film

Interview: Jim Willis

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What is your creative passion, Jim?

I am an amateur film maker I suppose you could say, well I’ve written scripts and had films made, and I help out Jack and Mhairi with the Ventnor Fringe.

How did you get into film?

I went to university and did a degree in creative writing which is where I learnt the process of script writing. I wrote a script for a workshop run by my university lecturer John Goodwin, here on the Island. All of our scripts were put into a kind-of contest and whoever had the best script would have it made into a film. John came up to me one day and said- Jim, your script is the best by far, we’re gonna make it into a film – so I was just happy to have that opportunity. We then filmed it nearby in Bonchurch.

How did you get involved with Fringe?

Well I’ve been connected from way back, before it first started 8 years ago. When Jack, Mhairi and Joe were just teenagers. Jack created a board of creatives to help him with theatre and script production. There were a few of us back then, but that was a long time ago now.

So Jack was determined from a young age; how did you meet him?

I used to help out with the local youth club, at the time it was the only thing to keep kids from hanging around the streets. Luckily now there are more opportunities for young people but there’s still some way to go (see the Fringe Forum article for more).

What did you help Jack with in the beginning for Fringe?

We all just helped to facilitate his vision I suppose, he said he wanted to bring art and culture to Ventnor and talking about a fringe festival and we just helped him do that, any way we could.

You’ve stuck with it all these years; how do you think the Fringe has effected Ventnor?

I think it’s been amazing for Ventnor, the amount Ventnor has changed since the beginning of the Fringe is amazing. It’s what Ventnor needed for so long.

Do you think of Ventnor is transforming into a place that people can start building businesses and be successful?

I think it’s come a long way. I think all the Ventnor Exchange guys have done an amazing job as well as the other young people that have been starting up business in Ventnor, like The Events Co. But I think it still has a way to go; I think there are varying reasons for this. One that I have been talking about today, is the number of holiday-makers with second homes. As much as we need tourism, I don’t think it’s productive having people who own homes that only live in them for four weeks of the year. It would be much better to have people living in these homes all year round. There is a ridiculous amount of these homes on the Island, and a considerable amount of them in Ventnor.

Yes, this has been brought up in conversation a lot over the last few years. Do you see this changing?

I hope so, I think that we have people that have been coming down, seeing the work everyone in Ventnor is doing and are decided to spend more time here. It’ll take time but I hope that this will happen with more people.

A big thank you to Jim and everybody that come in to have an interview with us this week. You can find the round-up of these interviews here.

If you’d like to listen to any of the interviews with artist and performers at the Fringe this week please visit our Mix Cloud here.

Are We There Yet?

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As mentioned in the first issue of this year’s Fringe Review; we’ve been talking to some of the creative people Ventnor has produced, maintained or incubated over the years. To recap we’re heard from…

Sophie Honeybourne: a home-grown thriving Ventnor business owner and artist.
Steven Sales: Ventnor-born artist, now living in Bristol.
Kate Powell: Wiltshire-born, nomadic puppeteer and travelling theatre owner.
Hannah George: Ventnor comedian and script writer, now moved to London.
Luke Joynes: Island born, eighteen-year-old music promoter.
Jim Willis: Life-long Ventnor resident, builder, amateur film maker and historian.

(You can read the original interviews by clicking the names above.)

 

So we’ve had quite a collection to talk to this week. From those actually making things happen here on the island, to those that felt the need to take their careers elsewhere. Not forgetting the people that keep returning to create and facilitate art here in Ventnor.

Hannah (scriptwriter) and Steven (artist) felt it necessary to move away in order to build their careers further. Unfortunately, this is the case for many here on the island, but is this going to change?

While there is a clear demand for cultural music and arts events such as the Fringe, there are still obstacles to overcome when considering career paths for young people. As Luke Joynes pointed out yesterday, the costs of getting artists over to the Isle of Wight are far greater than putting on a performance in somewhere like Southampton or Portsmouth. This is also hindered by the lack of a student population. For those that have never put an event on, it is far easier to sell tickets to student populated areas as there is always an initial demand.

