2011 Feature Film shot in Camden, ME
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Category — Inspiration

Still of the Day – Test Shoot Day 1

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F3, ISO 800, 35mm, T8, 1/4 BPM filter, 1.85:1

May 21, 2011   No Comments

Nature’s Dance: The Spirituality of Place

I had the luxury of sitting outside, simply listening for an entire afternoon – a luxury of time and space that does not exist in our everyday being, especially in New York.  I observed a tree dance with the wind and experienced one of the moments that the purest poetry could not convey. The tree breathed, relaxing into a sway of courtship with the breeze. The breeze in turn gently caressed the branches, tenderly leading the pair in a dance.  The two conversed through movement, an intimate dialogue, which lasted most of the afternoon. The breeze at last tenderly took its leave, journeying to its next partner but with a soft “we’ll meet again.”

This imagery needed to be told in film. This dance was a film in and of itself, a spiritual encounter of time and place.

Summers driving with my family down to North Carolina or New Orleans, my mother would breathe more deeply the further south we went. She commented on the welcoming familiarity of the trees and flowers, the natural world of her childhood in Louisiana. This nature spoke to her, picked up dialogue where they had last left off. An embracing return to a place. To home.

Caitlin and I met each day last week – writing outdoors by the Hudson River or in Central Park. We read the script aloud to one another at the pace of our surroundings, the rhythm of the water’s current or the natural & human pulse of Central Park entering our story as we worked.

As our brilliant DP Eve Cohen quotes Bresson, “I believe that through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with discovery of the world around us.” Wednesday we head to Camden to further our discovery, continuing to listen to this place. This dialogue between Camden and us is as vocal as the script we have written. In fact, it very much is the script we have written. That specificity of place that makes our personal story a universal one. Camden, Maine is our dancing partner, whose very essence shapes our film.

 

May 17, 2011   3 Comments

Leadership in low-budget filmmaking

Yesterday I met with Dan Cogan from Impact Partners, the sort of man and the sort of organization that bring so much generosity and spirit to filmmaking. Impact helps to finance “cinema that addresses pressing social issues.” I was afforded this lucky meeting by a family friend. Dan started out working on sets, then worked as a producer, and went on to co-found Impact, which has financed over 25 films in its first three years, and the awards list those films have garnered is long. He was generous with his advice, candid about the challenges we face in micro-budget filmmaking, and also deeply encouraging. I am writing today to share what struck me as a brilliant piece of advice that should be spread widely:

Low budget filmmaking of any kind means relying on favors, in-kind donations, and countless donated hours of work and expertise. On every low-budget set, people are working for a fraction of what they might normally get paid, for the experience, or simply for the love of the project. (Our goal is to make it some combination of all three.) Dan said that in a low-pay world, the leadership on these sets of the producer, director, and all of the above-the-line talent is what will mainly determine the successful execution of the film. (This is, of course, assuming you have done your homework!) On a low budget set, things go wrong like on any other set, except there’s no money to throw at the problem. In Dan’s view, the leadership’s ability to deal with these inevitable challenges with “glee” can be the make or break factor.

“Glee.” If we can separate this word in the English language for a moment from its television counterpart: what a perfectly onomatopoetic word for being gentle, smiling, and calm. It is visionary, in a way, to think of assembling a team and creating a work environment with glee. I was so grateful for this word and this reminder. This group of women embarked on this project for love of working together, and Dan reminded us not to lose sight of that for a single moment, to imbue it in how we organize and how we execute.

May 10, 2011   1 Comment

A Visit with Jee Hwang

I was struck by a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a friend, a visual artist, who said that the worst part of the “gallery scene” for him really is the moment someone says “So, tell me about your work.” He is left floundering for the words to describe something that if he had the linguistic vocabulary for it he would be a writer! In many ways, this is the essential struggle of artists of all kinds (writers excluded, I suppose), which is that if language captured what they were trying to convey, they would have no reason to take a brush to a canvas, or a camera to the woods, or a scene to the stage.

Our film, in part, explores the inability of language to encapsulate the un-capturable, so when Caitlin and I took a trip last weekend to visit Jee Hwang, we were afforded an opportunity to see what a young woman with a deeply rich visual vocabulary is capable of doing. Jee is from Korea, went to art school at Pratt and has sparked the interest of many galleries and collectors (myself included, although I am currently a ‘collector’ of only her work) with the breadth and depth of the themes she explores. She is unafraid to really push subjects that interest her, relentless in their pursuit, meticulous in their study, and then when she feels she has reached a point with them, she moves onto the next. See below for some of her “studies” here, then visit her website to see how she leverages such a freedom of exploration to yield remarkably powerful work.

Her paintings and drawings are to be featured as an integral part of our film but more importantly, her example is one we would like to follow. Finding the vocabulary (not the words) because she is constantly seeking, asking questions of herself and listening to the honest answers she gets.

April 12, 2011   No Comments