Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Go East, Young West, Go East!

Earlier this year, Coda was included in a program curated by Melanie Wilmink of the CSIF for the The 8 Fest. I was more or less hibernating at the time, working on my feature length screenplay for a Telefilm deadline, but I have finally come up for air and came across this very nice review of the Go East, Young West, Go East! program by Kelly Stewart on the Toronto Film Scene site. The review for my film is very brief, true, but so nice that I thought I'd share it here:
A beautiful vignette of a woman in a room played against a haunting classical musical score. Completely breathtaking.
Those are some great adjectives... Thanks Kelly!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Electronic Press Kit


Between sound and silence, between life and death… there lies a coda.


Coda (n): "A new theme introduced at the end of a musical composition to emphasise the sense of finality." Inspired by the films of Deco Dawson and Maya Deren, this silent, black & white film provides a brief, surrealistic glimpse into one moment of this woman's existence: the coda of her life. Is it an ending, or a place between?


Writer/Director/Cinematographer/Editor – Cara Mumford
Actor – Emma Claire Miller
Assistant Camera/Key Grip/Gaffer – Zenon Sept
Production Assistant – Oriana Evoy
Hair & Makeup – December Dawn

Production Notes:

Coda in G Minor was inspired thematically by the Blue October song Weight of the World, visually by Deco Dawson's film Knout and poetically by Maya Deren's film Meshes of the Afternoon Then, after working on James Reckseidler's film, The Ice Climber's Waltz, I was itching to try my hand at Super 8 filming. James generously loaned me one of his cameras and, after a five-minute lesson on how to shoot Super 8, I was ready to film Coda. I cast the lead from my first workshop film and we got together with a couple of my other volunteers from that film and shot it entirely in my stripped down bathroom.

Although most of the film was processed at the lab, I hand processed the final sequence of the film. I still opted for a digital edit, but I incorporated adaptations of optical printing techniques, such as skip printing and step printing, as taught to me by Deco Dawson while he was the artist-in-residence at the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF). I have additional footage that I shot for the film, but decided that I preferred the ambiguity of this edit. I am considering a companion piece to Coda in G Minor that would incorporate that other footage and experiment with other visual styles.

A full Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for Coda is available as an online pdf.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coda on IMDb

Apparently, Withoutabox, the online film festival submission site that I use, had the opportunity to offer IMDb title pages to emerging films and filmmakers who have used Withoutabox to submit their work to film festivals. Pre-selected and pre-approved (sounds like a credit card offer… not that I've ever been pre-approved for one of those… but I digress).

Part of me felt (and still feels) that it's a little pretentious to have your under-3-minute short film listed on IMDb, especially when that's all you've got to your credit (I refer to credits on IMDb here, not other films that I've done). But I also didn't want to turn down an opportunity. And I figure that maybe it can work as a bit of a push to be able to add another credit as soon as possible. Plus I wanted to be able to provide credits for the people that worked on the film, since they are all film people and not just friends of mine. (I mean, yes, they're friends of mine, too, but they all have their own film interests outside of just helping me.)

I was going to wait until everything and everyone had been added to the page, but I am beginning to realize that might take a while. So check out "Coda in G Minor" on IMDb: And feel free to vote if you’ve seen the film!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

I'm finally posting about my "Coda" screening at imagineNATIVE. I wasn't sure what to post initially, because sometimes one screening is much like another. "Coda" was in the Experimental Program entitled "Into the Looking Glass," which I thought was rather appropriate… especially since they used the screenshot of Emma Claire piecing together the cracked mirror for their catalogue. My favourite film in that program had to be "Alice Eaton" by Amanda Strong, about a young woman on a quest to restore her broken spirit in a stylized underworld inspired by Lewis Carroll… though there were many other intriguing and thought-provoking films.

