So, it finally happened, the Castles Built in Sand have been swept away by the sea and we have dispersed into different ends of the world (almost). It has been a great few years working together and now we are excited to see where the tide carries us, where we shall be washed ashore, and what projects await us ex-CBIS’.

Man of Aran 1


Castles Built in Sand Collective hits 3 Years


Hard to believe but it is 3 years to the week that we first met as a collective in the Sandbar close to Manchester’s various Universities.  At that time quite a few of us had just finished a Masters in Visual Anthropology at the Granada Centre in Manchester University, were probably somewhat jaded by the experience of mainstream education, and perhaps were to a degree operating under the illusion that it would be plain sailing into a life as successful independent filmmakers. Well not quite.

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Here is a trailer for ‘The Song’, a project we have mentioned in a previous post, and are currently searching for funding to make.

The trailer focuses on one character as he traverses a bleak English landscape. The longer version will bring in two other characters in different parts of Europe, all heading towards the sound of the song. We made it to test our concept, and to pilot the idea. We think it works pretty well, and we hope you enjoy it!

Description: The Song is comprised of B&W analogue stills. This resonates with the film’s themes in that most technology has been lost in a bleak post-apocalyptic world where only John Cage’s composition ‘As Slow As Possible (ASLAP)’ exerts any true meaning and where powerful and contested religious beliefs have grown around ‘the Composer’ and the possibilites of a new dawn upon the sounding of The Song’s final note.

Visually The Song pays homage to Chris Marker’s powerful cinematic essay narrative La Jetée. Aurally it credits John Cage’s legacy by placing central emphasis on the sound design as a whole, not separating musical and environmental sounds, but creating a powerful sonic entity which along with narrative becomes the driving force imbuing the images.

“Silence is not acoustic. It is a change of mind, a turning around.” (John Cage)

Helpyourself Manchester is now free to watch in full on You Tube. Since over 100 people turned out to the launch night in the Klondyke last November, we’ve had a number of really great screening in places like Newcastle, Leeds and Edinburgh- thanks to all who have come out and supported the film. It was always our intention to make HSYM free to view for those interested in DIY music and culture and in the spirit of that community we hope that all of you will share this film far and wide.


The next film in our series examining the uses of sound and music in film is Vacancy by Paddy Baxter:


Vacancy is a 2 minute horror documentary made last summer as a collaboration with Manchester experimental music collective Tubers Music. The emphasis on assigning a specific genre is relevant both to the reason why this short experimental film was made and to the effect that this music collaboration had on the way we view the images in this piece as an audience.

Vacancy came out of a photo article on the recent phenomenon of ghost developments in Ireland [see article here:] that Huw Wahl and I carried out early last year- the title refers to the current 21% vacancy rate among housing and commercial developments in the Republic of Ireland. The film explores through photos, video and music one of the stranger of these failed housing developments- namely Carrigglas Manor in County Longford- once the site of a beautiful stately aristocratic Manor and grounds, now a place of desolation and a scorched landscape.

As a filmmaker I had the choice to document this space is a neutral or objective manner. However, there is no way to express the sheer awe, dismay, despair, unease and bewilderment that one feels when in such a place as Carrigglas through photos and video alone. Once inside the walls of this gated, abandoned development you feel exposed in a very odd manner, a sense of the sublime and of impending danger immediately overcome you. It is the sense one gets when you watch a particularly effective horror film. This is the feeling that I wanted the film to induce.

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A House Called Liberty is a documentary film by ‘Castles Built in Sand’ made in collaboration with the staff and residents of Liberty House, Crumpsall Manchester (part of the Adullum Group of charities), an assisted living temporary care home for young people in risk of homelessness.

The documentary was filmed and edited over the latter course of 2011. Not only was the film an attempt at collaboration with an outside institution, but it was furthermore an experiment in that all the then members of CBiS participated at all levels of the production stage of the film- to varying degrees of success. During the production itself we faced numerous difficulties and setbacks. A House Called Liberty proved a valuable lesson in the potential limits of collaborative film and a dramatic learning curve on how to work together as a collective.

Although the final film is not exactly how we all initially envisioned it, it is an honest representation of Liberty House and we would like to thank the residents and staff for their patience and participation; we would especially like to thank Janelle for putting so much of her time into the facilitation of this project. This film will feature heavily in a future discussion on collaborative film, but for now any comments on the finished piece are warmly welcomed.

A House Called Liberty from castlesbuiltinsand on Vimeo.