Graeme Arnfield

What’s your background?

I was born in Plumley, a tiny countryside village in Cheshire in the UK. I fell backwards into a degree in Film Studies in York, which was where I got invested in cinema and moving image histories. On that course during the summer breaks I starting making films with my friends, inspired by or sometimes in opposition to the things I'd been learning about that previous year. After university I did a Master in Experimental Cinema in Kingston and moved down to London, where I still live. There I made my graduation film "Sitting in Darkness", a essay film about technology and perception which was accepted into various film festivals and screened online on vdrome. This is the film that all my other work has emerged from for the past 7 years.

What influences you artistically?

Lots of things - friend’s films, stray bits of history, techno records etc. Mostly making films that are visceral and embodied that also produce knowledge through research - that neither argue for one approach or the other, that are as felt as much as they are read and vice-versa. At the moment I'm re-reading some Mike Davis books, listening to last few Carl Stone records and watching POV videos of people on roller-coasters, so they are inspiring me currently, to what end I'm not sure yet.

How do you start a new work?

Usually a new film begins quite unknowingly. There is some encounter with an errant historical occurrence or a body of images or sounds, something that sticks with me, that I find myself often returning to - something that when I do return to it I find new aspects to it that generate new ideas or that complicate the ones before it. From there it's a slow and often unintentional process of finding materials to visualise and sonically render or counter that research. My friends will attest that I'll be talking about some random story for years before it becomes a film. And they often know way before me that this obsession is turning into a film. I'm the last one to know until I'm halfway through making it. Then I have to keep confident, follow the structures that have emerged from the research and allow each element of the work to speak for itself. In the actual construction of the work I try to be as fast as possible, to avoid over thinking it and to allow my emotional physical body to really sculpt the research and then at the end clean up that mess and sand off any bits that might tip the scale one way or the other. I think that speed helps counter how long it takes from initial encounter to completion - only last year did I make a film from a body of research that I’d been stewing on for a decade, so these things take their own unique time.

What are you working on right now?

Recently I finished my first feature film called "Home Invasion", it's a nightmarish essay film about the history of the doorbell and it's relation to historical labour struggles, the birth of cinema and contemporary surveillance cultures. That will premiere early next year. After that I'll begin working on a new film about the history of labour struggles in space and the micro and macro resistances practiced by those working in zero-gravity. Maybe those roller-coaster videos will find there way in there…probably not, but it's good to stay open to however the work wants to evolve.