An Unexpected Appreciation !
Synchronicity is quite wonderful - it takes you by surprise!
I reside in Govan, an area of Glasgow that has had more than its share of neglect and de-industrialization over the past forty years. The high street has seen better days, but not recently.
However, there are wonderful changes afoot here. The BBC and Scottish Television have moved over to the south side of the River Clyde, twenty minutes' walk from Govan. The former Govan Town Hall municipal building - a proud and sturdy dame in red sandstone - has metamorphosed into "Film City" and now houses many film and television production companies - not to mention the most up to date dubbing theatre in all of Europe - Savalas!
There are all sorts of amazing initiatives and events springing up in Govan. And one afternoon a couple of months ago I rounded a corner to find a young man with a broadcast quality video camera shooting GVs - general views - of Govan.
I asked him what he was up to and he mentioned a documentary for the BBC. I said that he ought to think about doing a documentary on the subject of Mary Barbour, the courageous woman who led the Glasgow Rent Strike in 1915, when landlords raised rents on struggling households headed by women whose husbands were off defending the Empire in World War One.
I mentioned that I'd recently made a documentary of my own - " - a gay art house movie for the whole family! "
"I'M making a gay art house movie ! " he declared.
His name is Jeremy Jeffs, and he is busy making Bette Bourne - the Movie with Bette Bourne and Mark Ravenhill.
Some weeks elapsed and Jeremy got in touch. At his request I sent him a DVD of U & ME & TENNESSEE and today I received the most wonderful response from him. I don't feel that it is at all self-aggrandizing if I share it here. It shows that there are those out in the world who "get" U & ME & TENNESSEE, who understand and and even appreciate how I made the movie, the choices I took, how they've turned out, what I was aiming for.
"What a great film!
I sat and watched it yesterday morning and loved every moment of it. Konrad is a fascinating character and talks so beautifully and theatrically but what really gripped me was the story telling: a sign of a deft and confident director.
My wife, Gaby came in half way through and without me explaining what was going on, was gripped too and sat and watched the rest of it with me!
I may have mentioned to you that Mark referenced My Dinner With André when we were planning Bette's film and your film shows how a clear story, simply told with a single character can hold the viewer's attention in a way that most of what's on TV just can't.
I think you made some brave and bold decisions in the way that you shot it, in sticking with (almost) a single location and clear, strong camera work without any tricky distractions. Shooting on 2 cameras was a good choice and it's making me regret my single camera approach! Your choices paid off filmically and meant that as a viewer I was able to engage and concentrate on the story.
Actually we used 4 cameras on the main conversation!
Thanks so much, Jeremy - Your comments and reactions are deeply appreciated. I know Konrad would be absolutely delighted with them - Thanks !
Photo of Paul Birchard & Konrad Hopkins by Alan Wylie copyright 2006.