It seems that this problem is dependent on which career path you choose. On our first day we spoke to Sophie Honeybourne, who has been incredibly successful with her jewellery business. Though the price of sending parcels is far cheaper than importing people and the business is blossoming, it is still quite a small one. Sophie has one apprentice at present and would find it difficult to take on any more due to the size of their work stations and volume of client work. In businesses like these you can generate enough money to sustain a family or two but beyond that is another ball game.

Jim made interesting points to do with the property on the island, how large numbers of houses are bought by DFL’ers (Down from Londoners) that stay vacant from 48 weeks of the year. He posed the question that while, yes, when these holiday-home owners are present they spend money here but if these homes were filled with people living on the
Island for 52 weeks of the year, surely these people would contribute so much more to the community.

Is this lack of financial support to the community why our business can’t succeed? And indeed, is this why housing prices are becoming so increasingly difficult for people to match? Yes, the houses on the Isle of Wight may
be considerably cheaper than those of London but the work opportunities or salaries available to people, particularly young people are far lower too.

On the other-hand you have people like Kate Powell, that have only made a connection with Ventnor through the Fringe and have returned multiple times throughout the year to nurture art on the Island. In the Fringe Forum on Thursday, Jack Whitewood stressed the importance of nurturing artists that come to the Island.

As Kate is essentially one of these artists; she originally came to the Fringe as a volunteer. Her talents were revealed when she was working as a volunteer here and she has stayed in connection with the Fringe and Ventnor Exchange productions ever since she started out back in 2013.

We need more of these people here in Ventnor, we have more people than ever trying to build their careers on the Island which is fantastic, but we’ve still got some work to do before everyone can get on this band-wagon. Let’s keep investing in our Island’s creative industries.

 

Judy Rodrigues - by Tobias Penner

Interview: Judy Rodrigues

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Ben – So I’m here with Judy Rodrigues and we have just come from the Bloomsbury and the Isle of Wight event at the Ventnor Film Club. I’ll let Judy introduce herself to you all.

Judy – Hello. I’m Judy Rodrigues. I’m an artist and I’m based at Spike Island where I have been for a number of years now. I was brought up on the Island from the age of 3 and left at 18, but I’ve been coming back ever since. In 2014 I had a residency at Ventnor Botanic Garden which was supported by the Arts Council. It was a research and development grant and it allowed me time to work with the Island. I was really interested in the connections between writers and painters, particularly poets and poetry.

B – Your art has been heavily influenced by the likes of the Bloomsbury Set (in particular the relationship between sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell). For our listeners who might not know what the Bloomsbury Set is, how would you describe them? Who made up the Bloomsbury Set?

J – The Bloomsbury Set were pretty much a very educated, cultural elite in a way. I think that’s how I thought of them, of their time. Made up of a group of men, from Cambridge. I suppose that it was only after the Dimbola [Dimbola Lodge, the home of Victorian photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron – in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight] Show that I started reading how the sisters, Virginia and Vanessa became involved in the group through their brother, Toby who died very young. It was through the sisters and how they became so pivotal within what was known as the Bloomsbury Group.

B – It’s interesting that a group that included E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf just came together…

J – Yes! I think I’m more interested in E.M. Forster and even George Eliot – a different generation I know – now. I didn’t do literature at school and it’s strange how it’s come in so much for me, as a painter. It was a synchronicity of events and I was finding that I was reaching out to certain people because I was identifying with them in relation with how my paintings were evolving in the studio.

B – You mention synchronicity – there was a part of your talk earlier that identified the 3rd of May letter between Vanessa and Virginia. How is that date particularly relevant and synchronous with your life?

J – For me, when I read it as the 3rd of May it was the date of birth of my daughter – my first child as well. So I wasn’t likely to forget the date from then on. The 3rd May was when Vanessa wrote – after arriving with her family in France – and she wrote about the moths, the light and being in a lighthouse and how the moths were attracted to the light. It was a very good letter. You usually find quoted a paragraph but it’s the rest of the letter that is important to read.

