Bill Jackson is an international award winning photographer and filmmaker, who lives and works in the UK. His latest short experimental film is called Fog and itwas selected as an award winner in the best short experimental section of the Art Film Spirit Awards. It is our pleasure to speak to Bill about his work as an artist and a filmmaker.
How did you start making experimental films and what was the first film
project you worked on?
I first started making little experimental ditties when I was at Art School and had
access to film making equipment. When I was very young I had a Super 8
projector given to me by a local film maker, who was also a butcher. I also used to
hire one reelers from a local film library to project in my bedroom. They were all
silent classics. I immediately fell in love with that magical dark place that we know
as the cinema. My first films were scratched onto blank 16mm film leaders having
been introduced to the work of Norman McLaren and Len Lye. In my youth I was
heavily influenced by such surrealist film directors as Luis Bunuel, Meya Deren
Lotte Reiniger, Jean Cocteau and Man Ray. My first non animated film was shot
on a super 8 camera and was a collection of random filmic sequences shot in a
day, in camera. The sound track was scratched onto the edge of the film, (I used
silent film stock). It’s now long lost in the mists of time.
What genre of filmmaking are you looking to work on and why?
I don’t see myself working or wanting to work in any specific genre, preferring the
freedom afforded by independent film making without portfolio. Recently I have
been working on music films, one of which was the official video for the 50th
anniversary of iconic Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon’. I was commissioned to make this
after they saw a film I made on ancient trees at night as part of my residency with
Studio Fabre Hardy in 2021.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker
and working on arthouse films?
Being on your own for most of the time and not having like minded people easily
on hand to discuss and kick the can around. It can be lonely but in that loneliness
you can find yourself. It is always going to be the funding but just as important, is
getting it out there to be seen. It is easier now with the internet and online
streaming sites such as Vimeo and YouTube but there is no live audience with
which you can directly engage with about your work or even gauge their reaction.
That I miss. But equally I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How challenging is it to fund indie short films?
Very. Although I have the technical, creative and in-house resources, to be able to
involve other artists that requires their generosity in giving their skills and talent
freely. If money was more freely available then that would make a big difference,
by opening up creative avenues not previously explored. But money will not make
a weak concept stronger.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been
influential in your work?
Ha difficult, but today my three favourite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky who gave
me an understanding of time, patience and the universe, Sergei Einstein for
introducing me to the true language of film and Jean Vigo who introduced me to
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
I have been working on a series of films which FOG is just one. They can be seen
as individual films or as a suite involving several. It is a visual symphony on the
landscape that surrounds me here in the east coastal region of the UK. A land
imbued with the ancients which many people say they can sense their presence
on the beaches, the forests and the marshes. It is a landscape that takes no
prisoners - you either love it or run away from it. My next film project is a
collaboration with other artists that responds to an ancient tract of land through
film, music, words, drawings and performances. It involves a live public
performance of the piece in two years time. I am very taken with the phenomena
of combining film screenings with a live performance as experienced in the days of
silent cinema. I have worked with performance artists and dance in the past and
found it both rewarding and challenging.
What was the inspiration behind your latest film project?
The landscape where I live. Walking those beaches, those marshes, those forests,
both by day and by night, standing still so that I am able to gaze into the distance
and see the past.
How did you find the cast and the crew of the film?
I don’t work often, if at all, with actors and I occasionally work with additional crew.
I do so like working with other creatives such as visual artists or musicians or
poets who can push you out of your comfort zones. Find where your limitations
are then you will begin to grow.
What is the distribution plan of the film and did the film receive any
screenings or was it featured in festivals?
I planned to screen the film FOG initially in a site specific location, even outside in
the landscape where it was created. It did get an audience screening in an
impromptu weekend artfilm festival which coincided with a mainstream
documentary festival happening across the way from the gallery where it was
shown. The feedback was very supportive and encouraging. I initially try to show
my films in small spaces for public feedback before submitting to festivals etc. In
that respect I very carefully look at which festivals my films would find a
sympathetic eye. At the moment I am in the process of submitting the film for
Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have
on the world?
I make films because I am visually literate; the written word is a place not enjoyed
by me - I find it daunting being dyslexic. I want to find a way to communicate my
experiences in the world which I live in. As a child, poetry and later song lyrics
were a way I could express ideas but I took that into film and photography, a
perfect platform. As for their impact, all I know is the feedback I receive from
people in conversation or in letters/emails. My films are slow, nothing happens but
everything happens and that is seemingly what appeals. It allows people to take
time out from their world and entering a time and place giving them the freedom to
add to their experiences. There is no beginning, there is no middle and that end
can often be where you began. It seems to work for some people, maybe not for
all but then I am fortunate I can indulge in a medium that has a universal visual
language easily accessible.