Arthur Howes (1950-2004) was a documentary film maker making films on tight budgets pleasing himself on what he thought would make powerful watching rather then being told to fit to a format of heightened drama to gather big audiences.
Last month SOAS screened his documentaries marking his legacy. At then end of the day, one of his colleagues on the panel described how he hated television and its funding methods. It was too restricting and forced the documentary maker into making work for TV rather than letting stories unfold and take place at their own pace.
“Arthur bemoaned the funding culture at institutions such as the BBC, where documentary seemed to be valued only if it had heightened dramatics, voyeuristic intrusion, and the heroic presence of on-camera directors.”
Of course we know TV is not real but do our psyches at some level not recognise this? TV taps into our unconscious part of our psyche because it is part of the landscape. Like asking the man who has lived next to a mountain about the mountain. He replies: “what mountain?” He is so used to it being there.
For example when we try and play out a situation we are going to find ourselves in the future do we heighten the drama TV style? There is a danger of seeing the way TV presents itself as normal.
A bit like families. Children bought up in abusive families think it is normal. There is no comparison to be made to the influential first years of life. There is no comparison. We just experience it: and that is how it is. These years go into inform us on we react and behave to situations in adolescence and adulthood. It is only after repeated behaviour that causes us pain do we force ourselves to look at why we keep repeating.
Art and culture is needed to keep reminding ourselves that there are many realities. Realities that are set up by others who have power over us and want us to believe and agree with what they say. Realities that we make ourselves that keeps us safe and help us prosper.
Long live the independent documentary film maker.
Arthur Howes (1950-2004)
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2014
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This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.