Wild River, Cold Stone
The story of Dartmoor
By Laura Joint
A new documentary film tells the story of Dartmoor - its history, archaeology and people.
Two years in the making and featuring music, poetry and real life stories, film-maker Chris Chapman's latest work captures the spirit of Dartmoor and those who live there.
Wild River, Cold Stone has been made with another Dartmoor-based film-maker, Kate King.
Chris, who is also a renowned documentary photographer, first worked with Kate during the foot-and-mouth outbreaks in 2001, when they interviewed people hit by the crisis.
They started work on Wild River, Cold Stone in 2007 and the film is being launched with a series of screenings at village halls across the national park throughout July 2009.
Chris, Kate, Seth and Nigel on Dartmoor
The film has no narration. Instead, the story of the moor's history, archaeology and people is told by contributors, poets and musicians.
Folk singer Seth Lakeman, who lives in Yelverton, is featured in the film, as is poet Alice Oswald, while Postbridge musician Nigel Shaw has composed the score.
Chris was born in Wigan, Lancashire, but moved to Dartmoor in 1975. Since then, his photographs have documented life within the moor.
He says the scale of this latest film developed and grew: "We started filming in July 2007 with the idea of covering the seasons.
"However, film-making is an organic process and as we archived the material a new shape to the film emerged.
Contributor Colin Pearse with his sheep
"We didn't want a presenter or a documentary style, so we chose to film the people and then let them tell their story.
"We then approached the poet Alice Oswald, whose wonderful poem 'Dart' describes so beautifully the heart of the moor and the talented musician, Seth Lakeman who, through his brilliant songwriting, gave us an insight into Dartmoor's myths and legends.
"He plays his fiddle in the film and sings Kitty Jay.
"Whilst working on his recently released Dartmoor Symphony, recorded with the Ten Tors Orchestra, Nigel Shaw, who's also a Dartmoor resident, collaborated with us to provide a sound track that complements the visual imagery.
"Little by little the story of the moor started to emerge. We hope the result will give the viewer as much pleasure as we had in making it."
Chris filming at Scorhill Circle
Wild River, Cold Stone has been produced with the support of Dartmoor Sustainable Development Fund, Devon County Council, Dartmoor National Park Authority, the Duchy of Cornwall, Devon Artsculture and the Dartmoor Society.
For details of the film, where it's being screened, and how to purchase it, visit Chris Chapman's website which is linked from the top right of this page.
* The website also shows a short film of another Dartmoor resident, 80-year-old David Alford, who plays cow's rib bones. In 1953, as part of The English Folk Dance & Song Festival, David played the bones, with Bob Cann on melodeon, at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
"During the war we used to make our own entertainment," says David in the film. "In the school playground we had marbles and also bones - cow's rib bones - which we got from the butchers and boiled until we got the marrow out.
"That would make them ring. It was a bit of fun, something to do."
last updated: 02/07/2009 at 16:52