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Art for Lawyers by Rory Waudby Tolley – Interview

// Interviews

The eclectic visuals and comedic timing of Rory Waudby-Tolley’s RCA graduation film Mr Madilla created a stir when it hit the festival circuit last year. The mocumentary pulled apart the big questions of life, the universe and existence in a carefree and humorous way. Rory returns with Art for Lawyers, in a similar vein to his previous film but as an actual documentary rory finds new subjects but the same fast and fun approach to answering big questions, in this case the role of art in a corporate environment.

Featuring a couple of unforgettable musical numbers the film has been released online today. We caught up with Rory Waudby-Tolley to find out more about the film below.

How do you view the boundary between fiction and non fiction and how did this influence the process behind making Art for Lawyers?

I don’t really think there is a strict boundary between documentary and fiction so I found it fine really. Mr Madila used the format of a documentary because it was playing with the idea of reality, and messing about with the format of a film about the making of a film. Which I guess this film does too, but is more rooted in reality.

I think the main difference is when you are working with real people, you have to be a bit more responsible with how you portray them. That didn’t end up being a problem at all because everyone was lovely and had a great sense of humour. It makes it easier to include myself in the film so there is still always someone to laugh at.

I wanted to deal with my own prejudices and preconceptions going into the film – are the lawyers all going to be boring and serious? How can I call myself an artist? How did I get into this mess? I thought that the most inappropriate opening would be kids TV style theme tune so I got that out of my system at the beginning. The film is then essentially my self-indulgent journey to receive validation from a bunch of people I don’t know to become comfortable enough to say, yeah, I’m an artist! I know what I’m doing!

In the film it suggests that the residency contacted you, did Mr Madilla influence their decision to hire you and we’re they confused by it’s mocumentary style?

So what happens in the corporate art world, apparently, is big corporations with shiny buildings want to fill them up with expensive art to impress their clients and be a bit cooler by association. They hire art consultants to buy and commission pieces to exhibit or purchase. I got a phone call from Maggie, the art consultant who had seen Mr Madila at the RCA show, and asked if I was up for trying something out. They often have sculptures in their lobby and fine art around the building, but the purpose of the residency into try to engage their employees in with the art itself.

I don’t think I confused them, they were pretty open to all ideas at the beginning, so I think it was my idea to do a documentary. I put out an email call-out and held a couple of work shops to meet people around the building who would be interested in the project to basically record a bunch of conversations and see where the film went. I ended up speaking to staff from around the company – lawyers, security guards, the guys in the post room… It was great discovering everyone’s little personal relationship with art and creativity, whether positive or negative.

Tell me more about how the relationship with “The Lawyers” worked. It seems odd that they wanted an animation rather than something more public facing.

I think I was just in the right place at the right time really. They had someone else lined up to do the residency but they couldn’t do it for some reason, so my name was suggested on a whim. Somehow they went for it! It seemed to get a good response, and we had an exhibition and screening at their offices, showing the film and a bunch of supporting drawings, including designs made by employees over lunch one day. I could have probably gotten away with submitting a few drawings and calling it a day, but I decided to use the budget far less efficiently and make a 9 minute film. It was actually amazing how cool they were with letting me do whatever I wanted. I didn’t show anyone anything until it was completely finished, so that was pretty scary actually!

Keep up to date with the work of Rory Waudby-Tolley on his new Facebook page on Vimeo or on twitter here.

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  • Aaron Wood

    I have that end song in my head so much now!

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