Being still can create a movement. For a year, Chris Morris spent time in a field near his home to observe, explore and be. What he found was that he became increasingly connected and not a little angry. A Year In A Field is absorbing, mesmerising, and manages to connect the micro world with macro economics. It slows you down, and through that absorbing calm of his presence in the field starts to agitate you to be both more still and more active.
“I had never been part of a rally before,” said Chris, who joined an XR march along with others from Cornwall and Devon after making A Year In A Field. He was inspired by his time spent in the field near his home in Cornwall, called Boscowen Ros – or the ‘place of the Elder tree on the Heath’. The Elder trees are long gone, and the field is now used for barley. But the 8 foot granite menhir. It’s part of a world of its own being to the south west of the Dans Maen (Stone Dance) popularly known as the Merry Maidens stone circle.
A Year In A Field emerged out of six years of still photographs. As Chris wanted to flex his creative muscles, it just felt like the time was ripe to start filming. So, armed with a small tripod, Chris started to watch the moving world around him.
Make or break
The film grows with you as it starts on the Starting at the winter solstice, December 2020 and follows the seasons: quieter in winter; emerging in spring; teeming in summer. It’s a reflection of the filmmaking process and the raging emotions that comes from the mind-wandering introspection and the forced looking that filmmaking requires. Chris finished filming on Winter Solstice 2021: a year that UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said was “make or break” for humanity.
Stories and images of climate change always seemed remote to Chris. “Pictures of the Brazilian Rainforest didn’t have much relevance to me,” he said. Long Stone Field was right there, within walking distance of home and with an obvious legacy in the stone itself that ranged over four millennia.
Building on history
Years previously, Chris had picked up the book A Year in the Life of a Field by Michael Allaby, which he used as a template to structure the film. The place takes on the role of a character, building on history and creating a context for the natural world it contained. For A Year In A Field, the world trundled by with global commerce and its detritus. Cargo boats carrying world commerce were spotted from Chris’s vantage point, and rubbish from the modern world found its way into the field.
In a way, A Year In A Field is counterintuitively all about connection, and with it responsibility. Using kit he already owned, and walking or cycling to the field, or stopping off in the car while on errands, Chris kept the environmental impact of making the film to a minimum. Editing at home, with green electricity, also kept the carbon down. Even some of the music was recycled. “I knew Sara had lots of music,” chuckled Chris. Composer Sarah Moody has over 20 years of experience of creating music for all kinds of environments. Some of the music for A Year In The Field had the seasoning of age as it moves through the year, there’s playful, thoughtful and the film finishes with expansive electronica.
Adding to the enveloping aural intensity, is the soundscape intimacy of Claire Stevens. Clair, who specialises in recording nature even captured a recording of the whole night in the field that Chris still has. But it’s the close up crackle of creatures in their natural habitat that pulls you to the edge of your seat.
Surprisingly, the film was easy to edit, said Chris. Of course, he qualifies ‘easy’, but following the structure of the seasons, the images gradually fell into place. What has taken him most by surprise is the impact that A Year In A Field has had, and the momentum it’s gaining. Chris wasn’t expecting the film to be shown more widely than hiring the local cinema for a screening. Instead, it’s creating a worldwide rapport, and repaying the creativity, talent, vision and message it contains. It went down a storm at the Sheffield Doc Festival, and when we spoke to Chris, he was at an invitee-only film festival in Serbia. There are more screenings popping up throughout the world.
It’s not a natural history film, it’s a film that naturally connects you to your history and environment.
A Year In A Field is in cinemas and on tour. Catch the dates and venues
Images: A Year In A Field: Christopher Morris ©Bosena2022
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