: Passage

Sep 21, 2009

Passage Short Film Poster Image.

At some point Curious Pictures was starting a film VFX Division. We bought a Scratch color timing system, and hired Yohance Brown to run it as our colorist.

I’ll never know how he managed it, but Lewis Kofsky our fearless leader, got this Passage gig. Shekhar Kapur was creating this short film for Swarovski crystals as part of a ‘theme park’ they were creating…….Maybe it was a kind of dark ride? I honestly didn’t understand the context in which this short film would be presented no matter how many times it was explained to me. There seemed little impact in the images we were creating, so I didn’t worry about it.

This gig was the first time I got glimpse of the monumental amount of effort and care some directors put into their films. Up until this point I was used to the fast world of commercials where directors didn’t even review the shots critically/technically. In complete contrast Shekhar put so much care and thought into this short film. I have memory vignettes of sitting the editing suit watching the film in silence with Mr.Kapur, and then afterwards being asked vague but wildly interesting questions. For example: “How did that sequence make you feel?” or “What visions are playing in your mind during dream sequence?”

These questions were alarming for a couple of reason. First off, he was Shekhar Kapur!!! Who was I? Why was he addressing me like a respected peer? It was overwhelming! Secondly, the other stress, was the nature of the questions he was asking. They were deeply creative and I felt he wanted honesty. For once in my life, I wasn’t being baited into a particular answer. He seemed to be soliciting my actual thoughts!? On my part I was completely unprepared for these sorts of questions. You see, I’d stumbled into the art world, and had the title of ‘artist’ thrust upon me. I worried that I simply didn’t have the exposure, foundation, or vocabulary to answer him. Sure I felt ‘emotions’ while watching his film, but did I have the sensitivity to translate those feelings into useful critiques for this master director?!? It was a lot of pressure for me back then. But he seemed so genuine in his inquiries, that I tried my best to answer honestly saying things like: “I didn’t know X section was a dream sequence until you said so just now. The whole film felt so wonderfully dreamy that I just submitted to it early on, letting the images take me on their journey. Do you think I was being to passive?”

Shekhar would then spend the next 30 min beautifully describing his latest cut, the emotions, and the ideas. Usually, I would only enter the editorial suite on absolutely necessary business. On occasion I Shekhar would have a bee in his bonnet, and invited me to the editorial suite, just to talk it seemed. He’d show me sequences and shots, and like he was teaching a film student, would describe what feeling, or idea is portrayed by each camera setup. “Pushins are used to accomplish X.” or “Close ups on faces to create Y.” etc. He told me about the nomenclature of film making;. “Audiences know the language of the moving image, without being conscious about it, and that directors, good ones, do better to stick to the rules. The greatest effect is to break a rule only for a good reason, and use that moment of unsteadiness to share something impactful for the audience.” Shakher told me.

It was a very strange relationship. I had the feeling that Lewis (my boss) knew these little meetings / sessions were going on and sort of encouraged them. I would disapear from my desk for several hours from time to time. But it seemed like everybody wanted me to keep going and listening. Because, really, Shekhar did most of the talking. I usually just sat, watched, listened, and gently formed my thoughts when prompted for feedback:)

But!! The work we did was straight forward. Despite my credit on the film, Marci Ichimura was the lead compositor. I played technical lead. Ingesting the footage, managing the color workflow, and maintaining the production pipeline and setting up the delivery connection between the production server and the Scratch color correct system. Most of the VFX work was removing tracking markers in the background or small set extensions outside windows, or painting imperfections or damages on the sets. There was a large number of shots and Marci managed it beautifully!

A small gallery of some images from the film that we worked on:

Here is the trailer for the short film:

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