I’ve got a whole bunch of photos in Istvan Kantor’s new book “Amazing Letters: The Life and Art of David Zack”, published by The New Gallery. The Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival (M:ST) hired me to photo-document a couple of festivals back, and I found Istvan was super easy to work with, and excited to get some decent images of his performance which happened in a parking lot next to the train tracks in downtown Calgary. When the performance finished the crowd wandered away, and Istvan and a young art student who had volunteered and I remained, so I asked Istvan if he wanted to make some more photos with the remnants of the performance. He was into it, and one of those shots figures on the top left of the M:ST web site.
Istvan performed at the same location in the rain for the most recent M:ST fest. The performance doubled as a book launch and I documented it, on video this time. I haven’t handed the tape off to the festival yet, but it has some epic stuff on it, including Istvan burning his own book.
I’m Technical Director for CUFF, just so you know. I managed to pull off an almost exclusively HD festival this year, with the exception of a few features presented on Digi-Beta, a lone DVD from a low-budget project from a distant land, and the 48 Hour Film Making Challenge which was SD and which I had no part in (HD next year for certain.) All of our trailers, festival brand stuff, and all of the short films were on HD, and everything looked amazing once I had really tweaked and optimized the Plaza‘s Christie projector and ancient but rad stereo matrix sound system, (the director of the cult horror film “The Woman” told me that my presentation of his film was the best it had had.)
The highlight of the festival for me was a film called BELLFLOWER. This was by far the most underground production in the festival, and by far the most fun to project. The film is entirely handmade, to the extent that they even built their own camera to shoot on, and the story ties perfectly to the process of making it. The shooting doesn’t aspire to anything other than the film’s true character, where I find that many small budget films either look like the DOP is building his reel, hoping one day to work on a real movie, or that the film crew can’t escape their TV commercial training. By contrast, I literally welled up at seeing shots where their camera’s ground glass had stopped spinning, perfect static specs of dirt and beautiful smudges framing perfectly affected story. The grit testifies to their actual possessed ingenuity, and to their personal investment in the work. There are tweaky things going on with the colour that come across as an acknowledgment of the “film”s digital production format without going anywhere cheap; that saturated yellow thing is so perfect. Sound wise, there are such awesome details, like that the mic was on a stand in the house scenes – given away by the LF rumble when the characters walked, or like how they didn’t try to hide the tiny bit of ADR they use – feels like a dubbed Kung-Fu film. BELLFLOWER doesn’t seem poorly crafted, by subtly exposing/not filtering the process it made me feel like I helped make it. Mostly though, the sound mix was so beautifully restrained, totally sticking to the -18dB bounce that when loud things happen they seem unbelievably loud. The first time they test out the car was a serious event. And, from the projectionist’s perspective, it was awesome to see the odd digital cigarette burn stuck in the corner, it was awesome considerate that the HDCAM tape was recorded to 29.97 fps (my favourite frame rate) and came with a Blu-ray backup – I was so tempted to not know what could’ve happened to it, and that the sound had real dynamic range. Bellflower feels like my life, hands on and dirty, emotionally turbulent, frustrating and luminescent. Coatwolf!!
John Snow House is an extension of Calgary’s The New Gallery. TNG houses their archive of books, exhibition catalogues, art periodicals, etc., there, and they open the place up to artists for researching local art history, and to host small moments of culture. John Snow was a banker, and artist print-maker, and somehow the gallery has come to operate out of his house. I was asked last week to shoot and edit a short promotional spot about JSH to assist the gallery in promoting their off-site research centre’s merits. There was just a single day to shoot and edit the thing, challenging since it needed to be coherent and clean, and espouse an art-critical value. The gallery invited an m.u.a. who was great and became gaffer toward the end of the day, his name is Ben Charlton and he wants to work. I think I’m pretty happy with the result, and I’ve heard the TNG board is too, I’ll post a link here when they release it to the world. I’ve got to try to get back there and shoot the wall in the basement where Mr. Snow kept his inks, sweetest eveidence.
Coffee is a short video I shot on the morning after I bought my new HD video camera. It painstakingly chronicles the process my household goes through in making coffee each morning, all so we can get to a quiet moment of connection, however briefly. I’m particularly fond of how this piece capitalizes on the immediacy of video as a medium, having been shot in about 18 minutes, and edited in less than a couple of hours.
EMMEDIA hosted an event in Calgary called Red Rover, which was simultaneously hosted at Paved Arts in Saskatoon, and the two were linked via skype so attendees could interact.
Coffee seemed to connect with the audience when it played. Later I heard from Christine Cook that it infuriated her ’cause she didn’t want all of the gritty detail (which is the point of the thing), while Josh Fraser told me he was nearly moved to tears by it, I think sincerely. Some guy in Saskatoon asked me what format it was shot on, and I told him, HDV, and that left him condescendingly cold as if his knowing that it had a low bit rate had suddenly made it exempt from consideration or discussion.
Kinda cool, full spectrum response.
The Calgary Herald printed one of the photos I took with Bob Clark’s preview of Kim’s latest dance show “Wilds” on March 9. Dancers Marc Hall and Dinou Marlett-Stuart figure in Scott Reid’s upside down tree set design.
In the past few months I’ve documented numerous performances and shot all kinds of neat stuff.
Decidedly Jazz Danceworks new show “Wilds”
U of C’s Mainstage Dance
Various presentations by members of ALCES
Maya Lewandowski’s ” I would never want the world to know that I…” at DSW’s Alberta Dance Festival
Public Recordings’ “300 Tapes” at the playRites Festival
“Triangular Theories of Love” by W&M Physical Theatre
Susie Burpee’s “The Susie Burpee Show” at Dancers’ Studio West
I took the geophone to the Bowness Lagoon this afternoon to see if the ice there made any sound, but I think it’s frozen solid since it was completely quiet. I had also brought an ORTF mic set-up (a pair of Russian Oktava cards borrowed from EMMEDIA) and I placed them on the ice and started recording the skating instead. I could hear the strides of skaters at the other end of the rink, and the close stuff made for a great stereo image. Also met some friendly skaters, Jennifer and her son Robel (sorry, guessing at the spelling) who skated circles around me for stereo effect, and snapped a cel photo of me on the ice – thanks. I hope to post a link here before too long to whatever happens to the recordings.