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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mini saga 4 - Sinking or rising…

As if swimming in the river of black silk, he sinks into the blissful oblivion of the ordinariness; there he enters a world where the unseen becomes seen and the spirit, the flesh.  When it’s time to leave, he holds on to everything, knowing that they would again become unseen.

Mini saga 3 - There or isn’t there…

In the most hidden labyrinths of the wall, the tiny streams of gold cinders pour forth.  Against the dark space, they appear almost like explosion of fireworks.  In his mind, it is almost as if he’s able to touch it, to feel the falling the gold dusts on his palm.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mini saga 2 - To judge or not to judge

Any artistic spirit would have undoubtedly chosen the mandolin over the leg ham, he decides to choose neither, refusing to impose a judgment of artistic quality in both objects.  Leaving them side by side, as one might when looking at the literatures of Stephanie Myers or that of Charlotte Bronte.

mini saga 1 - Meandering

It’s as if a piece of shattered mirror landed in her eyes as it once did to a child prince and forever changed his perspective, her understanding of cannabis too, takes on a new light and become the reason for her meandering in the garden in a stance as such.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

blog #4 bfaftv2, Editing as writing

Beetroots and Roses is a dialogue driven film, with most of which being monologue, the decision making on sequencing the images and cuts of the film, therefore, has already been mapped out in the script.  Other than the sound that was recorded on the shooting day, no additional sound design was required.  I have decided to keep the camera work and sound simple to allow the dialogues to shine and be the sole aspect of the sound department. 
The editing part, however, is not without its own difficulties.  As it being a student film, many takes were required to achieve the vision I wanted from the film and as is the case with many actors, the increasing number of takes could also reduce the quality of acting, though the camera work may be improving.  The challenge of this edit lied in deciding which takes to use for the editing, whether a take should be considered for the quality of the actor’s performance or the camera work.  This was the most difficult part of the edit.  In term of “writing/the final writing stage”, one may say that this is similar to an author having to decide whether substance and the intellectual depth of the writing has to be compromised for its marketing and economy beneficiary.  This however, may come down to the artistic integrity of the filmmaker/author.  On my part, I have decided to use a take that allowed the performance to shine, though the image was somewhat soft, without the sharpest focus that I would have desired.  Though after many viewings of the film, the part where the image was not its sharpest, this also added a layer of meaning to the film, the gradual reveal of the secret of the life and of the words which the actress relayed to the audience.  Now that the edit is completed and I have had time to reflect on the camera direction aspect of the film, I would have liked to include a slow focus pull to have the gradual reveal of the actress’ face as she whispered to us a most sacred secret of life. - Jean Cocteau – the blood of the poet
I have chosen this clip as I love how editing can really bring magic and surrealism to film (yes, even in the days where special effects were yet available) by using the very classical method of filmmaking, without special effects, the use of blue screen or green screen, this maybe the truest, most authentic form of filmmaking.  Here the mediums of liquid and glass, both capable of reflection are brought together.  And in a swift cut of the pictures, the liquid again became the glass.  Anything can truly happen in film, so long as the writer/filmmaker has the wildest imagination.  It is just as Albert Einstein once said “imagination is more important than knowledge” or “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”.  In this clip, Jean Cocteau showed how magic in film is being done without today technology, and with it, he showed poetry, a profound use of symbolism and an imagination that I could only wish for.  I hope to achieve magic and poetry in film with simplicity arises from imagination and creativity.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

3rd blog task for bfaftv2 - scene and sanity, funeral for a dead bird from “the hours”

This scene has a startling contrast between a child wondering about death and an author who is not too far from it. 

The camera work is not complicated, there are wide shots to establish the location/light and colours of the scene, there are mid shots to indicate the characters’ frame of mind while interacting with one another on the concept of death.  My favourite shot is the CU shot of Virginia Woolf’s face looking at the dead bird and the CU of the dead bird.  In short, the camera work is not complicated with minimal movements, but provides great coverage to communicate to the audience the psychology of the characters and the poetry of the moment, as we, the audience is also being challenged to our own understanding of death.

This sequence captures my imagination as it assists me in understanding the camera work and performance required in portraying the characters’ psychology and thought.  This aspect of the cinematic art is something which I am greatly endeavored to accomplish.  It has a sharp cinematic edge to it as it has the CU shots of Virginia Woolf’s face and of the dead bird, these would not be effective for a stage setting.  Additionally, due to the intimate nature of the scene, where neither of the characters are projecting their vocal, this also makes it more suitable for the screen, as the screen has the ability of inviting the audience to the intimacy of the space.

Here, we see a Virginia Woolf who looks at death with a quizzical manner, she is neither afraid or sad about it.  It is almost an apple, red, incandescent and enticingly crunchy and juicy, it is the enticement of this deathly apple that brings about the great despair and despondent of life.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

2nd blog task for bfaftv2 - Cinematography – let there be light!!!

Part A
Sven Nykvist has to be one of my most admired cinematographers.  I have come to know Sven’s works through my admiration for Ingmar Bergman films.  When watching these Bergman films, I am completely absorbed in the thoughts of the characters as though they are my very thoughts.  Sven had been criticised for his preference of natural light over studio light.  He once said “I prefer to shoot on location because in the studio you have too many possibilities, too many lights to destroy your whole picture” in an interview with Ronald Bergan in a Guardian article.
What distinguishes film from theatre is that film has the ability to pierce through the character’s mind and heart, and perhaps the soul too.  It could isolate the character’s psychology and state of mind for the audience to peek into, there’s a frightening and wonderful sense of intimacy which only the film medium could provide.  The perversion of the character’s psychology one might like to put.  This is the precise reason that I love Sven’s work, his cinematography skill and camera direction deliver exactly this.  As Bergman’s films mainly deal with the drama of our human psychology, emotion and state of being, the human physiognomies are often framed almost like a portrait, a painting, or a striking canvas which strip bare of the character’s emotion, and displays the character’s very moment state of being.  Stephen Holden from the New York Times quoted:  In his films, especially those with Mr. Bergman, light assumed a metaphysical dimension that went beyond mood. It distilled and deepened the feelings of torment and spiritual separation that afflicted Bergman characters. But in scenes of tranquillity filmed outdoors, the light might also evoke glimpses of transcendence. The sumptuous scenes of a Scandinavian Christmas in “Fanny and Alexander” burst with warmth and a magical, childlike joy.”
In my 2nd semester project, I too aim for a naturalistic approach to my film, hoping to capture the character’s psychology rather than emotion, state of being rather than actions.  I find that Sven’s works closely resemble to what I want to achieve in my films. (link to this portraiture shot which I love)

Part B
To achieve the look of Bergman’s films, Sven collaborated closely with Ingmar, going with him to the location and studied the condition and the changes of the light of the location over time, as this would affect their vision and the practical approach to shooting and lighting the location.  Both Sven and Ingmar heavily placed the significance of light changes in relation to the meaning of the character’s actions.  For example, for “Winter Light”, Sven had commented that “Ingmar and I went to a real church during our preparation and took photos every five minutes to study how the winter light changed over a similar time period
In the close up portraiture shot of the characters, Sven liked to emphasise the light refection in the character’s eyes, he believed that it is true to life.  In his very own words “Capturing these reflections helps to give the impression of a human being thinking. It’s very important to me to light so that you can sense what lies behind a character’s eyes.  I always aim to catch the light in the eyes, because I feel they are the mirror of the soul.  Truth is in the actor’s eyes and very small changes in expression can reveal more than a thousand words
Sven highly admired the simplicity on the use and availability of the equipment, through his experience, he had learnt to trust his eyes and feeling.   I’m not really a very technical person.  I don’t measure the highlight and shadows, for example; I decide such things by eye.  I like to draw from experience and from my feelings when I shoot.  Sometimes I feel ashamed at my lack of interest in all the new techniques of modern film-making, but I prefer to work with as little equipment as possible”.  I am yet at the stage where I am able to trust my eyes and intuition when it comes to shooting or choosing a particular lighting condition for the frame, though with the very little artistic intellect of the my eyes, I know when a frame is what I want and whether the character is being brought to life.  I hope to acquire more technical knowledge on lighting and camera work, knowing the possibilities that the equipment can provide before I can decide on what is minimal or overly complex.
Similar to Sven’s approach, I draw inspiration from looking at paintings (especially those of Rembrandt and Caravaggio) and photography (Henri Bresson), as these inform me on the important of lighting and the stylistic approaches to portray the character/s or set the scene.  Sven once said “A great deal of my inspiration comes from painting and stills photography.  For example, in preparing for Pretty Baby (78) Louis Malle and I spent a lot of time studying Vermeer’s paintings, specifically the way he uses light

References:; Sven Nykvist interview from Cinematography Screencraft by Peter Ettedgui, Focal Press (imprint of Butterworth-Heinemann - Copyright – RotoVision SA 1998)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

1st post for bfaftv2 - films and foes

First task:
Cinematic art comprises of both sound and the moving pictures.  My passion for film comes from my love for music and the moving pictures.  What I most cherish about life is those moments, for one reason or another, permanently stain your memory, like the remnant of blood that Lady Macbeth could not wash from her hands despite her OCD hand-washing nature.  Though, these moments do not necessarily have to produce those neurotic, crazy reactions as they did to her.  They could be tender, loving, erratic, contemplative, delusional, religious and whatever else that our being is allowed to feel and experience.  My passion for film is my search for these moments whether in my life or in the characters that I’m exploring.  DH Lawrence once wrote that “beauty is an experience”, as a student filmmaker, I too, attempt to capture beauty through experience, by creating unforgettable moments for the characters (and hopefully the audiences who are open to experience), or moments that encapsulate a concept, a meaning that I wish to communicate.  For example, you might ask, how would I communicate this “moment” penned by Virginia Woolf from Mrs Dalloway, “For she was a child throwing bread to the ducks, between her parents, and at the same time a grown woman coming to her parents who stood by the lake, holding her life in her arms, which as she neared them, grew larger and larger in her arms, until it became a whole life, a complete life, which she put down by them and said ‘This is what I have made of it! This!’ And what had she made of it? What, indeed?”
Yes, indeed, how would I communicate that moment to the audience?  It is my hope and dream to precisely do so through the cinematic medium.

Second task:
One of the films which greatly inspires and intrigues me is “Witgenstein” by Derek Jarman.  Witgenstein is a semi-biography of the philosopher Ludwig Witgenstein, it focuses on the philosophical progression of Witgenstein rather the factual events of his life.  I love the abstract, colourful world created by Derek which greatly contrasts the profound subject matter of the film.  Additionally, the theatre-like setting of the film allows the use of symbolism, and further accentuating the thoughts of the film to the audiences.  This film has greatly influent my understanding of philosophy, and the space of my life which I allow philosophy to occupy.  Bellow is a link to one of the clips of the film: