Interesting how things come full circle.
The majority of my cinematic work has been experimental, realized with very little up front production costs and mostly realized through the editing process. It has made things "easy," but I have longed to return to narrative filmmaking. Of course when I say narrative that is a fairly loose interpretation. The experimental is never too far away, and it certainly continues to drive my images and story. Since my initial experience shooting a narrative in 2003, I have tried a few times to return to narrative filmmaking often being held back by excuses more than anything else, but I think it's about time to get rid of those excuses and begin again.
Soulmaker was my first and last narrative film. It was shot and completed on 16mm. I conformed the negative myself, which was probably the most difficult and scary part of the production. So much so because I still bring it up apparently. During the making of that film, I learned a lot about how I work and what I like and don't like about filmmaking, and I pretty much like it all, except for conforming negatives. I like the ability to bring all of my different skills to the table. I like being able to move from one stage of the process to another as needed. Soulmaker started with a basic idea inspired by an object, but the film only began to take shape as I designed and built the set which was prior to the completion of any script. This is certainly not the Hollywood way of working. Still, this helped me understand the character, and the world where the character lived. It provided a firm foundation from which the story grew and made things more knowable, provided answers when sometimes questions couldn't even be verbalized.
I didn't know about Victor Shlovsky then, but this quote from him has long been something that I turn to when thinking about my own creative process. "...art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony." – from his 1917 text ‘Art as Technique’. I've selectively picked a part of a much longer quote and there's a lot that can be unpacked in his writing, but for me the process of creating and building helped me to recover the sensation of life.
Soulmaker started with a very specific image and prop, a nautilus shell. The growth of the shell, a gift from my wife, implied continued growth and change, as well as the corporeal and the spirit. The film was built around this object and these ideas. My new film starts here, with this telephone. Another gift from my wife. It is a vintage Bakelite crank phone from Belgrade circa 1965.
Connections, those missed or vital to our lives, direct lines in times of need and tethering - lifelines extended and held onto, anchor this film. I'm looking forward to this beginning.