Experimental photographer and filmmaker Edd Carr explores his own take on the creation myth in his thought-provoking short movie A Guide to British Trees. Combining images created using different analogue methods, such as cyanotype and even the LomoKino, he makes a powerful statement about the relationship between human and nature.
Hello, Ed! Welcome to the Lomography Magazine. Please tell us a bit about yourself. How did your interest with moving image started?
Hello! And thanks for having me. I’m an experimental photographer and filmmaker hailing from a small house between two sheep fields in North Yorkshire, England. I’d say I’ve always had a love of moving image, but it definitely accelerated when my mother got us cable access to films on our television when I was much younger.
There I would stay up alone watching not only popular and classic films but also obscure experimental shorts and delightfully weird foreign films and animations. I think this perhaps gave me a wider perspective of moving image from a young age, and I bugged my parents for my first camera soon after.
Let’s jump right into your fascinating short movie, A Guide to British Trees. How did the idea for its narrative come about?
The original idea for A Guide to British Trees was derived from an older idea of mine titled NEED, that revolved around a starving man trapped in a tower, searching endlessly for the last tree on earth through a telescope. The underlying idea was that the piece would serve as a creation myth, like Adam and Eve, but based around the balance between humanity and non-human nature.
However, I decided to ground the film in the real-world, as to give it more immediate relevance with my intended audience — resulting in A Guide to British Trees. Here the film would still serve as a modern creation myth, using the tree as a symbol of the natural world. Although I won’t go fully into detail as I like my work to be open to some interpretation, hopefully, some of these themes translate in the piece.
This film mixes different analogue processes, including snippets shot with the LomoKino, which fit aesthetically to the themes being explored. What role does this unique style play in the story?
The film is indeed a mix of various analogue processes, including 35 mm stills, cyanotypes, pinholes, lumen prints, LomoKino, and more.
Firstly, I prefer working with analogue mediums, as their physical, tactile nature allows me to feel much more engaged and involved during creation. When using digital equipment too often, I find myself feeling divorced and distanced from the subject matter, whereas with a strip of negatives or piece of cyanotype paper in my hand, there lives a physical connection between the subject and creation.
Furthermore, the physical attributes of analogue mediums allow me to manipulate them with natural elements, as seen in A Guide to British Trees. For example, I buried stock in soil, shocked it with static electricity, soaked in seawater, and more.
Finally, each medium was specially selected to reflected certain thematic elements in the film. For example, the LomoKino’s ultra-wide perspective and soft focus were used for the initial dream sequence, to enhance the notion that the protagonist was lost in the dream-world.
How was your experience shooting with the LomoKino? Any chance of making another movie with it?
Shooting with the LomoKino was a unique photographic experience — mostly good but sometimes bad. I love the LomoKino mostly for the aesthetic it produces — the super-wide 3:1 perspective is so different and is perfect for conveying certain themes or emotions in your work, such as explained above. Additionally, the plastic lens gives that beautifully soft appearance to the footage, going great with the vibrant color film.
Also, the portability is ideal for a filmmaker such as myself that is often on the move and prone to long explorations in the wild. Without any electronic gadgetry, you can confidently rough and tumble the LomoKino about without worry, even in the wet. And of course, the LomoKino makes short film creation affordable for those who seek to go analogue — providing an excellent platform to then translate to 8mm or 16mm.
However, certain film stocks would easily be chewed up by the camera’s inner workings, which was often frustrating. I found Kodak Gold 200 to work well without being torn, with films limited to 24 exposures working best. Hopefully, you guys release an updated version one day that makes shooting a bit smoother, although I’ll definitely be using my current one in future projects — it really is a great little tool when working properly!
What inspires you?
I’d say my greatest inspiration is the natural world, trees in particular (if you hadn’t already guessed!). With trees often standing proudly at the center of an ecosystem, they are an easy way for humans to connect with the environment around us.
Whether in a forest or alone in a city square, their furrowed bark, slender boughs, frail twigs, and tender leaves tell of a world forgotten but still very much alive and in need of our care and protection. Whilst I don’t think every film I make will revolve around trees, I definitely have one or two left in me for now!
If you could collaborate with one person, who would it be?
That’s a tough question as I don’t often think in terms of collaborations, mainly because I work alone and have a very specific idea in mind of the end result and what I’d like to achieve. That said, I would probably go with a bit of a strange one and say electronic music artist Shlohmo, famous for albums such as Bad Vibes and Dark Red.
Often when coming up with ideas or trying to work one out, I’ll listen to music as a tool for inspiration as it helps me visualize what I’d like to depict. One of my immediate choices is always Bad Vibes, and I would love to one day produce an entire moving image piece that accompanied this awesome album from A to B.
Any future projects that you’d like to promote?
In October I’m heading to the Royal College of Art to study a masters degree in moving image. There I hope to do a documentary-ish film set in a hypothetical future where the English oak is extinct. Here I would develop the techniques I have used in A Guide to British Trees, and hopefully, raise awareness of an amazing species of tree that is currently under threat.
I am raising funds for the course fees on my gofundme page, please take a look! Thanks again for having me and keep up with the great products!
To see more of Edd Carr's work, head to his Vimeo page.