“The Rumour Mill” Whispers about the future of energy along the Derwent Valley.

Recording at Smedley's

My name is Bexie Bush and I’m an Animation Director and Project partner with ‘Stories of Change: Future works’. I graduated a few years ago from The National Film and Television School where I made the award winning film ‘Mend and Make Do’. My films tend to take a snapshot of people in places in a certain time, using lip sync or expression to enable discussions of everyday life among specific, historic or everyday objects within a scene. When working with people’s stories, I’m drawn to the objects around them that not only collectively portray those involved but also represent the style and culture of a certain place in time. I likes to use artefacts and mundane everyday objects from a period to personify people and their culture in playful ways that draw upon our symbolic associations to evoke memories and ideas.

I often use narrative as the foundation for my films and add layers of visual metaphors and sound. I like to direct a film as an art installation and love to include humour in my work. Normally I choose to work with specific objects to express deeper associations within a story and the techniques I employ often need to vary to carry this across topics.

In March 2015 I was delighted to be invited to travel to the Derwent valley along with other project partners from various disciplines to explore ideas surrounding the future of energy. Our time there was jam packed with visits to mills, museums and long picturesque walks. In the evenings we would have dinner together and discuss what we had learned or found interesting. It was lovely to explore the area and I particularly was enlightened by the friendliness of the town. I was rather inspired by Smedley’s Mill as they are looking into ways of using renewable energy to power the mill in the near future, – not forgetting that their mill used to be water powered and still uses steam now for washing their garments. Not only are they energy efficient but they are also one of the last standing British manufacturers, one of the UK’s leading clothing brands and have even kept the royal family warm with their beautifully manufactured jumpers. From a film-makers point of view I found the entire building to look like a Wes Anderson film and fell in love with the aesthetic of the place but more importantly the whole mill was populated with positive, charismatic and bubbly people, – perfect as ‘Stars’ for a new film. I decided to make a film about Smedley’s called “The Rumour Mill”. The title being derived by the concept of lively dialogue and personal views which will feed the content of the film.

Jane Middleton Smith, head of the archive at Smedley’s and staff welcomed me and arranged for us to interview 30 of the factory workers to hear what they think about the future of energy. Plied with coffee, tea and homemade cake, Phil Bush, my Sound Recordist Father and designated driver and I, spent two days recording interviews. The staff all have diverse personal views on what they think of how energy is used now and how they would like to see this change. The discussions have brought about many interesting suggestions for the way forward and the mood of the discussions are endearing, fun, friendly and full of heart and passion.

There is still lots to plan and organise and I am very eager to make a start on creating a storyboard and pinning down the dialogue we are going to use. I am working with Editor Pawel Slawek and Writer Stefan Kaday to choose the quotes that best make a film. This will be edited into discussion and an animatic (moving storyboard) will be created.  The moving storyboard is key to this process as once it is complete, we can then plan the costing of the film, how long each shot will take to create, what equipment is needed, what assistance is needed and how long the entire process will take. We will then put together a shot list and organise a team.

It will take at least four months to build sets, props and animate this film. We aim to take up residency as a team in the nearby town of Cromford and work in Smedley’s Mill using animated objects and artistic ideas to represent the people and place.

The final film will be a captivating 3-6 minutes long, using stop frame object animation to bring the discussion to life. The film will have a splash of humour mixed with visual illusion/wonder and engagement. This film is not just about energy, it is also about community, living life to the full, British manufacturing and most of all coming together to talk about and bring about change. These ingredients help to create the conditions for a much more energetic and engaged public and political conversation about energy futures.

Wish us luck and stay tuned for more “Whispers” about “The Rumour Mill”

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