In the first part of our series celebrating 9 (nearly 10) successful years of the London Short Film Festival, we look back at the competition’s first winner of the Best Short Film category: Nick Jordan.
London Short Film Festival is gathering pace at a remarkable speed. Starting out as a very small festival 9 years ago, nestled within London’s Institute for Contemporary Arts, it has since gained independence, becoming a main player for established and new filmmakers across the UK. The beauty of a short film festival is that it can screen a lot of films and take risks that established feature film festivals wouldn’t get away with. January 2013 sees the 10th anniversary of the festival, and in this exciting series of articles, i-D have joined forces to bring you the winning films from each year of the festival, leading up to the 10th winner in January 2013. Every month we will be bringing you a filmmaker and film that won the Best Short Film category in corresponding order, so make sure to check back in with us every month.
For our first collaboration, we profile the enigmatic Nick Jordan, who was the first ever winner of the London Short Film Festival with his experimental film: Fury.
Nick Jordan is an artist based in Manchester. His work explores the relationship between the natural world and our cultural histories. He also collaborates with artist Jacob Cartwright and together they published Alien Invaders (Book Works), which takes the form of a guidebook to non-native species found in Britain, and completed a trilogy of short films drawn from the writings of 19th century artist & frontiersman John James Audubon. The artists have recently completed their first feature-length film, Between Two Rivers, a documentary about the troubled town of Cairo, in southern Illinois.
Where did the idea for Fury come from?
The idea was born from a particular moment which I happened to be filming. I usually try and construct my work out of chance situations or found material. I thought the fly-paper, and its unique name, would serve as a good motif, or trigger, for the film, so I just started filming it. Nothing was pre-planned – but things are subsequently highlighted, or amplified, through the editing process. In this way, ‘Fury’ is like a fabricated piece of cinema, which offered itself up out of happenstance or a real situation. In addition to cinematic suspense, or atmosphere, I was also conscious of references to a certain language of painting – archetypal things like a bowl of fruit, a chair and a woman in a window.
Were you surprised when it won best film at the London Short Film Festival?
Yes. I thought a short film which was more driven by narrative or dialogue would have been more likely to scoop an award.
Can you describe your style?
I tend to just respond to whatever is happening, or not happening, in front of me. Too much pre-thought or conscious planning would probably kill off any curiosity I had to begin with.
How difficult was it starting out?
It’s difficult at the beginning with no resources or funding. It’s still hard to secure backing for a project, especially now in these dark days of austerity. By necessity, artists or film-makers often have to adopt a haphazard, lo-fi method where we try and make the work anyway, without a budget, rather than waiting for the green light of funding. It doesn’t always work out well though.
How much has changed since you won with Fury?
The films have got longer and people now speak in them. My collaborative work with Jacob Cartwright is now very documentary-based, while still pursuing ‘cinematic’ ideas or forms. They’re probably not quite conventional documentaries. Not yet anyway. By accident, we’ve found ourselves drawn to the documentary format to communicate people’s experiences and particular events or key locations. Our new film Between Two Rivers is the first that addresses social, cultural, political and environmental factors. I’m willing to go with that for the time being and see where it leads.
Who and what inspires you?
Ancient oaks, frozen rivers, bee-hives, snow globes, fire-flies, stray dogs and warm hats. In terms of other film-makers, I would probably name all the usual suspects. I’m someone who was disappointed that Malick’s Tree of Life didn’t have a 6 hour director’s cut on the DVD.
Where do you see yourself in another 9 years?
If I can carry on doing exactly what I do now, without being caught, sued, compromised or maimed in some fashion then that would be just fine.
Text: Joe Cohen