Never ending story

I am just finishing the export of a movie I worked on as camera operator. It was a great adventure for a 16 min short movie that got produced over a full year (since 2011). Great topic, nice imagination and a very simple way of shooting. When I see the results, I am really happy and proud that despite the very little crew and the tight production we were able to make it and that there is a coherence in the film. It is always hard to find what the director wants : or he’s too precise and makes you feel he wants to be all the time behind the camera, or he’s too precise but can’t communicate it and makes you anyway feel he wants to be in your place. However this time, a clear partnership lead every shooting day and I can say, yes, for once, as a chief operator I was able to translate the wishes of the director….and now that the editing is done, everybody feels like he made his job, and the director that the movie is his.

It was longtime – actually 4 years – since working on a fiction. As a director I am more into documentaries, as a script writer into fiction, as chief photographer / operator in both. By default I realize that my own work needs the spontaneity of the reality and the unexpected interactions with the people I am shooting to fulfill me and to give some personal satisfaction. I realize as well that my other job – outside of movie world , insights researcher – is close to that as well. I do have a passion for meeting people and if recording them, to their lives. I remember a movie I watched in Locarno many years ago : a polish operator was giving some lessons in the art school of Kabul. To the few students that were making it (because of money, interest or just luckily staying alive), he gave this advice : “When you shoot someone, don’t do it without being interested in the person. When you shoot them, you give them the possibility to express themselves , and what is the most important they can talk about : their life. This is the only thing that matters when you go for a shooting : be interested and respectful of people’s lives.”

Recently I was at the Visions du Réel festival in Nyon, and I felt sometimes uncomfortable as I could feel that the directors were more fascinated than interested in their subjects / people / topics. Being respectful doesn’t mean sharing people’s perspectives or agreeing on their belief ; it means finding the right distance where you know you are not better than them, or that they are not superior to you. For instance one thing I cannot stand at all in movies : the “tribute movies” to any great name of movie making. I prefer any type of biopic, or entertainment oriented movie on someone than those “gratitude movies” made from younger generation to old dying ancient still influencing ones. But I respect those great masters and therefore can confront my ideas to theirs.

In a couple of days I will be going to the Oenovideo Movie Festival , held this year in Switzerland, in Aigle. As a passionate wine lover, I look forward to see what this event will look like and what the movies will be. My last documentary was about wine, wine and Poland or Poland and the idea of wine. It was a rushed / stressed / in a hurry movie that I made as a catharsis exercise. I did respect the people, the situation and the topic, but I was too excited by the fact of movie making : it was 2 years without shooting anything, a too long fast. I put so many things in it that at the end it missed a certain simplicity that would have made it…more affordable for any type of audience. Funnily enough it was not successful at all for the professionals or critics, but the rest of the audience just loved it. It was a great lesson and now that I am working on the next long feature doc, I know it is just a movie and not a therapy…or not fully.

The computer tells me he’s done with the HD export ;I think it is time to open a bottle, cook the first barbecue of the year, despite the clouds, and to enjoy this moment…before the next projects !


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