Friday, February 17, 2017
Watch out, world.
Low-budget...hand-made...artisanal. Those were the adjectives I used to introduce Wooden Toy Productions during a recent meet-up with members of New York Women in Film and Television. Artisanal: a high quality or distinctive product made in small quantities usually by hand or using traditional methods.
Take 2008's Considering an Exhibition, above. With projected text that I'd written in response to a grant rejection, it creates its own world largely thanks to David Thomson's low-key performance and Jake Goldwasser's black and white cinematography. My friends in Pittsfield donated the attic they call "the Jane Eyre suite" and the 3-person cast/crew slept and ate at my parents' house. I was director, art director and post-production team. The only unusual expense was royalties to 2 photographers whose work I'd found online and a friend's talented daughter Saiya Miller. Music was contributed by renowned composer, William Finn. Total Budget: under $4,000
Almost ten years later, at almost the same cost per minute, the hour-long Her Magnum Opus already looked downright gorgeous on the big screen at Jacob Burns Film Center this past October. Since then colorist Jason Bahling has worked his magic to make it look more fluid and luminous. It will soon have a similar overhaul of the sound. At the NYWIFT meet-up, I told someone that Opus was likely not dance-y enough for some, not narrative enough for others. But I made what I intended to make: the hand-made, the "distinctive."
Sure, I wasn't trained as a filmmaker when I started this trajectory. But I was no kid: having made dances for 30 years, I already had a voice, and a worldview. Reading through my old newsletters recently, I smiled to see that they promoted "small is beautiful" and "virtuosity is not my goal." The same is true today. Also, I've kept near me a great collection of performers, whose history and authenticity is part of what makes Opus special.
So my goal when it's finished - soon, soon! - is to add a budget line to really get my artisanal product out there. For which I could always use your hands, helping in any way you can.
Watch out, world.
Low-budget, hand-made, and coming soon to a theater near you!