Extending the boundaries of film - Sophie Fiennes


Sophie Fiennes is an experimental documentary film maker from London who is interested in exploring and challenging the boundaries of film language. She aims to embark upon an intensive period of research which will support and enable her to broaden her work from documentary into fictional film making.

Having attended the Chelsea School of Art Foundation course, Fiennes worked as a photographic assistant before embarking on an intensive four and a half year period working with the film maker Peter Greenaway. She assisted on projects including Drowning by Numbers, The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover and Prospero's Books.

Subsequently, she turned her attentions to the mute language of dance and helped to revive the company of dancer and choreographer, Michael Clark. She went on to produce his award winning stage show Mmm. Having spent considerable time working with this charismatic dancer she was commissioned by BBC2 to make The Late Michael Clark which was recently transmitted. She also won plaudits for her 1998 short documentary on the Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier, creator of the movement Dogme 95.

Fiennes has worked across many boundaries - film, photography, theatre, dance, music and documentary. This experience has intensified her interest in how ideas communicate in any given medium, but most critically it has fuelled a desire to re-invent for herself a language of 'pure cinema'.

Recognising Fiennes' commitment, originality and practical experience NESTA has awarded her a Fellowship of 36,100 over three years which will enable her to operate with a necessary degree of independence. It will allow her to push herself creatively working outside of the pre-existing system of film development and give her the means to truly experiment and broaden her scope as a film-maker.

The bulk of the Fellowship will be extensive research into her development as a maker of fictional film - a challenging transition from documentary. She will be attending script writing workshops and film makers labs. She intends to create an original script exploring material generated from reality (working with real characters drawn from observational documentary) and conversely working with fictional material developed with actors and non-actors in a workshop environment.

Fiennes will continue to exploit the possibilities that digital video technology has brought to filmmaking and use this as a critical tool in her work. Her current projects include feature documentary Hoover Street Revival and Because I Sing a meta-film on a unique performance event devised by Artangel for Channel 4.

The innovative approach Fiennes takes to creating her work, and her thirst for continuing to develop her ideas, has now been given the chance to flourish away from the anxieties of financing and the constraints that commissions often impose.