This past fall, I had the pleasure of co-directing the short film Little Red with NYC-based filmmaker Laura Lechner. As a complete newcomer to filmmaking, the months we have spent editing in post-production is a totally new process for me and almost feels like an endless series of "tech weeks" for this theatre veteran. ;-) While we work toward a final edit of this short (coming to you this April!), I'm delighted to bring Laura on to our blog and have her give you an update on our editing process. Onward!
~ David Hanzal
I've always wanted to experiment with puppets on film, to see how (or if) puppets could be used in a cinematic way (as opposed to simply filming a live performance), and to see if I could achieve the same emotional impact with puppets as with actors on screen. Collaborating with Collective Unconscious Performance on Little Red has been a worthwhile challenge, as we’ve worked to see how much story and emotion we can convey by employing the vocabulary of cinema within a world of puppets and masks.
David and I have been working on this short film for almost a year. David originally began developing Little Red as a live puppet performance piece. When he shared his storyboards with me, something clicked: we both thought that the play had the potential to be even more compelling as a film.
I’ve known David since 2010, and we’ve worked on a variety of projects together over the years, so I was very excited for another opportunity to collaborate. This, however, was our first time managing a long-distance (working) relationship: I’ve lived in New York for the past four years, and David is in Minneapolis. Outside of four days together in Minneapolis this past October for principle photography, we’ve managed to realize this film while not being in the same physical space!
We spent the spring and summer writing and fine-tuning the script (thank god for Google Docs!), while we were also casting, location scouting, raising some funds, and doing all manner of pre-production work. David was also designing and fabricating the puppets and costumes, and I was working out camera and lighting possibilities with our cinematographer, Joe Valenzuela. After we wrapped up shooting in mid-October, I went back to New York, and I began to edit the film, sharing cuts with David along the way for his invaluable feedback.
A cliche in filmmaking is to say that a movie is made three separate time - when the script is written, when you’re shooting it, and when you’re editing it. And it’s definitely true - by the end of that process, your film is always different than what you imagined when you were simply putting words down on a page. I for one think this almost always creates something a lot more interesting, and it’s probably my favorite part of the filmmaking process. In Little Red, we played with the order of several key scenes in the beginning, trying a variety of different combinations until we found an order that made our story more cohesive, and that served the character development, even with minimal dialogue.
Editing is all about making decisions, and sometimes those decisions (or just the thought of making those decisions) can seem paralyzing. If I choose one thing (for instance, one particular take of a close-up within a scene), that takes me farther and farther down a certain path, and it becomes harder and harder to move forward with other potential scenarios. But on the other hand, you HAVE to make choices, or else you’re just sitting there with 20 hours of raw video footage. Whenever I am editing, I like to remind myself of this Anne Bogart quote: "Art is violent. To be decisive is violent. ... To place a chair at a partial angle on the stage destroys every other possible choice, every other option.” In order to construct a film, you’re in fact eliminating all of the other movies that you can potentially make.
In addition to editing the picture, the other main component is sound design and audio editing. Another film school cliche is that your audience will forgive bad picture quality, but not poor sound. Dan Dukich has been composing original music for the film, as well as collaborating with us on the sound design. It’s incredible how transformational music and sound can be in a film. It’s as crucial an ingredient as beautiful imagery and profound acting.
Collaborating with David on Little Red has been a great experience, and I know I speak for the two of us (and the cast and crew) when I say that we’re VERY excited to share our film with you this coming April!
~ Laura Lechner, Co-Director & Editor
David first approached me about developing Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus) with Collective Unconscious Performance while we were in the middle of a workshop for Skins, our piece in the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival.
David pitched Le Cirque Féerique as a feminist story about four bad-ass French women from the 17th century, who were the original creators of our most beloved fairy tales. And, yet, history has all but erased the existence of these women from the textbooks. During his pitch, David told me all about the thrilling escapades that these women pursued: attempted murder, espionage, witchcraft, freeing your lover from imprisonment dressed up as a bear (true story!). As writers, these women were also considered to be bestselling authors in their day. Their fairy tales were wildly popular and featured bold, clever princesses who never waited around for a prince to come and save the day. Instead, they did it themselves. Before David could finish telling me about the project, I knew that I was on board.
This play is a gift. It’s a joy to work on everyday, which is definitely not true for every piece. This is a play about four tough, complicated, and determined women who desperately want something and aren’t afraid to go after it. How often do we see that onstage? In our current world, this play has taken on new meaning for me. In spite of the many hardships that these women faced (and I don’t want to give anything away, but believe me: there were many), they persisted. These women inspire me, and I feel so honored to be bringing their lives to the stage.
Please join us for the work-in-progress reading of Le Cirque Féerique at the Alliance Française, at 7 P.M. on February 12. Admission is free, and David and I will be eager to hear your thoughts. We hope to see you there!
~ Emily Dendinger, playwright
While we've been hibernating this winter, we've begun to dream up our next piece, and we're ready to share a draft with you!
On Monday, February 12 at 7 P.M., the Alliance Française will host a reading of Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus), a new play that we are currently developing with Emily Dendinger (the writer from SKINS, our 2017 show in the MN Fringe Festival). We can't wait to share this new work-in-progress with you, as we prepare for the October 2018 production at the Art Box.
Following the reading, we invite you to participate in an optional conversation with the artists, or you may write your thoughts down on a short written survey. We welcome your feedback in whatever method is most comfortable for you!
WHAT IS THIS NEW PLAY ABOUT?
Le Cirque Féerique is inspired by the forgotten authors of some of our most beloved French fairy tales.
Paris, 1690, the center of culture: Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy and her non-conformist friends fight for independence and equality during the oppressive reign of King Louis XIV. Through storytelling and champagne-infused salons, these women critiqued and challenged society’s expectations for women over 100 years before the first wave of feminism. Marie-Catherine and her crew were best-selling authors in their day, and invented fairy tales as we know them. So whatever happened to these bold, groundbreaking women, and the subversive fairy tales that they spun?
Le Cirque Féerique asks: How may a strong, independent woman live the life she dreams and make her voice truly heard in a patriarchal system? How does one seek out authenticity and independence when society tries to silence your voice at nearly every turn?
WHEN AND WHERE IS THE READING?
Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus)
Monday, February 12, 2018
at the Alliance Française Minneapolis/St. Paul
113 N. First Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Free admission; light refreshments will be served. No reservation necessary - just show up and enjoy!
Directed by David Hanzal
Written by Emily Dendinger, created in collaboration with the ensemble
Ensemble: Sofia Lindgren Galloway, Leif Jurgensen, Katherine Kupiecki, Sarah Modena, Kaitlen Osburn, Sarah Parker, Alison Ruth, Heather Stone
We hope to see you there!