The producer of our film new series, Unlock Art, reveals what it was like to direct Frank Skinner - and just how far he’ll go to tell the story of Performance Art
I’m a producer in Tate Media’s film team and have been working on a new series of films called Unlock Art. Each film in the series deals with very big topics in art in just 4-5 minutes, so each one has a lot of ground to cover in a very short space of time. It’s a bit of a departure for Tate in that the ideas explored in the films are not centred around our collection, and it also takes a completely different style to most of our films, which are often based in the galleries or an artist’s studio. Each Unlock Art film also has a different presenter and we’ve had the chance to commission some animation and shoot in a green screen studio.
When it came to finding contributors, I was really pleased that the comedian, writer and art-lover Frank Skinner agreed to work on the first film in the series about Performance Art. Frank understood the tone of the project right away, and brought a lot of energy to the film. Frank said:
I love the idea of Performance Art. Because I work in a line of performance where it’s very much about pleasing the audience, it’s a very needy job being a comedian, and you need to get that response, you need to get that laughter…Whereas, people who say, I’m going to sit in a bath of black liquid for two weeks, just the guts to do that…!
The shoot day began in the morning at Tate Modern with Frank’s first piece to camera (with a potato) in the gallery. We went on to shoot in a few other locations before moving to a green screen studio to film a number of pieces which were then transformed by animation to what you see in the film. As a director, I find the green screen environment a strange place to work in – it’s nerve-wracking in that you can’t quite imagine what’s going to come of it, but the crew was great and Frank was a good sport – he didn’t object at all to wearing my woolly hat or a Viking helmet, or even to getting into the bathtub we arranged for the shoot.
Also included area lot of archive photos and videos to help bring the script to life. We’re barely skimming the surface of Performance Art from an art historical perspective, but my hope is that viewers might discover something new or have their curiosity piqued enough to find out more.
There are still 7 films left in production, and I can reveal Peter Capaldi and Alan Cumming will be amongst the presenters and I’ll try to share more details as we go along. The next Unlock Art film (presenter and topic are still a secret) is due for release on 15 November - watch this space!