Director Mark Jenkin has shared his vision for what he describes as 'A Subterranean Road Movie'. Bullion director Mark Jenkin has collaborated with Thom Yorke on a promo for new band ‘The Smile’- a collaborative musical project that is the brainchild of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood.
An abandoned Cornish mine 200 feet under the earth is the setting for the brand-new track entitled ‘Skirting on the Surface’, featuring Thom Yorke as the enduring miner.
Something that is typical of Mark’s directing is the way in which lighting, camera and the developing of the film all work in tandem with Mark at the helm, and this project was no different. Skirting on the Surface was directed and shot by Jenkin on 16mm black and white negative using a clockwork Bolex H16, within the depths of the mine.
When it comes to light, Mark has spoken of the ‘honeycomb of tunnels’ within the mine that offered no natural light, which meant effectively shooting in a black box. This, according to Mark, offered a huge possibility of what you could discover by adding light. The miner’s torch atop Thom’s head was used as the main source of light in the film. The torch was also used by Mark while hand processing the film, to add light to the negative. Mark explains the process below.
‘I then hand-process the negative in my studio and usually interfere with it in some way. On this occasion I solarised parts of the film by flashing the negative during processing with a torch. I often mix my own developer from powder, and for this batch I used water that I took out of the mine to complete the solution, complete with all the grit, mud and minerals that come with it. You can see quite a lot of that in the finished piece.’
This experimental way of developing the film is a technique that Mark practices to create new visual dimensions, thriving in the unpredictability of what he has named ‘the happy accidents’ of film.
The ethereal film makes references and stylistic nods to Mark’s Bafta award winning debut feature ‘Bait’. Comparisons can be drawn between the protagonists of each. For Mark, a starting point of the music video was the idea of a man giving something back to the earth. Through the unpolished Cornish archetype figures that feature in both Bait and The Smile video, a fisherman and a miner respectively, Mark is able to express and honour Cornish identity and the ways in which it is inextricably linked to the land and to the elements.
Shot during storm Eunice, the crew were blissfully unaware of the chaos that ensued above ground. Bullion Productions and executive producer Joel Spencer had to seamlessly manoeuvre complications and travel restrictions to pull off the shoot. A beautifully dedicated and ethereal film that is a must watch.