Wednesday, May 14, 2008

why I had the good sense to stop doing cinema

So you have these visions of a director and her muse? All personal, one-on-one conversation, inspiration? Think Bergman, or think Bresson. How hard can it be to do intense, spare, austere cinema that expends no more energy on special effects than it takes to do a few dissolves and fade outs?

Anyone who reads my blog knows I've been going on about Frozen as though I'd made it or had actually seen it.

For anyone who has, here is the director's own account of just one tiny part of the logistics involved:

Have you heard of shooting a sync sound film without a silent generator? I guess not unless it’s a silent film.
Well we did just that during the shoot of Frozen. We shot a sync sound film with a 125 kv open generator.
The time we decided that we wanted to shoot a sync sound film in icy heights of Himalayas, people thought we were crazy. How would we take a generator to Ladakh at a height of around 12000 feet from Mumbai?
The generator comes loaded on a van. Now Ladakh has two approach roads one from Rohtang Pass and the other from Kargil. These roads involve driving through few of the highest passes (average height of around 14000ft) in the world.
We were shooting in the month of Jan-Feb 2006. I got the idea of getting the generator van in before the month of Oct 2005 and keep it there till we arrived in Jan 2006 as the roads close for winters for six months. Well I thought it was brilliant. After doing some hard bargaining with the biggest silent generator supplier in Mumbai film world we arrived at per diem rate for the Driver and the Operator.

Not surprisingly, that didn't work out. What do you think they did? Built a house to blimp the generator. No, really.

We scouted around and we discovered a natural ditch, sort of a small valley, closer to the house. We got the crane and deposited the generator there. We draped a specially made muffler over the exhaust pipe, the main source of noise. The distance was perfect, the sound bare minimum but it was visible in wide shots. Again we had brainstorming sessions, mind you all this was happening along with the shoot and even in nights. So decided to make a small house over the generator with precision marked holes to have the air circulation and avoid the blowouts. It looks like a big piece of rock but you can’t make out that there is a very big generator hidden under it. To avoid the breaking up of the cables we procured the local heavy-duty cables and taped the whole length of it.

And that's how Frozen has sync sound. Now you know.

Me - I'm glad I don't do this for a living.



km said...

The word "harrowing" comes to mind.

But there are stories set in nice, temperate climate, you know?

Space Bar said...

km: yes, but in nice temperate climes there will be other problems, I assure you.

In fact, I'm remembering this shoot for Banno's diploma. Among other problems the unit had was one evening when the lights started to short when it started to drizzle (it really *was* a drizzle, compared to what it was like at other times). All these well-built cameramen were running with huge lights, trying to toss them up every once in a while as if they were hot potatoes.

Oh. You said 'temperate', didn't you? Not tropical. Right.

(That was a shudderiferous shoot. Banno should blog about it when she returns).

km said...

Ugh. Does any other form of art involve so much planning and coordination?

//I am sure you've heard of Terry Gilliam's legendary production problems...

Anonymous said...

wow! I can never understand this -when they sell DVDs and add "the making of Fillum X", or when they publicise the film, why do they get the actors to sit around chatting about how the had a lot of fun and played pranks with each other?

Why does no one talk about how the film was really made?
Your stories would be far more fascinating, I am sure...

blackmamba said...

Adding to km's, the Making of videos from March of the Penguins and Lawrence of Arabia. Very fascinating.

swar said...

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

from Alison Croggon's blog.

Book: White Noise by Don DeLillo
Post: "He sat slouched in the camouflaged jacket with Velcro closures, steeped happily in disaster. He talked about the snow, the traffic, the trudging people. He speculated on how far we were from the abandoned camp, what sort of primitive accommodations might be available there."

Space Bar said...

km: heh!

lekhni: i now, right? they ought to give us the full sob story.

bm: that's quite a compact - march of the penguins and LoA. but i like watching makign of films only sometimes. the best of them being the one about tarkovsky's sacrifice.

swar: what is this method of tagging me?! put that up on your blog first!

swar said...

i don't want to open my blog and I don't have four other people to invite :(

dipali said...

Phew! I guess one has to have a certain kind of nuttiness to be able to make films with all the aggravation that seems to be an inevitable part of it, even in less extreme climes.