot additional material. 

10. The film-maker must edit the film on their own.

11. The poet and film-maker decide whose voice is used to recite the poem. 

12. The poet can record the poem with the film-maker being present. 

13. The film-maker is at liberty to erase the voice-over from the film if s/he does not like the poem.

14. The poet is at liberty to scratch the film's negative if s/he does not like the film.

Ian Cottage  1995


The manifesto was written after I'd completed the poem film Blue Scars with Matthew Sweeney (the then resident poet at the South Bank Centre, London) in 1995.  Blue Scars was premiered at the Purcell room, South Bank and screened in the UK as part of  the British Film Institute's Film Poems programme curated by Peter Todd. The film was also shown in Delhi, India where the manifesto sparked heated debate amongst the audience. There is an essay concerning poem films and my manifesto here.

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