Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thank you, some whining and a hat trick

I so appreciate that you check in here when prompted. I'm taking requests - so if there's anything you'd particularly like me to talk about or post, let me know. 

Meanwhile, the big news is that Her Magnum Opus is now available for download through Vimeo on Demand.  The next festival screening for Opus is in Nashville at HerStory Cinephilia Society, with a few more screenings anticipated in 2019. But it's time to move on - and make those big bucks in sales, right? 

In Search of Lost Time, the 9-minute black-and-white short featuring Aislinn MacMaster & David Thomson, continues to travel all over the world, having screened in 22 festivals thus far. 
If you're near New York, please join me at YoFiFest in Yonkers on Saturday, November 3 at noon. Still to come are Breaking 8 in Sardegna, Dance on Screen in Austria, VideoSkin in the Yukon, and InShadow in Lisbon - which has shown my work for 7 of its 10 editions - which I actually plan to attend.

Two new shorts are just beginning to make their way in the world:

Strategic Retreat, shot by Charles Caster-Dudzick in a treehouse in Richmond, Virginia last spring. Trailer here, for you hard core fans. 

Red Dirt Dances, which Gustavo Fataki shot almost a year ago in Sao Carlos, Brazil. [Trailer below, looping as you read.] It had its Brazilian premiere last week - essentially a cast and crew screening minus the director.  Stay tuned for festival updates for both works.

Every film project is recognizably Renzi, especially for longtime followers, like most of you reading this.  But each one is also different, in cast, length, music, location, style.
Where Love Leads, my return engagement with Slippery Rock University dancers, took place in 4 locations, with 15 performers and features a lively soundtrack of 6 songs, and currently clocks in at 16 minutes. Cinematographer-producer Jennifer Keller made my every wish come true during production, so it would be ungenerous of me to whine - but just try and stop me - about the hassle and cost of paying fees to corporate entities for music rights. I'd dearly love to know what percentage of the licensing fees actually makes it into an artist's wallet. HUGE thanks here to the artists who have recently shared their work gratis - among them, Emily Holden, Lorenzo Wolff and Kamel Boutros.

So for my hat trick with Rhode Island College in January, I've laid down a few ground rules, limitations which are a natural and opposite reaction to SRU's Love:

one location
royalty-free music 
cast of 5 or 6
movement vocabulary that is less "easy-going"

I set myself these tasks so I don't repeat myself.
Thanks for listening.
Am I repeating myself?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What's it all about ?

years pass and I move from NYC to Nyack
years pass and I raise two children
years pass and the print newsletter transforms to a digital format
years pass and those children grow to be men
years pass and I become a filmmaker
years pass and I become eligible for Medicare!

And I ask myself for the umpteenth time if it's necessary, or even worthwhile, to share what I'm up to with the same small group of people who find their way here.

Last month, in the run-up to the screening of Her Magnum Opus at the prestigious Dance on Camera Festival, I was posting furiously on Facebook. And the first NYC screening of Opus was gratifying because folks came who hadn't seen it yet, probably hadn't seen ANY Renzi work in quite a while, if ever.

But if the number of likes on the Opus Facebook page are a measure of its value, I'd give up altogether. And when I come to understand that "everyone" is migrating to Instagram, I realize that I'd rather save my energy to make stuff - or even meditate on making stuff - than play the social media game, and badly at that. Come to think of it, this blogspot is hopelessly un-trendy now that the digital world abounds with hipper opportunities to go public. Blogspot? Definitely eligible for Medicare.

But I do apparently feel the urge to keep a running log in here - however irregular, and however slanted - that marks the passing of the years. And to confirm that I'm still at it: determinedly making stuff while just as perpetually wondering why.

Running Log

31 short films since 2006

Check out the Filmography for trailers and festivals.
Crazy, right? I should be ashamed of myself.

Her Magnum Opus
Tuesday, September 25th @ 7:00 pm
Anthology Film Archives

In search of lost time is the one making the rounds these days - from Huntington, West Virginia to Lisbon.

Red Dirt Dances, made in Brazil last November, is just weeks from starting on its festival journey.
At the moment I'm wrestling with the one I shot in Virginia ... stay tuned.

