Making Revisions Update (8/2/16)

A quick update, I’ve spent tonight pulling together the 4th sequence, a shorter one that shows the transition from Frontier town to its reclaimed form with the “Red Indians”. For my first transitions sequence I’m OK with the outcome. It takes a lot of observation to make sure each image marries the next so you get a smooth transition. The next time I carry out the technique It should be easier for me. I won’t use all of the transitions as I want to move around the town without it feeling too formal. Aiming for a circular tour of the town as it’s reclaimed.

Next up is an animation heavy sequence that involves Fort Smith which I would like to start before crit-group on Wednesday. It should be a quicker process as most of the stills will be reduced to less than a second. I’d like to get to the stage where I complete a sequence or two, before working on them in the editing process. Then turning to make more, its more so I don’t have work building up for me, then I can move onto the audio aspect at the same time for all of the sequences as they are refined, rejigged and tightened up.

Making Revisions Update (7/2/16)

I’ve now completed the shoot for the 7th sequence, moving into new territory both in terms of visuals and almost continuous animation, taking around 300 shots today, most of them were frames of movement. So the plot of this action orientated sequence focuses on the “Yellow Indian” and the Buffalo hunt. There are only a few left – 9 in this scene that they’re wanted by the white men (blue red and green) who begin by shooting one, then sending them wild. It’s an action focused scene. Looking at the raw images as I run through them they is something exciting going on here. It’s also not pleasant watch either as some of the Buffalo run into the camp. I was worried about the pacing of that scene, hoping it wouldn’t be jarring as the figures are moving faster than usual. I think when I come to pulling the sequence together I will know what is going on for sure.

Next time I will be returning to more familiar territory with my yellow friend as he goes to the nearest town for help to combat the “Red Indians”. I will then take a break to look at making snow when I return to the “Red Indian” Frontier town.

Love & Mercy (2014)

Love & Mercy (2014)My last review – Now You See Me (2013) was very much a rant at a shallow and for me pointless film that had to be expressed. I feel much more positive when it comes to Love & Mercy (2014) an obscurely structured bio-pic of the musical genius Brian Wilson, yes a genius. I wish I caught this at the time of release, it’s very much a film that has to be seen projected not on the small-screen if you can help it. If I’m honest with all the controversy surrounding Brian Wilson I thought something like this could never happen. Instead it was quite the opposite, he was very supportive of the production, on set at times for guidance, no wonder it has a unique visual and audio style that can only be linked to him.

My first thoughts as the film began were that it was fragmented, opening with the younger Wilson (Paul Dano) at the piano before darkness and re-made home-videos giving us a brief history up to the point of the film in the mid 1960’s before Pet Sounds was being recorded and the start of Smile. It bounces back and forth between The Beach Boys heyday and Brian Wilson (John Cusack) in the 1980’s under the care of Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). Dano is visually a better fit to Wilson in comparison to Cusack the weathered and suffering Wilson 20 years later. I think the casting here was more about the acting ability than the visual comparison. It takes a while for me to accept Cusack’s Wilson is more about the effects of the past. He’s very much a troubled man when we meet him wanting to buy a car from Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) who is for once not side-dressing, a very important part of this side of the film. Dano very much absorbs the part of Wilson, it’s like he’s been talking to Wilson, listened to the back-catalogue and has become the young Wilson, even putting on a belly for good measure.

Visually we are seeing this film from Wilson’s mind, not just his point of view, bright and full of hope when we meet him in the 1960’s, it’s all bleak in the 1980’s. Darting back and forth as if we are having a conversation with him, being delivered these fragments that energize his music which feels richer when you hear it being recorded even just for film. There’s definitely an attempt to make a fresh stamp on this story by re-enacting performances, which is both more immersive for the film, and distracting, having to think is that the actors or the archive footage. You can see a lot of love and attention to detail has gone into this film, a labour of love.

Wilson definitely had his demons in both times that are holding him back. In the 1960’s we have his abusive, controlling father Murry (Bill Camp) who is already left out in the cold, still has an influence over Brian and the band. The band themselves are fighting him over this new sound. Being both radical and innovative, meeting resistance from writing partner Mike Love (Jake Abel) who wants to return to tried and tested, knowing what works and sells. Not as instinctive as Wilson who begins to fall into what we later learn is a combination of drug use and paranoia that will trouble him more in the form of Cusack.

