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Almanac

Original Proposal

This was the presentation we put together for the original commission brief. As you can see the project did change quite a bit during the following period of research and development.

Almanac / 365 - (Working titles)

An almanac
A cinema calendar - archiving and screening vivid glimpses of a familiar cultural landscape.

As you settle into your comfortable cinema chair in one of the new cinema 2, the advertisements come to an end. You expect the main feature to begin but instead an unfamiliar sequence fades up and overtakes the Cinema City Logo. Music and ambient sound fill the cinema from unexpected sources, and for just thirty seconds you try to decipher this at once familiar yet intriguing snippet of vivid footage.
The music fades, the screen loses its saturation and a simple text appears on the screen:
"Can the man in row three switch his mobile phone off"
You do, and Bowling for Columbine (back by popular demand) commences.

What is it?

*A cinema calendar:
365 separate digital video clips filmed in East Anglia on each day of the year preceding Cinema City re-opening.
*A dynamic system:
These clips will be held in a specially commissioned dynamic computer database, installed within the infrastructure of the building, and linked to the digital projection facilities.
*A series of bespoke trailers:
Bespoke software will enable this system to pull up a Cinema City project logo, the clip assigned to that day (by its date of production) and a 30 second music loop from a new commissioned work. Staff will also have the option to add text specific to that day or even screening.

What is the content?
A wide cross section of events and images filmed regionally. Each brief sequence will undergo simple post-production to create a recognisable 'feel' to the series. For example, events may include a family get-together, extreme weather conditions, the family dog, getting a tattoo, or a school sport's day. The soundtrack music, which will be sectioned into 30 second phrases, will be mixed with the ambient audio from each piece of footage.

How will it be produced?

Filmed by Pope & Guthrie:
We plan to spend several intensive periods in the region researching and generating the content. Ideally we will seek to initiate a regional residency enabling us to spend longer periods of time here, with a base to work from.

Directed by Pope & Guthrie:
We will create a production network utilising new and existing regional contacts. For Example:
East Anglia Film Archive,
Norfolk Villages Video Society,
Anglia Polytechnic University film students.

These 'nodes' will film the majority of the daily content under our direction. This content will be collated and edited by us throughout the year ready for input into the system for the first year of operation.

Alongside this process the bespoke software and soundtrack will be developed collaboratively with Dorian Moore (programmer) and Tim Olden (composer). We have worked in collaboration with both of them in the past.

Launch & legacy:
Ordinarily the cinema viewer will experience only a partial view of the overall system: A first time visitor to the cinema may be simply intrigued by the footage, by their third visit they may well start to associate the clips with Cinema City and a regular visitor will experience the seasonal nature of the system's constant changes.

However, the deliberately evocative daily clips are only a partial view of the complete database. In its entirety the system documents one entire year in the region, and this 'dataset' represents a significant archive. The whole dataset will be constructed in such a way as to also make a screening of the entire work possible: playing through the year's collection, clips will cross-fade into one another and the music (ordinarily experienced only as short loops) will play through 4 shifting movements.

To premiere the project we propose a one-off screening to coincide with the re-launch of Cinema City.

This regional 'almanac' clearly provides part of the legacy of the project. However, the system itself represents perhaps the most innovative legacy for Cinema City - designed to be used (by Cinema City or other organizations) to generate and screen further datasets beyond this commissioning process.
Therefore, at the close of the first year and of Pope & Guthrie's content, a new set of films could be commissioned or gathered with other organisations - offering the possibility of a constantly evolving and dynamic cinema experience, as well as an archiving facility for each complete dataset.

Influences
Cinema City is currently 25 years old. This may not seem that long but in 'film time' much has changed over that period - imagine looking at a series of documentary glimpses of that original year.
This idea really grew out of developing 'Anecdotal Evidence' , working with found Standard 8 footage with a new soundtrack and our experiences here in Norwich making 'Additional Footage'. As part of this we held a film show at Cinema City, again screening old film with contemporary soundtracks.
* Working with EAFA.
* Local networks we have contact with - Norfolk Villages Video Soc.
* Collaborating with local, hobbyist groups
* Films such as Andrew Kotting's Gallivant and Patrick Keiller's Robinson in Space.

Almanac still of Southwold

Still from Drowning by Numbers

Almanac still of Orford Castle

Still from Witchfinder General

Almanac still of North Weald Airfield