Thursday, October 26, 2006

So after much deliberation, I think I've decided that I'll be developing these haiku shorts visually, more or less in my head, then describe them verbally in haiku form, and then, from both the haiku and what I've seen in my head, I'll draw up the storyboards, which will then become the shots and so on. By doing this, I can accomplish two things: 1) each of these cinematic haikus actually comes from a more traditional haiku; 2) the three stages of ideation: abstract visualization, descriptive visualization, drawn visualization--ought to allow a thorough refinement of my vision for the piece.

I've written three haikus so far, and in no particular order, they are:

hand enters water,
stretches toward the bottom and
leaves a fingerprint
the autumn wind blows
a lone leaf along until
it's crushed underfoot
it towers above
the seattle city skyline:
forced perspective

The first haiku will again make use of the 30-gal aquarium I acquired for the first project. This time, hopefully, I will put it to proper use. This haiku will adhere editorially to the traditional structure of a haiku, use three shots, the first and last will be 5 seconds, the middle 7.

For the second haiku, I am hoping to capitalize on the cliched shots of some sort of mundane object lent beauty by its being "blown in the breeze". The film American Beauty and its "most beautiful" plastic bag of all time moment is the first thing that comes to mind. As well as the feather at the beginning of Forrest Gump. Etc. This time, obviously, that shot will end with a cynical thump, as nature's "beautiful object" is crushed under the foot of modern man. It will be done in a solitary tracking shot, following alongside the leaf, until the foot of man enters from the top of the frame, crushing the leaf and moving callously on. We, meanwhile, will linger for a few brief seconds more on the crushed leaf, before we too move on.

And for the third haiku, which is obviously an allusion to the Space Needle and how it has been the apparatus for the visual commodification of Seattle. I've grown up here, and I've only been up twice. It's a touristic blight on the cityscape, a city typically misrepresented through the exaggerated framing of the Space Needle so as to make the building appear to be either larger than any other building in the city, or at least comfortably nestled in the heart of downtown, which it surely is not. The structure of this haiku will likely differ from the first one--certainly from the second--though I haven't quite decided on its time-based structure yet. I have a few key images that I'm planning on collecting, but this one will likely sort itself out completely in editing.

Haikus four and five are obviously still on the drawing/thinking board, but possible ideas include:

-An entirely voice-over haiku, with the screen either black, or anchored on a solitary, undistracting image that is lent meaning through the haiku being read. In the case of the former, there would be, I think, instances, perhaps at the shifts from line to line, where brief anchor/contrast images would flash on-screen, if only to break up the monotony and add some visual point-counterpoint to the VO.

-For the fifth one, I had considered constructing a haiku that bookends the rest, similar to the bookends on "32 Short Films About Glen Gould", to provide an entrance into and therefore, an exit from the series. The benefit of this, just like with "Glenn Gould", is that these a) intstruct us on how to read the segments that follow; and b) provide closure at the end, by making us feel there was some unity to the piece. Of course the problems that arise are thematic ones: how can I have a three-line haiku, translated to cinema, split in two, and on top of the structural problem that causes, have it relate to the rest of the films in the series? The first solution that comes to mind is the have the second haiku open with an image that resembles the one in the first part of the first haiku, thematically linking them, and have the fourth haiku end with an image that will thematically resemble the second half of the first haiku/coda. Of course, this too opens a can of worms: from short to short within the series, would all not have to follow this same motif, so that the beginning and ending thematic links don't feel too forced or out of place? I've also considered a three-way split of this haiku, one segment at the beginning, one in-between haikus three and four, and the final segment acting as coda at the end. Again, that opens its own set of issues. (Just thought of this, I may use one of the haikus I had earlier discarded as not fitting. Briefly: we open tight on a railing at the gasworks park Seattle observation area, a woman's hand enters the frame and we follow it as she traces the cold iron, feeling its grooves and imperfections, then rack focus to the skyline. Then still tracks alongside her hand w/ skyline in focus. Then rack focus back to her hand and stop camera mvmnt as her hand exits frame, fade to black over ambient sound...These three segments could be easily broken up over the course of the film--it might work!)

Other issues:
-Constructing a vertical rail for the camera on the second haiku so that I can have a steady shot dollying down alongside the finger in the tank. There will be a zoom, to enlarge the image and decrease the depth of field, but that will also make a rail or vertical dolly that much more necessary.
-Do I need to rent a leaf-blower for the blowing leaf in the second haiku? This would provide a more organic "breeze" than pulling the leaf along with a string, but it also makes it more unpredictable for framing. Ultimately, I think this unpredictability will be desireable.
-Capturing a fingerprint underwater for the first haiku: I don't think I'll use some sort of in-tank residue; I'm thinking I'll need to put a glass plate with a fingerprint on it between the tank wall and the camera. The problem this raises is a lighting on. I'll need multiple light sources, and I'll have to massage it quite a bit in-camera.

No comments: