Saturday, May 7, 2022


We open outside the Abbey Road recording studio in St. John’s Wood, London. Traffic is held up as people attempt to recreate the cover of The Beatles’ album named after its recording location. We cut to inside the building, looking through a window into Studio Two, used by the greatest rock bands of all times. We cut to inside the studio, looking up towards the ceiling, taking in both the scale of the space and the weight of its history. 


The camera pans across the studio, and fades to the door outside The Front Room, another Abbey Road studio that is far smaller, and far more affordable. Cut to inside, and an engineer, wearing headphones, sits at a large mixing desk, changing the levels on several tracks. An insert shot shows a call sheet on a clipboard, listing that the album being recorded is titled “Leigh Spence is Dancing with the Gatekeepers”. 


The camera moves toward the door where, cutting to the other side of it, are three session musicians, two on keyboards and one on drums, and myself, singing “all they have are words” repeatedly into a microphone.


This is the dream that led to my original name for this website when it launched in 2016. What is more, this is pretty much how that dream presented itself to me, in a manner that is simple enough for anyone to understand: establishing shots, “camera” positions, cutting and fading between shots, building a narrative, and even the “camera” acting as a third-person narrator, as “I” look at “myself” in the dream. The Front Room did not open at Abbey Road until 2017, but the hypothetical small studio I thought they had in 2016 can now be substituted with a real location.


“Continuity editing”, or “Classical Hollywood editing”, is the name given to seamless film editing that is used to create narrative continuity, which became the dominant film style because of where and when it was developed. Continuity editing is so ingrained in our cultural memory, by way of Classical Hollywood films, and in moving pictures in general, that the language of film is a language everyone can read without needing to know how it is written – learning to "write" it is like learning French when everyone on Earth already lives in France.


With the notion of montage causing you to create meaning between different pictures, and persistence of vision making those pictures move, you do not need to know the process of establishing shots, close-up and insert shots, or how fading from one shot to another indicates the passage of time, or the sixty- or 180-degree rules are used to keep continuity of viewpoint between people in a space, but you have seen these used so often you have stopped seeing the joins.


When I was a small child, I did wonder why I could only look through my own eyes, and if that led me to a love of cinema, and my studying of film for my degree, then I may have only just recognised that while writing this sentence. But if dreams are meant to be cryptic notes from your unconscious mind, the meaning of mine couldn’t be clearer: my ambition is to record an album, but even in my own dream, I couldn’t afford to rent Studio Two.

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