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Posted 16.11.17

The making of ‘More Than A Pony Show’

By Kat Peberdy
We The People Are The Work is a city-wide exhibition across five central venues, including The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, featuring work from six internationally renowned artists focusing on issues of protest and power.

Artist Matt Stokes has transformed The Gallery with More Than A Pony Show, into a space in which to experience the legacy of DIY punk music in Plymouth, and although a reminder of music venues now lost, as reviewer Rowan Lear notes, “what emerges powerfully is the vitality of the people and politics that remain: this is a city-in-rehearsal, loaded with anger and anticipation.”

Students Dajain Daley and Benjamin Brockbank-Naylor assisted in the production of this exhibition, as part of the small crew responsible for filming the five bands performing in obscure locations around the city, including the disused bus station and the cramped stockroom of a shop.

This ambitious project appealed to the students from the outset. Benjamin, who acted as sound assistant for the project, was particularly interested in the way Matt interacted with the subjects of his films. “The relationships Matt formed with the people in his films allowed his rendition of them to be honest, intimate, and completely about them – not him – which is really inspirational to me.”

Dajain, who recently graduated from our BA (Hons) Film programme, was responsible for loading and maintaining the 16mm camera film while on location and supporting the crew during the shoot.

His experience working with 16mm film during his studies certainly came in useful for this production, he said, “Without the BA (Hons) Film programme, I would never have even come into contact with analogue film and so wouldn’t have discovered how much I love working with it, and I definitely wouldn’t have had the confidence to accept this role.”

“Being a long-term resident of the city, the opportunity to explore Plymouth’s urban environment sonically, using the punk bands as a device to breathe life into those environments, was fascinating.”

– Benjamin Brockbank-Naylor, Extended Diploma in Art & Design (Film, Animation & Media Production)

Filming on an ARRI SR2 Super16 equipment is notoriously high-pressure, with no capability for reviewing the footage until the film is processed in a specialist lab and the chance of ruining an entire roll of film from the slightest mistake in the loading/unloading process.

Image credit: Dajain Daley, on set of More Than A Pony Show

When asked about the biggest challenges faced during the shoot, Dajain said, “The one thing that sticks with me even today is the fact that just one slip up on my part could cause a whole roll of film to be ruined, never to be seen again just because I didn't seal the dark bag properly”.

Stokes’s practice stems from long-term inquiry into subcultures, particularly musical ones. He is interested in the way music provides a sense of collectivity, acting as a catalyst for particular groups to form, shaping and influencing people’s lives and identities.

Benjamin commented, “the scope of Matt’s research meant there was always a story he wanted to share about the shooting location, or a conversation he wanted to start with the band, which meant there was never a dull moment on set.”

“I love how all the locations look when they are projected, I love how the piece was exhibited and I really like how the audience is invited to move through  the space, letting the sound guide you around the exhibition”

– Dajain  Daley, BA (Hons) Film graduate

The exhibition has been open to the public since 22 September, following a successful private view which saw key figures from local and national art institutions and publications in attendance, an event that was a highlight for Dajain. “Seeing the films at the opening night was great, getting to relive the shoot through the piece itself and meet up with the crew again.

Photo credit: Pip Raud, More Than A Pony Show opening night

“When shooting films you get to meet all these amazing people and then when you've wrapped the shoot, you rarely get to have a chance to relax with them and have a laugh, and the opening night gave the perfect opportunity to do so.”

We The People Are The Work is available to view until Saturday 18 November, for a further peek behind the scenes of the production take a look at the screen placed just outside the entrance to the exhibition, featuring a video shot during the production. The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art will then be installing the next exhibition, from Dutch Collective Envisions, opening 29 November.