Produced, Directed, Edited and Shot by Dustin Morrow
Sound Design by Corbin Wescott
Running Time 7:41
Genre: Experimental Documentary
“Ground London” is an experimental documentary that explores the British capital at the intersections of three types of geography: urban geography, cultural geography, and psychogeography. Its employment of a specific point-of-view, locked in photography that never gets more than three inches off the ground, along with heavy manipulation of both sound and image, exposes a London seldom examined: a city that moves poetically and with great order when observed slowly and in minute detail. This city, perhaps the most culturally important in the world (certainly among the most economically and politically central) moves fast. Moving through it during the summer, when the tourists add untold numbers to the population fighting to traverse the sidewalks, streets, parks and stores, is a challenge. Chaos seems to reign alongside the Queen.
But there is another London, one of patterns, created by the geo-urban spaces themselves and by the ways that people (both residents and tourists) engage and interact with those spaces. Ground London explores those spaces and the people that move through them. It goes deep underground, to the London Underground (“the Tube”) and high above the city, into the iconic riverside ferris wheel known as the London Eye, without ever leaving the ground/floor-level.
The film forges its exploration with a sense of lightness and humor. Filled with images of children playing and people relaxing and sightseeing, the film presents a specific London, a city that can move slow, a city that can rest when it makes the effort. A man feeds pigeons during his lunch hour. A couple sits reading in the lawn chairs in Hyde Park. A game of cricket gets underway. In one shot, people literally stop to smell the roses.
The film is full of playfulness. A childʼs toy dog crawls on the floor of the great Harrodʼs department store. People pose as the Beatles did on their “Abbey Road” album cover in the intersection at which the photo was shot. Children crawl upon the backs of the lions in Trafalgar Square. The film is also playful in technique. Filmmaker Dustin Morrow uses color, shape, perspective and movement to emphasize elements of the frame. Corbin Wescottʼs original sound design immerses you in the spaces, drowning you in their atmospheric elements, and employing great wit in its evocation of the landscape.
“Ground London” gets down on the grass, down on the floor, down on the pavement, to present you with a new perspective on one of the worldʼs most photographed urban landscapes, and on the people who live and travel there.
The film premiered at the 2013 Northwest Filmmakers Festival, where it won the award for Best Experimental Film. It has gone on to screen in festivals around the world, including the OpenLens Film Festival, Big Muddy Film Festival, Cape May Film Festival, Experimental Film Festival Portland, Athens International Film and Video Festival, ArtsFest Film Festival, Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, University Film and Video Conference in Bozeman, Portland Film Festival, CologneOFF X: Cologne International Videoart Festival, VideoBabel International Audiovisual Festival in Cuzco, Peru, the FILE 2014 Electronic Language International Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Oregon Independent Film Festival, where it won Best Experimental Film. The film was curated in Ohio State University’s Journal of Short Film Volume 34 in Spring 2015. It will continue to screen in festivals and conferences into 2015.
Dustin Morrow is an Emmy-winning filmmaker, author, programmer and educator. As a media artist, his works frequently explore the issues of and relationships between landscape/space and personal, communal and cultural identities. He was born and raised in western Illinois, and received his MFA in Cinema from the University of Iowa. He previously taught at Temple University in Philadelphia, and is currently a professor and the interim head of the film program at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches courses in digital cinema production and film studies. His most recent film is the award-winning feature “Everything Went Down” (everythingwentdown.com). His most recent book is the Focal Press textbook “Producing for TV and New Media”, and his next book, due in early 2015, is a collaborative work with the legendary stage and screen actress Kathleen Turner. Learn more about Prof. Morrow’s work at dustinmorrow.com.