This is not your ordinary linear music-biopic, which I saw also in Get on Up (2014) which used a similar approach to telling the life story of James Brown however I felt it was just messed up. Here’s very much in the tone of Wilson’s mind, messed-up, broken and incredibly creative. We get an insight to his thought processes, not that we didn’t with James Brown, however that was more linear, when it wasn’t flashing back to his child-hood. There’s more structure is the fragments, a reason for their being. Obviously made in two parts and juggled together. Love & Mercy was definitely worth the wait, tonally spot on, brought alive by Dano’s performance, which I was more interested. Whilst you still need Cusack for the film to work, you can’t have the effects of his early life and not have the consequences.

Making Revisions Update (6/2/16)

The last few weeks have flown by and I am now in the middle of the 7th sequence for the piece. I’ve moved faster today as I wanted to establish normality in the now Native American  Frontier town. I wanted to capture some animated sequences in there to say that they are just living their lives happily just getting on with things. I started the sequence by having a number of shots around the town before finding opportunities to animate. I find with this work, I’m more spontaneous, playing with what is there, letting the imagination run wild. I captured about 4-5 sequence of animation in that set-up. They ended with three of the “Red Indians knocking down the fencing letting the horse run free, not restricted by them. It also show that they are here to stay, adapting the town, you could say they are reclaiming it.

The next sequence took me a while to get going as I was considering whether to have more than nine buffalo in the shot. I have moved onto look at other nations now, the yellow Indians way of life is under threat by the over-hunted Buffalo. I was thinking about photo-shopping more into an establishing shot, which I would have to them use as a multi-layered shot where animation would play out in front. Which the more I thought about it went against the idea of the Buffalo being hunted to almost extinction, to have a few left would be more effective. If I was to have more than 9 multiple times, I would have to animate them all as well. Working with just a stills camera that is going to be hard too. Maybe for a single shot or two it would work.

I finished the day with the start of another animated sequence where a hunting party is riding in to take out the rest of the Buffalo, or at least scare them off. It could be a long sequence from multiple sides. I’ll be picking up where I stopped today, hoping to complete the sequence which ever direction my loose idea leads me.

Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me (2013)I just remembered an interview for the promotion for Now You See Me (2013) where Morgan Freeman had fallen asleep. Now was that because of his age getting the better of him or had he lost faith in the film he was contracted to promote. Sat along with Michael Caine who just laughed it off. I decided at the time to pass on the film, feeling it was style over substance. I think just recently I had a soft moment and gave into to the terrestrial premiere of the film. I guess part of me was curious as to what I would be seeing behind the smoke and mirrors of this magicians meets bank robbers film.

Now that I have less time to write my reviews I have to feel more driven to actually take the time out to do this for one reason or another. I felt that this was one of those films that I had to…rant about. There is little I can really praise about this film. The mark of a good film is if at least you are entertained by the story, swept away to a place of wonder, not thinking about your own life. I felt my feet were firmly on the ground. Well my back-side to the chair if I’m honest. There was a moment at the start where these four separate magicians are all lone artists of their trade, as we learn what their style and signature is. None of them are likeable at all. From the sarcastic J.Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) who is about to get his leg over when we discover he’s all about the next gig. The one dimensional psychic hypnotist con-artist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) who proving to one couple how he can ruin their lives..or not. Actually they are all one-dimensionally really, Played by actors who mostly are worth more than this style over substance smoke and mirrors.

Yes I know films are based on the ideas of smoke and mirrors, we are left wondering how the makers pulled it all off. I for one turned away when I saw a post that revealed how the bear in The Revenant (2015) was achieved. Somethings are better off left alone. Now there are films where you invest in the characters, get to know them and want to know how they pulled off the heist. Those sort are called Oceans Eleven (2001), which comes down to some clever writing and direction. The editing of the flashbacks and cutaways works, so intricate and precise, stylish and sophisticated. I felt that Now You See Me was playing off that style, trying to pay homage but failing. The fun of magic is that you are left wondering how they hell they pulled it off. Yes there are shows that reveal it all, killing it really.

Returning to the older characters Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) and Arthur Tressler (Caine) who we follow. Tressler for a while looks like the guy who is funding the heists, before he is made a fool of in-front of a live audience whose fortunes are improved at Tressler’s expense. Whilst throughout the film Bradley seems to be switching sides, being a failed magician he knows a thing or to about the tricks that are leading the FBI around in circles. There’s a time when Bradley and Tressler team up but that only goes so far before we loose track of it completely. It just fizzles out and not mentioned.

Going back to the FBI we have one decent casting or typecasting in Agent Fuller (Michael Kelly) who is just playing himself in another character role of the hard-nosed agent. The other two that we follow lead investigator Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and interpol officer Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) who just don’t agree on anything even which way the investigation should go in. They say opposites attract, but should they here? That moment comes too late on in the film to really feel natural, tacked on for a reason that is beyond me.

