Splendor Solis – Home Movies 1998-2015 is the new film by Daniel Fawcett, a kaleidoscopic experimental feature film 17 years in the making. Part autobiography, part home movie and part expressionist dreamscape, Splendor Solis is a film about the creative spirit and the central place art making, specifically filmmaking, plays in Daniel’s life.
The world premiere of Splendor Solis took place on 11th September at the 35th Cambridge Film Festival, followed by a Q&A with festival programmer James Mackay. The screening was a great success and we had a wonderful time. It was a wonderful chance to see the film on the big screen and hear what everyone thought of it.
Director and film critic Mark Cousins said of the film: ‘Splendor Solis is beautifully made – the spirits of Entr’acte and Derek Jarman live on.’
This is the third time The Underground Film Studio‘s work has premiered at the Cambridge Film Festival. We were delighted to have our film premiere once again in the Microcinema strand, this time alongside the programme Dark Pictures: Industrial Music and Culture on Film, which showed experimental film works by Throbbing Gristle, Derek Jarman, Diamanda Gálas, Jill Westwood, among others – a rare and welcome opportunity to see these works in a cinema in a festival context.
Below is an interview with Daniel Fawcett by Faye Gentile/Take One Magazine, who spoke to him before the screening.
What inspired you to create Splendor Solis – what was the basis for this film?
I make films to know myself deeply, to heal my wounds and to bring my life in line with the creative spirit. Splendor Solis is a document of my journey as an artist, from the gardens of my childhood to where I stand now, this film is an expression of it all. The film is compiled from footage filmed over a period of 17 years, from the first footage I ever shot up until the most recent images created this year. The reason this film was edited now was in part due to a feeling that the weight of so much unused footage was holding me back, I needed to clear things out, reflect on my journey so far and release myself from the past in order to be able to move on to the next phase of my creative journey.
Can you tell me a little bit about the way you went about collecting all the footage, what kind of process did you apply to it?
This has changed a lot over the years, there are so many different approaches. Some of the footage is more in line with conventional home movie stuff, images of events and personal moments. But a lot of the footage is of what I call dress up and play, which are the times when I have got together with friends and made costumes and acted on visions, bringing into the outer world the characters and situations of our dreams and fantasies. Play is really important to me, as an adult it doesn’t come as easily as when you are a kid so it needs a little work but cinema is an arena where one can play comfortably and work on keeping the doors to one’s child-self slightly open.
How does this film differ from your other work?
Every film I make is different from the last but the more I make the more I find some kind of continuity between them. Formally this film is different because most of the film plays out across two screens. It also has less of what might be considered a conventional narrative compared to the others, I am reluctant to say that it has no narrative at all because for me the film has a very clear and defined narrative structure. I think thematically the film is in line with my other work in that it is about the path of the individual, it is an exploration of what it is to live a creative life and it is a deeply personal work in both form and content.
What kind of difficulties did you face when making it?
Editing this film has been like reliving moments from my past, and I mean this in no light way, it has been one of the most intense experiences of my life. I have had to face myself and look myself directly in the eyes, and this is no easy task for any of us. There have been moments of great joy, watching footage of friends and myself having a lot of fun, but also moments when I see friends whom I fell out with in the past, or moments of loss and sadness and I have had to face that, try to understand what happened and let go of any pain that was left. My entire relationship to myself and to others has changed through making this film, people I felt very negative towards I now feel a great respect and love for. So I have been to the depths of my soul, I have discovered many parts of myself, the ugliness and the beauty, and I have come out on the other side transformed.
Did you have any funding for it? If so how (or who) did you approach for funding the film?
There was no official funding but there have been many times over the course of the film’s making when a good friend has dragged me out of a hole or given me a warm meal. I would suspect everyone I have ever known has had some financial input into this film.
How do you think it’s going to be received by audiences when it premieres at the Cambridge Film Festival?
I don’t know what others might think, it’s a very personal work, I made this film firstly for myself, it is a film that is a celebration of life, creativity and friendship and these are things that could speak to anyone. I set out to make the kind of film that I would like to see so hopefully there will be other people out there who will want to see it too.
If you were to give any filmmakers out there any advice, what would you tell them?
The world is full of people giving advice, what can I say… be true to yourself, follow your own path and don’t give up. There’s no one way to do anything, find your way, if it’s your way then it’s the right way.