Thursday 30 May 2019

On finishing No More Than This

I spent nearly a year making my graduation film—started the script in July and worked on it through the summer, pitched in October, got crew, started preproduction, started crowdfunding in December, shot the film for 6 days in February, and spent several months fixing the problems and finding coherence and meaning out of the mess that it was. 
Last year I called Footfalls the most difficult shoot I ever had. It no longer is. No More Than This (formerly known as Non-Person) was a tortured production—full of mistakes and mishaps and perhaps just plain bad luck. I didn’t talk about it, because it was difficult to talk about without some resentment. I also had lots of guilt, and self-doubt. It is not perfect, in fact it’s not even the film I wanted to make. Looking back, there are a million things I would have done differently. 
Nevertheless, I have decided to embrace the film. I have taken risks, and worked very hard, and even though I did make mistakes, there were many moments that I did the best anyone could, under the circumstance. But above all, it’s a story I wanted to tell. It is mine, it is so far my best and most important work. Considering all the things that were against me, and all the trouble we had to deal with, I’m proud of the finished film, and don’t think the audience can really tell what was happening on and off set. 
This year I have learnt a lot, about filmmaking, about directing, about people, and about myself. When you have worked on a film, especially if many things go wrong, you see things differently—people may ask why you didn’t do something, but only you (and perhaps your crew) understand the reasoning behind your decisions, and only you know that sometimes that’s the only option you’ve got. But at the same time you also know that it doesn’t matter—the shoot doesn’t matter, your problems don’t matter, your headaches and heartaches don’t matter, the audience only know what is on the screen, and your job is to focus on it and do the best you can, and figure out what to do when something doesn’t go as planned. You cannot go around and try to justify the things that don’t work in the film, because no one cares, so the only thing you can do is to deliver the best work you can possibly deliver and leave the rest to the audience. 
That’s all I want to say. I’ve got through it all and completed the film. Here’s to the future!

PS: My film Footfalls has just been officially selected for Manchester Student Film Festival. 
Come to the screening on 6/6 if you are around. 

Monday 27 May 2019

Watching Tarkovsky’s Stalker as a filmmaker

1/ Today I came across this video about Tarkovsky. It is a great video essay, with excellent choice of shots:

If you don’t like or haven’t seen Tarkovsky, watch the 1st 2 minutes.

2/ Last September I watched The Sacrifice and wrote that I had immense admiration for him as a director but couldn’t warm to his films.
Now it’s different with Stalker, the film has haunting imagery, and it touches on something I have thought a lot about—the idea that we may not want our deeply held desires to come true, because we do not know what we really want deep down, and we may not want what we want when it actually happens. But that is not all Stalker is about—the film also touches on other ideas such as the role of the artist, self-doubt and inspiration, boredom, purpose, the meaning of art and the meaning of life, softness/ agility and strength/ hardness, freedom, choice, sacrifice, faith, and so on.
The film is full of evocative images, but I do not want to pin down some meaning. As Tarkovsky said it himself:
“I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image — as opposed to a symbol — is indefinite in meaning.”

3/ I note that video essays and articles about colours in films never mention the use of colours in Tarkovsky’s films (though they sometimes mention Bergman—Cries and Whispers). Tarkovsky has a tendency to switch between colour and B&W and/or sepia. It is not random.
Stalker starts in sepia. Whilst B&W strips everything of colour and it is all seen in shapes, light and shadow, sepia gives the city a sickly hue. The film starts in the Stalker’s house, then he goes out and we follow him to the pub, then he, the Writer, and the Professor, go to the Zone. They ride through the city, through factories, machines, railway, and so on, then all of a sudden there is a burst of colour—the film is now in colour, as they enter the Zone.
In Stalker, the Zone is in colour, the outside world is in sepia. The Stalker’s dream is in sepia. But why is the ending in colour? Does it not mean that the Stalker’s daughter Monkey’s telekinetic powers are associated with the Zone?

4/ The other day I came across a piece of writing, in which the author said that the auteur theory (which she called “the auteur myth”) was misogynistic.
It is needless to say that I think it is imbecilic. Everyone knows film is a collaborative art, the director is not the sole creator of a film. The concept of the auteur is mostly to distinguish different kinds of directors: there are technicians, there are stylists, and there are auteurs. Why does she think that recognised auteurs such as Bergman, Tarkovsky, and Fellini worked with lots of different people but their films were always recognisable, with a strong vision, recurring images, and recurring themes? Bergman for example might be lucky in finding Sven Nykvist and from that point always used him as cinematographer, but Tarkovsky and Fellini didn’t have the same cinematographer in different films.

