Saturday, 30 October 2010

Unsung Signposts (Un-funded & Unfair)

Well I reckon I’ve reached the point in my un-funded filmmaking journey, where the road forks and I find myself forced to travel down the road which is signposted ‘Un-funded’ while trying to live with the knowledge of what could have, would have, and should have been included in the final production.

I have been blessed indeed by the generosity of the films contributors to date. I’ve some 17 fascinating interviewees, who have given freely of their time and tales. Many of whom have donated their personal photograph collections, and videos to my project and not to mention the high quality folk tunes and original music offered for use in the films sound-track. I’ve also had the practical support and skills of friends such as Jaeson Finn, Nick Duffy and Henry Davies at my disposal. Without all of these the Houseboat TV project would not have got this far.

My dilemma started while browsing You-tube, when I accidentally stumbled upon a pirate copy of a film which my father, David Osborne-Dowle shot on 35ml, while He was at The London Film School 1967-68. It is a truly psychedelic music video for the Song ‘Flowers in the rain’ by the Move. He also produced, Director Lesley Ann Fullers 'Room’ which won best film at the Czechoslovakian Film Festival in 1968.

I got to thinking, just how wonderful it would be, to be able to include extracts from this ‘Flowers in the rain’ music video in my documentary about the Rosemarie Houseboat, which we lived on as a family in 1972-73. This was of course, after my father had left his career prospects in London, and joined my mother in Cornwall to raise a family. However, I also have footage of my mother from about the same time. When she flirted with film, this time from the other side of the camera; as she played the leading lady in a black and white film by Director John Bartlett (Westward TV), called ‘Mayday Mayday’. It was a musical narrative which tells the story of an 18th Century sailor (played by Ralph Bates from the Poldark series) who is shipwrecked in 1960’s Cornwall. My mother, then Caroline Durnford, (from The Durnford Sisters folk duo), is pictured singing with the famous Cornish folk singers John the Fish and Brenda Wootton, at the scenic Minack Theatre. The film also contains music by Steelyspan and is a uniquely creative reflection of Cornwall at this time.

Making the film; ‘The Many Romances with Rosemarie’, has revealed a string of talented people inspired by the beauty and spirit of Cornwall, some lucky enough to have been nurtured by the Rosemarie. Several of these have been original musicians, such as the 3 Daft Monkeys, Thistletown the Rosemarie band and friends. Although I am happy with the ‘Houseboat TV’ episode, where I have portrayed my parents as the Artists that they are today, I am aware this earlier history is perhaps more relevant to the overall story, and reflects the choice which I have made to document it in film.

As ‘The Many Romances with Rosemarie’ is an un-funded production, I have been forced to make some difficult choices, such as the withdrawal of 1930’s Archive footage, showing J-class yachts racing at Falmouth, and some regrettable compromises have been made. This is the price which a no-budget producer has to pay, and it’s a high one! The costs of copyright clearances for these films are sadly just too much for me to carry at this time.

One more fear haunts me, one greater than that of not being able to include all my desired content, enabling me to fulfil my greater vision. This is a fear based upon my past experience and the ‘side-lining’ of some of my other unfunded productions. By this I mean that, not only did I formerly receive a lack of financial support in producing an initial project, but then, to add insult to injury, this was replicated in a lack of support for the promotion of that same project. It seems that it is desirable for a financially backed project to be well marketed and therefore to endorse the financial investors. Equally unfunded projects, particularly if they are interesting, could be seen to compromise the funded works of contemporaries, and as a result these are ‘side-lined’ in screenings where ‘funded’ projects have been heavily promoted despite having a poor content. I really hope this doesn’t happen to the wonderful story of Rosemarie, simply because it didn’t fit a broadcast schedule or funding criteria.