Monday, 10 April 2017

The Russian Theatre Film Series - Book Publication

The Russian Theatre Film Series book - published and available:

It’s difficult to find an appropriate description of the book "The Russian Theatre Film Series". Essentially it is an account of an arts documentary series with all its pitfalls, successes, limitations and achievements. The three films which have so far been completed are "Meyerhold, Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde", "Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre" and "Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre". This book is part of the overall project - The Russian Theatre Film Series and is a milestone and a marker in this developing project. It is also a commentary on what it means to make an independent arts documentary film series in a foreign country namely Russia. Not so much from the technical point of view although there is plenty of technical aspects covered but more from the point of view of a kind of interior process. It is an expedition into the phenomenology of film-making, what obstacles have to be overcome, both physical and technically but more importantly some of the lived experience of film-making. For some people making independent films is a way of life in the same way that for others theatre is a way of life or acting is a way of life or painting or whatever is a way of life. You can't live without it or outside it. The fact that you have to spend a year or two of your life on each film means that it is a life decision. So it has an existential element and this quality of film-making is explored in the book. How the series came about, what were the thought processes involved in the development of the series, which influenced the series overall - who helped who didn't, why things went wrong and why they went right. The book is a staging post on the way to further developments clearing the ground before moving forward to the next phase - a book about The Fairground Booth plus a film on this subject.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Biomechanics - Project - Book and Film

As I come to the end of The Russian Theatre Film Series book already new horizons opening up. Yesterday completed the artwork fro the cover, so all that remains is to proof read the book one more time and check everything over for layouts and other things. I have been tantalizingly speaking to a publisher but still feel I should work at my own pace and within my own resources although it is always worth exploring all the publishing outlets which might be available.

Already there are ideas percolating through with regard to The Fairground Boothbook and beyond. As always it is too early to write about this as the ideas themselves are appearing more as clues to developing work. One idea is to do another book about the theatre but only biomechanics. To make it more as an illustrated book with pictures but also text. The black and white tones will make I believe a very good visual impact. Working on this tonight - fleshing out a broad plan and outline with possible subjects to be included.

 The book should concentrate on visuals but also have text. It will be like a kind of graphic novel or one could say a graphic non fiction book - is that a new genre? - a hybrid book.

Last week we were out during the Maslenitza  celebrations in Moscow. At first I didn't even want to go out that day but eventually we decided that we just have to get out of the apartment and walk around. Then once we arrived at the square in Moscow were the celebrations were taking place at he statue of Yuri Dolgoruky I didn't really want to film anything. It didn't seem as if there was anything interesting going on and that all the masks and costumed  people were not there. but I got the camera out in any case and began. Then things started to happen. The crowds were moving, there was traditional folk singing and high spirits and there was a guy in an old costume with a hood which began to add to the atmosphere. he made faces at the audience and looked like something from the middle ages - somehow intimidating. Then the masks began appearing and I was filming in full swing. The atmosphere was that of a shrovetide celebration and had an air of authenticity which I was able to enhance and emphasize within an initial edit. One of the masks reminded me of the 4 masks which adorn the Theatre Satyra building in Moscow and combining these images would prove effective. By accident I found a photograph of the building taken at night. I had filmed the building during the day and it was quite bland so I did not use the footage in any of the films I had made earlier. At night however the masks are lit from above and below and the effect is very striking. I will go back hopefully in the next few days to film this building from various angles.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Russian Theatre Film Series

Front cover for the book "The Russian Theatre Film Series"
Cover completed for the Russian Theatre Film series book. A large step forward as I was worried about how it might look. In the end I only spent 3 - 4 hours putting it together ready for printing. 

The book weaves together the experiences of filming in Moscow and Russia on The Russian Theatre Film Series. How it came together, who were the main characters involved in the series and charts the pitfalls, the struggles and the joys of making independent films in a foreign country in this case Russia, Moscow. Often I am asked how do you begin to make a film, where do you start. For many it is easy, you start and that's it. For others that first step seems like a mountain standing before them. This book attempts to answer some of those questions by re living the steps which it took to make this series. Not necessarily step by step but the book certainly travels a distance that most independent film makers have to travel, recounting many of the obstacles which are sometimes of our own making.
Back cover for the book "The Russian Theatre Film Series"
Before publication, (some time before the spring) all that is left to do is check the text once more  and arrange the graphics and art work. Once this book is out and published I can start to concentrate on The Fairground Booth book which is at the first draft stage. Work is piling up behind me so I have to clear away as much as I can at the moment.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Screening of Tokyo Journey in Moscow

The first public screening of  the film "Tokyo Journey" took place in Moscow on the 25th January 2017. It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached the screening partly because the film is not exactly standard fare and the audience was made up of mostly people involved in teaching and disseminating traditional Japanese culture and Japanese Culture in general.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Music, Blok, Gogol and "The Tempest"

fairground Booth collage 2
In an article by James David Jacobs about Shakespeare and music he writes
"The Tempest stands at the crossroads of theatrical history: between the Renaissance and the Baroque, between the Elizabethan theatre of the imagination and the Jacobean spectacle, between the primacy of the word and the primacy of sensory entertainment".
Similarly The Fairground Booth was written and performed at the threshold of a new epoch in 1906 in Russia.

The common link between these plays is music. It's no coincidence that at the same time these upheavals were taking place in England, the art form known as opera was being born in Italy (the first operatic masterpiece, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, was premiered in 1607.) And it is not an accident that The Fairground Booth appeared at the junction between two epochs and the beginning of what we understand as the modern era.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Tokyo Journey - live presentation

Showing this short film to a live audience tomorrow in Moscow. Never expected to present it as such so a bit nervous how it will be received. Was at the venue today checking things out. Good sound - which is welcome as the soundtrack is important.

The film was shot in Tokyo and since it has been released on You-tube I have re evaluated the film and re edited it slightly for this particular presentation due to the specifics of the presentation. I will blog about that later with pictures and possibly a video clip of the event.

I have been worrying about it for several weeks now mostly about how I would present the film to the audience but all those problems seem to have been solved. The work that I put into this video is now starting to pay dividends in terms of new projects and ideas for films. All the practical experience on this film portended a completely new direction.

Have also been working on much of the writing. The next book about the Russian theatre  is in the proof reading stage and the publication date will be announced soon, probably  just before the spring of this year.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Encounters with the Russian Avant-garde

"Encounters with the Russian Avant-garde" is a book by Michael Craig which complements the series of six films made by Michael Craig and Copernicus Films about the Russian Avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. Click on link to purchase book:

Fully illustrated including stills from most of the films, it is not only an account or explanation but also an introduction or to be more specific an "encounter" with this exciting phenomenon. The title reflects an active relationship: firstly through the experience of living in Moscow for many years, plus a direct encounter with the buildings, the architecture and the very territory in which much of the avant-garde arose and to some extent still exists. Encounter suggests something more casual, unexpected and unstructured but also a sense of living in the avant-garde and being part of it. After all it was the intention of the Russian Avant-garde to connect with the real lived world and to ‘take art out of the galleries and onto the streets and squares of Moscow'.