Private Project

The Duellists

An experimental dance/movement short reimagining the public space as an environmental television studio by hijacking a shopping mall surveillance system. Two free-runners encounter each other late at night and riff off each other to see who is the best. Filmed entirely on the 160 in-house CCTV cameras in the Arndale Centre in Manchester, UK and presented as found footage reframed in widescreen to crop all location and timecode data and give the piece a more cinematic feel. The rhythmic soundtrack is created solely from the found sounds captured during the production.

Made as part of Art for Shopping Centres for the Futuresonic Festival 2007 (now FutureEverything), the film explores the parkour/free-runner concept of using creative physical expression in response to and to take back control of the urban environment; echoing the Free Media approach to repurposing technology (here the CCTV network); and contrasted against the surveillance cameras representing authoritarian enforcement of rules, particularly in relation to public vs. private ownership of physical space.

At 11.17am on Saturday 15 June 1996, the Provisional IRA detonated a red and white Ford Cargo truck between Marks & Spencer and the Arndale Centre on Corporation Street. The subsequent reconstruction of the area resulted in the private ownership of public space extending beyond the shopping centre itself and into the surrounding streets, which were then policed by private security firms using CCTV. Young people were then prohibited from gathering in large numbers due to the conflict that would arise between different fashion-based groups. Goths in particular were blamed as the catalyst for such attacks despite often being the victims of such acts.

Produced by MediaShed, an arts collective specialising in the Free-Media movement: an Open Source approach to the repurposing of software and technology for creative expression on a budget or for free. © 2007 David Valentine.

  • David Valentine
  • Joe Livermore
    Key Cast
    "Free Runner No.1"
  • James Hall
    Key Cast
    "Free Runner No.2"
  • David Valentine
  • MediaShed
  • Hybernation
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Surveillance, CCTV, Parkour, Free Running, Found Footage, Found Sound, Dance, Performance, Movement
  • Runtime:
    7 minutes 16 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 15, 2007
  • Production Budget:
    7,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Shooting Format:
    CCTV Standard Definition PAL
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - David Valentine

David Valentine (aka DV video™) is a former film journalist turned artist-filmmaker/writer repurposing video technologies, both developing and outdated, to find new and interesting ways of creating the movie image while highlighting societal issues. Credited by Newsweek as 'having advanced video sniffing to an art form and social tool', he is best known for his internationally exhibited surveillance shorts (2006–2010); including the cult shopping mall free-running CCTV dance piece reimagining the public space ‘The Duellists’ (2007). Working with under-reached/marginalised young adults as well as school/college students David has produced nationally distributed and award winning short films, developing a reputation for creating unusual video projects that both strongly engage client groups and also garner them recognition for their work. His films have received media coverage in The Guardian, Reuters, The New York Times, on BBC Radio/TV and More4 News; with Arena magazine featuring him as part of ‘the next generation of filmmakers set to revolutionise cinema with the aid of new technology'. He has recently made a return to the field of surveillance filmmaking with a new collection of CCTV projects began during the last UK Covid-19 lockdown.

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Director Statement

Always on the look out for interesting ways to repurpose technology and digital media for creative expression and to highlight issues troubling modern society.