Gerry Floyd studied BA (Hons) Photography, Film and Television at LCC (then LCP) from 1979-82. He went on to study film at the Royal College of Art, and has since worked as Director of Photography on films starring Tom Hardy, Ewan McGregor and Hugh Bonneville, and with directors including Paul Tickell, Ed Blum and LCC’s Tessa Sheridan.
Tessa is a Senior Lecturer on MA Screenwriting, and worked with Gerry on her film ‘Is It The Design On The Wrapper’, which won the prestigious Palme d’Or, Best Short Film award at Cannes Film Festival.
We caught up with Gerry to find out more about one of his recent projects, ‘Notes On Blindness’, which is receiving critical acclaim worldwide.
How did you get involved with ‘Notes On Blindness’ and what attracted you to the project?
I met Pete and James, the directors, on another film that we were all working on together – a low-budget feature called Honeymooner, directed by Col Spector. We kept in touch and they asked me to shoot the short film ‘Notes on Blindness – Rainfall’ which was a kind of calling card for the feature and was very successful.
I was attracted to the project because it challenged me to think about how to make a film about blindness, about seeing? There’s a sort of creative irony there. For someone whose career is based on ‘seeing’ I felt very humbled to be asked to do it. Also, when listening to John Hull’s audiotapes, which formed the bedrock of the film, I was both very interested and very moved.
What were some of the challenges of this project?
The key challenge in our approach was to constantly try to put the audience in a space where they would have a better understanding of blindness on a sensory level. We were constantly trying to build a sensory visual and aural world, as John would have experienced it, and present that to the audience – putting them into that space.
The film has had a lot of success. How many awards has it won so far, and how does it feel to get recognition from the industry?
‘Notes on Blindness – Rainfall’, the short, won the Best Short Documentary Award at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto 2013 and an extended version, made for the New York Times Op-Docs series, won the Best New Approaches Award at the EMMYS in New York in 2015.
‘Notes on Blindness’, the feature, to date has won Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards 2016, the Storyscapes Awards at the Tribeca Film Festival 2016, the Special Jury Award Best Documentary Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival 2016 and won the Storytelling and Innovation Award at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival 2016.
The film was also nominated for Best Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival 2016, Best Documentary at the East End Film Festival 2016, and the Sydney Film Prize – Best Film at the Sydney Film Festival 2016.
It is rewarding to receive recognition from the industry, particularly worldwide, especially given that we tried to take a different, more radical approach to the filming process.
What did you learn from this project? Did you take anything away from the process?
I have always believed when you set out on a project and have a particular way you want to do it, you have to do it wholeheartedly. You have to follow your instincts and convictions and see them through. With ‘Notes on Blindness’ it was very rewarding that what we were trying to do worked for a lot of people. It’s good to learn when not to compromise.
What is next for you?
I have just taken on another documentary project, to be shot in Ireland and Mexico, about the artist and painter Leonora Carrington, who associated herself with the surrealists in Paris in the 1930s and famously had a long love affair with Max Ernst. I am also reading the early drafts of a fictional film to be shot in northern England next year, a kind of teenage Thelma and Louise.