09 Aug 2015
Filmmaking In Abstraction
It has become increasingly evident to me that nothing in any spoken or written form of language can satisfy, articulate or even provide the basic gist of what it is that I am trying to achieve. I have always intentionally avoided any form of pre-written text or script as I feel that it makes very little sense to write something and then later try to substitute it images and sounds. Images must be of their own origins. I am simply not that kind of filmmaker, furthermore as I have discovered over the years, I do not have the ability to work in this way. But as I continue to make films this inability to express to my actors and collaborators what it is that I want and what it is that I am trying to shoot is ever increasing. Expression in this way can be so hazardous; it is impossible to put forward information that truly honours the origins and mystery of an idea while also catering to and respecting the authority of the actor. Everything becomes compromised to the point of death. To put it simply, I cannot explain to people what it is that I want anymore because I only have abstract, mysterious and unknown images in my mind. These cannot be fully expressed in the circle of words and grammar that I hold as a bilingual speaker. However, it is not about degrees of spoken fluency but the larger question of how to preserve something completely abstract while dragging it through the crude system of communication via a language that is completely alien to the idea itself. Images and ideas in their original form perhaps spread best in a scenario where the receiver is subjected to an atmosphere (which may take hours or days) and notions slowly precipitate and are willingly absorbed into the body of the receiver, a process of contagion. A dialogue like this can take a long time and is not supported by low-budgets, while in the end there is no guarantee that you have communicated clearly and justly.
As for on-set, day-to-day expression of ideas to my actors the worry of ‘how to express’ is always there. This communication usually presents horrific results after which I resent myself for dragging my ideas to a place that obscures them and for derailing them from a path that I always hope leads toward the art of cinema. The films that I want to make cannot be explained! In work like this I feel that sometimes ‘not knowing’ is a very good thing, it puts all of us in the same boat and the process of filmmaking becomes a hunt during which we all perish. The audience uncovers this filmic document and begin their investigation, only finding traces of us and so I would hope that they themselves would climb in and perhaps discover that the danger is real. In this way perhaps the audience, the actors/collaborators and myself are all actively loading and searching the film. And so I can only make these films with someone whom I fully trust and whose filmography and reputation as a filmmaker is something that strikes a light in me. Most importantly they must fully trust me and have faith in our partnership and in the work we embark on. Only then can you walk into oblivion and void together.
The more you try to express and explain the film the more shallow and decrepit the film becomes. Films (at least the ones I want to make) must be completely impenetrable, inaccessible and beyond any faculty of comprehension. The only thing remaining will be the option of experiencing the film as a mysterious organism together with your team in a drone/void-like space and for the audience to delve into this and bring it to their own ‘next level’; to be the film rather than understand it.