Scottish filmmaker, Andrew MacKenzie, recently released his first feature Dimention Zero, the second film to follow the British manifesto, Pink8 (the first was Black Biscuit, also featured on NB). It explores the underground world of Scotland, displaying the fringes without judgement or stigmatization...MacKenzie has allowed his film to be shown for free around the UK, and has made it available to watch on YouTube. We talked to him about Pink8, underground Scottish culture, and shooting 100 hours of footage.
Dimention Zero is the second film to follow the British manifesto, Pink8. How did you first hear of Pink8, and what convinced you to use these rules for your film?
I first heard of Pink8 when I came across the trailer for “Black Biscuit” on YouTube. I don’t think I’d quite seen anything like it coming from a UK filmmaker. I’d always wanted to make a feature but reading the last rule of the manifesto (“Answer to only one person: Yourself”) gave me the extra encouragement I needed to just go out and do it.
What kind of equipment did you use?
I shot on whatever I could get my hands on. Mostly I used DSLR cameras, some shots were taken on mobile phones and novelty keychain cameras. I downgraded all the footage by playing the film on a TV then filming the screen with an old Sony tape camera; it made the film look like a moving Polaroid. It seems like clarity of image is equated too much with quality these days, I think there’s a lot to be said for lo-fi textures, there’s something I find very endearing about it.
Dimention Zero could be seen as an attempt to portray modern-day Scotland as an extremely controlling and limiting society, where creativity can only be explored, literally, underground, or on the out-skirt regions, such as the coast. The times we are shown street level shots, we are often either shown police, or civilians complaining about problems with society. Was it your intention from the outset to look at this, or did this idea grow as you filmed?
Although we have quite a liberal culture in Scotland compared to other parts of the world, it’s still frighteningly easy for people to feel stifled by society’s expectations of them. There’s a real strength and beauty in people who either willfully refuse to conform or simply cannot fit in with the rest of the culture. I didn’t really set out to explore this idea initially, but while filming with ravers, homeless people, underground performers and disabled dance troupes the theme became apparent.
You are clearly deeply involved in the underground music scene in Scotland. Do you see any similarities with this scene and the no budget film scene in Britain?
The underground music scene in Scotland (particularly in Glasgow) is full of really amazing, talented, passionate people, much like the film scene. And, much like the film scene, it largely goes unnoticed by the general public. We have a really thriving community of people in the music scene where I live; there’s a sense that we’re all in it together, which I think is far more important than gaining mainstream attention.
We see you being stopped by police at times during the film. Did you have major problems filming on the streets? Where there any moments you couldn't capture or include, that you wish you could have?
I shot just under 100 hours of footage over the course of a year for Dimention Zero so there was obviously a lot of stuff that I just couldn’t find a place for in the film. I had a lot of footage of interviews I’d done with homeless people that simply didn’t fit in with the rest of the film, which is sad because I heard some really touching stories. I broke into an abandoned railway station with one of my friends and filmed a scene in there which again didn’t fit with the narrative. There was also some great footage of a fight that broke out one night at a gig which I lost, I’m still gutted about that. I never really encountered much trouble with filming in the streets; I know how to deal with the police and if people didn’t want to be caught on camera they just tended to avoid me.
What are your general opinions on British cinema, and specifically the low/no budget cinema in Britain? Any filmmakers who inspire you?
There are so many great and unique British filmmakers who inspire me. Obviously I wouldn’t have made Dimention Zero without Fabrizio Federico’s manifesto; he’s probably the most forward-thinking filmmaker in the UK. David Graham Scott is a Scottish documentary filmmaker who I really admire; his films all have a great sympathy about them. Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay and Shane Meadows are all great examples of British filmmakers who have stayed true to their own vision and aesthetic, and as a result have received a lot of acclaim. Overall I think filmmakers in the UK should be encouraged to do just that; have confidence in their own voice and not look to anywhere else for guidance as so many seem to do.
Do you have any future projects lined up?
Over the next year I want to collaborate with as many other artists and creatives as I can. I’m working on several shorts at the moment, and a visual art series called “House Of Flowers” examining sexuality, self-image and the male-female dynamic. I’m also working on a solo hiphop LP. I never seem to choose one thing and focus on it; I always need to be working on loads of different things to feel like I’m actually achieving something. I just plan to be making art for as long as I possibly can.
Watch the full film embedded below via YouTube...