The Movie Business

My last month in Indonesia saw almost nonstop activity that made blogging fairly difficult. I was lucky to squeeze out those last two entries before fully succumbing to fatigue at the end of every day for the remainder of the trip. The program schedule had actually gotten very easy (and, in turn, disappointing) with only dance, and sometimes music, in the afternoons. However, Ucan and I had begun an “extracurricular” project resulting in us running around the city at all hours doing something I never expected to do before this trip: making a movie.
Unlike the first one I’d been in, this was far from a professional endeavor, but a fun project Ucan likes to do with every group. Of course, the usual story of resistance from all sides derailed his goals multiple times. As a result, nothing happened for the film until very late in the program, at which point almost nobody was willing to partake, and nobody was willing to do so full-time. I became the only participant with a major role as a result.
I think it ultimately helped the project, allowing Ucan to make it an actual artistic pursuit and giving us the flexibility to work on it as we needed to, since involving many more people would have made it a logistical nightmare, and trying to draw together four mini-stories would have really diminished the quality (visible in the past projects) and therefore increase the unnecessary resistance. So Ucan and I spent every waking hour together for a week and a half, exploring Surabaya with our little crew and creating a story.
Employing an interesting method of directing (like I know what I’m talking about), Ucan didn’t tell anybody but his interns the film’s plot. This way we would be more “natural”, since we can’t really act. I’m not sure what he expected from our romantic scenes, considering my supremely awkward attempts at American flirting with Javanese women (it works very, very differently). I suspect it might have been part of Ucan’s goal to make it so, and while it was sometimes uncomfortable, it was truly comical.
Thankfully most shots did not involve my feeble attempts at romance, but looking pensive, which is apparently my default state. Really I just had to walk around and look at things, which I love. Combining my dreamy gaze with crafty editing, Ucan created a visually beautiful set of scenes (and I’m joking about my face’s influence). The last I saw, about two weeks ago, was a rough cut, lacking sound and music. Even without those essential elements, it seemed like it could actually be a real peace of art.
This artistic value will depend on the voice over and music, which is now my responsibility.
Following the style of Tree of Life (a fantastic movie, by the way), there will be very little actual dialogue, and most, if not all, of the voice will come from my “head”. Consequently, it’s my job to write a voiceover script; a daunting yet exciting task. While I’ve done plenty of writing in my life, I’ve never had to create something that would sound nice aloud.
More intimidating is Ucan’s request that I score the film as well. I’ve never written any form of music. I’m hoping I have a latent, natural skill that expresses itself in this case, but I suspect we’ll end up choosing previously made pieces. Either way, now there’s an impetus for me to attempt something I’ve always wanted to try, even if only for fun.
One thing that the scholarship provided me was encounters with personalities from walks of life with whom I likely never would have crossed paths at home, such as artists and dancers, or in this case, movie directors. This extends into doing things I wouldn’t do under normal circumstances, which was the entire point of my joining the program. Movie making very much falls into said category. It has potentially opened some new doors, and, while far from professional quality, I think the final product will be something to be proud of.
Since everybody must be dying to see it, here’s a trailer: (using a Facebook link pending computer cooperation) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10201824592966326&set=vb.1527487526&type=3&theater
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