Variations sur deux photographies de Tina Modotti – notes

Notes en réponse à des questions de Francesca Pirotta.

Il n’y a qu’une seule réponse à toutes vos questions au sujet de mon film Variations sur deux photographies de Tina Modotti et elle se trouve dans l’examen du processus assez singulier qui lui a «finalement»donné naissance. J’écris finalement parce que tout cela a pris plusieurs années et parce que le but initial n’était pas de faire un film. Le film est un «résultat» qui trouve sa nécessité dans tout ce qui a précédé et non dans une série de décision de réalisation que j’aurais prises pour elles-même.

Au point de départ, il y a eu une invitation de Louise Bédard, qui est une amie de longue date avec qui j’ai collaboré à plusieurs reprises par le passé. Il s’agissait donc d’élaborer un «film scénographique» (l’expression est de moi, cela veut dire que le seul élément de décors serait le film projeté sur le fond de scène) pour une Éuvre chorégraphique inspirée de la vie et de l’Éuvre de la photographe Tina Modotti. Cela s’inscrivait pour Louise dans un projet plus vaste sur des femmes artistes du début du vingtième siècle. C’est donc ainsi que j’ai croisé Tina Modotti que je ne connaissais pas auparavant.

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New version of Herqueville

The Herqueville project went through significant changes over the last weeks. Tentatively, it now has a new title Herqueville ou l’éblouissement d’Icare. I translated it by Herqueville or Icarius Dazzled. This is not a very good translation I think but a better one will come soon. When I resumed working on the film after my week and a half of holidays, I did a number of small detailed adjustments and additions to the animation, mostly without big consequences other then improved, more balanced fluidity. But there was one major development that has to do with the change of title. The more I had progressed in the making of the film, the more I was interested by one verse of one poem that referred to the fall of Icarus.

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Revisiting « The Subway »

For some time, there are talks between the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and the Montreal International Festival of New Cinema (FNC) about doing something special during the next edition to underline the release of the DVD edtion of my films. This is why I have been working hard on Herqueville so that it is ready for the festival. One of the hypothesis is to put up a performance that would somehow revisit my older work. At first I was not too excited by the idea of looking backward although I understand that it would be appropriate for this DVD set that will cover all of my carreer. But if I was to do a performance, I thought I should rather move forward to something new. Then I had the idea of using elements of my film Songs and Dances from the inanimate world – the subway (NFB, 1984, 14 min.) along with something new based on shooting and photographs done with a cell phone in Montreal subway.

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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.

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Herqueville, first tour of animation completed

This morning I animated a small little segment which completed the first tour of animation for Herqueville. I am going through the steps to make a DVD of it and send it around to get some opinions about this new phase of the film. I am strongly convinced that the animation layer that I created during the last month and a half is going to remain in the film. I don’t have much distance yet but I think it is very balanced. Most of it remains very discrete just filling the interstices of the previous version of the film made of live action, photographs and prints. I really enjoyed doing this very delicate work made of very small and short interventions but it needed to lead somewhere, to something that would be specific to the thread of animation.

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Follow up on Herqueville

There were several difficulties concerning the animation for Herqueville. The original idea was to continue what I had started to do in the two early exploratory performances that I did at the very beginning of the project. This was a while ago and it seemed hard to connect with what I did then. The momentum was lost. But the central idea sort of remain intact, the objective was to animate fire from within the rocks. Other objectives became apparent : creating a relationship between the live action shooting, the photographs and the prints, which means trying to work at the point of transition between those three, and creating more direct sync relationship with the music. Both of these objectives have to do with using the animated segments not as foreground elements but as much less noticeable interventions that would have mostly a relational role between other things. So that the animation would not be there for itself but for how it affects other things. It was somehow the contrary of what the animation is actually used for that is more or less for its spectacular character and for the production value it adds to the film.

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Short history of Herqueville

I felt that the work I did on Herqueville last night was a turning point in the development of the film. First, a little background information about this project which has been going on and off for more than two years. It started when I met with my friends Serge Meurant and Michelle Corbisier, respectively poet and visual artist, in Brussels three years ago. A long time ago, I had a close collaboration with Serge for the film Etienne et Sara which basically was the result of our first encounter in 1983. We remained in contact for all those years but without any significant common work. That evening, they showed me poems by Serge and prints by Michelle that were inspired by their visit at Herqueville, at La Hague peninsula in Normandy in France. Serge had also taken photographs of this fierce and dramatic shoreline.

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June 26, 2007, St-Bernard

My site was finally put on line last night. Up to now there was only a static version of it with just a curiculum vitae that I could not edit myself.
I wrote a blog that remained unpublished while I was in Lebanon in March and April. This travel was special enough to find the energy to write about what was going on. But when I was back home, it seemed pointless to continue writing for an unpublished blog. Now is the day where it really starts. I should first briefly summarize what happened since the last entry. The following event was the performance at the San Francisco International Film Festival. This was quite important because it was the first major film festival that booked us and also because we were planed to perform in the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) auditorium which is a prestigious venue. Of course we hope that other film festivals and other museum of modern art will book us.

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2007-04-15 St-Bernard

More than a week since I am back from Beirut. Last Monday, I prepared everything for redoing the performance in my studio and record it. I ran again into my video input problem and could not, as I have hoped, reproduce at least the settings I could get when I rehearsed at Masen’s the previous Monday. Things had gotten worse. I did the rehearsal but the result was very depressing. I sent a S.O.S. to Bob for any idea about how to approach the problem which absolutely had to be solved before the S.F. performance on May 4.

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