5/ It is easy to tell that Tarkovsky likes running water, rain indoors, moss, mud, dead leaves, burning houses, levitation… In his films we can see water, air, fire, and earth.
Here is a video about the water motif:

6/ I maintain that Tarkovsky is a great director but a bad influence, at least if you try to imitate him. Art doesn’t come from long takes and nature shots.
There are only 2 film directors that I think are thinkers—Andrei Tarkovsky and Ingmar Bergman.

7/ Nevertheless, Tarkovsky is a great antithesis to commercial cinema.
I’m saddened by the fact that today cinema is no longer seen as art, only as entertainment. I dislike choppy editing, pointless camera movements, and the pathetic fear of boring the audience and losing money. I dislike the over-use of, and over-reliance on, green screen and CGI. I dislike blockbusters, especially superhero films, but dislike even more films that get acclaimed for being stylistic but have no substance and no depth.
Amidst brainless commercial cinema, a film like Roma gets lots of praise that is undeserved. I have never understood why Roma got the Oscar for best cinematography: compare it to actually great B&W films such as Ivan’s Childhood, 8 ½, Persona, Citizen Kane…, you can easily see the difference—Roma has little contrast, no real blacks, no real whites, only shades of grey like a lazy filter. It is a greyscale film, not B&W, and except for a very long tracking shot following the main character, there is nothing spectacular about the cinematography.
Stalker, on the other hand, is a very beautiful film. It is sometimes very slow, even painfully slow (142 shots in 163 minutes), but the viewing of the entire film is a rewarding experience.

8/ I think Tarkovsky is the most poetic of directors. It is not about composition as much it’s about the choice of image and the atmosphere, and the fact that he slows things down, makes us pay attention to some detail—everything is still, and he makes us just look at something and experience it in the moment and just feel it, and afterwards we see things in life differently.
Another director who also does that is Kieslowski, especially in Three Colours: Blue and The Double Life of Veronique.

9/ As a filmmaker, I’m particularly interested in sound. I can’t work on sound myself, because at the film school I specialised in directing and editing (and briefly in cinematography), but I have a fascination with sound and can work with a sound designer.
Sound is full of possibilities, because putting images to sound can’t change how you hear the sound, but changing the sound (or music) can change how you perceive the images.
Here is a good video about sound in Stalker:

I have always liked sound in Ingmar Bergman, but now I start to like sound in Tarkovsky as well. Sound in Bergman is more expressive and psychological, reflecting the character’s inner world. Sound in Tarkovsky is more atmospheric.

10/ I feel transformed, after watching Stalker.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Tarkovsky’s Stalker

1/ I watched Stalker last night. It is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. 
Even though, whilst watching it, I thought I’d choose Bergman over Tarkovsky anytime, I do think that Tarkovsky is the most poetic of directors, and there’s nobody quite like him.  

2/ Stalker is similar to Solaris in that they both are sci-fi films but the sci-fi world is only the means, not the end—the genre provides the settings for Tarkovsky to explore philosophical ideas. Stalker is more like a parable. 
3/ What is the meaning of the Room? To the people who try to get to the Room, it stands for hope—hope for desperate people, hope for people who are devoid of all hope. But it is not what people think it is—it only turns true people’s innermost desires, and we do not know what we truly want. Remember the story of Porcupine. 
4/ The film is not about the Room, but about the journey to the Room, and the characters’ experience.
5/ Does the Room even exist?
6/ In a way, the whole point of the Room is to reveal each character’s personality. 
7/ Of the trio, the Writer is the most cynical, but he also sees himself most clearly. 
8/ It is a very slow film: 142 shots in 163 minutes. It is beautiful though, with haunting images. 

9/ The logic of the Zone reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s looking-glass world: the dry tunnel is behind a waterfall, and the Professor returns for his bag only to get to the other side before the Writer and the Stalker. 
10/ I don’t understand the ending.

