Waste Man Documentary

Waste Man
Directed by Caroline Deeds
Broadcast Channel 4, 20:00, Saturday 2 December 2006, 24’

The making and burning of Antony Gormley’s Waste Man.

On 30 September 2006 Antony Gormley’s Waste Man was burned to the ground in front of an audience of thousands in the seaside town of Margate. Constructed entirely of the detritus of modern consumer society – planks of wood, tables, chairs, keyboards, paintings, dartboards, a front door, toilet seats – the 25m high man took over four weeks to construct by Gormley, his assistant, a team of professional riggers and a small army of enthusiastic volunteers from Margate. The building and burning of the Waste Man will form a definitive part of Penny Woolcock’s epic film, Exodus, a modern retelling of the biblical story of Exodus exploring themes of identity, migration and great movements of people across the globe. Woolcock’s Exodus will be broadcast on Channel 4 in 2007.

Caroline Deeds’ documentary for Channel 4, Waste Man follows the building of Gormley’s creation next to Dreamland, Margate’s occasional amusement park and site of the ancient listed Scenic Railway and the location for much of the action in Woolcock’s Exodus. Deeds’ film is about the relationship between this small seaside community and the building of a work from an internationally acclaimed artist.

It reveals the tensions inherent in a project so monumental that it is beyond the experience of most of those involved yet evolves into a powerful symbol of community that many are sad to see go. The film follows the difficulties of building the Waste Man in particular Gormley’s self imposed challenge of engaging the very diverse community of Margate to work with a team of professional riggers. His ambition is that the residents who make the Waste Man should feel a sense of ownership towards it and see it as an evocation of their presence in the town.

Some see the Waste Man as a waste of good wood and help themselves from a stockpile collected for the sculpture to supplement their winter fuel… For others, helping out with the sculpture represents a longed for wish for acceptance and belonging… building the man isn’t the issue… being included is… The film follows the community’s response to Gormley’s aims, especially when they discover that the Waste Man will be burned to the ground on completion…

Waste Man is Caroline Deeds’ second full length documentary for Channel 4. Her previous films include: ‘The Mission’ (4 X 3mins) Channel 4 3Minute Wonder2006, ‘Storybook Dads’ (4 X 3mins) Channel 4 3Minute Wonder2005, Walking Backwards (24 mins) 2004, Whitey’s on the Moon (3mins) 2002, Wo Kommen Sie Her? (26 mins) 2002, Reggae Girls (50 mins)Channel 4 2000