Taking a rest from Herqueville

Last week it took until Thursday to get a proprer DVD version of Herqueville done. The passage from the HD 720p24 original version to a standard defenition NTSC 30 fr/sec version proved very laborious. I had a hard time finding the correct path to do it, finally first doing a conversion to the Apple HD 720p30 intermediary codec was a good idea, then going to 640×420 30 fr/sec was easy. But the first operation was finally hasardous because there seems to be a bug in it or I did not do it correctly (it was not doing the complete section I was asking and at times it would freeze part od the segments I was trying to convert, finally I wad to do it in sections). This took days. Getting a PAL version of it was easier. So I could quickly send a PAL DVD to Serge and Michelle in Brussels. I know they received the package yesterday and I am now waiting for their comments. So it was not until Thursday afternoon that I could stop thinking to Herqueville for a week and try to be in holiday. I have succeeded so far not to open my desk top computer which I use for editing and compositing.

On Friday, I spent the day in Montreal dropping DVD’s at my distributor’s office and at the Festival du nouveau cinéma programmer. But most of the day, I spent meeting with friends. I spent the morning with my old friend René Jodoin. René has been an early collaborator of Norman McLaren. He co-directed Spheres with Norman. He was the founder of the animation studio of French production at the NFB which he oriented along the lines of the McLaren’s conception of animation, this is the studio were I worked for the 28 last years of my stay at the NFB. But I had met René a few years before that. I really came to know him when we traveled together to the Annecy animation film festival in 1967. He was going there to present his new film Notes on a triangle and I was going for OpHop. We had a very friendly time in the airplane and we spent a lot of time together during the festival. The respect I felt for his thinking and for his film work never relented up to now. He did not direct many films (he spent most of his active time as a producer) but they remain a very important body of work. And after he retired from the film board around 1980, he continued to have an on going filmmaking activity in his home studio. It was mostly research and it did not result in much finished work, but it was always done with a deep conviction, and still is at the age of +or- 85. Everytime I see him, it is a deep lesson of integrity and conviction. For the last year or so, he was very concerned about developing an understanding of his entire life experience especially concerning the relationship between filmmaking and science and the more intimate aspect of the relationship between himself and science, with the objective of elucidating where we are at concerning this question. So his spent most of his free time during the last year and a half reading about those questions…with the help of a magnifying glass because his eyes are getting bad. And he is now trying to figure out what he will do to convey his conclusions on the question because as he told me all those subjects have an importance that goes beyond the question of individual destiny, meaning by this «his own destiny». Once again, spending two hours with him was a deep human experience.

In the afternoon, I spent two hours with Karl Lemieux who is a young filmmaker who directed a very beautiful hand drawn on film stock film Movements de lumière (the film can be found on a DVD compilation published by the NFB Volatile Materials -post McLaren abstract animation, 153F 9906 113) and who regularly does life performances involving projecting 16mm found footage with four projectors and actually drawing and intervening on the film loops as they are projected. On June 16, I saw one such performance at La salla rossa in Montreal where he was performing with the music group My Hearth in Jerusalem, the result was very impressive and surprising, extremely controled and structured although at the start I found his technical set up seemed a bit complicated and laborious. But I quickly forgot about that and in no way did the performance suffered from that. It is at the end of that evening that I suggested we have a coffee together to talk about his work. This happened last Friday. He is also member of a collective of young experimental filmmakers called Double negatif. They own collectively some production facilities like cameras, 16mm projectors, optical printers. They process their films by hand in a bath tub. They are very committed about working with actual film stock although they know that the medium is disappearing quickly. They also organize + or – once every two months a program of experimental films at the Cinema Parallèle at the Ex-Centris Complex, in Montreal. So we spent some time to talk about his performing work and about the activities of Double négatif and share commom experience. I was really happy to find in somebody of a much younger generation the same integrity and conviction I had been witnessing in the morning of this same day at René Jodoin’s home. So for me, the entire day was a deep and very stimulating experience.

upgrade: just after I finished writing this post, I got a e-mail from my Belgium friend Serge Meurant (the poems in Herqueville ar his and the prints are from his wife Michelle Corbisier) and both him and Michelle are very happy with the new version of Herqueville with animation. So I guess this means that the animation layer is going to stay in the film for sure.

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