2 new ones to come, commissioned by old friends at two colleges:

September 6-16
a 2nd dance film residency 
Slippery Rock University, PA

January 14-20
a 3rd ! dance film residency 
Rhode Island College, Providence

And now, because the running log always includes imagery,
this excerpt from Opus, with original music by Ljova.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Her Magnum Opus
Saturday July 21 at 3:00 pm
New York City premiere!

Your only excuse for not attending is if you saw it earlier in the month as part of the American Dance Festival's Movies by Movers in Durham, North Carolina on 
Sunday July 14th at 2:00.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Calendar ... and fan mail

Don't have the time to read my correspondence below with a new fan who wrote after seeing the well-attended and very satisfying Jacob Burns screening of Her Magnum Opus? For you, I've posted a short and sweet calendar in which you'll notice that Opus continues its pattern of a-screening-a-month:

June 7-10

July 2-10
Toronto, Canada

In April I've been invited to be the keynote speaker at the Iowa International Screendance Festival in Iowa City. And this summer I'll spend a day or so in Pittsburgh with Jennifer Keller scouting locations. Four years ago I collaborated on Plow Plant Reap with Jennifer and students from the dance department at Slippery Rock University. For our next project, this fall, I'm planning to make something as urban as Plow was bucolic.

Between these activities, I'll be putting finishing touches on the Brazil footage which was featured as a sneak peek in the last post.  Oh, and also digging into the footage from the Treehouse shoot in Richmond, Virginia where the lovely Ching-I Chang (of 890 Broadway fame) invited me to shoot something unplanned with her. This one is so improvised that I may be forced to create a voiceover to give it context ...

(And now the correspondence:)

Hi Marta 
We saw your film last night at the Jacob Burns Theatre and  just loved the overall film - it was dreamlike - a reverie away from the cookie cutter form of so much of today's cinema. The non-linear structure and minimal dialogue allowed us to focus on the tone and rhythm of each sequence and the overall tone of the whole. Just beautiful.

My husband had some questions for you. During the filming did you pre-plan the sequences or was it completely improvisational, and was the dancing performed without any scratch sound. Also  during post-production how was the piece scored. Was music added after all the sequences were edited and what drove the decisions on music selection. There's more...if you have time to continue the discussion, would you email me?  I grew up in Upper Nyack (Highmount Ave) and spent much of my childhood and teenage years along the Hudson. The beautiful property along the river made for a wonderful metaphor with the movement and the water flowing. This was intentional I assume?  Again, we really  loved your film.

Hello Janet!

So wonderful to see your message on my Facebook page.

The Hudson is practically a character in OPUS, isn’t it? I was startled when one viewer referred to it as a “lake” - but then, she was from Chicago.

As to your questions about the music:
In general, the scenes were planned in advance, especially when I had to organize more than one dancer to get to Nyack.

Your husband may find the written answer to his un-asked question overkill, but I’ve attached the Treatment and some shot lists for comparison with what you saw last night.  There’s a plan - and then it's what my friend Sakina called “combustible" - spontaneous improvisation on the part of cast and crew.

Additions to the Treatment were:

the “prince” alone in the woods, for which the impulse was: the forest is perfect for another few days, let’s go!

the “architect” alone in the little house, for which the impulse was an abandoned house I knew was soon to be unavailable

As for the music, it was different for different scenes. There was no music for the first party, except for Aileen’s pseudo-flamenco solo, for which she developed her own movement.

The last scene where Aileen walks on the ground was shot with no scratch music playing. I originally edited it to Iris Dement (whom I adore) but eventually decided it was TOO sentimental  (which is exactly what I adore about her music) so I asked Ljova to repeat on solo viola the Dvorak string quartet that opens the film.

While shooting the rather odd reverie with the woman in a green dress on the table, there was mood music (from the soundtrack for WHITE, a Polish film), to which I edited as well.  But when I didn’t get permission to use that music, Ljova composed some wonderful replacement music for that scene and a few others. It took me a while to get used to the “new” music, and now I can’t hear it otherwise.

Comments and curiosity like yours make me feel there’s something special there. 

Thank you.


[To continue the music saga ... now that I'm preparing to launch a wider release of Her Magnum Opus, I'll need broader music permissions. In the case of Benjamin Britten's Deo Gracias, I decided that further licensing was too costly. Back to Ljova, who composed a beautiful new minute of music for harp and soprano. Maybe next time I'll begin like real filmmakers do, by asking a composer to score the whole soundtrack - instead of doing it piecemeal, ass-backwards - like this filmmaker does!]