Michael Nyman has been making films since 1968 when he took a film camera to Hyde Park and recorded a “Free Pot” demonstration.
Since then he has made over 80 films - some over one hour in length. Those films have been shown in museums, galleries and as special installations throughout the world: most recently in London, Edinburgh, Miami, Mexico City, Istanbul, Boston and soon Florence, Italy and Lublin, Poland.
Amongst these films are major multi-channel installations such as Nyman with a Movie Camera which is a frame by frame remake (in 12 separate films) of the 1929 Dziga Vertov silent film Man with a Movie Camera and the more recent War Work: 8 Songs with Film. Both installations are spectacular immersive events with critically acclaimed soundtracks and can be shown in a variety of ways - sometimes even with a live concert performance.
Another recent construction is The Phoney War (recently shown as part of the acclaimed Daydreams with Stanley Kubrick exhibition in London, where a re-filming and re-editing of Dr. Strangelove has concentrated on the failures of communication in the film and concentrates the viewer’s gaze on the anxieties and stresses of the 70s cold war.
Nyman’s interests in film are based on a studied knowledge of Russian and other avant grade film-making, the use of found archive film (re-cyling of film) and appropriation as well as many candid studies of his own life and experiences.
Nyman’s shorter films are more intense and often more personal but all treat their subject matter with sympathy and empathy. Films such as No Bull are poetic studies of the needless but codified violence of the corrida, The Art of Fugue examines models and photographers during a very public camera club event in a Mexican square, Teatro Cine Opera is a study of a collapsed former grand theatre and Tieman might best be considered as a Fluxus-event score. A more recent work - yet to be widely seen - is El Ritmo Del Sismo - The Rhythm of the Earthquake where two professional rope-skippers perform over sites of a Mexican earthquake where so many died.
Increasingly Michael Nyman’s films are shown all over the world as part of film festivals and exhibitions. We welcome enquiries from curators and event directors and you can see what events are currently planned via our events section.
Said Nyman's film editor, Max Pugh:
"In his practice as a film-maker, Michael observes life through the lens in much the same way he composes music: he shoots whatever stimulates or distracts him for no purpose other than to simply record what is there.
When I started working with Michael I realised that while much of the video and photography archive he presented me with had been recorded since around 1995, his earliest footage went back as far as the late 1960s. When we first started working together we were confronted with thousands of hours of footage and audio recordings. What I respond to in Michael's work is that he sees things that nobody else seems to see (or would think worthy of filming) and then films them in a way that no one else would. Together we have made over 70 experimental films and installations of different durations in a collection entitled 'Cine Opera'. For the films in this series Michael would never choose to work with a script, or allow another cameraperson to shoot for him.
Naturally, as a composer, Michael often feels an urge to add his music to his films (a choice he often leaves to me!) but quite often he believes the natural sound of the location is just as effective. In more recent projects such as 'War Work' Michael has been asked to work with archive film (in this case material filmed between 1914 and 1918) which has presented us with incredible freedom to pick and choose from a vast amount of footage.
Given the experimental nature of War Work, we were also able to explore the odd, unexpected and disturbing corners of what was filmed during WW1; archive footage which we would never have been able to get away with using had we been working on a television documentary."