"Would you like to be in a film? You can play yourself or a fictional character. Call Gillian." These words, placed in a newspaper advert, instigated the project which would become Self Made, a feature-length artists' film by Gillian Wearing, which plays today at the BFI.
Wearing is one of the artists designated alongside names such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and the Chapman Brothers, and others, as the Young British Artists. Awarded The Turner Prize in 1997, Wearing has been one of the most industrious, successful and respected of the group. Since the mid-1990s, since her first advertisement in Time Out asking for people to "Confess all on video. Don't worry, you will be in disguise. Intrigued? Call Gillian.", Wearing has sensitively built a collection of films made of encouraging strangers to publicly admit their most personal of thoughts and actions.
Self Made is Wearing's debut feature film, in which the artist encouraged seven people to explore an aspect of their personality that they would usually keep private. Through Method Actingworkshops, the seven participants created their own cinematic situations, at once intimate and imaginative and suddenly very real and very public, this hybrid of drama and documentary. Each participant explores extreme directions, from feeling unloved to acts of severe violence. As viewers we are made to feel curious and voyeuristic, but just like glancing upon the pages of an open diary, it is endlessly fascinating.