Friday 24 May 2019

The Scarlet Letter: nothing is what it is [updated]

The Scarlet Letter is rich in symbolism. The letter A, of course, is the most important—it is the symbol of sin and shame, the symbol of Hester’s public disgrace and banishment, the symbol of Puritans’ severity and hypocrisy and the lack of sexual freedom in the society, and so on. Linked to the letter A on Hester’s chest is her child Pearl, another token of shame.
I don’t intend to write much about symbols and imagery and Biblical allusions in The Scarlet Letter, but it’s interesting to point out how in the Salem society, almost everything is seen as a symbol, everyone is something else, beyond what they are. 
Take Pearl: 
“Once this freakish, elvish cast came into the child's eyes while Hester was looking at her own image in them, as mothers are fond of doing; and suddenly—for women in solitude, and with troubled hearts, are pestered with unaccountable delusions—she fancied that she beheld, not her own miniature portrait, but another face in the small black mirror of Pearl's eye. It was a face, fiend-like, full of smiling malice, yet bearing the semblance of features that she had known full well, though seldom with a smile, and never with malice in them. It was as if an evil spirit possessed the child, and had just then peeped forth in mockery. Many a time afterwards had Hester been tortured, though less vividly, by the same illusion.” (Ch.6) 
“…She remembered—betwixt a smile and a shudder—the talk of the neighbouring townspeople, who, seeking vainly elsewhere for the child's paternity, and observing some of her odd attributes, had given out that poor little Pearl was a demon offspring: such as, ever since old Catholic times, had occasionally been seen on earth, through the agency of their mother's sin, and to promote some foul and wicked purpose.” (ibid.) 
And when they intend to take Pearl away from Hester: 
“…On the supposition that Pearl, as already hinted, was of demon origin, these good people not unreasonably argued that a Christian interest in the mother's soul required them to remove such a stumbling-block from her path…” (Ch.7) 
Such a simplistic, crazy society. People are either good or evil. 
“A large number—and many of these were persons of such sober sense and practical observation that their opinions would have been valuable in other matters—affirmed that Roger Chillingworth's aspect had undergone a remarkable change while he had dwelt in town, and especially since his abode with Mr. Dimmesdale. At first, his expression had been calm, meditative, scholar-like. Now there was something ugly and evil in his face, which they had not previously noticed, and which grew still the more obvious to sight the oftener they looked upon him. According to the vulgar idea, the fire in his laboratory had been brought from the lower regions, and was fed with infernal fuel; and so, as might be expected, his visage was getting sooty with the smoke.
To sum up the matter, it grew to be a widely diffused opinion that the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, like many other personages of special sanctity, in all ages of the Christian world, was haunted either by Satan himself or Satan's emissary, in the guise of old Roger Chillingworth. This diabolical agent had the Divine permission, for a season, to burrow into the clergyman's intimacy, and plot against his soul.” (Ch.9) 
What about Arthur Dimmesdale? 
“They deemed the young clergyman a miracle of holiness. They fancied him the mouth-piece of Heaven's messages of wisdom, and rebuke, and love. In their eyes, the very ground on which he trod was sanctified. The virgins of his church grew pale around him, victims of a passion so imbued with religious sentiment, that they imagined it to be all religion, and brought it openly, in their white bosoms, as their most acceptable sacrifice before the altar. The aged members of his flock, beholding Mr. Dimmesdale's frame so feeble, while they were themselves so rugged in their infirmity, believed that he would go heavenward before them, and enjoined it upon their children that their old bones should be buried close to their young pastor's holy grave.” (Ch.11) 
It is so ironic that Arthur Dimmesdale is the father of Hester’s child. The clergyman everyone trusts and worships is such a weak, hypocritical, and selfish man. 
Himadri writes: 
“Dimmesdale, on the other hand, is torn with remorse and with guilt. But his guilt is not because he has let Hester alone bear that punishment and the public humiliation that he himself fears so much: it is for the act of adultery itself. And the Scarlet Letter that Hester wears so openly, Dimmesdale wears secretly in his heart. He has, indeed, every reason to feel guilty: but like all weak-willed men, the pain he feels is solely for his own self: at no point does he stop to consider what Hester Prynne may be going through. Nonetheless, the pain he feels is real enough, and what he thinks is sorrow for his sin of illicit sex may well be a displaced sorrow for a greater guilt – the lack of human empathy.” (Argumentativeoldgit
I want to know more about the affair—I want to know about how Hester and Arthur Dimmesdale come to be together and how they feel about each other, simply because their relations are cut off after Hester’s public disgrace and punishment. The affair sadly is not the subject of the book, only the aftermath is.


The point of The Scarlet Letter is not that these are symbols to be deciphered, but that they are seen as symbols and there is a multiplicity of meaning. 
This is clearest in chapter 12, when Arthur Dimmesdale, immersed in guilt, looks at the sky: 
“We impute it, therefore, solely to the disease in his own eye and heart that the minister, looking upward to the zenith, beheld there the appearance of an immense letter—the letter A—marked out in lines of dull red light. Not but the meteor may have shown itself at that point, burning duskily through a veil of cloud, but with no such shape as his guilty imagination gave it, or, at least, with so little definiteness, that another's guilt might have seen another symbol in it.” 
In the same chapter, we are told that the letter A in the sky has a different meaning to other people in the town: 
“…remarked the old sexton, grimly smiling. "But did your reverence hear of the portent that was seen last night? a great red letter in the sky—the letter A, which we interpret to stand for Angel. For, as our good Governor Winthrop was made an angel this past night, it was doubtless held fit that there should be some notice thereof!"” 
Is it not human nature to interpret things to mean what we wish them to mean? 
Even the letter on Hester’s bosom, the most important symbol in the book, changes its meaning over time. The token of shame becomes the symbol of acceptance, endurance, and quiet defiance, and as Hester Prynne refuses to leave the society that has banished her, she does good and becomes accepted if partly, and the letter A takes on other meaning. 
“There glimmered the embroidered letter, with comfort in its unearthly ray. Elsewhere the token of sin, it was the taper of the sick chamber. […] The letter was the symbol of her calling. Such helpfulness was found in her—so much power to do, and power to sympathise—that many people refused to interpret the scarlet A by its original signification. They said that it meant Able, so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman's strength.” (Ch.13) 
“Individuals in private life, meanwhile, had quite forgiven Hester Prynne for her frailty; nay, more, they had begun to look upon the scarlet letter as the token, not of that one sin for which she had borne so long and dreary a penance, but of her many good deeds since. "Do you see that woman with the embroidered badge?" they would say to strangers. "It is our Hester—the town's own Hester—who is so kind to the poor, so helpful to the sick, so comfortable to the afflicted!" Then, it is true, the propensity of human nature to tell the very worst of itself, when embodied in the person of another, would constrain them to whisper the black scandal of bygone years. It was none the less a fact, however, that in the eyes of the very men who spoke thus, the scarlet letter had the effect of the cross on a nun's bosom.” (ibid.) 

This is such a rich book.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Why do people hate The Scarlet Letter?

With a quick search on google, you can easily find that The Scarlet Letter is one of the most hated novels of all time. But why?  
The prose is wonderful. 
“Discerning the impracticable state of the poor culprit's mind, the elder clergyman, who had carefully prepared himself for the occasion, addressed to the multitude a discourse on sin, in all its branches, but with continual reference to the ignominious letter. So forcibly did he dwell upon this symbol, for the hour or more during which his periods were rolling over the people's heads, that it assumed new terrors in their imagination, and seemed to derive its scarlet hue from the flames of the infernal pit. Hester Prynne, meanwhile, kept her place upon the pedestal of shame, with glazed eyes, and an air of weary indifference.” (Ch.3) 
Look at the imagery: 
“As night approached, it proving impossible to quell her insubordination by rebuke or threats of punishment, Master Brackett, the jailer, thought fit to introduce a physician. […] To say the truth, there was much need of professional assistance, not merely for Hester herself, but still more urgently for the child—who, drawing its sustenance from the maternal bosom, seemed to have drank in with it all the turmoil, the anguish and despair, which pervaded the mother's system. It now writhed in convulsions of pain, and was a forcible type, in its little frame, of the moral agony which Hester Prynne had borne throughout the day.” (Ch.4) 
That is such a good passage. 
So rich and vivid. This kind of language you can’t find in, say, Henry James. 
“In all her intercourse with society, however, there was nothing that made her feel as if she belonged to it. Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied, and often expressed, that she was banished, and as much alone as if she inhabited another sphere, or communicated with the common nature by other organs and senses than the rest of human kind. She stood apart from mortal interests, yet close beside them, like a ghost that revisits the familiar fireside, and can no longer make itself seen or felt; no more smile with the household joy, nor mourn with the kindred sorrow; or, should it succeed in manifesting its forbidden sympathy, awakening only terror and horrible repugnance. […] The poor, as we have already said, whom she sought out to be the objects of her bounty, often reviled the hand that was stretched forth to succour them. Dames of elevated rank, likewise, whose doors she entered in the way of her occupation, were accustomed to distil drops of bitterness into her heart; sometimes through that alchemy of quiet malice, by which women can concoct a subtle poison from ordinary trifles; and sometimes, also, by a coarser expression, that fell upon the sufferer's defenceless breast like a rough blow upon an ulcerated wound.” (Ch.5) 
I like “drops of bitterness” and “alchemy of quiet malice”. 
So why do people hate it? 
I’ve looked: 
Most of the responses don’t answer anything. Usually people say they hate a book and can’t provide reasons—if anything, they say it’s boring, but what does that mean? There’s 1 person who says the 3 classic works they hate the most are The Scarlet Letter, Anna Karenina, and Moby Dick. That makes The Scarlet Letter in good company—the other 2 are in my top 3 favourites. 
I myself think Hawthorne’s novel would most likely not be my favourite, because of the subject matter. I dislike religion, I dislike the concept of sin and guilt, I dislike a society in which religion and law are mixed up and people have no sexual freedom. Hawthorne, I know, is not on the side of the Puritans, and he writes about the hypocrisy of the clergy, but personally I still can’t warm to the subject matter. 
Hester Prynne is punished and publicly shamed for committing adultery, but she herself accepts the punishment. 
“It may seem marvellous that, with the world before her—kept by no restrictive clause of her condemnation within the limits of the Puritan settlement, so remote and so obscure—free to return to her birth-place, or to any other European land, and there hide her character and identity under a new exterior, as completely as if emerging into another state of being—and having also the passes of the dark, inscrutable forest open to her, where the wildness of her nature might assimilate itself with a people whose customs and life were alien from the law that had condemned her—it may seem marvellous that this woman should still call that place her home, where, and where only, she must needs be the type of shame. But there is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it has the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt, ghost-like, the spot where some great and marked event has given the colour to their lifetime; and, still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it. […] The chain that bound her here was of iron links, and galling to her inmost soul, but could never be broken.” (ibid.) 
She chains herself to the place, despite the banishment, despite the public shame, despite people’s malice. This is something I, with my 21st century mindset, can’t comprehend.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

