FFP 2020 – February – Structure
For February’s theme, “structure”, I had in mind something special. Built in 1853, The Mill of Assan is the first steam powered mill, made from red bricks. At that time there was no red brick factory, the first one was built 2 years later, in 1855. The materials and milling machinery have been shipped all the way from Vienna by sea, on the Danube, and from Giurgiu County by land. It took 1 month to get it all to Bucharest. The founders and owners of the mill, Gheorghe Assan (1821-1866) and Ioan Martinovici (1820-1882), were very famous tradesmen at that time. They were involved in quite a few businesses in the meat, coffee, fruits and vegetables industry. The construction of the mill has been done by German builders and craftsmen who were very skilled in that time in Europe.
By 1865 it is known as the best wheat mill in town. In the same year the two founders have an argument and Assan becomes the only owner of the mill. He never got to see the mill become famous as he passes away in 1886 and the business is handled by his wife and two sons. Things take a wrong turn during the Communism when the mill is taken by the state and reorganized as a bread and sun flower oil factory and continue to work until the fall of the regime. Since then it is in a continuous state of decay. In 2012 the roof of the tallest building ignites and the fire consumes it whole. It takes two days and 100 fire fighters to put out the fire.
When the monthly themes have been decided, for February I knew that I would shoot The Mill of Assan. I walked by it a couple of times and I never knew what the abandoned building is, but I was always intrigued by its history and why it remained in this state of decay.
Shooting-wise was a bit difficult since the premise is walled in and nobody can get inside, there are quite a few trees and vegetation grown so finding a vantage point or a good shooting point was challenging. I had to work the scene and see from where I could get a good shot. The light was not helping and for little while I thought of pushing the film to 1600 since it was getting darker outside.
After 30 – 45 minutes and 2 rolls I was pleased with myself and went home knowing that I got at least one frame that could tell the story as I saw and imagined it for the project. Shooting HP5+ proved again a very good choice for the subject that I have chosen. It gave the structure a gloomy and dark feel to it. The building gives the viewer a chill down the spine, with a scary and imposing building in front of your eyes, and the feeling that something lurks in the shadows and darkness. Since the authorities won’t do anything to restore the buildings that make up The Mill of Assan, they will remain abandoned and almost haunted. Once the weather clears and spring really sets in I will go and shoot it again and hope to get some additional angles. You never know when the current owner decides to sell the land and some apartment buildings appear destroying a piece of history.