4.

It’s my last official week working on the edit of High Fantasy and I’ve got to say that it feels like I’ve only just started getting into it. The idea of editing a feature was so daunting at first that I figured I would either quit halfway or be replaced. But then we had an assembly cut of the film – this crazy neat little timeline of colourful blocks that resembled the waveform of a song. It was a 90-minute thing and we had made it.

Of course the pacing was completely off-centre and there were tons of scenes that could be cut, shortened, moved around or lengthened, but the idea that a few months ago Jenna had pitched this idea to me, and that we had actually gone and shot it and now edited it into something semi-cohesive was an incredibly inspiring feeling. It made me want to keep going and keep getting feedback and keep making the right changes.

We now almost have a second cut of the film but are still a ways off being finished. I’ve learnt so much from this whole experience and it feels like I’m finally at a point where I’m comfortable enough to keep doing it and trust my instincts. So I’m going to continue working on the film, even if that means doing it in my spare time. I find it creative and rewarding, and I don’t want to stop now. In fact I want to try my hardest to keep editing features or to see which avenues this can take me. I think the film has potential to be really good, it just needs the work and time put in to make it so.

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2.

I was recently contacted by a filmmaker whose documentary has been in production for four years, and it is still in the process of being made. I suppose that’s the nature of a lot of documentaries, but the idea struck me as heartbreaking at first.

Having gone through the process of shooting High Fantasy, with the initial idea being this vague, floating concept of a philosophy that can expand and stretch itself over various themes, then going through the process of filming it with the crew (even so, the process was incredibly creative compared to other film sets) and having the concept become more limited by the material world, then forcing that further into the edit of the final cut, it seems a bit heartbreaking to me that the finished product of a film can never be what it was originally intended to be.

You can say, “I’m going to make a film about class and wealth,” and set high hopes for the issues that it addresses, but in all likelihood the number of topics it will ultimately be able to touch on are limited in the edit. And it’s strange to think that in all the years I’ve been editing that this never occurred to me. Or at least not as clearly.

I love the control that editing allows. In a way it gives you more control than direction, because at least in editing the facts are there. The material is raw and unchanging (for the most part). When you’re directing in the moment, the chaos of life can so easily slip its way in and disrupt the process. Other times it can make the film (I’m thinking of the hill shot in The Seventh Seal). Perhaps what appeals to me most about editing is that there’s a lot resting in your hands, but not too much. Bearing the weight of the entire world during the process of creation seems like a daunting task, but probably something I can’t be afraid of my whole life.

I watched this interview with Apichatpong Weerasethakul a few minutes ago and something he said struck me. He spoke about things going wrong and problems arising during a shoot as something he feared initially when he started making films, but as he got on it became something he enjoyed about the process. And maybe that’s just something that comes with winning at Cannes and reaching a point where mistakes are no big deal because people’s careers aren’t resting on you, but still. It made me think. He spoke about life being full of problems that we need to solve, that it’s the very nature of the way the world works. And so taking something and distilling it into a film almost summons a set of problems by virtue of its very existence in the world.

I guess what I’m getting at is that in filmmaking you’re forced to confront the world and not escape it, escapist as the form may seem. The way that everything works forms part of the film as much as the film is a reflection on something that forms part of that everything. That yes, it may be an incredibly stressful thing to make, but in making it you truly live life.

Here’s the link to that video: https://www.fandor.com/keyframe/apichatpong-weerasethakul-explains

1.

I’ve been struggling with a strange bout of depression lately, feeling pretty pessimistic about things for the first time in my life. I never thought I would start a blog or even want to, but it’s reached a point where I figure that chronicling this stuff is important. It’s part of being alive and it would be a huge shame to miss out on that because I get sad. It’s feeling. It’s existing, and at some point I’m going to look back and be grateful that I had the privilege of existing and feeling at all.

Recently I’ve fallen out of love with films, maybe because I overdid it watching them on my laptop, or it became too easy to fall asleep and not care. I remember a stage in university where I was watching at least a film a day, consuming everything that I could because it felt great to study the artform and expand my knowledge. Breaking through the strange teenage barrier of cult movies like Snatch and Pulp Fiction, finding my way to arthouse and the enticing distance of canon filmmakers like Herzog, Tarkovsky, Bergman, and Varda. Finding new languages of expression. Ways of seeing and experiencing and interpreting those experiences. Being excited about art and the possibilities of creating. Meeting friends who got it and could debate and discuss films with me. It has that halcyon glow but I suppose that’s just retrospect. In the present moment we move through experiences with little option of interpretation or contemplation. Experience experience experience experience. Retrospect allows us to interpret the emotions felt at a given time. I have no idea that I am happy in the present until I am able to look back at it and judge the colour of my memories.

But I became pessimistic about the chances of being able to become part of that world. Firstly I have no idea how to make a film. Secondly I don’t know what I would make one about. Thirdly I don’t know how to articulate my interior world to come out the other side as a film. The festival world is so completely daunting that it smothers any hope of being able to make it in the first place. The country I live in gives little to no support for filmmakers (understandably, there are bigger fish to fry). The world doesn’t care about films or watches them anymore. Netflix and Amazon and other streaming platforms have taken over and monopolised entertainment. It’s no wonder so few people who want to make films don’t or can’t.

But yesterday I had a moment where I decided Fuck That. Fuck That completely. Fuck That entirely. If I don’t make films they’ve won. I have to make films. Herzog stole a camera because he believed filmmaking was his birthright. It sounds extreme but if I don’t make films I will die, and I think that might be one of the things behind what’s been getting me so down lately. If I am to live a happy and fair life, have good relationships with my loved ones and look at the world with compassion instead of disdain, I have to make films.

So I’ve started this blog to get my shit together. To have a framework for creating. To have a place to formulate ideas and write down what I think. I’m figuring out my place in the world and I need to use the privilege that I have been given of being able to write and read, and to put that towards making films. I don’t have to be good, I have to make films. I don’t have to win the Palme d’Or, I have to make films. I don’t have to be recognised/praised/liked, I have to make films. I’ve been given this incredible opportunity to be alive and to distil that experience into something and it would be a massive shame if I let my insecurities get in the way of that.