segunda-feira, 3 de agosto de 2009

Fid Marseille 2009

The sound work

Neither I,nor the sound engineers Philippe Morel,Olivier and Vasco were responsible for recording the sound.The musicians were playing just as if we weren't there.We did not control what the music sounded like.However,we did do the normal kind of film sound work,i.e. the soundmen the recorded the sound with mono mikes.The dialogues are all in mono,for Straub as well as Spielberg.Sometimes – as in the case of Où gît votre sourire enfoui? - The chief sound-engineer used a “tie-mike”,one of those microphones that you pin on to your clothes. For Où Gît, Danièle used one; there was a small mike near the editing table. For Ne change rien, the little mike was put on top of Jeanne’s normal microphone. So in the movie we had the voices in mono as well as the additional layer of the sound the musicians, so all in all we had 24 tracks. In the sound work, the sound we had was in stereo. The stereo split the sound - everything went toward the two sides, but we tried to get it closer to the screen, to centre it.This work was very complicated. According to the sound engineers in the studio,who specialized in rock music,we screwed up the sound, but that was not true from a cinematic point of view.The problems begun when we started mixing. The sound mixer and me wanted to do all in mono. But it's impossible, I tell you why:because of something called Dolby. If you do a movie in mono nowadays, you can't show it anywhere, because Dolby has monopolized everything.Even Jean-Marie Straub’s last three short films of are in Dolby,and he is the one who goes the furthest, so if he can't even avoid it...

The mono sound utopia

It reminds me of something Dylan and Lennon said over forty years ago.When they listened to their first stereo recordings they were scared:“But what is that, we don't play separated music, all four of us play together”. The word Lennon used ‘separated’was written down.Drums,a bass,a guitar and a voice that work together is one thing,separated, is something quite different.You begin to step outside of yourself, to ask yourself pointless questions, as Danièle put it, because in reality, they are just four guys playing at the same time.

Jeanne's two records

In the film, we hear two songs from Jeanne’s first album Paramour. When we met, it had just been released. It was a long time ago, when we were both working as members of the FID jury. There are also recordings of the initial sound tests, where Jeanne is listening to the songs from her second album for the first time. (Slalom Dame), songs that were written for her by Rodolphe.

Permanent dissatisfaction

I knew what I was in for before beginning the shoot:work,hard graft,lots of rehearsals, etc. I liked what I saw in the tests. I liked the craftsmanship of it all, but the concerts bothered me because there were things I disliked about the look of them – the lights, for example. It sounds rather ridiculous to say so, but that's one of the reasons the movie is in black and white. I think that most of the concert lighting engineers didn't know how to handle it, and everything become a little bit pretentious. On My opinion. I resolved the “problem” easily, changing the color saturation in the edit – there were other surprises in store though. I saw that I had to cope with the white light that focused in on certain things to the detriment of others.

Filming Où gît in the same way - forgetting the video camera...

It’s the same deal - no intervention,no mise-en-scène.Well,there is little bit with Jeanne because she is an actress, and if I ask her to move towards the light she knows exactly what I mean… And yet, it's different because Où gît was a commission (ARTE) Ne change rien isn’t – it’s a movie that never claimed to be such.We never thought it would become a film,there was no contract,nothing.I never said to myself “I'm making a feature-length movie”. Simply a relationship of admiration, mutual trust and desire that united us. The situation only changed when we were invited to Cannes for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. From then onwards,“the film actually became a film”. So, Ne change rien is a kind of prototype.

I see the tests as a secret meeting amongst friends, a sort of strange calm space...

While I was filming them doing the tests in the studio, I often pictured four guys running off like in They Live By Night of Nicholas Ray. Four guys in a hut, like a gang in the forest – that's the way I saw them. There are moments in the film, some of which are musical, which are different - obviously,Offenbach has nothing to do with pop. During the rock passages I saw a group thatwas totally true to itself.Itwasn’t a different story during the classical music passages and the performance of La Périchole, which demanded a certain technique and a different way of working as well as a greater degree of concentration.With rock you can avoid those considerations.The band members became characters in their own right. For example, Rodolphe has great physical presence; his body is rather like John Wayne’s. You can see four passages from La Périchole in the film.The first one is a long shot that last 9 minutes of Jeanne and her music teacher.The other three, show the pianist on the stage.These were tricky for me and posed real problems. I must admit that Jean Renoir's Le Carrosse d'Or is the inspiration for La Périchole,the model for Camilla being Anna Magnani.For me all this takes on meaning. I hadn’t listened to a lot of Offenbach’s music before, and he has a popular side to him. I barely knew his music and thought he was a long way away from my thoughts and desires. I came across him by happy accident.

Work, a film about work

As I noticed at the screening in Cannes,the musicians start playing just as the audience is leaving the cinema.Nonetheless,the film was well received.I mean the 8-minute shot of Jeanne where she talks about needing time to concentrate.Here the movie gives her the time - exactly as long as she needs.This shot is very important for me,I worked very hard on it,because it defines the core of the film,and differentiates it as something that is not rock film, or a live concert film, a filmed interview, or even a documentary about Jeanne Balibar's music. This shot eradicated any possible confusion of this kind. And through it we enter into the naked truth of what is actually happening.

Interviewed by Francisco Ferreira