The movie, Fade to Black: a conversation with my mother, was made using a process of random choice and using whatever was happening in the moment. It contains pieces of my side of conversations with my mother, music written by my son, and a visual study of the environment in which I live including the ordinary sounds that occur in and around it.
Yesterday I visited St Peter’s House Library with a borrowed Sony camcorder and tried out various ideas in order to work on my film project, In The Shadows. I managed to put off going to the library until 3.15pm. However, I was feeling frazzled after writing about vulnerability, watching short films at South East Dance and feeling unsure of my next steps. Some meditation helped. The allotted space given to me on the university network is about 1 gigabyte. That’s not a lot of room to make a film in. There’s more room to maneuver on the computer desktop but, if I want my work saved, it must fit into the 1 gigabyte or onto another piece of storage. Recent trips to Jubilee Library have concluded with the loss of usb sticks (where’s my head at?). My mobile phone has 6 gigabyes of space available so I tried out ways of working with that.
The first time I saw this little girl’s image in Robert Mapplethorpe’s Certain People, I felt a shock startle me. I hesitated, but briefly, and then I turned the page. But the image stayed with me; haunted me. The way she appeared in my mind was provocative: she had pulled aside her dress and was flaunting herself to the camera.
Overcoming procrastination, I headed to St Peter’s House Library today and imported all the footage from the MiniDV tape to my network space in the computer pool. I chose not to use Final Cut Pro, which wouldn’t start up. It didn’t recognise that the video recorder was attached to the rather lovely iMac I was using (dear universe, I would like an iMac. One of the older white plastic ones with a white keyboard and wireless mouse and speakers and remote control. In return I promise to serve you in the best way I can). I used iMovie instead and, after I fiddled about with the wire, it “saw” the video camera and imported the footage. I sat there for just over an hour, watching the footage as it transferred. That helped me get to know the shots a little better. Being a newbie to iMovie, I watched some YouTube tutorials to help me in the next step of pulling out the bits of film that were chosen at random the other day. Looks pretty easy to use. I’m looking forward to the edit.
One of my favourite ways of working is to bring chance into the equation. So yesterday I logged the pieces of film I’ve been taking since May 2012 and numbered each logged piece: from one to twenty four. I wrote each number on a tiny piece of paper, folded up the pieces of paper and put them in a plastic cup. Shaking the cup, I drew a piece from it: two; I shook and drew again: twenty; and again: twenty three, and so on. I now have seven pieces of film to put together to the soundtrack of In The Shadows.
Yesterday, when I posted about montage, I inserted a link to a page of posts I’d previously made about the music In The Shadows. The search criteria “In The Shadows” brought up a post from November 2011 when I took part in NaNoWriMo (an annual international challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November). The post, from the 8th of November, centred on the relationship between a man and his mother. He is the ex-prime minister, in hiding from his government, and she is an underground saboteur. She disappeared from his life when he was a child.
In The Film Sense, Sergei Eistenstein talks of the power of montage to induce a creative process in the viewer of a film. Montage is the use of two or more different clips joined together to create an overall sense of theme. Eisenstein used montage to put forward ideological messages. There is a way that he wishes the viewer to see what is being represented. He begins with the end result in mind. However, he presses upon the reader, it is imperative that the end result is achieved without the “‘sweating and straining’ method” (Eisenstein 1986: p39). Instead he sites the use of imagination to bring about the desired result.
I like this article. I googled “suchness of shadows” and found this. I like that it states to accept that this is the nature of things in accordance with whatever the situation is. But the acceptance is about understanding rather than reluctance in order to obtain. Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos were about suchness. His book, Certain People, contains portraits. There are two self portraits; in one he captures masculinity and in the other femininity:
He captures the ideas of masculinity and femininity at the time the photos were taken. Ideas of masculinity and femininity then can change. And they weren’t the only versions of masculinity and femininity available but they were the ones he chose to portray. Is there an absolute idea of masculinity? And one of femininity? I don’t know but what is being revealed here to me is there is a suchness in the idea that is being portrayed and when you tap into that it has an expressive power.
Questions to ponder
What are the shadows I am drawn to portraying?
What is the suchness of these shadows?
Has anyone else portrayed them?