Unfortunately, because of the pitch workshop and session (which I'll be talking about eventually over at Weirdgrrl's Words), that was the only shorts program I attended. I did manage to go see "Before Tomorrow" by the Arnait Video Collective, produced by Zacharias Kunuk ("Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner" & "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen"… I'm embarrassed to admit that I still haven't seen "Atanarjuat" but I saw and loved "Knud Rasmussen.") I thought that "Before Tomorrow" was more cinematic than "Knud Rasmussen," with its use of music, editing and artistic B-roll shots, and also more consistent in tone. Ultimately, though, it didn't affect me as deeply as "Knud Rasmussen." Still, it was brilliant.

I look forward to going back to imagineNATIVE when I'm not pitching something, because I think it would be a lot more fun when I can go to more screenings and meet more filmmakers. Having said that, it was great to get to know the other pitch participants… it helped me feel like I had friends at this festival where I really didn't know anyone. And some of them definitely became friends that I will continue to keep in touch with.

I've also discovered that being screened at a festival like imagineNATIVE opens up quite a few doors. I've had several emails inviting me to submit to other festivals and even had one from Movieola asking to buy the broadcast rights to the film (but I don't own broadcast rights to the music… *sigh*). Not that I didn't intuitively know that the bigger festivals bring more opportunities, but I guess I didn't realize that imagineNATIVE was one of those bigger festivals. Very cool!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Maya Deren's Influence

I first saw "Meshes of the Afternoon" (1943), Maya Deren's first and most remarkable experimental film, during a workshop with James Reckseidler and I was instantly drawn to her mythopoetic approach. I would like to call her work surrealist, but it was a term that she eschewed over her preferred descriptions of avant-garde or ritualistic.

Maya Deren was born in Kiev in 1917 as Eleanora Derenkowsky. In 1922, the threat of anti-Semitism in the Ukraine caused the Derenkowsky family to flee to the United States where they Anglicized their surname to Deren. (Having recently worked on an article about Stanislavski, Vakhtangov and the Habima, and researched many Jewish artists in New York City in the first half of the twentieth century who had emigrated from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union—all of whom displayed such dedication and innovation—I found this part of her story quite fascinating.)

Deren's education ranged from journalism to political science to symbolist poetry, and she also showed a marked interest in dance, anthropology and the theory of relativity. (I rather like the fact that her list is so similar to mine.) Naturally, all of these interests informed her work in unique and unusual ways. It was in collaboration with filmmaker Alexander Hammid, whom she eventually married, that Deren produced "Meshes of the Afternoon". It was during this time that she decided to focus on film (and change her name to Maya).

Deren wrote and directed several experimental films, but it is in her writing that her status as an innovator in film production and film theory is truly apparent. I am particularly interested in the paper that she presented at a Cinema 16 Symposium in 1953, entitled "Poetry and the Film." In this paper, she argued that film works on two axes: the horizontal—including narrative, character and action—and the vertical—characterized by the more ephemeral elements of mood, tone and rhythm. I don't know about you, but when I read this explanation, it was as if a light bulb had turned on over my head. I suddenly understood that my short films focus primarily on the vertical axis: mood, tone and rhythm.

So it is the understanding of that vertical axis that Maya Deren provided for my film, a gift that I expect will continue to influence my future work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coda Trailer

ImagineNATIVE is the first film festival that has asked for a trailer of my short film, so I decided to throw a little something together. I wanted there to be the sound of a heartbeat throughout the trailer (maybe even instead of the music) but I had some technical difficulties with the sound when I exported from Final Cut. (I'm still getting to know all of the extra programs that one gets with Final Cut Studio.) So alas, no heartbeat. But if you would like to watch the end result, here it is:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

WILDsound Feedback

So "Coda" had its screening in Toronto last weekend. My friend was nice enough to take notes on her Blackberry, so I got to hear most of the feedback right away even though I couldn't attend the screening. But now the feedback has been posted online, so I figured I should share it here:

I'm particularly pleased by the European gentleman's comments. He obviously got everything I hoped for out of the film. And he gave me a great little tag line for this film: "Sometimes one appreciates the beauty of life only when close to death."

Hmm, I think I might look for some European festivals to submit to...