Werner Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness (1996) provided some great inspiration for our aerial shoot. The birds-eye view exploration of the barren desert landscape helped us to visualise our own scenic footage. Also, how can you go past Herzog’s quaint yet haunting narration.
The whole time there is a pervasive mood of foreboding. Mesmerisingly beautiful, yet ominously bleak.
We used Errol Morris’ film Mr Death (2004) as inspiration for the visual style of Frederick. The close-up shots of electrical dials, knobs and switches on the electric chair act to fetishise the machine which can snuff the life out of its user. Similarly, the machinations of the plane in Frederick governs the fate of its pilot.
Here are some images from both films comparing the visual aesthetic attributed to the gadgets.
I am very intrigued by the controversy surrounding the film Cunnamulla (2001). After watching an excerpt in the lecture I was amazed at how intimate the interviews seemed. One has to question the ethical issues surrounding the relationship between filmmaker and subject; and this is obviously one of the major sources of tension regarding this film. Did the subjects feel betrayed by the director once their extremely personal interviews were broadcast to the world? How does one film in such a situation where the small-town community can become hostile?
The filmmaker’s intimate rapport with the interviewees suggests that both parties had some time to get to know each other and become comfortable with the camera. Does this discredit the truthfulness of the documentary?
One of my favourite docos, American Teen (2008) came under criticism for allegedly staging or faking some scenes. Whilst I don’t agree that lies have no place in documentary, I am perplexed by the moral line which a filmmaker must traverse in order to remain effective at creating an emotionally relevant work.
Natalie and I have been fiercely deliberating about how Frederick should look. Her aerial photography is stunning, and for the most part I don’t think it needs any improvement.
The only changes I believe we need to make is the gentle manipulation of the lighting in some of the shots so that the time of day appears consistent. The shots from midday may need to be enhanced with some orange or red tones in order to recreate the colour of the setting sun.
We’ve also been discussing whether we should age the aerial footage so that it is more reminiscent of the 1970s period. By depreciating the black shades in some of the shots it gives the appearance of an older, retro camera. Not unlike popular iPhone apps such as hipstamatic (don’t even) I’ve experimented with the numerous pros and cons of a faux analogue colour grade. I like the visual style of recent lomography revivals, but I’m not sure how tasteful it would be to make a whole movie in a style which could be well and truly done to death by the end of the year.
I don’t want the film to look like someone’s pub-meal.
That said, I’m going to keep experimenting with various colour grade combinations and video filters until I find the right technique.
I am currently quite taken by the idea of ‘light leaks’ and the visual traits of different types of developed film stock.
I quite enjoyed the performative qualities of Jabe Babe (2005) especially the depiction of Jabe exploring a minuscule toy-town. The nature of her condition means her life experience is disproportionate to that of a typical childhood. The tiny houses act as an artistic representation of her youth, and as she looms over them and unboxes their contents there is an absurd sense of gigantism.
A few elements of the film which I hope to recreate is its impressive set decoration and mise en scene. The miniature town reminded me of the tilt shift technique (very on-trend right now) which makes an extreme wide shot look like a lego village. The visual dwarfism creates a sense of omniscience or intelligent design; we could potentially use this method to evoke a sense of otherworldly interference. The thought that there may be someone or something silently watching from afar is a powerfully disconcerting notion, and echoes the paranoia which Valentich experienced moments before his disappearance.
The viewer feels like they could pluck the tiny people from the street… like a lone plane flying along a deep horizon.
Never film your subject in front of a window. Unless you want to film them in front of a window.
Some problems you may encounter is extreme over exposure of the background, or extreme under exposure of your subject.
The scenery outside might be ugly.
Also, the sun may appear from behind a cloud and blowout the shot.
People may walk past the window and distract from the subject, like on Sunrise.
Having two different light sources directly playing off each other may look unnatural.
A bird may fly into said window while shooting.
The subject may overheat because you are trying to light them as heavily as the sun behind them.
I loved this film. It was so cute; Agnes Varda is a massive babe when it comes to art cinema. Say what you want about Paris streets, but she makes them look absolutely adorable. And if you can think of anyone else who could have pulled off such a wryly comical soundtrack let me know. I bet you can’t. Even without using any dialogue Varda manages to capture such a potent snapshot of pure character. She elicits such curiosity from passersby, one wonders where she gets all her allure.
Stop hogging all the allure, Agnes!
We’ve been thinking of a film title and also looking at some fonts. I think it should be ‘Frederick’ and it should be printed in a bold and industrial typeface. The typewriter look would be great if we were pursuing the military cover-up angle, which we aren’t.
Our research has led us to various potential leads, none of them as interesting as this article which suggests that Frederick has since been spotted in Russia wearing a cowboy shirt.
The following is an excerpt from communications with our composer. I’ve never had to outsource labour for a production before, and thus I am rather hesitant when it comes to handing duties over to a party that is not attached to the project from its inception. Our sound designer, Karina, assures me that he is a great person to work with, and having sampled some of his material I think I am willing to take the chance. Despite my wariness, it does feel very professional liaising with other artists and debating what the project should ultimately resemble. How exciting!
“It’s a 6-8 minute documentary, which I assume will have music throughout the majority of it, to be completed in the next 3 weeks. As I’ve stated to you previously, I’m already working on two other films at the moments this means that I will be working on this project “after hours” (in my personal time). I am also not in a position to do any work on speculation.
As I understand, the music will be mostly made up of strings and soft synth soundscapes. I can imagine there might be some piano in there too. The composition workload will be centred around writing the different motifs and musical pieces, creating synth patches/soundscapes, recording all the music and placing the music into appropriate spots (with your direction, of course).
I won’t be able to do much of the work until the film is picture locked – this doesn’t include things like colour correcting, but the timing between scenes and cuts need to be finalised. Things like the voice overs also need to be set in place.
Once I’m able to get that from you, I will spend a day or two watching the film to get a sense of musical direction. It would be great to then meet with you to just walk through the film together and get an idea of what kind music fits into certain scenes and map out the whole score.
I’ll spend the following week or so scoring the film (writing and recording) and then we can meet again afterwards to run through what has been done and make final decisions. After this, there will be a bit of time left to implement the final changes.”