Sorry Buzz Lightyear, your saying might be nifty for cartoon characters but…
On a daily or weekly basis the process for every creative person is different, but to finish a work the overall process is the same: start with whatever intentions, dreams and aspirations that you like, but know it will end. If the work is to be finished it must end, and that end involves a single outcome… For me, a few days ago I locked the cut, finished editing sound & composing, and output 1080p screener versions of my two Shodoshima Artists Residency projects… and screened them!
While I have been to many screenings, and more than a few premieres, nothing is more mind altering than when it is your own film being screened. Earlier the same day I had screened the cut on my iPad to the priest who appears onscreen in the film, and in that case I sat quietly aside and could only just tell what point the film was up to by the leakage from my Sennhesier HD650 headphones he was listening on… That was a slightly excruciating screening, since if he wasn’t happy with the treatment of footage that I used of him, I would have had to recut & rescore that section, the same day as the screening. Thankfully he loved it… Phew!
Anyway, after a busy day racing around, picking up projector & screen, and then finally setting up for playback off my laptop, the screening went very, very well and we had a really fascinating Q&A afterwards – not fascinating for my answers, but for the reactions and questions that both film projects generated. I guess none of this is new to seasoned film makers, but its new to me….
This entire residency on Shodoshima has been a fantastic experience – every day has been an adventure meeting very interesting people, exploring Shodoshima, finding beautiful locations, and waiting for the right conditions to film. Sometimes that required incredible patience and/or repeated experimentation – for example there is a motion controlled tracking shot, into which walks a couple, it is a shot with a very shallow focus – the foreground is super sharp & they are in bokeh. But the late afternoon light is so beautiful, as is the space they inhabit, as the track occurs. That shot took four hours – setup & find the tracking shot, tried two different lenses before settling on the final one… tried half a dozen takes & got the motion and foreground working beautifully, and then wait…. trigger a track as a couple walked past, and watch the results… second to last take was gorgeous! Someone commented when watching it, that couple are perfectly timed. Aye! If they were actors it would be a simply timed cue…. but in real life, patience is one hell of a virtue! It took 4+ hours to be ready for that one shot… but as with shooting timelapse I really appreciated just having to be at a location for half a day, to find & capture some magic…
But sometimes it requires an open mind & to be ready! I filmed at two Masturi/Festivals and at the second we found a great location, up high looking down on the action. Between ‘performances’ a young woman and her daughter squeezed past us & sat right in front of where I had been shooting… the action restarted and rather than be annoyed by them I managed to capture a beautiful shot, almost point of view for the kawaii little girl, watching the action.
One of the questions at the Q&A was very sentient: ‘which came first, the music or film?’ – I really enjoyed observing myself and slowly a process evolved, not a workflow exactly, that term always makes me think of work specifically, but I found that conceptually I would rough cut a sequence, render a guide video, switch across to composing & sound design and evolve its form, mood & direction, possibly doing rough video recuts in ProTools, then output a guide mix and return to Final Cut, recutting to the new mix. This process happened on a large scale for maybe four or five sequences – once I had a direction in the music I would mix a long version of it, so I could at least keep picture cutting to a rhythm.
Best of all, none of this would have become truly possible or evident without a deadline. All the years I have spent in post production has made me appreciate how valuable deadlines are, and none better (nor more present in the mind) than a public screening! I had no problem getting up at 5am every morning for the last week to eat breakfast while I watched back where I was at by the end of the previous night. Moral of the story: deadlines clarify decision making!
Goodbye Shodoshima! I can’t wait to return and am already planning projects for that day!
So now I have 2 days left in Osaka/Kobe before spending 16 hours of torture flying home…. And then a totally different adventure begins! Before then I have some shopping to do, and some more inspiring art to experience as my last days on this trip coincide with the beginning of the Kobe 2013 Biennale! Last time I was in Kobe at the right time was 2009 – check some of the entries in the container art installation completition from back then here – I am looking forward to seeing what four years of evolution has created!