Bringing the past to life

When Irish Archaeological Field School rang me up the other day to see if I could come up with something for the international Day of Archaeology, I thought I might do a blog about the vox pop interviews I do with members of the community who visit Blackfriary site. Or I might create a podcast with a few of the international students to get their thoughts on Irish archaeology. Or maybe even talk about the fun I have photoshopping medieval manuscripts into graphics for their facebook page. I did not think that I would end up creating a reverse video. I don’t even like forward video! There are too many angles to take into consideration. I prefer audio and if I had a choice I would edit instead of record.

I began to think of Geoffrey de Gennevilles’ career, how he went on the crusades and was buried in Trim in the Dominican monastery that he founded. The strange things he would have seen. The strange times he lived in and what he would think of his beloved friary if he returned now. I began to think about how people engage with heritage, how they try to recreate the past with material objects found in the present. I remembered a Jean Cocteau film from my DS106 course that was done in reverse. I remembered a more recent video which used the same technique. From what I could make out, they needed to be shot in one continuous sequence. So it would be quick. It had to be quick. Minutely planned, but quick. My cup of tea.


It was not as quick as I planned. It took three takes which is still pretty amazing considering we had torrential downpours and excited children descending on a site that is more used to the slow and steady scrape of trowels. The archeologists were very tolerant considering that it was their day. My real stroke of genius was bringing a director with me. I could manage the material and the digital aspects of the project but I would not have had the time or capacity to work with individuals in the way that Delphine from Oulala Productions was able to. That made a huge difference to the finished product.
Did it work? Only time will tell.

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