Wednesday, February 22, 2006

La Vita Nuova

Here's something I just found on, the Tarkovsky website. Tonino Guerra, Tarkovsky's longtime friend and co-writer of Nostalgia and Tempo di Viaggio, is asking the Master about Stalker, which he had then (1979) just completed. Tarkovsky's comments seem very prescient about the advent of digital filmmaking, and sums up very well how we're going about making Folie à Deux.

Tonino Guerra: Someone told me that you would like to completely change your way of making cinema. Is this true?

Andrei Tarkovsky: Yes, only that I still don't know how. It would be nice, let us say, to shoot a film in complete freedom, like amateurs make their films. Reject large financing. Have the possibility to observe nature and people, and film them, without haste. The story would be born autonomously: as the result of these observations, not from oblidged shots, planned in the tiniest detail. Such a film would be difficult to realize in the manner that commercial films are realized. It would have to be shot in absolute freedom, independent from lighting, from actors, from the time employed in filming, etc., etc. And with a reduced gauge camera. I believe that such a method of filming could push me to move much further forward.

London, Berlin, Woodspring Priory

It's been a very hectic month. First of all, I went to Video Forum in London to have a crash course in the Sony Z1, which we'll use to shoot Folie on, and then I went over to the Berlin Film Festival to chase up a producer I know who might be interested in the film. I didn't have his cell phone number, and he couldn't get through to me on mine (he kept getting messages saying that the call was barred for some reason), and I was giving up hope of finding him. On my last night before coming home, I made one last ditch attempt to leave a message at his hotel, and - lo and behold - he was actually in his room. We went out for dinner and things went well. He wants to see the script and roughcut, and we'll take things from there.

I also had a number of ideas for the second draft while in Berlin, which I'm now trying to get down on paper. As we did with The Notebooks of Cornelius Crow, my old partner in crime Nick Harding has written the first draft based on my initial idea, and now I'm once more unto the breech for the second draft.

Amongst the new ideas are to shoot one scene in a mediaeval priory, to make the setting's geography slightly dreamlike (homage to Stalker) and to shoot it all in long takes (numerous homages here: Tarkovsky of course, Theo Angelopoulos, and someone I've been thinking a lot about recently, Bela Tarr.) I've always felt that 'real' films are made in the camera, not the cutting room, but I suppose that's all down to what you do with the camera in the first place. Someone like Martin Scorsese, for instance, is very much a filmmaker who makes his films in the cutting room, and they are certainly none the worse for it, but that's because of how he covers his scenes. Doing Folie in long takes - and I feel as though I'm coming out of some kind of closet here - will mean more camera rehearsals for sure, but I hope that won't elongate the shoot too much. Hopefully we will avoid the sort of nightmarish shut-downs that seem to plague the great Bela every time he shoots a film...