Notes from a Low Orbit

A group of fie people in black swimming costumes are preparing to swim in the river. They stand on a small gravel beach in front of a serene river pool, bathed in sunlight. Beyond there is a green field, some trees and rolling mountains in the distance. The swimmers and doing stretches and warm ups.

Captioned for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing viewers

Our first Film at Cample screening of 2023 brings Dumfriesshire-based filmmaker Mark Lyken’s Notes from a Low Orbit (2022, 90’) to CAMPLE LINE, with a special afternoon event including a Director Q&A. Mark will be joined after the screening by Co-Directors of Alchemy Film & Arts, Rachael Disbury and Michael Pattison, for a conversation about the making of the film. 

We are excited to revisit Mark’s work after hosting an installation of his films New Town New Wave (2018, 20’) and Táifēng and the Motorway Saint (2018, 62’) in Summer 2018.

His latest film, Notes from a Low Orbit, is an affectionate portrait of Hawick’s communities, rituals and routines that is deeply invested in the sometimes absurd ways in which a town’s cultural identities are shaped, intuited, lived.

The outcome of a residency with Alchemy Film & Arts in 2021, through which Mark was invited to explore ‘the lines, cultures and ecologies’ of Hawick — Mark lived in the town for 6 months, engaging with local communities and developing collaborations with groups such as Hawick Saxhorn Band, Hawick Scrabble Club and Hawick Archaeological Society. The resulting film is a snapshot that frames the town at a particular moment in time, observed via Lyken’s own wanderings, conversations and curiosities. As Mark has said of the film, “It’s a portrait, but not a definitive portrait.”

Waking up, going out, meeting with people on their terms, Mark carefully defines the artistic parameters of his rubric, actively seeking out the incidental and asking what magic might eventually happen if he sets up his camera and waits. And waits: this is a low orbit in which a chance encounter with an early-morning dog walker has as much significance and urgency as the arrival of a town’s fairground in the hot days of summer.” – Rachael Disbury, Co-Director, Alchemy Film & Arts

“In astronomical terms, a low orbit refers to the zone just outwith a planet’s atmosphere that’s also near enough for convenient transportation, communication, observation and resupply to be possible. As its title and structure suggest, Notes from a Low Orbit might be viewed as a series of vignettes humbly captured over the course of two days: evidence collated by some far-flung, time-travelling hunter-gatherer who takes refuge up in the hills, venturing into town to catch blink-and-miss episodes of terrestrial wonder.” – Michael Pattison, Co-Director, Alchemy Film & Arts

Mark Lyken is a film & sound artist based in rural Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

Mark has developed a personal and distinct approach to filmmaking. Embedding himself within communities, he builds relationships with individuals and works collaboratively to cultivate scenes that empower those on-screen on their own terms.

Alchemy Film & Arts is a cultural organisation invested in experimental film as a means of generating discussion, strengthening community, and stimulating creative thought. 

They connect artists and audiences within Hawick and the Scottish Borders through a diverse range of year-round events – including exhibitions, commissions, residencies, community filmmaking workshops and an annual film festival. 

Notes from a Low Orbit
Dir. Mark Lyken
Scotland, UK, 2022, 90′, English
English & SDH subtitles

+ Director Q&A

Watch at Cample:
Saturday 4 February, 2:30pm

Watch Online:
5 - 28 February

Tickets on a sliding scale:
£5 / £3 / £2 / Free
Ticket guide available here

Notes From A Low Orbit Book

Featuring a contextual overview of Mark’s Hawick residency by Alchemy Director Rachael Disbury, a critical essay about the film by Alchemy Director Michael Pattison, and an extended interview with Mark, the book also collects stills from the film as well as photographs from the residency.

You can download a PDF copy by clicking the image above, or order a physical copy of the book here

Notes from a Low Orbit | Director Q&A with Mark Lyken (recorded at Cample Line 4 Feb 2023)

Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI