Just finished shooting music video BURMA for Cousteau’s upcoming new album of the same name. On location from left to right in the picture: Myself, actor Eamon Haughian, and songwriter Davey Ray Moor.
I have been collecting mirrors. It begun with a vague idea of placing them in a landscape as a way of visually fragmenting the place. The reflected image would place one place into another. It now occurs to me that I could use this idea as a means to place an audience into a performance. If an audience member could see themselves in a space where a performance is taking place, they become, from their perspective, a part of the performance. I’m sure this is not a new idea but I’ll experiment with it.
I have another new project in the pipeline. I will be making a music video for BURMA, a track on songwriter/instrumentalist Davey Ray More’s album Cousteau. ETA sometime in June. Very exciting!
The Glasshouse has gone out to festivals and will have its first screening in Los Angeles in the Spring. As a development of the idea of switching points of view that was central to the film, in my next project I want to extend the single-take, single point of view idea.
Two versions of the dance will be screened simultaneously side by side on two screens (or on a split screen), with each screen presenting a single dancer’s experience and viewpoint. Film storytelling through multiple perspectives is not new. Rashomon (1950) and Vantage Point (2008) both present switching individual viewpoints, and director Mike Figgis’s Timecode (2000) splits the screen into quarters to show four single-take individual perspectives of the same event. The device would however, I believe, be new to screendance, and the making style of The Glasshouse would allow dancers to perform with handheld cameras to provide for the viewer a sense of their movement, of being the dancer.
Film almost complete! The glasshouses had air blowers in them so none of the diegetic sound could be used. Instead I have recreated it. Xavi’s footsteps are my shoes on the floor of my hallway in the night when all’s quiet, and the rustling leaves are my house plants, all done while watching the film to get everything in time etc. I have drawn on some Creative Commons music by Jan Grunfeld and added some piano notes of my own. Just some colouring to do now and the film will be finished. Because the camera is hand held it moves around quite a bit. I like it, but I expect it might be seen as a low production value by some. Passing a camera between us was difficult and actually I think that we did it pretty well, and it has a personal point or view quality. The film will be called The Glasshouse’.
I changed from the lovely walled garden in Mells to a new location. A large sculpture was installed arround the pond in the garden, just where I had hoped to shoot, and it broke the line of sight. We shot the film in the Bristol University Botanic Gardens instead, in the subtropical glasshouse. Polly, Xavi and I worked for two days on choreography, with the pathways in the hothouse marked out with tape on the studio floor. We also did a camera ‘transfer’ workshop where we learned to pass the camera between us with as little ‘wobble’ as possible. A sort of contact improvisation move that transferred the moving camera trajectory by sharing it for a while before taking/letting go of it. We rehearsed this in the Italian Garden at Bath Spa University. The film is a single six minute take. We had the location between 8.00am and 10.30am. We were well prepared and managed to shoot five takes. The sun was brighter than I expected so I ripped the cover off my notebook and taped it up as a matte box. Worked fine! Xavi Santos and Polly Franks were fantastic and worked hard to the end of the session, running one take pretty much after another once we got going.
Garden, which is just a working title, is a screendance project that I am currently working on. It’s experimental film in which the dancers and camera operator exchange roles. The project explores the camera dancer relationship as a Pas de Deux. I’m working with two great dancers, Polly Franks and Xavier Santos, and clothes designer MishiMay from Studio 21 in Bristol.
The dance will be set in a walled garden in the Somerset village of Mells. I’m expecting the film to be about 4 to 5 minutes long and the premise is that of a gardener, Xavier, who comes across a dancer, Polly, wearing a dress made of flowers, emerging from the garden. The gardener dances with the woman who then disappears.
The camera will be passed from one dancer to another, so the film will, I hope, switch POVs back and forth. Camera work is going to be tricky as I don’t want it to lurch around when being used, especially in the passing from one set of hands to another. As well as the studio and location sessions for making the choreography, we’ll also have some camera handling workshops too. This will include walking in a way that makes each step roll from heel to toe, to minimise the small jolt that runs through the body and arms when the heel lands with normal walking.
The film will be shot in a single take with the idea that it reflects the conscious experience of ‘real’ life. There are no ‘cuts’ in our living experience! I also want a deep field of focus, again for a similar reason. Although a shallow depth of field can look great on the screen, and draws attention to the one part of the screen in detail, that’s not how we actually see. Whatever we look at is in focus. As we look from one thing to another, our eyes instantly focus, so we don’t really experience the ‘out of focus’ world, unless maybe you have a hangover!
The film will be shot on a Sony PXWx70 mounted in a fig rig with a small monitor clamped to the bottom of the rig. The camera is light and I’ll shoot with a small aperture to achieve a deep field of focus. I’ll use the diegetic sounds from the shoot captured by the camera mic as well as a couple of Tascam sound recorders hidden under leaves.