As they finally home in on the Four Horsemen (not of the apocalypse) begin their final show, which has seen them steal money and give to the poor, the down trodden. A more perfectly timed film if it was released just after the recession this would be more relevant. It feels too greedy and at the same time completely pointless. Its a lot of show that really does nothing with characters you can’t invest in because they are always messing around. I know its supposed to be light and fun but your can’t enjoy it when your heads in a constant spin. The big reveal just makes no sense like the rest of the film so I felt I had wasted my time overall. I’m just scratching my head now as to why there is a second one being released in the summer…oh yeah the money.

Making Revisions Update (2/2/16)

A quick update really tonight, thinking about The Shag screening the last week. I screened the first segment of the short film, which I have now accepted could be quite, at least an hour. Also due to the overall size of the film (memory) I will release the piece in multiple parts. All of equal quality, ensuring the audio and content across all the parts is to the same standard. I have been slowly working on the first battle sequence this week and its taking good shape. So far it’s up to 4mins, I have more to do before its complete and minus audio still.

I think once I have all the sequence in some form or another I can start to plan a release schedule of the work. It’s exciting to see how things are going at this stage. I know that if the work was to be exhibited it would be in its complete form whatever weight that maybe. When I return to the studio I will be moving onto create snow for a later battle sequence – inspired by Little Big Man (1970). I have other pieces that I can capture in the meantime. Bring on studio time!!

London Trip (28-30/1/16) – Part 3

A shorter day than I expected but nonetheless I saw two great shows. The first in Bermondsey at the Drawing Room for Mick Peter:Pyramid SellingOn reflection I didn’t feel the show had a pyramid scale/presence about it. Reading the text (which I choose rarely to do) its about the shady Pyramid selling where you do all work work in a business model to benefit the few. What drew me to this work was to see drawings blown up, that had the style like Quentin Blake which we tend to find in Roald Dahl’s work. Set against these concrete structures that I find these characters hiding around. These are the fooled workers making all the money for the boss raised high above them. Then we have these blown up zips of all varieties around the show. I was reminded how they could only be drawing together by the zip pulley, not even at this scale could they be manipulated into closing. These are the products that are making, that then in-turn are over looking at their productivity. A bleak image really, But I didn’t feel that at the time. I felt like I was transported to another world, like an old Paddington Bear cartoon, with these zip beings that represent the work they have completed, yet never pulled to the end, something is stopping them. I wonder what that could be. I am also reminded about the power of seeing objects at different scales. When I photograph my work I can change the scale just from the position of the camera.

The last show of the trip was over in what is becoming a regular destination for me Parasol Unit for Julian Charrierriere: For They that Sow the Wind. I was drawn to the first room, a series of salt rock structures that have been arranged like buildings from a distance. Closer up they are more symbolic, carefully composed, you could go as far as pieces from a futuristic structure. Being composed from salt a very brittle and soluble substance it wouldn’t last long outside in the elements showing his lifespan is quite limited. The piece would return to the Earth.

There’s a strong environmental theme to the show, but it’s not preaching to you at any time. The work makes you think, look and wonder at the possibilities of nature. It was a strong end to a very productive trip to the capital. I’ve taken in more work than I have before in one trip to the capital which I know will inspire me for future works.

London Trip (28-30/1/16) – Part 2

My second day in the capital saw me take in four more galleries that got better and better. The day started off at Collyer Bristow Gallery for photographic exhibition Frame Thy Fearful Symmetry that left me with mixed feelings. There were pieces that I was really engaging with, wondering how they were constructed. Whilst others I felt they were just plain literally with little thought beyond being an ironic meme. Pointless for me, by David Raymond ConroyEarly Abandonment the title was added in pink swirly bubble writing, on-top of an image clearly constructed for the image, of charges and cables outside a pawn shop. It felt too forced and lazy to really have any impact for me. Maybe that was the point which passed me by.

Another piece by Rachel Maclean which at a distance looked like a bright depiction of Hindu gods became something more bright and kitsch almost. Usually this style is far too much for me. However for me was all about the construction of the piece. It’s obvious that she has posed a number of times, characters of her on creation, manipulated and enhanced to create this over the top image that is too much too look at yet drawn in by something I can’t explain still.

The Next show was a one of the highlights of the weekend for me, seeing the work of Roberto Almango Suspended in Space in Rosenfeld Porcini. His sculptures look like 3dimensional drawings that have the illusion of hovering off the walls of the gallery space. He does the seemingly impossible with wood that he finds in the woods, bending them into wonderful shapes. I could have spent all day in that gallery space.

