Critique – ‘Sea Change’ (2005, Joe King & Rosie Pedlow)

Sea Change is a short artistic film with high production values that takes a documentary-like approach to presenting it’s aging subject – a caravan park coming to the end of its final season prior to the caravans being taken away to make way for a housing development.

Filmed in 35mm and involving a fair-sized production team including Director of Photography Peter Ellmore and Composer Simon Allen, both of whom deserve a decent share of the credit, the film establishes a deceptively simple tracking format from the onset. In fact, several tracking shots taken along the same 300m run over the course of several days are used as the project’s raw material. The edit moves between shots taken using separate zoom levels and different times of night and day – thus a sequence is presented that on the one hand is a linear progression and on the other jumps back and forth in time and space.Sound design is used to accentuate mood differences created by this progression, often ‘spiking’ in sync with dramatic changes of luminance, a technique also used by King and Pedlow in their more recent offering, ‘Strange Lights’ (2010).

The subject matter is endearingly human, and although narrative is not formally employed, some sense of people’s lives, characters and stories is captured as the camera moves – the old man coming out of his caravan with garden gnome-like effigies in the window, the woman walking a dog both seen almost purely in silhouette, the children waving sparklers in the night air. There is a sense of frailty, renewal and place memory.

Artist and lecturer Janet Hodgson – comments “Here is a wobbly balance between the prosaic and the romantic crafted with precision . The subject of a caravan park has been treated with an apparent formal distance to render it the subject of reflection for 5 and half mins. Ideas of class, of time, of memory , of light and of cinema, as we see through the windows at night peering into others lives, as they pass as does the film”.

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