Closing Days (1)
Today Steve Taylor left, and we have only a handful of single shot things to do with the actors – not easy things, but doable in the next few days. Basic elements are roughly edited, and psychologically for us the film is virtually done. I’ll have a lot of technical things left, and need to do a mess of more shots of Butte and Walkerville, but it all seems well in hand. As three of the actors figure to be here another 7-10 days after Tuesday, our deadline for wrapping up actors’ stuff, we decided we’ll jump on it and make a Last Chants for a Slow Dance type of work – meaning something quick, simple, fast. The basic idea is almost formed, and last night at a little gathering in Butte, we met some people who perhaps can offer a hand in lining up places, etc. So, in the lingo of those much younger, we’re stoked.
We’ve all been staying in close quarters, at Marshall Gaddis’ place in Walkerville. Up until a Steve’s arrival I’d been cooking all the meals almost, mostly Italian things, or BBQ chicken or steaks. Steve’s a great cook so he treated us a few times, and then Roxanne and Kate have done some as well. Film-wise the vague wisps of ideas in my mind took tangible form quickly once I had the actors here. I really did not press on figuring out what to do, wanting to wait until the actors arrived to give it form. While initially the formal aspects were rather hard on most of them – being much less relaxed in some sense than the films they’d done with me earlier – once they got the drift of it, things went pretty fast. So fast that we were all surprised when after less than two weeks the basic film materialized on the time line, and the end rushed up to meet us.
With Jim Benning’s arrival things went briefly into high gear – he had only a limited time, 2 to 3 days he could give to us – and we had to run quickly through his scenes. That went very well, and once those were done and placed into the time-line the film more or less finished itself. I think it will run about 80 minutes, be very very unconventional in form, but be very emotionally powerful. The core aesthetic concept I had for it had me wavering about one week ago, with thoughts in my mind that the basic idea was simply wrong-headed and would not work. Then I dropped in still shots of Butte where I intend to put static camera live shots, and suddenly it worked. A relief for me. And once we got Jim’s sequences in place the answer to the end showed itself. At this point I’m pretty sure it’ll be a good film, or better, and naturally I’m happy about that. I have four years of professordumb to make up for. I think my thoughts of perhaps being creatively exhausted have been assuaged – frankly I feel totally energized, younger, and ready to roll.
I think Coming to Terms will end being a film of notable simplicity, perhaps akin to The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima, for which it might be seen as a kind of companion piece. Its stylistic severity, and perhaps its content, I suppose will run utterly counter to the fashions of the cinema and art world of the moment, so I imagine it may find a hard time finding a festival or an audience. Seems, of late – the last 5 to 10 years – to be the case for my work.