Sunday 26 January 2020

Project: Tupilak II

We screened the film in a little cafe in Hackney, to a group of friends and family. We were lucky to do so before Covid appeared! The full film is available to view here.

For 500 years, the Norse Greenlanders made their home in the wilderness.

In 1450, they disappeared without a trace.

an Andrew Hall film | TUPILAK | starring Lily Taylor | cinematography Ashley Hughes

with Alex Newton | music Jordan Dobbins | design Matthew Ceo

special thanks to Bec Taylor | Alex Wagner | YHA Idwal Cottage

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Sunday 12 January 2020

Project: Tupilak

Almost two years since working on The Beachcomber (see my previous post on making films), I joined up with Andrew and Ashley (and our friend Alex) to begin filming our new project - Tupilak. We spent five days wandering around the mountains of the Idwal Valley in Snowdonia, in costume, transporting ourselves back into the 1500s with the help of some cast iron grates, heavy pans, a fishing spear (made from a gardening tool), and one sad little fish (from the supermarket). We imagined what life would be like for the last Norse Greenlander, alone and barely surviving. 

The project was inspired by an article from Ernest journal about the magical totems carved by the Inuit people of Greenland to deter enemies and the inadequately-explained disappearance of the community of Norse Greenlanders in around 1500 AD. I led our research - reading about the buildings and artefacts that remained - and from there we crafted the script. 

Andrew, on the 'tupilak' itself: "Acquiring a tupilak carved by a Greenland-based craftsperson was one of the key artistic decisions we made for the production. I thought it was important to have a daily reminder on location of the powerful history and wicked intent that was bound up in these objects, echoing the RSC’s use of a real skull in its traditional Hamlet stagings. We had previously stumbled across an Inuit art gallery on Paris’ Right Bank which sold a range of carved figures including replica tupilaks [I remember this day! It felt like a sign], but although we certainly hope that ours is no more real in the ominous sense, I felt that getting one from Greenland was important. In an age of lazy cultural appropriation, I thought the very least we could do was strive to work with authentic source material."

This was one of the most exhausting and rewarding projects I've worked on so far. Racing the sunset down the mountain. Chasing birds in the sky. Walking back and forth between the hostel and the hills. Paddling in freezing waters - as seems to be my calling card, now. Breathing in woodsmoke and waking up with the smell in my hair and my skin. Carrying two books around with me but never getting the chance to open either one of them. Drinking beers at the end of the day and cooking huge dinners and watching the footage back. Dealing with problems - a broken SD card, a missing charger cable, a misplaced fish. And then - at the end of it all - finding a knoll that caught the sunrise between the trees, with a view over the valley, and sitting there alone for five, ten, twenty minutes, and listening to the birds and then the silence - as if I were the only one left. 

You can see a trailer for the film here

(From Paris)

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