2 fish videos I've just made

Here's a video of a potato grouper from The Deep in Hull.

Recently I also went to Tropical World in Leeds, and here's a dance film of what I think is a ray fish.

Sunday 12 May 2019

The Scarlet Letter: the introduction

Having finished everything for the course (though I still have lots to do regarding the film), I’m tackling a heavy book: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
The introductory, “The Custom-House”, is so long and slow. Its function is to explain the narrator, settings, and context of the story to come. I asked Himadri when the book would become interesting, he said once I got past the introductory, it would flow and the chapters would be faster. 
This is my favourite passage (about the inspector): 
“One point in which he had vastly the advantage over his four-footed brethren was his ability to recollect the good dinners which it had made no small portion of the happiness of his life to eat. His gourmandism was a highly agreeable trait; and to hear him talk of roast meat was as appetizing as a pickle or an oyster. As he possessed no higher attribute, and neither sacrificed nor vitiated any spiritual endowment by devoting all his energies and ingenuities to subserve the delight and profit of his maw, it always pleased and satisfied me to hear him expatiate on fish, poultry, and butcher's meat, and the most eligible methods of preparing them for the table. His reminiscences of good cheer, however ancient the date of the actual banquet, seemed to bring the savour of pig or turkey under one's very nostrils. There were flavours on his palate that had lingered there not less than sixty or seventy years, and were still apparently as fresh as that of the mutton chop which he had just devoured for his breakfast. I have heard him smack his lips over dinners, every guest at which, except himself, had long been food for worms. It was marvellous to observe how the ghosts of bygone meals were continually rising up before him—not in anger or retribution, but as if grateful for his former appreciation, and seeking to reduplicate an endless series of enjoyment, at once shadowy and sensual: a tenderloin of beef, a hind-quarter of veal, a spare-rib of pork, a particular chicken, or a remarkably praiseworthy turkey, which had perhaps adorned his board in the days of the elder Adams, would be remembered; while all the subsequent experience of our race, and all the events that brightened or darkened his individual career, had gone over him with as little permanent effect as the passing breeze. The chief tragic event of the old man's life, so far as I could judge, was his mishap with a certain goose, which lived and died some twenty or forty years ago: a goose of most promising figure, but which, at table, proved so inveterately tough, that the carving-knife would make no impression on its carcase, and it could only be divided with an axe and handsaw.” 
That is so interesting, so vivid. No wonder Melville loves him. 
Hawthorne’s book starts to have my interest when the scarlet letter appears—after 24 pages, but what an entrance. Look at this: 
“My eyes fastened themselves upon the old scarlet letter, and would not be turned aside. Certainly there was some deep meaning in it most worthy of interpretation, and which, as it were, streamed forth from the mystic symbol, subtly communicating itself to my sensibilities, but evading the analysis of my mind.
When thus perplexed—and cogitating, among other hypotheses, whether the letter might not have been one of those decorations which the white men used to contrive in order to take the eyes of Indians—I happened to place it on my breast. It seemed to me—the reader may smile, but must not doubt my word—it seemed to me, then, that I experienced a sensation not altogether physical, yet almost so, as of burning heat, and as if the letter were not of red cloth, but red-hot iron. I shuddered, and involuntarily let it fall upon the floor.” 
A mystic symbol. Like the white whale? 
There’s something I find curious. The Scarlet Letter is the tale of Hester Prynne—told by Jonathan Pue, then found years later and embellished by the new surveyor, the narrator of the book. And yet: 
