Shooting Partridges, an essay film.


I have finished an edit of Shooting Partridges.

This is very much a personal essay film, I was exploring some ideas about the nature of nature, and I was exploring a particular style or ‘voice’,  so it quite an experimental project.  I have completed an interim edit, though this may become ‘the’ edit as I’m not sure I’ll return to it anytime soon.  It is embedded from Vimeo at the the bottom of this page, though please read the intro first.

What was originally to be a short wildlife film about the habitat and behaviour of British partridges has become something else entirely.  It is a kind of exploration of the mythologised nature of the English landscape, and the rather complex relationship that we (or rather ‘I’, I suppose) have with it.  This revision happened for a number of reasons: there were few partridge around (shooting season), I didn’t have the right lens to film them well (they are very shy) and it was getting rather costly driving around the cotswolds; but more importantly I came to realise that it was something ‘else’ that I was interested in – not the partridges themselves but something they stood for.  This ‘quest’ took me from fields to museums and restaurants to find how we ‘enculture’ the countryside.

So the film is now a little essay on the lure of the pastoral, and the way we ‘cook’ nature to make sense of it. More than that it’s a self indulgent reflection on a personal journey.  It’s been made in a bit of a rough and ready way as I think its unlikely to ever ‘go’ anywhere, but perhaps this lack of polish suits the style.  I narrated it myself, I’m not the best ‘voice’ but since it is a first person quest this was necessary.

There are certainly some shots that I’d replace if I find anything better, and I would have liked to have spoken to a Gamekeeper / Estate Manager.  However if I were to have gone down that road I think it would have necessitated speaking to the anti-shooting lobby, and conservators with other agendas – and I think that this would have made the film too long, and perhaps too ‘grounded’.  I was looking for something a little more fanciful, poetic even, I think.

I’m not sure the film has a ‘life’ beyond a personal project and portfolio piece, it is technically quite ropey, and does not really know its audience.  It is a little musing essay, à la Roland Barthes (though not in the same league of course), in filmic form.  I’m sure others have made such work more eloquent than I, but this is an exploration of the possibility of the format.

It was shot on a Canon Legria HF200 in 25fps mode, edited in iMovie.  In some cases sound received a little treatment in Garage Band.

Vimeo page linked here.


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