Artist In The Director's Chair


2016060220161220 (R4)Miranda Sawyer explores the London Film-makers' Co-op and its refreshing approach to film.

Fifty years ago the London Filmmakers Co-op was formed to challenge the conventions of mainstream cinema. In a derelict building film enthusiasts gathered to see unusual films and artists could share in the equipment and make their own films, abandoning the stranglehold of plot and script to make more expressive, authored, personal, uncensored visions in film. Here the journalist Miranda Sawyer explores an alternative approach to filmmaking.

In 1983 the small audience and growing number of filmmakers would also find a home on TV. The arrival of Channel 4 television, with its remit to provide innovative broadcasting acted as a huge boon for the independent film and video sector. Monday nights through the 1980s were a feast of strange, non commercial arts programmes and film screenings. Their ongoing support of artists including Derek Jarman, Clio Barnard and Steve McQueen has opened the doors for a handful of artist filmmakers.

Today there is more awareness of the idea of the artist film, though it's still considered taboo in cinemas. But as Miranda discovers, in an age of studio-dominated, mass-produced cinema, artist-filmmakers offer a refreshing voice - and not just on the margins.

Miranda talks to filmmakers Malcolm Le Grice, John Smith, Lis Rhodes, Tacita Dean and Ben Rivers among others.

A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 4.