Time for an update on the progress of Gravity From Above. I’ve meant to write sooner but I’ve been intensely busy trying to finish the editing for my short feature film Arca. (And that will be worth watching!) Nevertheless things haven’t stayed still.
So I will be going, by hook or crook, to Charleville-Mézières France for a three week residency to the International Puppetry Institute and ESNAM, their school, in October. And I have decided as long as I am there to visit a few puppet theatres and friends and try to get so more filming done. So far here’s what I know. I’ll be visiting Paris, hopefully to reconnect with Pascal Pruvost and the Petits Bouffons de Paris. I’ll will of course find my good friend Paulette Caron, who’ll help at ESNAM as well. I might drop down to Lyon. I will certainly get back to Brussels to visit Dimitri at the Théâtre Royal du Péruchet and Nicolas at Le Théâtre Royal de Toone.
In London I will have a chance to visit the Quays, who are working on a mysterious project on actual film again. While there I’ve also been invited by filmmaker Matty Ross to consider making a puppet sequence for a rather intense half hour film of his. So I’ll pop round and officially make his acquaintance. And there are other possibilities as well. (Of course I must get back to Georgia again sometime as well!)
A lot will depend upon financing. If I get the Rasmuson Foundation grant I’ve applied for that will help. But you can never count on grants until the money is in the bank. If I can get more support I’ll try to film the final stages of the documentary. Even if I can only get a few more clips it will make the work left to be done that much less.
(That PayPal donate button above this somewhere has come in handy so far, and right about now it would be a real encouragement to know that some of you are willing to contribute a bit more. I truly can’t go back to crowdfunding for quite a while. But why go through a middle man (Well PayPal does take its cut too.), when you can donate directly to this project today. Think about it.)
Meanwhile back in Haines I’ve been teaching a class of five students a serious course in puppetry studies. We are studying puppet techniques, history, films, materials etc. And at the end of it in late April we will be putting on a comic 21st Century version of Faust. It’s a step towards more puppetry education.
Speaking of puppet education. Very soon I will have a new YouTube video to share with all of you of the Brief History of Puppetry lecture I gave in Switzerland at L’Abri last March. Stick around and you’ll have a chance to watch another hour and a half video. (The last lecture Puppetry As Antidote Art is linked below. And so far it has received 15,500 views. Not bad eh? Now if each of them had contributed five dollars….)
I’ll be back very soon with A Brief History of Puppetry.
Well 2016 is nearly over. Just a mark on the calendar and yet these dates matter when it comes to taking stock of one’s progress in life. Or in making documentaries. It helps to keep me pushing forward. Or is it to feel mired in delays? Or perhaps to help figure out ways to move Gravity From Above to the next square.
2016 was in many ways a fruitful year, particularly the first part of it. I took another journey through Europe spending three months on the road. I made new contacts, renewed old ones, got a bit closer to winding this project up, and was able to define what exactly needs to happen to finish this documentary. Then there were roadblocks. Most notably the money pretty much ran out and the sometime producers seemed to come to an end of their commitment. Which left me back in Alaska and beginning to search for help with getting this produced. And yes there is a frustration with that. But I didn’t feel it so much. I didn’t wallow in it. I have had interesting options that haven’t materialized. And there is some possibility of having film students help me get a professional looking edit.
More importantly a recent development: When I was in Charleville-Mézières France I stopped in at the International Puppetry Institute and puppet school (ESNAM). There was some talk of a residency grant to help me with research. I weighed the possibility and didn’t really pursue it. A puppet friend, Kevin Tizer, sent me a notice about it on his own, thinking, correctly, that I might be interested in such a thing. But again I put that aside. Until the day the application was due. In fact, until literally the last hour of the day. And then I remembered and thought, ‘Why not?’ I quickly filled out a form and got it in just before midnight Alaska time. I received a message a few days later saying that I didn’t understand a certain part of the requirement. So I did my best to try to rectify it. And that was that.
A few days ago I received word that I had been accepted to spend three weeks there in October with a place to stay and a small stipend. Well I’m not sure where the money is coming from to get there, but I am going. It’s too good an opportunity to pass up. And I’ve got nine months to work on it. And so I will be back in Europe working on Gravity From Above in 2017. Now if I can get the small film crew and extra funds to finish up the filming…. That would be perfect. Let’s just see where it leads.
Meanwhile back in Alaska I’ve decided to start serious puppetry classes for locals to get a few others immersed in puppets. I’ve said I will do it if I get three students. So far I have two. And it will be fairly comprehensive with puppet theory, history, materials, practice and a performance of some sort in May. The cost will be quite fair. (If anyone wants to come up to Alaska to join in I have a couple of rooms and we might be able to work something out.)
Meanwhile I’ve been editing my other project called Arca: A strange film about an alchemist, a box and a dark angel. We shot this back in 2014 but it’s only close to being assembled now. I’ll let you know when there is a way you folks can see it.
Thanks you to all of you who have followed my journey this year. I actually had more visits to the site this year than any other. And that’s heartening.
Meanwhile as 2017 knocks on our door may you find the inspiration to create something real in the midst of overwhelming artificiality. More importantly may you know the intelligence to produce something a lasting value and not mere propaganda based on the fears on the times. And mostly I wish you courage to pursue truth in your art no matter how much you have to face your failings. (S. are you there?)
December 29th 2016