Bill Jackson and the ‘Man of Stones’

Foto filmmaker and Suffolk Shorts judge Bill Jackson discusses his latest film

Interview by Hebe Dobson-Mouawad

After watching Man of Stones, Jackson’s 2019 film on the making of the sculpture by the same name, I’m left in awe of two artists: the sculptor, Laurence Edwards, who is present throughout the film, and the director, Jackson, who remains purposefully absent from the narrative.

Laurence Edwards working on Man of Stones

Jackson explains that he decided right at the beginning of the project that he wasn’t going to look at it as a documentary. The result is what he aptly defines as ‘a journey’. We are told from the start that the film follows the journey of two men, but it remains unclear which two men the director is referring to:  the sculptor, the sculpture, or Jackson himself. The answer is something that he intentionally chose not to explain.

The narrative is left very open for people to make their own interpretation. ‘I’m quite interested in how people respond to it.’ Jackson likes being challenged and equally revels in challenging his audience.

‘I want to think about a film beyond the five minutes after walking out of the cinema.’

Making Man of Stones

Shot in black and white, the film loses Laurence among the figurative sculptures in his studio, so you’re not sure who the real man is. Equally intriguing are Jackson’s plans for the film. He suggests that the ending may progress with different edits in the future. Currently the final shot of the film features the sculpture in its location at The Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, but this may change in other versions.

‘There’s nothing to say that you can’t re-edit a film. To me, nothing ever ends.’

‘Man of Stones’ at the Sainsbury Centre (UEA)

Another unusual aspect of the film is the combination of moving footage with stills. An award-winning photographer, Jackson works with both mediums. To the director, a still image or a line of text can say more. ‘The narrative doesn’t have to rely totally on sequential moving images.’

‘We’ve got into a world of very fast editing and lots of noise. I’d like people to see my films as a stepping out of that world into an inner world.’

Supporting Suffolk Shorts

‘All my work is a direct response to my relationship with Suffolk.’ Jackson states that ‘I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t in Suffolk.’

Jackson will be on the Art and Performance Award Jury next year. He believes that Suffolk Shorts is the perfect opportunity for creative people to have their work shown and to give promising filmmakers a chance. He also believes local talent deserves support and shares our aim to bring international works of art to the region.

‘People need to challenge the status quo and the same goes for filmmaking.’

Man of Stones will screen at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival in May 2020.

Man Of Stones from Bill Jackson FotoFilm on Vimeo.


Submissions open for Suffolk Shorts in mid-January with awards for best animation, art and performance, drama, documentary and a special category for films featuring local talent and themes: East Anglian Stories.

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