B – What do you think of Ventnor Fringe?

J – I love it! This year has been quite a year for me and I’ve just got back from the Azores Fringe on the Isle of Pico.

B – There was one point earlier in your talk that you said you have an exhibition going on at the St Mary’s Hospital, is that right?

J – Yes, in the Full Circle Gallery [outside the restaurant on the first floor of St Mary’s Hospital in Newport), Guy Eades is putting up paintings that I’ve been working on and that came out of being on the Island in the last 3 years. There’s a few paintings from the Freshwater Diary still there, I think.

B – Well, thank you so much for spending the time for an interview and I hope – if you’re sticking around for the rest of the Fringe – you enjoy it.

Judy Rodrigues can be found at http://www.judyrodrigues.com/

Parkside - by Tobias Penner

Film Spotting

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It’s begun! As you may be aware, our little town has become quite the miniature metropolis. If you’ve just arrived, settle in to your accommodation, have a beverage and light snack, then on with the show! There’s already a lot going on around town, from art on the Plaza to an old-school warehouse gig, not to mention the first night of shenanigans down at the Observatory.

Tonight also sees some exciting things going on in the world of cinema. Looking at a film in a new context can be an eye-opening experience; perhaps finding a new meaning in a familiar tale or noticing things that you’d missed time and time again. There are two such offerings on the bill tonight, both very different experiences to be had.

It’s been over 20 years since the release of Danny Boyle’s seminal film, Trainspotting, and at the Ventnor Fringe there is now an excuse to celebrate. By happy coincidence, 2017 also marks the 70th year of Iggy Pop, who’s song Lust for Life is put front and centre of the the film’s exhilarating opening scene.

Not only does his music feature but Iggy Pop becomes a character in his own right, never seen yet is omnipresent as a symbol of irrepressible hedonism – pivotal life choices are made around the very idea of him.

Tonight will see a screening of both the original Trainspotting and last year’s sequel. In the interlude Iggy Pop’s enthusiasm and ‘Lust for Life’ will be kept alive by Olly Fry and the Three Stooges who will be playing Iggy Pop’s tunes. All the while the walls will be adorned with never-before-seen photo portraits of him displayed by Ventnor Arts Club.

If the exploits of Renton and Iggy aren’t quite your thing, or you have little ones in tow, The Adventures of Prince Achmed could be just the thing for you. Made in 1926 by pioneering German director Lotte Reiniger, this is the oldest surviving animated film in the world.

The film follows the tale of Prince Achmed from One Thousand and One Nights, and it has all that you could ask for: sorcery, adventure, demons and a flying horse!

Musician Chris Davies gives the film new life with a new score that will be performed live on what can only be described as a spectacular array of world instruments, from the classical guitar to a bowed psaltery and a crystal singing bowl. The film itself is silent, so unrestricted by language, Davies creates new atmospheres and sound worlds for Price Achmed’s journey.

After a history of touring with bands, Chris Davies eventually found himself in the world of visual theatre where his strengths and interests lay in creating atmosphere with sound. His work with Prince Achmed is has brought a new life to the oldest animation and promises to be a brilliant family night out.

OR… if neither of those floats ones boat I’ll try something completely different. If film isn’t your thing, how about a little jazz? Nick Page is one of the country’s leading jazz guitarists and this evening at Trinity Church he will be performing his ‘Isle of Wight Suite’, a set of twelve original jazz compositions inspired by his favourite places on the Island. He will be joined by his quintet for what promises to be an excellent evening in a wonderfully atmospheric venue.

Described by Alan Skidmore (saxophonist) as “an undiscovered gem of the British jazz scene”, Nick is a Ventnor resident and it’ll be a marvellous show on his home turf. Whichever direction your evening heads in, be sure to have fun, enjoy yourself, and settle in for the week. It’s going to be a hoot and a half.

Lust For Life: Celebrating Iggy Pop and Trainspotting: 19:30 @ Ventnor Arts Club
The Adventures of Prince Achmed:
19:30 @ Parkside
The Isle of Wight Suite:
19:30 @ Holy Trinity Church

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