‘Poetry in Conversation’ is more than readings with Poets; it’s the way Alex can feel inspired by his subjects to create an experience captured on video. He is both passionate and romantic about his work, and it is not about the quality of film, but it’s about the portrayal of life in words and images. We caught up with Mr. Franco from London.
Your series ‘Poetry in Conversation’ – where did this all begin?
I question the poetry, I mean the way I edit is quite raw and experimental, but very interesting because I love cutting the frame, and having a very chopped edit.
Your latest project is “Screen Test N.11: Romantic Love” with Greta Bellamacina. What is it about?
I’ve been working on a series of Poetry in Conversation with different poet artists. However, the moment I met Greta, we just connected because I was telling her about all these ideas and videos I wanted to do, and then she said, this is great, you can do this with my poetry, and then we started the whole “Poetry in Conversation.” “Screen Test N.11: Romantic Love” is an ode to Romantic Love, a poem inspired by a Lucien Freud painting called the Naked Portrait.
What was it like engaging with emotion, poetry, and your subject, Greta on film?
Well I think you are recording this emotion. Some people are awkward in front of the camera, and others are confident. So it’s like watching a subjects’ soul move forward – I’m almost apart of this experience and the subjects’ transformation.
So does it make the poetry more powerful?
Yes because it becomes more personal.
Do you consider yourself a poet?
Well maybe, Greta says so. I do write a lot. I love philosophy. It can become rather poetic, and with photography, this is another poetic medium, and a way of exploring my subjects. I like to get close to my subjects, and words make this stronger. I love doing this. Every picture I have, I love putting words to them, I love mixing these two mediums; witty, dark, it doesn’t have to make sense.
Would you consider poetry and film the new medium in reviving something that was once so quintessentially English?
Yes, definitely because of the Internet and social media, people are reading less and less poetry. For photography, videos, or for text, life is going so fast. So I think for poetry and video, it’s the future, it’s the source. You can make a book of poetry and go to poetry readings, but you can make a film in one minute or thirty seconds, and people get the message straight away and that’s what this generation is interested in.
It’s the way you can inspire young generations.
The manner in which you film, it is rather simplistic and raw… I think, the simple the better. I love the camera that I use, and I found this camera years ago, I love the way these VHS cameras zoom. And when you are speaking about high quality and high definition, we forget about the content, and strong content is so important; words are everything, words and images are the best sexual relationship together. So I thought this camera would allow me to show this. Another thing is I love the distortion lines, and the noise it makes. I like this error in work. It is about the subject and this quality was essential.
How would you describe your film career at this stage?
My film career is still evolving the same way as my photography. I love them both equally so I’m constantly coming up with projects for either film or photography. Sometimes you concentrate on one side more than the other but for me they are both equally as important.
You can make a book of poetry and go to poetry readings, but you can make a film in one minute or thirty seconds, and people get the messagestraight away and that’s what this generation is interested in.
And do you see differences between photography and film, when portraying a subject?
No, it s the same thing. I interact with my subjects in the same way, whether taking photos or shooting. How I take pictures, is exactly how I film and interact with my subjects. It’s also down to the edit and the story I want to create. You can do it with ten pictures or ten seconds of film. I’m developing both my film and photography career… I’ve been doing this since I was 16 years old, but professionally since I was 20 years old.
You worked with FKA twigs?
That was for RUSSH magazine. I love her. She has a beautiful soul, is very calm, she is very interesting.
She is almost a poet?
Oh definitely, she is an amazing performer. All of her movements and how she choreographs her acts – it’s an image of her mind and her soul. It’s so important my subjects; I want to feel inspired by my subjects. I don’t care what level you are at professionally, but rather I’m interested in what level your mind is at. And this is what inspires me. Twigs, she has an amazing level of music, but you know it’s about what is inside of her, and who she is. I met her five or six years ago, and professionally she has changed, but her character is the same, and this is the essence of inspiration. That’s why I love what I do. I want to feel inspired about my subjects.