After being back from a 3 weeks trip, most of my time has been spent on catching back all the pending matters for my work and on sorting out the pictures that were taken. I took 1500 pictures ! A ridiculous amount but so much in line with the use of a digital camera…
I was equipped with my – apparently already old – Olympus E-pl1 , a micro 4/3 camera, on which I used only one lens, a 14mm lumix that opens at f 2.5. It was the perfect couple for that trip ; I am pretty much of an old school person and not a fan of multiple coverage lens. No I was taught that a photographer – or cinematographer – has to find the right shooting angle and having a single steady lens is the best way to do it. It forces you to find the right distance towards what you are shooting and therefore really putting a bit of you as well in the image.
So in theory this should bring the amount of picture down, as you have to make the effort to move and every time your use the shutter it should be pretty well thought. My major discovery has been that not only I stopped making portrait oriented pictures but rather landscape’s ones (even of people) since a couple of years – and when I really want to portrait someone I used the 6×6 frame- , but also that this gigantic amount of pictures is due to…my natural (it became natural) inclination to tell stories as if it would be a movie. In other words, I probably shot 10 different topics…..1500 times !
I am stuck in the story telling process. When sorting the pictures, my mind told me : mmhh interesting how you follow your topic, do some cuts, some reverse angle, ellipsis and then back to the subject and you understand the evolution of it.
I measured as well on how, like in sports – and apparently due to age – my interest is into a bit longer moments rather than immediate perfect frozen picture. Is it possible to make what I would call an ” endurance snapshot” rather than an immediate “explosive image” with still images ?
It brought me back to the “winobranie” adventure (movie about polish wine – http://www.vimeo.com under palmtreeprod user), where in order to match the local dynamism – the movie talks about wine making in a highly chaotic way – just like the environment where all the story was happening. If shooting it nowadays, I would spend more time and shoot it differently…..? Well to be honest if shooting it now…well I wouldn’t be able to shoot it.
Before my trip I was cleaning my cupboards and I discovered some old cups and mugs that I don’t use anymore. I found one that I used to drink my cocoa in it when I was 4-5 years old. I kept it just like it was and decided to take a picture of it. Actually when taking the picture I felt more like recording a moment in time. When a piece of industrial porcelain became a story to tell, when being materialistic made a new sense.
It contains the stories of every morning breakfast of the child I was…
Funnily enough I took only one shot of it…as probably I knew that 1500 pictures would never be able to tell all of it.
Great sunny days…
so what can be better than hiding in theaters to watch movies ?
Actually I have been and will still be visiting the Oenovideo Festival held in Aigle, a movie festival dedicated to any type of movies about wine. The first thing I can tell is when you spend the day there, you feel like drinking wine. You want to try what is on screen, but when you go out of the theater and that you see you are surrounded by vineyards, well, it is hard to not get thirsty !
Yesterday I could watch a couple of movies and must say I was pretty surprised. Indeed two different treatments and styles, but at the end the similar purpose : magnifying and celebrating what is wine making. If the idea is good and as wine amateur I definitely like when people are passionate.
However I felt, from a movie making point of view, that something was missing. Maybe is it only my tastes and preferences that always will need a deeper bond with reality or simply the ability to put in images most of the full picture of a situation, even if it goes against the celebration of the topic….but to say it in other words my usual ” we need to go beyond the fascination for the topic to enter the meaty part of life…and of the documentary” feeling was present.
I will only describe you the scene of a movie that kept me thoughtful for the day :
The movie is about harvest time in California. On one side you interview the vineyards owners. On the other you record and interview the workers, most of them Mexicans. You are given to understand that owners value their workers but that the hierarchy is needed. (ok just like in most corporations). Then you are following the 2011 harvest with its great moments. But of course you know most of the workers are / were illegals. How did they enter the US border ? Some of them say how, and specially one who says : I had to dig under the fence and I could make it. Fine. Next scene, a vineyard owner who talks about he fact they got awaken one night, 3 am, because of wild pigs in their vineyards. At least 30 of them. How come ? He goes out to check it with his rifle and sees they run away. On next morning…a hole below the fence…and for 5 min to explain how they enter, how they destroy and spoil their cultures and that they are loosing at lot because of them and that they are not the only farmers suffering from that. And how to trap them.
There was I lost / not sure to understand the director’s point of view on the topic. But for sure I was feeling uncomfortable with this very goofy editing, and so I understood the following :
– there is a split in the full picture of life and celebrating wine can overcome and win over any little political/ social involvement , little details that are nothing in comparison to the beauty of wine making…
– above sentence is re-applicable to any other movie, or discussion or action or personal choices, etc etc
= it is hard to find the right balance, when making a movie, on what works for the movie, what respects the reality of what you filmed, and what will be the dominant topic and overall coherence of the movie
All this to say ; I wasn’t comfortable with that editing, but overall images , style were nice and pleasant. Were my social expectations in line with the movie ? Probably not. And so this Festival is a great celebration of wine, as a main character. Like a great song, nothing else (really) matters.
So still one day to come, let’s see what it brings. It s a bit early to open a bottle and drink – well it depends where you are living on this earth – but what you can do if you are on rehab, and if you have an hour and ten minutes is to follow this link :
When coming back from Aigle I told myself : time to put WINOBRANIE movie online so that everyone can watch it, like it or not, comment it or not. And for sure all the comments I made above are kind of valid for my movie as well….but I do believe I didn’t miss the social part..maybe the wine one for sure !
So have fun and don’t hesitate to comment it !
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 !
So in order to officially open this blog, dedicated to the update of my work , let’s start with…a little announce :
By the end of August this year, I ll be…
MEMBER OF THE JURY AT THE 2012 QUEST EUROPE MOVIE FESTIVAL in Zielona Gora, Poland.
Last Year my movie WINOBRANIE was screened at that festival and the feedbacks from the audience were really positive and motivating. What a surprise to be elected as member of the jury this year. I always wanted to be part of such…and it is happening Hoorraaay !
So what else can I say but that I am really excited about it !
that ‘s all for now – just a link to the polish newspapers and to the festival site