A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature. Over 15,000 daily subscribers. Over 6,000 archived posts.
Why is a metalhead singing Old MacDonald on the side of a rural highway?
Running time: 5 minutes
Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the film.
From Vimeo, about the film:
“Nursery Rhymes” slowly reveals information, playing with audience assumptions in the process. The film racked up numerous awards on the festival circuit over the last two years — and for good reason.
To celebrate its release, we talked with director Tom Noakes about his filmmaking process, including how he got the one shot that mattered.
“’Nursery Rhymes’ began with Will Goodfellow’s page-turning script. He’s a longtime collaborator, and as soon as I read it, it was a no brainer: we had to make this film. Will and I are especially interested in immersive experiences and spellbinding films that mesmerize the audience through atmosphere and tone.”
“I’m not always sold on hooky techniques like 1-shot takes, especially if they’re layered in arbitrarily to elevate the film’s craft or show off how clever the filmmaker is. However, ‘Nursery Rhymes’ was specifically written as a single shot, and it’s instrumental in guiding the audience through the story. Using this approach meant we could control the tension and release of information. As the camera reveals new details, it asks the audience to reevaluate what they’ve previously seen until the whole picture becomes clear.”
“While we were shooting, an unwelcome storm front made for hellish conditions. The temperature dropped to zero, it snowed in the morning, and the wind was piercing. Fortunately, it added to the overall brooding atmosphere, but poor Toby Wallace, who plays the lead metalhead, had to brave those temperatures shirtless. On top of that, there were unhappy toddlers, non-actors, wayward cow wrangling, impatient logging trucks, complex blocking, and an early sunset. I honestly can’t believe we actually got a take that worked. One take! The last one. That’s the one in the film. It was a mammoth effort to pull off and it wouldn’t have been possible without our crew’s insanely generous contributions.”
“The most valuable lesson I learned came after the film was released and audiences responded well to it. All I could see up to that point was the film’s shortcomings: what we had to sacrifice in order to make our day. There were so many little details and textures I wanted to add to further enrich the cinematic experience, but we had to cut them. I was devastated afterwards at ‘what could have been,’ which, in hindsight, was a complete overreaction considering what we achieved.”
“A great film can turn your world upside down and shape who you are. There are a few films that have done that for me, and I hope to one day do that for someone else, too.”