Short films matter. Vimeo wants you to know it. So do we. That’s why every week we’ll take a look at some of the short film world’s best and brightest. This week, we bring you Callum Rice’s BAFTA winning doc Mining Poems or Odes.
The Plot: Head. Heart. Pen and paper. These are not the usual tools of blue-collar Scotsmen. Don’t tell that to Robert Fullerton.
The Film: Hundreds of movies have examined the life of a writer over the years. Few have felt as authentic as Mining Poems or Odes.
Why Press Play?
You probably don’t think about welding and shipyards with unbridled reverie. You might after Mining Poems or Odes. The film opens with a hail of sparks cutting through a deep blue screen. Smoke trickles past. Then a melodic voiceover cascades through the scene. The words arrive with a thick Scottish accent. They belong to a Poet. His name is Robert Fullerton. He’s about to tell us his story.
And it’s quite a lovely tale. Fullerton’s story begins in the shipyards of Glasgow. He’s 17 years old. He’s apprenticed to a local welder, but his interests are about to take a swift and sudden change. That change comes when his mentor slips him a copy of ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ to read. Fullerton would spend the next several decades splitting his time between a blue-collar life on the docks and scribbling feverishly in journals … mining for words to bring the poetry in his head to to the page.
Fullerton spent much of that time under a welder’s mask, sparks streaming past his eyes through the darkness. Turns out, he found his muse in those solitary moments. Fullerton spends much of the film detailing how his life as a welder informed his life as a poet. That he’s telling that story in his own words is what gives Mining Poems or Odes its authenticity. Fullerton’s love of words and his astounding command of language add a rhythmic romanticism to the film rarely felt in a documentary.
Callum Rice matches that rhythm every step of the way. He does so by blending Fraser Rice’s stunning cinematography with classic photographs to capture the times and places that shaped Fullerton’s life. And Rice casts an ethereal tone under every image with Andy Abbott’s subtle original music. But the director keeps the film grounded by never straying far from Fullerton himself. The poet tells much of his tale in static closeups, his aged face wingeing and contorting with every impassioned word. In the end, it’s pure passion that Rice captures in Mining Poems or Odes. The passion of a man who found his muse in a most unlikely place … and one who dared to follow it.
Meet The Crew:
Directed by: Callum Rice Starring: Robert Fullerton Director of Photography: Fraser Rice Edited by: Alex Broad Music by: Andy Abbott
I hope you enjoy Mining Poems Or Odes! Callum Rice’s film spent much of 2016 racking up accolades on the festival circuit … then crowned the year with a BAFTA win. Let’s hope Rice & Co. can carry that momentum into their next project. Let’s hope that project comes in conjunction with the Scottish Documentary Institute as well, ’cause they’ve produced some extraordinary films in the past few years. If you don’t believe that, head over to their Vimeo page and check out some of their films. Start with The Third Dad. Trust me. While you’re kicking about, be sure to check out a few of the thousands of other short films – animated, live action and documentary – the Vimeo team have made available for your viewing pleasure (via desktop or mobile device – SWEET!). You’re sure to find something interesting. And you may just stumble across the next great filmmaker.