Quarantine Q&A: Alexander Brown, Sweetshop

Promonews - 8th May 2020

Alexander Brown has done the sensible thing during lockdown. The director has up-sticked back to the family farm, to spend some quality time with his folks.

So at the moment, he's spending time restoring the old VW Camper, and devouring the latest Hilary Mantel on audiobook. When he's not worrying the sheep, that is...

What were you working on before the lockdown?
Having finished my video for Orlando Weeks' Blood Sugar (below) I had just started pre-production on a music video for a US band, to be shot in London. . In the end we decided to put production on hold until after lockdown ends as it was a video requiring people and costumes. I’m now living in the country with my mum and dad. It’s kinda like the Darling Buds of May, but with a lot more shouting.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a book design for an upcoming history of the band Idlewild. In my spare time, I’ve turned my attention to restoring my 1972 VW camper van while the sun is shining. The upside of being a director, is that being out of work for months on end is hardly a novel situation. I always have a slew of projects waiting for my attention. The only difference is there’s nothing to pitch on.

The thing that makes quarantine so novel, is that everyone else is in the same boat with you instead of paddling alone.

What's the most surprising, or least predictable thing, that's happened to you during quarantine?
I think being in quarantine has made me value space and being more self-sustainable. I suppose that’s entirely predictable… It’s made me learn how to use a sewing machine and a shepherd's crook, is that better?

My mum has a field full of lambs that are doing their best to get infections, so a good hour of my day is spent chasing them around like an idiot trying to catch the ones with squinty eyes. Pro tip - shepherd’s crook makes all the difference.

A good hour of my day is spent chasing them around like an idiot trying to catch the ones with squinty eyes.

What's the favourite part of your daily routine?
When I feel like I’ve achieved something. It doesn’t always happen.

Are things getting harder/better/staying the same?
I think things are getting harder now. At first, I liked everything being put on hold, but at this point it’s becoming tedious as the people around me succumb to cabin fever.

What have you learned about yourself during quarantine?
That I can prepare a meal for five people every night quite comfortably. Though it means I don’t have time for much else. I think quarantine is a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and apply yourself - the real challenge is maintaining interest and dedication.

Best meal you have eaten/are regularly cooking...
We made a great Lomo Saltado a few days ago. Delicious comfort food from Peru.

Best thing you’ve watched, or heard, while on lockdown?
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying listening to the audiobook of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light. It’s something like 36 hours long, so I was hoping it would take me through lockdown. But alas, I may get to the end and need to find something else.

How's your Work/Life balance at the moment?
After being freelance for 14 years, you get used to the fallow weeks and months. Most of the time, it feels like you’re never quite busy, nor do you ever stop working. It’s a strange twilight state of mind where every day is like a holiday, but one where you’re constantly thinking, sketching, pitching, planning and stressing over one thing or another. The thing that makes quarantine so novel, is that everyone else is in the same boat with you instead of paddling alone.

• Alexander Brown is a director at Sweetshop in London. His latest video for Orlando Weeks is one of our Videos of the Month for April.

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    Promonews - 8th May 2020

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