Tuesday, December 04, 2012

hats off (2): three short films made at Dave Borthwick and Dave Alex Riddett's bolexbrothers studio

The Saint Inspector (Mike Booth, 1996)

Little Dark Poet (Mike Booth, 1999)

Keep in a Dry Place and Away From Children (Martin Davies, 1998)


Tyler said...

On Noember 5th, Mike Davies wrote the following on his website razrez films:

"There's a film on this website called Keep in a Dry Place and Away from Children. That film was made at a groundbreaking studio called bolex brothers and it would never have existed without the unfailing support of a man called Dave Borthwick.

"I wondered on Friday how many of us had really absorbed it until we sat down in that chapel. Even though we all knew he'd been ill, I think a good many of us had been going around all week in some form of shock. He was an essential part of the landscape and it was hard to imagine him gone.

"Dave played an important part in many of our lives. He was pivotal in mine and though I'm glad I got the chance to say a few words at his funeral, there was much more I could have said. Something I did say but maybe didn't articulate very well was about Dave belonging to a different era. Some of us were lucky enough to be around towards the end of that era and we are all lucky that Dave was at least able to make Tom Thumb in a time before you had to jump through hoops, tick lots of irrelevant boxes and explain yourself to a panel of bland bureaucrats before you could get any funding. It was this same system - one that claims to facilitate filmmaking - that frustrated Dave and Andy every step of the way and ultimately foiled their efforts to get the Furry Freaks off the ground in Dave's lifetime.

"But Dave was a fighter and a bloody minded believer. He paid no heed to nay-sayers and he didn't suffer fools gladly, even when those fools happened to be clients. He was a director who hated making commercials, but who nevertheless made them as uncompromisingly as he would a short film. And when it came down to the nuts and bolts, his approach was pretty much the same. It was an organic approach guided by an instinct for visual poetry. It was an in-camera attitude that welcomed the hand of chance. And it was a way of seeing that I connected with from the start." [continued]

Tyler said...

"What do I think of when I remember working at bolex brothers? A maelstrom of images and memories. But in a few words, I think of a whole underworld that I was lucky to belong to. I think of the most inspiring form of chaos. I think of darkness and light. I think of dirt under the fingernails and poison in the lungs. I think of late nights and quite a few frayed tempers. But then I think of laughter. I think of friendship. I think of like minded people. I think of beauty. Not chocolate box beauty but the kind of beauty you get when you rip out your soul and nail it to the wall. Raw, honest, visceral. I think of some extraordinary creations. But above all I think of the only place in Bristol, England and probably this side of Eastern Europe - the one and only place where creations like that were possible - where they were MADE possible.

"Which brings me back to that word, chaos. It's a much maligned word but a bit of chaos can be a healthy thing. Sure, it was chaotic at times at bolex's. But it was a controlled kind of chaos. And a necessary chaos. The thing is, when you try to regiment the process too much - when you try to 'streamline' it, compartmentalise it, trim it and shave it and make it neat and tidy like a well oiled machine - when you do that, you're choking off the channels to spontaneity, which means whatever it is you're trying to create will be just a husk of what it could and should be. That way is to essentially cut off the oxygen supply. Dave knew that intuitively, which is why he embraced a certain amount of chaos. As did we all. We had to. We were up to our necks in it. We were sometimes made to suffer for Dave's visions, but even when we were moaning and grumbling, all of us knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel. It was a dark tunnel. It was a grimy tunnel. We were crawling on our hands and knees, getting covered in shit, but we always knew that when we reached the end, there would be light and the light would be bright and the struggle would be worth it

"And bear in mind that we were working on commercials most of the time. It's no mean feat to inspire that degree of faith in people in less than ideal conditions when they're working on a commercial. But then, these weren't any ordinary commercials. Those bastards were getting high quality, totally original, animated short films. And naturally, they still complained.

"So a lot of history happened under that unassuming flyover in the Basin and little did I know in 1993, when I knocked on the big blue door with my college film and a portfolio full of dreams, that this place and the man behind it would play such a big role in shaping my future.

"Bristol looks very different today. All the cottage industry studios have been swallowed up by one big lumbering powerhouse. Even bolex brothers fizzled out in the end. And now Dave has left through the door marked 'Exit'. But the spirit lives on. That spirit which Dave fought for and defended with every last breath in his body - that spirit will never die. As long as there are enough stubborn souls to keep the fire burning, that spirit will endure

"So now I've said a lot more, but still the most important things will remain unsaid. Because the same truth that Dave believed with a passion about film-making is also true in life: the essential things can't be explained. They just feel right.

Thanks for everything, Dave."