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Hugo The Innocent

Neil Armstrong

UK, 1984
24 minutes, Colour, sound
Available formats: DVD / Digibeta tape / SD Digital file

‘Post- Grierson what was to be done with the documentary format? Made at the time when channel four was in its early days and when the ‘workshop agreement’ had come into being, I found myself pondering the structures and content of the television hierarchy.

Coming from a fine art background, the idea that film makers were now being liberated to work ‘across grades’ within the workshop declaration – was refreshing but still seemed a little prosaic to me. The concept of the Auteur within the film industry had been established way before, in the 50’s, but that too still relied on compartmentalised roles of production. I was of the opinion that anyone should be allowed (if they wanted) to be conceiver, director, producer, cameraman, editor and tea boy without what they could and couldn’t do having to be framed in a constitutional agreement. I wasn’t accustomed to letting other people paint my picture. It felt unhealthy, and was being mirrored in the society we were producing; a time of miner’s strikes and general turmoil. I found myself in a position where I believed in collectivism, but naturally produced more singular work. To examine this confusion, my character Hugo awakens to a world in which he (she) wanders in the role of the innocent observer. Despite the New Wave in cinema and the later New Wave in British music, the world at street level was, if anything, less democratic than it had been before. What I made was a mixture of personal interpretation laid over the stuff of day to day living, it makes no pretence to be impartial – hence the opening statement that this is “a documentary that’s as near the real thing as you’ll ever get.” This video was shown at Bracknell film and video festival where I read somewhere that it got a standing ovation! Shame I wasn’t there. After this I pretty much stopped making video pieces for a few years and moved into the newly developing world of computer graphics.’ N. A.