‘Tempo Sacrifice’ is a short film and photographic story by visual artist and filmmaker Alexander Ingham Brooke, starring Damson Idris and Weston Gavin. The film is both a document of London and a fictional allegory on the nature of time and masculinity. It was created on the same locations in London’s Barbican and St Paul’s during a week long snowstorm in 2017 and two years later in 2019. The result is an exploration of the male form and the burden of masculinity.
The film reworks the medieval trope of Death playing chess, in which a mortal man buys more time to live in a tournament against the grim reaper. Tempo sacrifice is a strategic chess move when a player deliberately sacrifices his chess piece in order to gain time over his opponent. Here the past and the future are personified as two players. Damson Idris, the film’s lead, is first seen as a youth in waiting, a character of the future. Weston Gavin’s character in contrast embodies the past, simultaneously father-like and vulnerable.
What is interesting about the representation of masculinity in the piece is the cliché, hierarchical image of masculine power shifts. There is a tension and challenge between Damson and Weston. The positions of strength and weakness change. Weston’s character touches on the fading so-called static and stable masculine norm - something which is passing away to new vital forms of masculine potential and beauty.
Both actors have worked in cinema and theatre, at the start and end of their respective careers.Time is a running motif throughout the film – from the totemicrepresentation of the seven ages of man in the modernist sculpture by Richard Kindersley, to imagery falling snow, a beating metronome and the transformative, ephemeral and destructive force of fire.
Drawing on the poetry of William Carlos Williams, the film is equally an ode to London itself. As the director notes, “I was born in Westminster at midnight on the night of the Kings Cross Fire in 1987. I’ve always thought of my life coming into existence as others left London. I find it remarkable how we desensitize ourselves to the beauty and the tragedy of the city, for some it is home and others work. When the snow fell over London. I wanted to capture it immediately so it could be seen as abstract and as born new.”The film aims to highlight the innate beauty and tragedy in the city. A capital of mutating stories and constantly shifting identities.
Photography: Alexander Ingham Brooke
Style: Kk Obi
Talent: Damson Idris and Weston Gavin
Grooming: Roman Sam Harris
1st Photo Assistant: Kyle Zeto
1st Film Assistant: Jorge Higgins
Set Designer: Ash Haliburton
Producer: Alex Powis
Talent Agent: Daisy Haddigan
Fashion Assistants: Shanai Taylor and Oumou Longley
Thanks: Image Partnership