Last week I watched two movies that immediately blended with my ideas for Lorn (my forthcoming short film). This isn’t an unfamiliar feeling, as art often influences me and anything creative I am doing – even a doodle at work. Am I alone in this? I think not. I remember in college my friends would go through phases where they were influenced by specific artists and their comics would reflect the influences in massive ways (Egon Schiele was a big one).
The first film I saw was Import/Export directed by Ulrich Seidl (lookie). I had seen the director’s work in Dog Days a few years ago and though I didn’t love that film I thought this new one looked interesting. What became obvious as the film started was the power of the image. The frame is static for the most part, symmetrical composition and presentational. Look at the images below and notice how balanced the picture is, it could be bisected into equal parts. It is not unlike Peter Greenaway, but I find Greenaway more theatrical, more baroque and more interested in filling the frame with the detritus of his artistic id (Drowning by Numbers anyone?). That is not to say I don’t like Greenaway, I love him in fact, but the films I want to make are less like Greenaway and more like Siedl. In fact during Import/Export I kept coming back to the idea that I had to make Lorn look like this movie. It would work perfectly. Locking off the camera in a beautiful composition and allowing the blocking to direct the eye and not a cut. My mind was made up.
Then I went to see another film a few nights later. Lorna’s Silence, directed by the Dardenne Brothers, is a further evolution of their style and I am in love with it. This film includes more visual breaks, with wide shots mixed heavily with the follow-a-character-in-medium-CU-as-they-navigate-their-world (that I adore). This approach, to the naked eye, appears to be in direct opposition to the style described earlier, and it is partially. For those who haven’t seen the brother’s films, they involve a sole protagonist whom we see in every shot. Not only do we see them in every shot but the camera follows them like a ghost haunting them. If you saw The Wrestler or Sugar, there are some “Dardenne shots” in those films and they work well. Upon seeing Lorna’s Silence, and falling under the sway of the camerawork (again), I decided that Lorn would be shot with a mobile camera, stalking the main character as he experiences his day. I would shoot it like this…
If I had a steadi-cam.
Instead I think that the approach will go back to it’s initial birthplace, Tarkovsky (specifically - Nostalghia)/Antonioni, before it reaches out and absorbs the techniques of Siedl and Dardenne. At least until I see another visual potent film… then I’ll steal it’s form as well.