Day 3: Constructive Feedback
Our final day began with yet another strong note of caution. As if the previous evening and night had itself merely been an illusion, Werner jumped back into commenting on commentary and advised us to take it easy with text that is overloaded with too much depth. 'There are moments when you can depart far from the text', he said. He gave the end of Cave of Forgotten Dreams as an example.
The commentary moves into the abstract form of perception with the albino alligators. Only once the audience is comfortable with the subject can you go wild but it is important to anchor it well. The audience has to be taken by the hand and guided through the film.
Werner then delved back into the staging of moments in documentaries. For example, there is the scene in the Kinski documentary where we are taken on a visit to his old house, which was all choreographed. The basic pattern of the trip was rehearsed. ‘Sometimes it is better to come as a surprise but here it was right to set up the scene. The real surprise renders the best effects but this is not only always the case. We must sometimes be quick to take drastic steps in order to solve a problem.’Read more
Day 2: Being a lion tamer
The morning session began with an unexpected occurrence, an occurrence that sublimely facilitated the forgetting of the Fitzcarraldean trial that was reaching Crawley train station first thing on a Sunday, whilst engineering rail works shut down the entire local network. There was, of course, the other painful recollection that it was indeed early on a Sunday morning. Werner began the day with the reading of the passage of the horse’s death from Virgil’s Georgics. His eyes gazed at the manuscript with intent yet they burned wildly, completely transfixed in the text. Werner read the passage with that distinct accent of his whilst we hypnotically stared, captivated in a long gone moment in time. He explained how Virgil saved his Antarctica film. Arriving with no notion of what he would find Werner stepped onto the South Pole, looked around and thought 'We will do it like Virgil!'Read more
This year we added a short course lead by Sandra Whipham (London Fields Pictures) to our selection of offerings to Scottish producers and filmmakers. 2x 2 days (April & September) on what to consider in order to get your films ready for the international market and the role of a producer in shaping the strategies for a film.
Have you ever thought about how many roles we take on as producers? We need to be creative and nurturing, counsellors and confidantes, we need to know some technical stuff and not shy away from accounting, marketing and legal contracts. Maybe "Jongleur" would be a better description. And of course we need to accept sometimes that we're "the boss" technically, and literally, and not worry about being unpopular. In fact if you like being popular, perhaps it's not the right career choice.Read more
For its 6th edition Dockanema decided to celebrate Ruy Guerra. At the Brazilian Cultural Centre he decided to talk about the 3 moments of his life: poet, photographer, actor, scriptwriter, editor, but above all film director, born in 1931 in the city now known as Maputo. In his youth in Maputo, he was active against Portuguese colonization and racism, which of course got him into trouble with the authorities. His father worried for his safety and decided to send him abroad.Read more
Day 1: Read, read, read, read.
I wanted to be as far forward as possible to be able to see Herzog's every muscle move in his face, to observe every movement, to completely concentrate and to listen. My notepad quickly opened, my pen at the ready, my only purpose to be attentive and to write down everything he uttered.
Werner entered the front of the room and took control of the microphone, a screen hung behind him and a projector fanned in front of him. Two speakers dangled either side of him. He welcomed us and began with his Rogue Film School mantra, ‘I will say this again, if you want to be a film director you must read, read, read, read.’Read more
Some of you may have heard of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique but I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t. It is a large country in the south of Africa, with a very long coast on the Indian Ocean and sharing borders with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. Not only do they share borders but also a history of wars and colonialism. Except that Mozambique was the only territory in that part of Africa colonized by Portugal, which meant independence only came once Portugal got rid of its own fascist government in 1975.
Then came the golden era of Mozambique's left wing liberator, Samora Machel. Again, many people wouldn’t even know his name, but he was a bigger version of Mandela, with as much of a passion for his people as he had for life. Less than 10 years later – at a time when Aparteid in South Africa was at its most threatening, and in retaliation of Mozambique’s offering political refuge to South African militants – his presidential plane crashed ‘by accident’, leaving Mozambique a helpless widow.
This is a long introduction to talk about Dockanema, Mozambique’s annual documentary festival, but Mozambique has always had a special place in the history of cinema.Read more
The Rogue Film School: Meet and Greet
Whilst on the 16.27 train from Clapham Junction to Crawley many peculiar thoughts entered my head. First of all, why Crawley? Werner Herzog had chosen the furthest hotel from Gatwick Airport for his first European and third-in-all Rogue Film School, a hotel that happened to sit on the fringes of this town. Secondly I had to remember to breathe as I found myself reliving the moment the email fell into my inbox with the subject heading, 'Congratulations!!!'
I happen to recall that in the moment of receiving that email I had been in a pub, somewhere in Edinburgh, with, as a coincidence, the director of photography of the film that I entered The Great Flood, Scott Ward, and one of the editors of the film, Fiona Reid. Within that second all sound faded out of my cacophonous conscious state and all sight focused on the wording of the email, I looked to them pale as coconut milk and asked, ‘Should I go?’Read more
In the last two weekends I've been fortunate to travel South and North to attend two small festivals. They offer different kinds of opportunities to big industry events, and the ripples of a visit can last much longer in some instances.
At the end of August I attended Rome's Gender Docufilm Festival, situated in the 10th annual Gay Village, a beer and event garden which pops up each summer between June and September, with disco nights, film screenings and other cultural events on two stages. As president of the Di'Gay project Imma Battaglia said when she welcomed us with a buffet dinner: "We love putting Gay Village in the park to remind people of how important it is to look after the environment. It's about going beyond LGBT issues - if we don't care for the trees, we'll be nowhere politically!" For me the idea of celebrating open hearted diversity, a stone throw (or shall we say an apple's throw) from The Vatican is at once amusing and very progressive. I found a place full of history, looking to the future.Read more
To get back to Kosovo this year I flew to Tirana, Albania, which has a brand new airport. I'm told it's at least a 2.5 hours drive to Prizren “if the traffic is good”, on a newly built motorway which winds through the mountains for a journey that used to take up to 8 hours. I'm assured the driver “used to race rally” and relax into my seat. Never mind the Italian car which later blocks us from over-taking by hogging the line, at 160kph, and the 10cm which separate the bumpers of our cars. I ask the driver if he's seen Senna, the documentary – as if that might alleviate my sweaty palms, or distract him from pursuing the chase. (He hadn't.)Read more
We have our first documentary PhD by practice! Amy Hardie (The Edge of Dreaming) and the rest of the SDI team celebrated yesterday with champagne and strawberries at ECA's last independent graduation ceremony. Edinburgh College of Art merges with Edinburgh University from 1 August.
But we have another ten PhD students with projects in the pipeline, so watch this space.
To find out about post-graduate opportunities, please go to our website.