Happy New Year! Here is our first Down on the Farm update for 2019. With such a variety of topics and stories - and a whole year in which to make their films - our film makers are currently at different stages of production. Some are still working on research while others have already begun filming with their chosen farmers. Here is a selection of reports and snippets to keep you up to date ...
ALICE BOLLEN - LEIGHTON, FARMING WITH NATURE
I am pleased to say we completed our first day filming on Saturday 12th January. Myself, Rem, Judah and our niece Izzy met with Leighton and his partner Jill at the Hartland Abbey gardens to film their first garden clearing session of the season. We were very lucky with the weather as the day started out bleak and wet but cleared by the time we arrived, and we spent two hours filming as Leighton and Jill cleared away last years growth and began digging tomato trenches in the polytunnels.
We also filmed Leighton planting the first seed onions of the year at his home in Stoke, where he explained to us how applying different techniques to growing seeds offers different results. He was very pleased to note that the first seed onions have taken only three days to germinate, so a promising start to the season. There is no work yet to be done on the beehives but in the next two weeks Leighton will be pruning apple trees and planting the first potatoes.
"Why farming? "Of all the careers a young woman could go into, we're really keen to explore this question. As female filmmakers with an interest in social change we're really inspired to be working with Olivia. As a small scale no dig farmer and member of the Landworkers' Alliance, Olivia has a distinctly political edge to her work, which we wish to capture through this portrait of a market gardener in North Devon."
Holly and Jo, Black Bark Films.
ARIEL PINTOR - THROUGH JOSH'S EYES
The first shoot for Through Josh's Eyes took place between 3rd and 6th December 2018. I think it was very successful, on several counts. Most importantly, it consolidated my relationship with the film's subjects, the Jeffery family. I was 'embedded' in Lower Brownsham Farm for the duration, observing and sharing in the Jeffery's daily routine and comprehensively documenting all aspects of their life and activities in and around the farm.
I felt we grew to like and trust one another quickly. For my part, my first stay at Lower Brownsham Farm confirmed what interesting - and welcoming - people the Jefferys are, as well as the visual richness of their farm as a film location.
My initial concept for the film, to portray the working/family dynamic of Lower Brownsham Farm through the POV of its youngest tenants Josh, Steven and Charlotte, played an important part in this first shoot. The individual interviews and scenes I filmed featuring the boys and their baby sister have already given me plenty of good material to present themes central to the farming experience.
"The filming of the lambs and the daily routine of the Balsdon family at the start of lambing will take place in January and this will serve as a way of showing the small workload in the early stages and when the shoot in March is completed there will hopefully be quite the strong contrast between the start and middle of lambing season when it comes to the work that is undertaken."
Michael Balsdon, Film Maker
FLORENCE BROWNE - LOCAL MEAT BOXES
I had a brilliant time doing my first stint of filming at West Ilkerton farm in the autumn - the depth of knowledge that Chris, Tortie and Sarah have on their animals is amazing, and will be a challenge to get everything into my 5 minute film!
We went out to visit the herds in the landrover, and saw deer at the same time which are frequent visitors on the land. Nothing gets past Chris, and he has a keen eye for detail on the animals' wellbeing as he checks up on them. We also visited the local abattoir at Combe Martin to pick up meat to be sold at the Lyn Food Fest the next day, and it was great to see this stage of the meat-box process and the team effort that goes into labelling everything round the kitchen table when it's all brought back home.
I got some lovely shots that evening as the sun was setting of Chris doing the rounds on the farm and feeding his beloved rams, and I was also lucky enough to 'help' sample all the types of beef to be sold the next day at dinner time!
LINDA MASON - LIFELONG FARMER
I arrived one sunny morning on 9th October, to a very welcoming Rose. We spent a few hours having a cup of tea and talking about the farm. We then went on a walk around the farm, (with the dog) I was impressed at how fit Rose still is, and she still was climbing fences to get around. We visited the older cattle out in the fields and Rose enjoyed sharing stories about living in Devon all her life.
When we got back from our walk Rose started to get ready for feeding the young cattle that are in the sheds, they have to be fed twice a day, still by hand (the machine they were going to invest in did not work). This is truly a partnership, and with her husband (Freddie) they fed the twenty-three young cattle.
I began filming the young cattle and the feeding routine; Freddie enjoyed sharing about their life as farmers. This first visit was to get to know Rose and Freddie and for them to become comfortable with me filming them. I spent the rest of the afternoon with Freddy visiting the older cattle in the fields, they both have such a lovely relationship with their animals, and I could see how much they cared for the cattle. The cattle are very inquisitive and enjoyed exploring me with my camera, many trying to eat the camera straps!
"Wayne doesn’t claim to be unique in his farming practice and ethos, but when pushed he would say that his environmentalist practice and organic production make his farm unique. In particular, he pastures his cattle along the picturesque marshlands and sand dunes of the North Devon coastline.
Wayne wants to promote organic, environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural produce, but he can see that cost is the lowest common denominator and a lot of people in Britain can’t afford this type of lifestyle." James Cox, Film Maker
Our next update will be in April 2019 when we will bring you more news from Down on the Farms.
In the meantime if you want to follow us and the project on social media you can find us here:
Facebook: North Devon Moving Image CIC
Twitter: @NDMovingImage #downonthefarm #northdevon
Keep up to date with all the latest news from NDMI Creative Director Amanda McCormack.
North Devon Moving Image CIC
Amanda McCormack, Creative Director
telephone: 01271 860610
North Devon Moving Image CIC is a Community Interest Company Limited by Guarantee
Community Interest Company No. 8737215
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