Director's Notes: Will Jewell

Will Jewell

Whilst making the feature film ‘South Coast’ I was documenting illegal graffiti artists who worked in the shadows, risking their lives to spray paint trains. This planted the seeds - making me question the boundaries and definitions of what is art. From Chris Burden having himself shot on stage to Mark Quinn draining his own blood to create ‘Self’, Conceptual Artists have for a long time suffered physically for their own art. It wasn’t a huge leap to envisage a conceptual art movement that took this a step further, with their art resulting in harm to others. ‘Man In Fear’ takes this concept and extrapolates it to its ‘what if..?’ extreme…

‘Man In Fear’ combines this concept with the artists manufacture of ‘random’ events – essentially playing at being God. To my mind, a film about art should embody and be immersed in the medium it is about, and Conceptual Art – particularly the infamous YBA movement - is based on A Big Idea or Concept and is by turns shocking, self-referencing, knowing and exhibits flashes of black humour. I took these as touchstones for the tone of this film.

The film is peppered with visual references to art and clues that Anthony’s fate was pre-determined from the start. It was my intention that the film exhibit very British flashes of black humour or twists on conventions – an Old Lady helps a young man across the road; a man walks into a police station and tries and fails to get himself arrested; a man survives a series of complex accidents, only to be run over by a bus…

The artists are framing Anthony’s last hours on earth as a walking, talking artistic statement. The film therefore uses each frame as their canvas and is very deliberately composed and shot with over a dozen visual or audio references to Conceptual Artists or their work woven into the fabric of the film in props, costume, backgrounds or dialogue.

Some of these art clues are in the foreground, others require a keener eye or ear, but they are peppered throughout the whole film. These art references range from the obvious like the Constable’s mentions of pickled sharks and elephant dung, to the more oblique, like the mystery café takeaway order of ‘Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab’ (a Sarah Lucas piece) which causes a suspicious Anthony to recoil from his food. Other examples include in the café scene where there is a Warhol tin of tomato soup on the newspaper cover being read by the builder wearing the Pollock-esque paint spattered T-shirt, or later the falling pile of bricks that nearly kill Anthony are a sly nod to Carl Andre’s infamous Tate piece.

Even Anthony’s final action when all else is lost of urinating against the desk can be read as a nod to Deschamp’s ‘Fountain’ that kick-started the entire Conceptual Art movement. Or it can be read as a reference to the fact that to many, Conceptual Artists are just taking the piss.

Filmography

Man In Fear

UK Film Council/ Fractured Films

Short Film (Writer/Director)

A group of conceptual artists create accidents as works of art. Starring Luke Treadaway, James Lance & Tim Healy.

South Coast

Fractured Films

Feature documentary (Director)

Social documentary about a quintessentially British form of hip- hop that has grown up around the south coast seaside towns. Officially selected for various international Film Festivals. Distributed by WIDE, Paris.

This Time Next Year

Fractured Films/BHCC

12 episode web drama series (Writer/Director)

Commissioned series charting a year in the life of a teenage girl via monthly web diaries. The film follows her journey into underage motherhood in a style akin to ‘Lonely Girl 15’ meets Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’. Starring Holli Dempsey.

Killjoy

Fractured Films/Red Cameron Productions

Short Film (Co-Director)

Dark short film about two serial killers who’s paths cross and they fall in love. But love hurts; sometimes it kills. Starring James Lance, Anna Blades.

Horrible Histories

Lion TV/BBC

Web episodes (Writer/Director)

Scripted and directed the Rotten Romans and Terrible Tudors web episodes of the popular series. Starring Martha Howe-Douglas.

Boglife(24 hours in the life of a rave toilet, circa 1990)

Fractured Films/Beautiful Mountain Productions

Short Film (Writer/Director)

Short observational comedy-drama about life in a grimy toilet block at a rave.

Money To Burn

SWAG Films

Short Film (Writer Director

Comedy/drama about a group of inept forgers.