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  • Writer's pictureJean Hogg

Project Round-Up #7

Identical - it’s a twin thing - finding opportunities in the most unusual places

A funny thing happened when Lucy and I recently attended a networking event in London. We are currently seeking connections to help make Identical and looking for completion funding and an editor to come on board to finish the film. We had a great evening and got some great advice. It was interesting to hear that everyone has a twin story, although of course we got confused for each other. We didn’t intentionally swap places!


We were rushing to get our train from Liverpool Street on our way home and as we collapsed into our seats, a young couple sat down opposite us. “Are you twins?’’ the young woman said, we nodded and smiled, a little tired of twin talk by now to be honest. “I’m a twin!’’ she said, and we launched into a lovely conversation about being a twin. Then she asked why we were in London, and we told her about the documentary. “Are you looking for investment?’’ she asked, “Yes’’ I answered. “Are you looking for a high net-worth individual?” ‘’Yes” I said again. Then she was on her phone texting someone. By the time she and her husband left the train at Chelmsford, the investor had gotten back in touch to say they were interested in learning more about our film.

What a great end to a fantastic evening! It never would have happened unless I had been with Lucy, and great timing, of course. It was funny, and we reflected that on the journey up we had sat separately for half the journey as we both needed time to decompress…It was a good job we didn’t do that on the way home! 

I have been shooting Identical since 2016, and we have used eight different formats, from archive DV footage from the 2000s, to slide photography, to DSLR, the Song XD Cam, and Black Magic (4K) through to the Sony FS7, more recently. So it has been interesting as these formats tell their own story of time. We also have Zoom footage from when we were in lockdown. This is one reason I am looking for an editor to collaborate with to bring out the best in these formats. I also like that the project started as a personal quest for me to answer the questions: 

Why do I feel different? Is it a twin thing? 

It has been great to discuss all this with my twin sister Lucy, as we bring our unique experiences to the melting pot. But I always knew I could not comfortably tell my story of being a twin without Lucy, as our childhood and experiences are so entwined. But Identical is the story of twins, and at its core is my relationship to being a twin. 2024 will be the year we finish the film and get it out into the world. I might be starting a Podcast about twins. We will see how my time goes!


Slide Photography 

There is something about projecting photographs and bringing light back to a scene that feels magical and powerful. My father used to photograph my three sisters and me constantly as children - most photos were on 35mm slides, and I used them within my Visual Poems work.

Two balloon patterned dresses made by my mother and given to me standing on the landing in her house at Glebe Road two years before she died. I had often looked at them, the needlework, how carefully mum had stitched the frill around the neck—two identical dresses for two identical twins.

We must have been aged 3 or 4 when we wore them. 

I first worked with slide photography during my fine art degree. I photographed slides of people moving through projected light and then worked from the slides on large-scale acrylic paintings. I was interested in how light can become a solid form within a space. I shot my short film, INTO THE SILENT LAND (2012) on 16mm Ektachrome for its high contrast and saturation, much like a 35mm slide. As the film is about twins and deals in part with memory, I wanted to evoke those saturated family photographs of my childhood. I am continuing to develop my visual arts work for a project called Childhood Contained, which uses the domestic setting of my house and 35mm slide projection. I am continuing the work I started with Visual Poems. 

When I visited my father in the days after Mum died, he shared with my three sisters and I slide photos he’d taken of us with our mum. We sat in Dad’s bedroom upstairs, the darkest room in his house, and looked through the slides projected above his bed. They were beautiful and showed the essence of childhood, a balance of intimacy and humour. My sisters and I snapped away, capturing the slides on our mobile photos.

Later, looking back through my phone, I was struck by the images above the bed. 

Five years earlier, when I married, I bought a Polaroid camera. I used to have one after I left university and later used one to record film continuity in the days before digital. I had always loved the analogue quality of the small Polaroid frame. I love the idea that some reality or realness of the photographed scene is captured when air and chemicals collide. Never to be repeated. 

After my mother died, I photographed each balloon dress on a hanger above her bed. To begin with, I only took Polaroids as I wanted to work with analogue in my mother’s house, projecting the slide photographs my father had taken. 

During my DYCP, the work developed across making, projection and coding. I am now planning my next exhibition, incorporating installation and live art. I recently had a tutorial with the fantastic  Ian Giles when he visited Primeyarc to discuss his new film, Edward/Maurice, and his practice. It was incredibly helpful to talk through my ideas with a filmmaker working with narrative but as a social practice. 

Amelia, Jean & Junebug looking festive!

One of the main takeaways was, does it creatively excite me? So often, I work on something which doesn’t, often within my film practice more than my art practice, and then I feel like I am forcing the work. 

So spontaneity needs to be harassed, and I am happy to have support from Access to Work. Having a Support Aide, Amelia (and Aimee who assists with graphic design and social media), this last year has been life-changing for me. It has enabled me to get more organised and speed up some of the problematic processes by making them more accessible. 

However, it also makes me reflect on what I could have achieved if that support had come earlier. I am turning a corner with my art and film practices becoming one. I  moved out of my art space at Primeyarc recently but will be involved as an Associate Member. It feels strange not to have that space as I loved that interaction, but I never found the time to be there, especially more recently with caring for my father. 


Late Splitters and workshopping for Love Bites

In October 2021, I workshopped a script I had written about twins.I wanted to work out scenes for Late Splitters and play with ideas for the drama element of the documentary, Identical. To complicate things further, I called it Love Bites. 

I worked with Cara & Mia Dessaur, and the actor, writer, and director John Hales. We did some excellent work together, and recently, I have been revisiting the scenes. I trained in Meisner’s approach to acting many years ago, so I incorporated some of the repetition exercises into our script workshop sessions. You can get to the core of the emotion within a scene through repetition exercises. It’s a powerful tool to explore, freeing the actor from feeling self-conscious. 

My intention with this work was to weave a dramatic narrative out of the Identical interviews. Secondly, it was a chance to work with Cara and Mia, allowing them to act with a more experienced actor. I suppose I wanted to see what they could do as, up until now, I had only seen them act in scenes with each other. So, knowing John Hale’s work, I knew he would be great at pushing them emotionally within the scenes. We had so much fun playing with ideas around being a twin and being a father. Cara and Mia loved the opportunity to work with John, and I could see how great all three actors were together. I have recently considered the staging of Late Splitters and whether this script fits within a cinema, gallery or theatre setting. My visual arts and film work seem to be merging, which will be exciting, but I have much to do. 

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