VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Piatek, Maciej

Maciej Piatek
Polish videomaker

Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I came to England from Poland in 2005 in the wake of European integration straight after I obtained my Master’s Degree from the University of Wroclaw / Political Science /. I was full of hope in truly united Europe back then. After a few typical immigration years I settled in northern England and soon after in 2008, I started making my own videos and films.

2.When, how and why started you filming?
As I mentioned earlier I started doing my video experiments in 2008, not knowing at all where it is going to lead me to. I have always been a big lover of moving images, as a young boy I was watching all classic cinema masterpieces, not particularly focusing on experimental cinema back then. I found video the easiest way to express myself in an artistic way. As an immigrant I knew that it would be probably the most accessible way to conquer in terms of artistic expression and as it turned out much later on I was right.

3.What kinds of topics have your films?
As a former Politics student I’ve been naturally interested in politically sensitive, burning social issues, especially now when so much going on around us from refuge crisis, climate change to falling liberal democracies around the world. It seems like we live in time where there no space to properly contemplate , to think things through. I’m trying to put my message across in the meantime. Very often the purpose of my films is to make people stop and think about many life changing political problems.
I don’t think we can as human being or even artists just switch off from politics, society and pretend it doesn’t exist. There wouldn’t be any artistic action without the structural existence of society. We as artists, we are a part of society whether we like it or not. As result we need to be politically active to certain extend. I don’t believe in art outside society, even as an outcast you are still on the margins of society or what was built by it. We are all homo politicus as much as homo economicus.

4. Concerning your included video: please tell me more about the aims and the contents.
I made that film to the poem of Björn Kuhlig as an open call for Zebra Poetry Film Festival where I made the final three of festival poem film. It’s been so long since I made it and of course that time but still even now the problem of refuges still exist and our perception of it. Today after so moany years of making headlines refugees became almost invisible to us as and the problem became a political weapon in hands of far-right activist but also mainstream politics. I wanted to make film which could underline in a visual way some scenes of someone who is trying to escape his/her country. My knowledge of how it would look like was based entirely on what I saw on news, what I read about it and so on. Obviously it is very dramatic time for anyone who ,,illegely,, escapes his/her home. In my movie I made and attempt to visualize that. In my movie, for a moment, we see some fragmented scenes from a refugee perspective.

5.How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
I have always been experimenting with different techniques and styles and because of that I don’t have a recognisable style as of yet. I never wanted to limit myself in any way so in my work you will find a mixture of video art, animation and even short narrative films. Recently I think I found the style in which I feel most natural and it is a documental way of telling stories. My first ever video poem was made in that style and in my latest film Echoes I come back to that very similar aesthetics. It took me 6 years to understand my own filmmaking.

6. Tell me more about the technical equipment you use.
I use my canon camera mostly and a few lenses alongside but often I use mobile phones and anything which suits the project

7. How do you finance your films?
I finance my films myself, sometimes I get a small help from cultural institutions but 90% of cases it is a pure DIY..

8.Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

I like working on my own at my own pace. I like to have a total control of every aspect of my filmmaking. Yes it’s difficult to do everything on your own so for that reason my friends helping me a lot and I’m very grateful for that.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
As a young boy I was exposed to work of David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick. Obviously even though I’m now far away from Lynch’s style, it is still in me that Lynch’s surrealism. Especially earlier Lynch’s pieces when he managed to produce very brave artistic films and for that I respect David Lynch. Today I would say that my constant source of influence are more experimental filmmakers such Jem Cohen, Pedro Costa, Peter Greenaway, Peter Hutton, Lav Diaz, Grzegorz Krolikiewicz or Takashi Ito.

10.What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
I’m developing now a feature film, mockudocumentary piece which I hope to start in 2019 and possibly it will be my feature debut. Watch the space, I’ll be further exploring in that film the aesthetics and styles utilized in Echoes. My dreams are very down to Earth, I just want to be able to carry on what I’m doing now with or without outside funding. I wouldn’t reject any help with funding of course but still regardless of any financial difficulties I will make that feature film no matter what.