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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

India - Calm and Spacious

It's 3:34 am and I'm awake and thinking about landscape.

I recently edited a video that was shot in a hurried fashion over three weeks in Nepal. The footage (though there is a lot of it) is claustrophobic and never lets the viewer out of the frenetic pace of what must have been a busy, production-oriented trip.

As in the great film Baraka, which has been a huge influence on my approach to working with non-narrative storytelling as well as landscape, I hope to find the time during production on Song of The Untouchable to step back and find ways to portray India in many different ways. I think the frenetic, confusing, crowded part will be easy enough... but finding moments that go beyond the shakey and confusing path of a video camera through India will be the real finesse.

One thing I've noticed is that lately, and due partly to the fact that the camera I'm using is such high resolution, I've been discarding the rule of thirds in favor of composing my shots in a combination of thirds and fifths. I've been trying to place large structural components of the composition according to the rule of thirds, but I'll almost always have something important - or even the very subject of the shot - placed according to fifths. Here's a couple frames from the Wyoming segment of the film I'm working on now:

I overheard an interview with a wonderful film director yesterday, and he called his visual style 'clutter'... which he basically described as the secondary or tertiary layers of subject matter in a shot. I'm starting to understand what he is talking about, as clutter is not only a theme in the shooting I'm doing now, but is quite possibly a requisite component to any shoot in India.

Happy Holidays.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a hundred-ninety minutes in warsaw

Ewa's voice crackles over the black, Soviet era loudspeaker: "The problem was een the solo violeen. We have to do eet again." The cellist to my left does another one of his little hyena whistles and the orchestra begins to kvetch in Polski. They're losing their patience and we're almost out of time. I glance down at the black page of notes on the stand, then back up at the stereo pair of mics positioned in front of my forehead, but there's nothing more to see. There's nothing more to think. Either my body knows this music or it doesn't.

It was 1:26 pm on October 29th, and I was in Warsaw recording a violin concerto written by my father, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker, with Ian Hobson and the magnificent Sinfonia Varsovia. I grasped the Strad, not like a $4,500,000 antique, but like the surgical, double-edged tool of musical illumination/personal confession it is. I had four minutes left to will it into a successful take of the insectile passage work.

In a sense, while I'd never experienced that particular kind of pressure before, it seems a microcosm of my life in music thus far, as well as the transformation I hope Chuck can capture with Leo's guidance in the future: Neurotic. Revelatory. Blurred.