In the studio with Ben Rivers

Ben Rivers at Kate Macgarry Ben Rivers at Kate Macgarry - Photocredit Helen Sumpter
Posted: Thu Mar 18 2010

Ben Rivers' atmospheric short films fuse fiction and ethnographic-style documentary to convey ideas about landscape and man's place within it . His film, 'Origin of the Species', showing within a specially constructed hut, follows an elderly man, 'S', who lives in a ramshackle house in the Scottish highlands and goes about his business while pondering evolution and the meaning of life.

Why make a film with someone like 'S'?

'I've always been interested the idea that there can be both ecstasy and madness in living in the wilderness. People like S are not avoiding society - they really like it when people visit - but the desire to be in their world is stronger. S is also into Darwin so I wanted him to talk about evolution, but through the mirror of his own world.'

How do you construct a film using mainly documentary footage?

'My films really come together in the editing of both the sound and visuals. I didn't script anything S says but I knew what I wanted to pull out from the hours of phone conversations we had. In a way my films use reality to convey something else and I like that there are unanswered questions about what you are watching.'

I'm intrigued by the swirling cosmos that appears at the beginning of the film. That's not documentary…

'No, that was actually four hours spent filming sunlight hitting a greasy pan of burnt tomato sauce from the previous night's dinner and some porridge.'