Interview with Andrew Kötting, director of By Our Selves

Toby Jones, Andrew Kötting (as a straw bear) and their merry men revive the wanderings and wonderings of Northamptonshire peasant poet John Clare, on a quest “for scenes where man hath never trod”.

Film Times

Duke’s at Komedia, BrightonWed 4 Nov, 8.40
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Andrew Kotting.

Phoenix Picturehouse, OxfordSun 8 Nov, 8.30
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Professor Simon Kövesi, hosted by Professor Fiona Stafford.

Picturehouse at FACT, LiverpoolSun 8 Nov, 4.00 and Mon 9 Nov, 6.00

Cinema City, NorwichWed 11 Nov, 8.30
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Andrew Kotting

By Our Selves (Cert 15)

Director: Andrew Kötting. Starring: Alan Moore, Toby Jones, Iain Sinclair, Andrew Kötting. UK 2015. TBC mins.

Andrew Kötting is one of the UK’s most idiosyncratic directors, known for films including Gallivant and This Filthy Earth.

Following a successful collaboration with writer and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair in 2011 to film Swandown, the duo return with By Our Selves. The film retraces 19th-century poet John Clare’s journey on foot from Epping Forest up into Northamptonshire, and features Iain Sinclair, magus Alan Moore, Toby Jones (as Clare) and a Straw Bear (Kötting).

By Our Selves is a great English pilgrimage and self-enacted novel in the tradition of Pilgrim’s Progress.

Picturehouse programmer Jo Blair talks to Andrew Kötting

What motivated you to make this film about John Clare?

Iain Sinclair’s book Edge Of The Orison, John Clare’s Journey Out Of Essex and the ridiculousness of walking 80 miles dressed as a straw bear.

Why this title – By Our Selves? And the straw bear?

Because of the book John Clare – By Himself which was published by Fyfield Books and contained Clare’s amazing journals and essays. I also liked the fact that our endeavour involved more than just one person and also the melancholia implicit in the title. The Straw Bear represents the madness inside John Clare’s head.

This is the first film you’ve crowdfunded. How have you found the Kickstarter process so far?

Inspiring, reassuring and very moving. The kindness and support of people that I do and don’t know has been exhilarating.

Can you give us a brief description of what audiences can expect at this premiere screening? 

The film is a deranged drift through the English landscape with a couple of stops en route to take in the wisdom and knowledge that the Wizard Alan Moore and the Doctor Simon Kovesi have to offer on the life of John Clare. Iain Sinclair, who is dressed as a goat, also has some things to say on the matter. There is an amazing climax where my daughter Eden, who is dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz, steals the Straw Bear from our film and walks off into the sunset with him, into her own film.

Do you have some favourite lines of Clare’s?

“My friends forsake me like a memory lost.

I am the self-consumer of my woes.” 

BY OUR SELVES PILOT from andrew kotting on Vimeo.

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