As we are all urged to return to work, walking through most UK city centres now, it is difficult to remember the days when the country was in grip of lockdown.
It was not so long ago that high streets were deserted, and the world seemed like a very different place. Many shops and eateries looked like the film set of a post-apocalyptic movie; city centres that once thrived on the hustle and bustle of its people became ghost towns overnight.
However, Carl Hunter saw lockdown as a creative opportunity and set out to document this unique moment. With lockdown leading to the monotony and blandness of undifferentiated days it seemed like “less than time”. Hunter’s art film re-imagines that period as a transcendent “more than time”.
In the film, anonymous messages are left on a Liverpool answer machine about loss and memory. Combining still photography and a soundtrack by Steve Grimes, the storytelling grows into a symphony of image and sound from the streets of a deserted city.
Carl Hunter and Steve Grimes are members of the iconic Liverpool band The Farm. Hunter won international acclaim in 2019 for his film starring Bill Nighy, Sometimes Always Never (Hurricane Films). Grimes has written scores for television and documentary.
Hunter describes the short film as a ‘poetic response to the COVID pandemic. The film is where memory populates streets of a once vibrant city, instead of its people’.
The short film [8’ 05”] is produced by the Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE) at Edge Hill University in Liverpool. Hunter is a Senior Lecturer in Media at Edge Hill and in this film works with director of ICE and film producer Martin McQuillan (Love in The Post, Oxi: An Act of Resistance) to create a film that draws from university research but is not merely academic. The film is edited by ICE manager Roz Di Caprio.
The film’s sonic adjective, has been created by Sam Auguste, a sound designer who has collaborated with Hunter on many films (A Winter’s Tale, British Council. A Day in The Lif – celebration of one of the most influential albums of all time – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for Culture Liverpool. Sometimes Always Never). Auguste’s sonic collage converts the imagined into a sensory journey.
Carl Hunter said, “in this film I was interested to explore strands of sound and image that draw on my experiences as a film director, musician, and academic researcher. It is important that universities accommodate filmmakers, it is also important that filmmakers who work in universities have something to say about lockdown”.
ICE Director and More Than Time producer, Martin McQuillan, said: “Carl has made a beautiful and moving work of art, which matches exquisite photography with Steve’s soaring soundtrack. The result is both serenely still and extremely cinematic, telling a story grounded in place but open to possibility.”