Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections – Nick Small

Nick Small | 11th December 2012

In which, as the year comes to its end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments:

I’m laying this year down in the cellar because I suspect that when I come to reflect in my dotage (should I be lucky enough to arrive there) it will be regarded as a particularly good vintage.

I had the good fortune to be working consistently and, in a departure from recent years, the work didn’t involve sitting in a darkened room watching footage of accident victims or bariatric patients and trying to make compelling television from their misfortune. No, this year I was tasked with making a series of films about photographing the British landscape at the four points of the compass. So I began the year on the top of Stac Pollaidh on a crisp, clear, winter’s day, under blue skies, faced with a snow covered Assynt wilderness that was almost unutterably beautiful.

The next point was East: the Norfolk Broads in early summer. The contrast couldn’t have been more stark but amongst the reeds, watching the swooping Marsh Harriers, I had one of the most beautiful filming days of my long career. For the southern leg I found myself in a bewitching archipelago of turquoise waters, surreal sculptural rocks and bleached white sand beaches: the Scilly Isles. “Go West” they said, and I did…to the Brecon Beacons and the more remote Black Mountain, where retreating ice had chomped ruddy escarpments into lush green hills. Every single day the weather was as benevolent as I could have hoped for. Britain really does have an extraordinary palette of truly gorgeous scenery.

As if that wasn’t enough, I was also asked to make three films about sailing the Scottish Sea Lochs and given very generous resources with which to do the job: yachts, fast RIBs and helicopters. The clear, sunny afternoon I spent sitting in the front of a helicopter, swooping over Skye, Lochalsh and Plockton, not knowing whether to look out of the front window or at the stunning shots on my monitor, was one I will never ever forget.

Life, it’s fair to say, has been brilliant. The fact that I can run up some of the steepest fells in the Pennines now, knowing that I’m fit enough to do it comfortably, is a bonus.

Years don’t come without the reaper visiting someone near or dear these days and this year’s tragic loss was that of Jo Fuzzbox. My first job as a film maker was to shoot a video for an unknown school-girl punk group called We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It. Jo lit up that Rules and Regulations video with her gurning and piss-taking. She was effortlessly cool. I was just lucky enough to be the person in the right place to film her and the Fuzzies…the video was a hit and my career was born. Given this year’s highlights, I’ll raise a toast in thanks.