Sections of an exploitation film that never actually existed have been ‘re-made’ for the next exhibition at Cornerhouse in Manchester, the biggest to date by conceptual artist Jamie Shovlin. The movie Hiker Meat, and its Italian director Jesus Rinzoli, have been imagined by Shovlin to represent archetypes of the exploitation film style, which boomed from the late 60s to the early 80s.
Exploitation movies were low-budget feature films, usually considered to be of low moral or artistic merit. Their makers pursued financial success by ‘exploiting’ popular trends and lurid subject matter, including suggested or explicit sex, sensational violence, gore, ‘freaks’ and drug use.
Jamie Shovlin collaborated with writer Mike Harte (of whose name ‘hiker meat’ is an anagram) and composer Euan Rodger to produce a full screenplay and soundtrack for the film – a classic slasher movie set in an American summer camp in the late 1970s. In 2009 he then created a prototype version of the film, by collaging over 1500 found clips from original exploitation movies.
The beginning and end sections of this prototype, and a Hiker Meat trailer (available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_kS54uSM-Y), have now been recreated shot-by-shot, during filming by Cornerhouse Artist Film in the English Lake District in June 2013. With all effects authentically created by hand, these ‘re-filmed’ sections form the centrepiece of the Cornerhouse exhibition, which is being curated by Director of Programme and Engagement Sarah Perks.
Perks explained: “The exhibition aims to capture the genesis, and collaborative process of delivering, the Hiker Meat project. It opens with an old-school media museum installation about the Hiker Meat ‘film’, featuring costumes, memorabilia, maquettes of our 2013 set – and the remains of the real thing! Galleries two and three will then reveal a wealth of Jamie and the team’s background thinking, processes and planning for the project.
“The filmed sections of Hiker Meat, featuring such exploitation standards as a hitchhiking lead character with a troubled past, a charismatic commune leader with a secret master and a threatening, monstrous presence, will take centre stage in the exhibition, alongside parallel footage of different stages of the production process – creating a truly immersive experience.”
Jamie Shovlin said: “Although most exploitation films might rightly be considered poor in terms of form and motivation I can’t help being inspired by the genre’s potential for very idiosyncratic output, and its disavowal of mainstream film distribution networks. Crucially, there was a striking spirit of collaboration and a ‘can do’ attitude towards film production and distribution which I sought to adopt on this project: people believing in an idea to the extent that they somehow make it happen, regardless of practicalities and funds.”
Extending this collaborative approach, Shovlin, Cornerhouse Artist Film and TIFF have also produced a full feature film – a meta-documentary about the ‘making’ of Hiker Meat. Rough Cut was released on 6 December 2013, and combines the filmed Hiker Meat sections with fly-on- the-wall production footage and interviews with cast and crew. The film has been accepted by the 43rd International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2014 as part of Signals: Regained – an annual strand which screens restored classics, forgotten masterpieces and films that centre on cinema itself. It will screen several times at Cornerhouse during the exhibition’s run. www.cornerhouse.org/artist-film-rough-cut
Shovlin’s previous exhibitions have included drawings by an imagined missing schoolgirl, and memorabilia of non-existent German glam rock band Lustfaust. Hiker Meat originated as an imagined film for which Lustfaust had composed the soundtrack; it was first exhibited in its collaged version in 2010, with later exhibitions focusing on its imagined production and release.
The Cornerhouse exhibition and film mark the realisation of the project, having enabled Shovlin to document the attempt to actually produce sequences he put together in collage form back in 2009. He said: “The ‘reproduction’ of the three key sequences has been the false heart of the entire enterprise. To create the material I wanted for this exhibition, and the film Rough Cut, there had to be an absolutely genuine attempt at achieving our goals; the resulting sequences, and footage of our attempts to capture them, are now fundamental to
Hiker Meat: Jamie Shovlin 18 January – 21 April 2014, Free Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 5NH, UK