Talented trio Field Music are breathing new life into a documentary which helped to change the face of film-making.
The respected Sunderland musicians have composed a new cinematic score for Drifters, a 1929 film which followed the working day of a herring fishing fleet and went on to inspire modern-day film-making.
This marriage of modern music with a seminal silent documentary, is thanks to a commission by Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.
The film will be broadcast while Field Music, led by Mackem brothers David and Peter Brewis, perform the score at the side of the stage.
The project sees the temporary return of original band member Andrew Moore on keys.
After a hectic schedule touring for their last two records, this year has seen the band – whose album Plumb was last year short-listed for a Mercury Music Prize – focus on more left-field projects.
David said: “The director of the Berwick Film Festival got in touch to see if we fancied doing something for the festival, and there wasn’t much detail at first apart from the theme of the festival which was the connection of the North East coast to Scandinavia. Us being from the area, it made sense.
“Then they suggested films that we might try and we settled on Drifters. It’s the first documentary and, in fact, the director coined the term documentary.”
Created by John Grierson, a pioneering Scottish filmmaker, The film follows the working day of a herring fishing fleet as they set sail from the Shetland Islands to battle the elements of the North Sea fishing grounds.
“When we first started the project, we were attracted to the film because it’s about the area and the connection with fishing and ships. The look of it is quite beautiful and appropriate,” said David.
“But as we got to grips with it, we realised it’s not a pastoral piece, it’s actually a modern film that uses collage and juxtaposed images, which fits in with the way we go about music.”
He added: “It will be really interesting for the audience, we’ll be at the side of the stage so that we can see the film.
“The music will partially be an improvised response to what’s on the screen at that moment.
“It’s been difficult, it’s 39 minutes of new music, which is a lot of new music to write and a lot of space to fill. It’s something we haven’t done before so we’re out of our comfort zone, which makes us nervous, as well as excited..”
Over the last 10 years, Field Music have released four full-length albums and toured around the world as one of the most critically-acclaimed bands to come out of the North East.
“This commission sees the original line-up of Peter, David and Andrew Moore reunite for the first time since 2007.
“We managed to persuade Andy to come back for Thursday night rehearsals,” quipped David.
“The last time we performed together was in May 2007.
“Since then Andy has moved on to real life while we’re still plugging away pretending to be musicians.
“It’s a very limited project, we’ll probably only perform it four or five times, but that’s so much more appealing for all of us, than playing a set 70/80 times a year.
“We’ve put so much time into this and in a way it’s a waste that we’re not touring it, but that’s also the appealing thing about it.
“We’re creating something, we’re not recreating something over and over, so there’ll never be a point where we’ll tire of it.”
l Field Music’s Drifters commission will be performed at Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2013, which runs from September 25-29, on September 27.
Tickets are priced £8.50 for adults and £7.50 for students and children, from the website or Tel. 01289 330999.
l For more information on the festival visit www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com.