The Bowie Connection
By Courtney Knowles
Walking on the beach in October, you would have been surprised to see an astronaut, emerging out from the sea at Sunny Sands.
All part of a new film by local film maker Ben Barton, 'Stella Erratica' is based on a Russian cosmonaut,
who is exploring a distant planet. He thinks he's alone, but he makes a surprising discovery on the barren, alien landscape.
Ben has been shooting films in Shepway for over 10 years and believes Folkestone is a great place to be a filmmaker. His latest addition is filmed on local beaches, from Folkestone to the intriguing ‘sound mirrors’ at Dengemarsh, using an authentic NASA replica space suit.
The film also benefited from a little help from a certain ‘Starman’: "A few days before the shoot I got a call from the spacesuit company, saying a ‘big star’ needed the suit urgently for a pop video. It was all very cloak and dagger. As a thank you for gazumping me and getting the suit first, this ‘big star’ gave me the money for my hire. I have very limited funds so it was excellent news to me – I got to use the suit for free.
"Since then I've discovered the person in question was David Bowie and the NASA suit was used in his latest music video ‘Blackstar’ so in a way, Bowie actually funded my latest film!”
All locally-made, Ben's work has been shown in many places: “I had my first solo film show at the Folkestone Triennial,” Ben explains, “but since then they've been selected for many festivals, like the Edinburgh Festival and London Independent Film Festival. A really exciting project was when the BBC showed them on the Big Screens set up around the country ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.”
Shooting all his films on vintage ‘super 8’ cine cameras, a process that takes time, Ben feels a connection with this method, as his father made films on the same camera as a hobby.
Although the process takes time, compared to the use of a smartphone or camera where you get instant results, Ben prefers the method: “I just love the nostalgic feel that it brings, that old-fashioned ‘home movie’ feel. It's also about the colours, there is something about the way images come out of the cine camera. They look like paintings. And now we're in the digital age, I'm doing my little bit to keep the old filmmaking methods alive”