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The making of
| A FaceBook message alerted me that a former
colleague from my journalist days on Merseyside had unexpectedly
swapped his camera and lenses for an artist’s palette and brushes
and embarked on a new career. I had worked with Tony
Kenwright on countless news stories back in the day and was
intrigued to know what had prompted such a radical step. It was
obvious he had not merely taken up a new hobby at an age when most
of us opt for a less stressful life in retirement.
Tony’s “story” presented itself at a time when my wife and I were planning a return trip to Merseyside to see family friends. It also coincided with Tony staging a much acclaimed first one man exhibition. So I emailed him to say I would very much like to make a short documentary about his brave new career and would he be interested?
Tony’s keenness to participate equalled my enthusiasm to make the film and so we agreed a date for the shoot. But bearing in mind our Liverpool visit was ostensibly to see friends and not indulge my passion, I decided to allocate only half a day. Over the next couple of weeks we exchanged emails and phone calls and agreed that the film would focus on the circumstances surrounding his decision, his one man exhibition and his plans for the future.
I didn’t particularly want to use a third party narrator, especially someone with a southern accent, which I felt would detract from what was intended to be a Liverpool story. And Tony was happy to take part in a conversational piece to camera with my voice edited out.
During my time in ‘70s Liverpool the world famous Mersey ferries criss-crossed the river as regular as clockwork but I was sadly to discover that times had changed. The only ferry operating on the day of the shoot was the Royal Iris and its role had altered from being that of a convenient form of transport for shoppers and office workers to a tourist attraction. (I suppose we could thank The Beatles and possibly Gerry and Pacemakers!). But more importantly, instead of plying straight across the river the ferry now took a circular route …. and, from my point of view, in the wrong direction. So my plans to film Tony dramatically arriving by ferry from one direction had to be thrown overboard.
Armed with a Sony HXR-MC50P camera and a Cullmann 3090 mini tripod, and accompanied by a pal carrying my Velbon D-600 tripod, I met Tony at New Brighton and together we rode the ferry across to Liverpool and then back to Birkenhead where his one man exhibition was being held at the Rathbone Studio.
The on-ferry filming went without a hitch, albeit it was a rather chilly, grey Sunday morning with very few passengers sharing the delights of the crossings. Tony’s interview was recorded via my on-camera mic with an Edirol R-09 (24bit wave/mp3) recorder set up as a failsafe backup. Happily, there was little or no traffic noise to cause problems and everything appeared to be going well until a couple of local characters decided to “mistake” the gallery for their favourite wine lodge and repeatedly banged on the window and demanded to be allowed in – or maybe they were star struck! However, Tony - being more experienced at such matters – very quickly persuaded them to “move on” which they eventually did.
And what had persuaded Tony to seek a new career after 25 years as an award winning Press photographer?
He explained: “I was influenced by the words of the song ‘Fred Jones, Part Two’ by the Ben Folds Five about a newspaperman, who wanted to paint but left it too late to change. I had wanted to paint for a long time and thought if I didn’t do something about it, I’ll end up like the newspaperman in the song.”
- Paul Desmond
Paul said: “Joining the film makers club in Colchester was probably the best thing I ever did. The help and guidance I have received over the years from colleagues has been invaluable: without it I’d still be chasing one star awards.”
Tony Kenwrigh’s artistic output can be viewed on www.tonykenwright.com/artworks