September 7, 2012

Documentary: The Spirit of an Emperor

As part of the exhibition the Fitzwilliam invited the filmmaking group, Jumpcuts, to do a documentary around the show.  The group of young people aged 14 to 18 produced the film ‘The Spirit of an Emperor’ which premiered at the Cambridge Big Weekend on 7 July 2012 in front of 30,000 people.  

Below one of the young people involved Toby Forshaw talks about the making of the film, which is screening at the Arts Picturehouse Cinema on Monday 10 September 2012.  The project was led by the Arts Picturehouse Cinema and Cambridgeshire Film Consortium.

Blog post by Toby Forshaw, one of the young filmmakers from Jumpcuts

Our project, overseen by filmmaker Ryd Cook, was to produce a film inspired by The Search for Immortality exhibition at the Fitzwilliam museum. It was to be part documentary, part fiction.

We were each to write our own fiction sequence and they were all to be incorporated in the film. With this in mind we visited the exhibition to seek inspiration. It was awesome and we all found something to use.

We embarked on our shoot, beginning with exhibition footage, including the objects we had chosen. We interviewed members of staff, including the curator, Dr James Lin, who told us about the history of Han China and the beliefs and customs of Han Chinese burial.

The drama corps Indefinite Articles were, like us, producing a piece inspired by the exhibition. They described how the exhibition informed their work.

Then to screenwriting! Helped by screenwriter Rick Harvey, we turned our six scenarios into a cohesive narrative. This was shot indoors using green screen, and on location by Byron’s Pool and Grantchester Meadows.

We had an animation workshop with Lizzy Hobbs, where we made animation cells to give added dimensions to our film. We created animated sequences, backgrounds and demons!

Two weekends of editing, and our film emerged. We are very proud of it and honoured to be part of this fascinating exhibition. We hope watching it is as enjoyable as making it and that it helps enrich people’s experience of the exhibition.

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