My first short film was called ROTA, which I made at Middlesex Polytechnic. Shot in 16mm, black and white, it was an apocalyptical tale, starring Jimmy Nelson, an old friend from art school, and Francesca, my wife. A man returns to the ruins of a world where no man has walked for generations, only to find love. It is a story of eternal return and was influenced by Chris Marker’s LA JETÉE.
The opening sequence has a shot of a very young Anish Kapoor in costume, then a student at Hornsey Art School. Along with a flute player called Tom (he was a Morris Dancer I recall), I wrote the music and performed it on mandolin. I then ran the score backwards and cut it up into an abstract shape which I thought intriguing, like a Kurosawa movie.
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a film festival at that time. It was shown once on an ancient projector to a large band of African drummers I knew, but the film was very solemn and dark and northern European. The projector chewed the film up and the drummers, feeling sorry for me, gave me a very hearty African applause.
My next short was made at the National Film School, starring my writing tutor, Shane Connaughton, who went on to write THE PLAYBOYS, which I directed, and who co-wrote MY LEFT FOOT. It was called HERE HE COMES, based upon a real incident in a Cambridge bedsit years before.