We moved onto the Halycon Art Gallery to look at Russell Young – Superstar, I came away enjoying the last photos of Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold some of which were taken during the filming of The Misfits (1961) which was a her last film. It was a nice surprise after the pop-art pieces with all the crushed diamonds which after a few minutes exposed their true identity as opulence for the rich. Of course the works in the show among other piece of pop-art, some made from hundreds of notes, other versions of Andy Warhol’s campbel soup cans.

The final exhibition was really playful and intricate work by Japanese artist Yuken Teruya at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery who takes paper cutting to another level. Most of the work made in the last two years, he is very playful in his work at the same time he is very much about nature and the economy. He takes the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees” and literally makes trees from rolled up notes with cut-out leaves. Even making a game of it with the Monopoly game. The financial world until recently has plated with money like it was a game, so maybe this could be too literal. Yet at the same time using monopoly you have the double meaning of how out of control, how successful players can be when playing, Yet you are safer playing these printed notes which come in a limited supply. Here we can see what could happen if we just let nature take over. Each piece is very intricate, made with real care and attention to detail,

London Trip (28-30/1/16) – Part1

The first of three days in London after my film screening last night. I began by doing my chosen galleries in the outskirts of the capital. Starting my day off at Gasworks taking in the work of Guatemalan artist Naufus Ramirez-Figuero having his first UK solo show – God’s Reptilian Finger which is what we actually saw in the second one. The first room however was a collection of 4 sculptures that look like slices from a larger object, these are only sections that are on display. Made entirely from polystyrene, carefully sculpted to produces these drooping innards that look like they’ve been found in an alien autopsy or under a microscope. I wanted my fingers to drift through them, the more you look the more sickly they become.

The second piece was what I really wanted to see though. Entering a darkened room, a collection a suspended and painted in flourescent colours. It was like being in a film set for a B-movies asteroid field. This one we could walk around. With God’s finger points at us with judgement. The illusion is soon shattered when we see these are also all made from polystyrene. A lightweight material that has the illusion of incredible weight. Lets just gets a toy spaceship and let the camera run.

My next stop was up in Camden at the Camden Arts Centre, where I saw Florian Roithmayr’s show with, and, or, without. A collection of untitled pieces mainly mostly from concrete. however from a far they don’t that aesthetic until you are looking at them closer. They really have do fool the viewer into believing other materials are at play. Roithmayr definitely understands the material that is central to their practice, knowing its limits and to great effect. I found some beautiful pieces in the show that demonstrate that understanding.

The Shag – Film Screening – A Reflection

The Shag film screeningI treated last night like a crit group session, something I don’t have many of these days, a few year really which is all I need as I have become more reflective in my work, taking my time. Also my output is not as prolific as 2014 was. I saw The Shag – Film Screening as a chance to share my work and to get some feedback on my work from other creatives who are not as familiar as those in the studio.

The first piece Tom Cruise Lost For Words (2015) was met with laughter, as he was literally lost for words, reduced to just gestures really. An actor and icon of modern film reduced someone to be laughed. I hadn’t thought of the resulting gestures that make a fool of him. Felt it was a film of two halves, one funny, then becoming more serious as the clip is the edited together interview with a journalist in Magnolia (1999).

As with the first piece it was the first time I had seen Just One More Game (2013) projected. The response was more profound if anything. It was encouraging that the power of the act of removing dialogue. The audience was quite moved by it. An idea emerged from the discussion about the gestures and the noises/sounds made by the actors, to have the audio separate from the visual. An abstraction of the act which becomes something else which I have yet to listen to the soundtrack. I have done it with Do You Understand? (2015) which retains the dialogue. This is something to return to in more detail for a future piece. I would hopefully be using fresh material for that piece.

The next piece Dancing in the West (2013) was met with positive responses all around. They found it to be a fun. However I was more concerned with the more recent footage which is for my latest work. I was worried that it would play in the wrong ratio, having seen a DVD preview earlier. I didn’t have to worry. By pure coincidence it was played at the same time as some music in another room, piano I believe and faintly too. A few thought it was the soundtrack, which in fact added to the atmosphere of the piece. I was worried it was going to be repetitive, which wasn’t mentioned. So I think I am on the right track. So should I add audio or not, should I add a soundtrack against silent action. This could be a silent film in colour.

My last thought on the piece was on the way back to my Sisters, on the overall length of the piece which lead me to consider releasing the film in parts due to the length. I want to ensure the audience attention is not lost. Having it in parts serialised, in tone with dime novels and short stories that inspired the classic films of the genre. I would only release when the whole piece is of equal quality too to ensure nothing is lost along the way.

Lastly it was considered that I am critiquing Hollywood rather than film as a medium which is was a fair comment as I have not yet touched on any other countries really. I maybe updating my Artists Statement soon to reflect that.


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