November 11, 2009

Reflections on an 11-Minute Shot


I never thought I'd make a dance film. Except maybe as a perverted old man. Maybe then.

But now I have.

In collaboration with the filmmakers Emilie Serri and Sylvain Chaussée.

At the end of the shooting day, walking out of Sylvain's apartment, exhausted from carrying lights and cables, he asked me, "How many people in the world have made an 11-minute, one-shot film, on 16mm?"

"Yeah." And how many want to?

It went like this: Two disorganized months of planning over whiskey, beer, mushrooms, and perogies; then suddenly I'm on the 4th floor of Montreal's dance academy Agora (pictured), my body strapped into a rolling chair with camera gear hanging from my shoulders and a bolex pressed against my eye. Sylvain is pushing me around on the chair as 3 dancers circle us in 11 minutes of choreographed movement, their hands and feet occasionally inflicting minor, accidental violence on us. I'm the designated camera operator mainly because I don't get nauseous after 10 minutes of spinning. Mirrors and lights -pushed, twirled, and pulled by technicians- obscure the studio background and cast moving shadows, while Emilie hollers out instructions from her position near one of the lights.

"8 minutes left," she announces. Then five. Then two.

"Listen to that film ending," I say as the final frames slide past the shutter. We only had one chance to get it right.

And who knows; it might be a half-decent film. Or it might not. It's at Kodak, getting developed. Regardless, I felt like a film-maker in a way I never had before.

3 comments:

nathan davies said...

awesome awesome awesome.

forrest said...

What DID you think you'd end up doing?

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Nathan:
Thanks. I hope the final product is awesome.

Forrest:
Ha. I thought I'd end up making narrative films. I still think I will.

Dance has always been the art form that spoke to me least, so it was very strange when Sylvain, Emilie and I realized the subject that best served our stylistic aims was the abstract movement of human bodies.