Tuesday, March 4, 2008

James Reckseidler's Influence

"Coda in G Minor" began in the fall of 2006 as a spark of an idea during a Director's Eye talk by local Calgary filmmaker James Reckseidler. As part of his talk, James showed clips from films that inspire and inform his own award-winning work, which focuses on using silent-era filmmaking techniques to create new modernist works. So the clips that he showed included original silent-era films as well as other modern filmmakers using similar techniques, such as Guy Maddin and Deco Dawson. I was captivated by Deco Dawson's film "Knout" and decided that I had to make a film in that style. (I'll be writing about Deco Dawson's influence on "Coda" in a later post.)

Shortly after that talk, I worked on James Reckseidler's "Ice Climber's Waltz" and got to watch Super 8 filmmaking in action. It looked like a blast. So at the end of the shoot, I asked James whether I might be able to borrow one of his Super 8 cameras so that I could try my hand at a Super 8 film for the $100 Film Festival. He said yes.

Armed with a story idea and two minutes of instruction on how to use a Super 8 camera (I was late to pick it up and James was on his way out the door), I contacted my actress and my 19-year-old cousin—who had both worked on my 16mm Film School workshop film—and we gathered in my 5' x 7' bathroom to film "Coda in G Minor."

At that time, I had been hoping to complete the film in time for the 2007 $100 Film Festival, the deadline for which was only two weeks away. Unfortunately, my Pepper's Ghost shot didn't work, so I either had to try re-filming it (which I didn't really have time for) or edit it digitally (which wouldn't give me enough time to transfer it back to film for the deadline). Shortly thereafter, I started Herland's IN:Camera Film Production Workshop, so "Coda" was temporarily shelved.

In the spring of 2007, I took the Handmade Film workshop at the CSIF taught by James Reckseidler. As part of the introduction to the course, James showed us a variety of experimental films, from the Surreal to the Mythopoetic. That was when I discovered and fell in love with the work of Maya Deren. (I'll be writing about Maya Deren's influence in a later post.)

During the workshop, I re-shot the footage for "Coda" that hadn't worked the first time and hand processed it, giving the new footage a very cool look but also leaving behind some artifacts and bits of gunk that I hated initially. But James has since convinced me to see the beauty in the accidents and I've actually come to really like that bit of gunk that floats across the screen near the end of the film. Hopefully you will, too.

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