It’s Nice That x Channel 4 Random Acts: “It’ll be like a guided acid trip”


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To mark the relaunch of Channel 4 Random Acts, It’s Nice That has partnered with the platform to create a series of films with five of the most exciting filmmakers working in the industry today; Anna Ginsburg, Ill Studio, Kyle Platts and Andy Baker, Mattis Dovier and Ryan Hopkinson. As part of Random Act’s expansion, next week sees it launch a new six-part TV show for the first time in which our films will feature. Each 30-minute episode will collate and showcase the best of the recently commissioned shorts.

In the first of a series of articles about our work with the broadcaster, we speak to Pegah Farahmand, editor of Random Acts. Here she tells us of the importance of Random Acts and how the new TV show will provide even more exposure for the talent it continues to unearth and foster.

Launched in 2011 to break the conventions of arts broadcasting, Random Acts is Channel 4’s short film strand dedicated to the arts. Adopting a deliberately broad brief, Random Acts invites established artists and emerging talent to create films unbridled by the constraints of traditional arts television. “The original idea behind Random Acts was to hijack the normal Channel 4 schedule with short films every night in between people’s favourite TV shows without any explanation or context,” says Pegah Farahmand, editor of Random Acts. “I love the idea of there being this sudden intrusion, like you’re watching Hollyoaks and then suddenly this really poetic dance film comes on in the middle of it.”

Random Acts has become known for showcasing work from people across the UK and beyond, providing a diverse platform for new talent as well as premiering work from established artists. Past contributors have included; Jake and Dinos Chapman, Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramovic, Wolfgang Tillmans and many more.

"TV allows people to tap into work they might not otherwise come into contact with and that’s what really excites me."

Pegah Farahmand

Despite this ream of big names, Random Acts has retained a cult status on a channel famed for its subversive broadcasting. “There’s real strength in not really being fully understood because after a while people really start to appreciate what it is,” Pegah says. It’s meant Random Acts has avoided being pigeon-holed and it’s bold, original and experimental approach to filmmaking makes it stand out in the mainstream television schedule.

“I think television is still one of the most powerful medias out there. People are of course watching content elsewhere on lots of different platforms, but TV allows people to tap into work they might not otherwise come into contact with and that’s what really excites me,” explains Pegah.

The new 30-minute show aims to give more depth and context to the films and to escort viewers into unexplored territory. “A TV audience often want the hard work done for them, they want you to take over their brain and show them something great,” explains Pegah. “This is what we’re trying to do with the TV show, we’re trying to take people on an acid trip. But it’ll be like a guided acid trip.”

"A huge part of Channel 4’s remit is championing innovation and the Random Acts platform exists to nurture and help talent flourish."

Pegah Farahmand

To usher us through as host will be American comedian, writer and director Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric fame. “We wanted to create a high-end studio art show but play around with that format… There’s a really slick set up with a stark studio environment but Eric’s presenting and insight gets you genuinely excited to watch the next film.”

Random Acts’ online archive is vast and the channel will continue to host the films online alongside the new TV show. It allows the platform to cater toward its online audience who “like to curate what they watch.” For Pegah, using both is key in strengthening the platform: “It’s not about choosing one or the other,” she says. “It’s about understanding how to harmonise both platforms and get them to work together and get the maximum impact.”

Since coming in as editor, Pegah has revelled in the freedom the broadcaster has given her in terms of commissioning. “There isn’t really any other broadcaster doing this… A huge part of Channel 4’s remit is championing innovation and the Random Acts platform exists to nurture and help talent flourish. It’s an integral part of the Channel’s responsibility and ingrained in what it’s been doing for years,” she says.

Ahead of the new episode next week, below Pegah talks us through some of her favourite films from the Random Acts archive:

David Shrigley: New Friends

A little animation by Shrigley, it’s quite nice seeing his little squiggly illustrations come to life. It doesn’t need much explaining as to why it’s good – it’s really simple but totally relatable.

Taryn Simon: Cutaways

This is probably one of my favourite clips. Taryn Simon is a really interesting artist who’s photography gives us an insight into worlds we wouldn’t normally see. Her work is usually a result of extensive research and is often quite political but this is a lighthearted and witty video from her.

She exposes the bit filmed at the end of a shoot to use as cutaways in an edit. During those few minutes of excruciating awkwardness there’s something so revealing about the artist (her inability to sit still and relax) and the presenters (their cold-faced professionalism). You can’t stop watching it even though you’re simultaneously cringing – if you can watch till the end you get a glimpse into a rather brilliant bit of conversation between the two presenters. I feel like awkward silences on live TV is an entire genre in its own right.

The Daniels: Pockets

I am such a huge fan of The Daniels. Their work is basically an extension of a one-liner joke that keeps going and going – you start out thinking it’s ridiculous then it goes just that little bit further where you’re just confused, then you realise it’s funny then you push through another wall where you think it’s offensive and then they push it even more till you realise it’s genius. They’re also the kind of guys that you wanna hang out with every single day.

Channel 4 Random Acts showcases three-minute films created by established artists and up-and-coming amateurs, chosen for their bold and original expressions of creativity. The first ever TV episode of Random Acts will air Monday 9 May 2016 at 11:05pm on Channel 4. To watch weekly Random Acts selections or explore the entire archive, head to the Random Acts website.

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About the Author

Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca Fulleylove is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and culture. She is also senior writer at Creative Review, having previously worked at Elephant, Google Arts & Culture, and It’s Nice That.

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