“This I now opened, and had the satisfaction to find recorded by the old Surveyor's pen, a reasonably complete explanation of the whole affair. There were several foolscap sheets, containing many particulars respecting the life and conversation of one Hester Prynne, who appeared to have been rather a noteworthy personage in the view of our ancestors. She had flourished during the period between the early days of Massachusetts and the close of the seventeenth century. Aged persons, alive in the time of Mr. Surveyor Pue, and from whose oral testimony he had made up his narrative, remembered her, in their youth, as a very old, but not decrepit woman, of a stately and solemn aspect.” 
(my emphasis) 
This means that the people who are quoted in Jonathan Pue’s documents did not even know Hester Prynne at the time of the main events. I shall see the significance of this detail later on. 
“There seemed to be here the groundwork of a tale. It impressed me as if the ancient Surveyor, in his garb of a hundred years gone by, and wearing his immortal wig—which was buried with him, but did not perish in the grave—had met me in the deserted chamber of the Custom-House. In his port was the dignity of one who had borne His Majesty's commission, and who was therefore illuminated by a ray of the splendour that shone so dazzlingly about the throne. How unlike alas the hangdog look of a republican official, who, as the servant of the people, feels himself less than the least, and below the lowest of his masters. With his own ghostly hand, the obscurely seen, but majestic, figure had imparted to me the scarlet symbol and the little roll of explanatory manuscript. With his own ghostly voice he had exhorted me, on the sacred consideration of my filial duty and reverence towards him—who might reasonably regard himself as my official ancestor—to bring his mouldy and moth-eaten lucubrations before the public.” 
“If the imaginative faculty refused to act at such an hour, it might well be deemed a hopeless case. Moonlight, in a familiar room, falling so white upon the carpet, and showing all its figures so distinctly—making every object so minutely visible, yet so unlike a morning or noontide visibility—is a medium the most suitable for a romance-writer to get acquainted with his illusive guests. There is the little domestic scenery of the well-known apartment; the chairs, with each its separate individuality; the centre-table, sustaining a work-basket, a volume or two, and an extinguished lamp; the sofa; the book-case; the picture on the wall—all these details, so completely seen, are so spiritualised by the unusual light, that they seem to lose their actual substance, and become things of intellect. Nothing is too small or too trifling to undergo this change, and acquire dignity thereby. A child's shoe; the doll, seated in her little wicker carriage; the hobby-horse—whatever, in a word, has been used or played with during the day is now invested with a quality of strangeness and remoteness, though still almost as vividly present as by daylight. Thus, therefore, the floor of our familiar room has become a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairy-land, where the Actual and the Imaginary may meet, and each imbue itself with the nature of the other. Ghosts might enter here without affrighting us.” 
These passages make me think of Melville.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Updates on graduation film

I have completed my graduation film No More Than This (previously called Non-Person). It is a surrealist drama film, in English and Vietnamese, of 19 minutes. 
Image may contain: 1 person, standing and sitting
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, flower and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, night and indoor

It was a difficult shoot, many things went wrong. Looking back, there are a million things I would have done differently, and next time I would definitely do a lot better. However, several days after the assessment screening and some more work for the official Hyde Park Picture House screening (next week), I have decided to embrace the film. Even if in some way I have failed, for not pushing the concept far enough, which I will not try to justify, I have taken risks and worked very hard and done the best I could. Everything considered, I am proud of the finished film and what I have done. 
No More Than This is my best and most important work to date. 
I have also delivered my dissertation on Ingmar Bergman (love and human contact in 3 Bergman films: Wild Strawberries, Cries and Whispers, and Autumn Sonata), and other assignments. 
The time at film school will soon come to an end.