Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tokyo Journey - New film release


The new film about Tokyo is finally released from Michael Craig and Copernicus Films:

Check out the film below: There is also a bit of commentary here which is not necessarily an explanation but more in the way of background.

 A short film about Tokyo and its unseen character. I don’t really know how to explain but if you spend a long time in Tokyo you start to feel the hidden world which lies beneath the electric and neon façade. Traces of a dream world or forgotten world which belies the ultra modern appearance of Tokyo which seems to be a continuance of some other parallel world existing in the past but in some way eternal and forever present.Noh dramas give a whiff of this other world and how it can creep up on you. Usually the waki, an itinerant monk, old man or traveler meets a local person whom he questions them about the the history of the area As the conversation continues it and the waki draws out the shite’s story it gradually becomes clear that the shite is the ghost of a historical figure who is still clinging to this world either through desire for revenge or anger,or a desire for love. The ghost often asks the waki to pray for them to be released so they can be reborn in the Amida Buddha’s western paradise. The swirling neon dream world of Tokyo with its episodic visual context opposed to the spatial coordinates that we are normally used to in most cities, disrupt the senses which feast on the abundance of light which subvert structure and the visual plane. In fact such categories have no meeting in night time Tokyo.

The Cityscape of Tokyo is a text-scape a kind of anti landscape. The city, a symbol which stands for something but also has its own intrinsic meaning- an hieroglyph We live in the age of light and nowhere is light, luminosity, a feature of the urban landscape as it is in Tokyo – it flows around and through the city like a liquid radiance.

The Quintessential city of light its neon landscape casts a luminous dome across the night sky turning dark night into a phosphorescent panorama. This urban phenomena of the night is reminds us of the ancients of Japan who feared the darkness and longed for the dawn, for the comfort of clear light, for the sun goddess Amaterasu to remain.The film which is in post production will form a journey through the streets and known regions of Tokyo revealing anomalies which occur at boundaries which separate the apparent from the real and the interface between the sentient world and a hidden non sentient world. Its a phenomenon which occurs everywhere in Japanese literature. Murakami in Kafka on the Shore explains that the Tale of the Genji is filled with living spirits which could sometimes travel through space often unbeknownst to themselves.

 The world of the grotesque is the darkness inside us, what could be called our subconscious which was obvious to people and gave a focus for their fears. Until the invention of electric light the world was in darkness, the physical darkness and the darkness of our souls were mixed together with no boundary between them. In their past living spirits of literature such asUeda Akinari who wrote “Tales of Darkness and Moonlight” living spirits were both a grotesque phenomenon and a natural condition of the human heart and people of that time were unable to conceive of these two things as being separate. However the darkness in the outside world has vanished but the darkness in our heart remains just as before. It remains sunken in our subconscious and as Murakami points out that estrangement can create a deep contradiction or confusion inside us

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre premiere at the Rose Bruford College

Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre premiere at the Rose Bruford College – Post Prodcution update 45


Cover of film “Vakhtangov & the Russian Theatre”
Several days back from the UK after a successful screening and Premiere of Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre. It took place on May 10th 2014 as part of the Vakhtangov study day at the Rose Bruford college of theatre and performance organised by The Stanislavsky Centre which is based at the centre. It was a privilege to be able to participate in the and share the podium with the Vakhtangov scholar and specialist Andrei Malaev Babel who has written two books about Vakhtangov ‘The Vakhtangov Sourcebook” and “Evgeny Vakhtangov – A Critical Portrait”. Also Graham Dixon of the Mikhail Chekhov Studio in the morning session which he participated in together with Andrie Malaev Babel The morning session was dived into three parts. A long introduction presented jointly by Andrie and Graham, then the film Vakhtangov and the Russian Avant-garde which I briefly introduced and then a question and answer session with Andrie Malaev Babel, Graham Dixon and myself.

Michael Craig – Director of the film “Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre”
The afternoon session was a master class presented by Andrei Malaev Babel which lasted a couple of hours and consisted of a series of intensive exercises and short pieces for actors. About sixteen members of the audience took part in this session and it gave a real insight into the practical  insights and interpretations of Vakhtangov’s work. Natasha and myself filmed as much of the day as possible and I will try and put together  a short clip to give a flavour of the day if all parities are agreeable. This was also a good opportunity to try out the new camera which I recently purchased and develop my DSLR skills a bit – gradually getting the hang of this new way of filming.


Left to right; Graham Dixon, Andrei Malaev Babel, Michael Craig
Any premier is a worry and this was no exception. I have showed the film to  many people but there is nothing more effective than showing a film to a live audience and probably nothing more gratifying when the response is positive as it was in this case. I was very pleased when people came up to me after the film to express their thoughts and feelings.I was also glad to see meet some new people who share an interest in Vakhtangov like Oleg Mirochnikov the Russian theatre director who now lives and works in London as far as I am aware. He has a special interest in Vakhtangov’s work in relation to his own productions, as part of Belka Productions.I was especially glad that the actor Andrew Elias was able to attend. He has been a great supporter of the film form its early inception and throughout post production to the very end and so it was apt that he was able to make the premiere. There wasn’t much time to get to know each other but I am sure we can rectify that in subsequent meetings when I am back in the UK and of course we will be in touch over the internet.

Paul Fryer of The Stanislavski Centre

Michael Earley – Principal of the Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance
- See more at: http://www.vakhtangov.copernicusfilms.com/#sthash.CYgXb3gO.dpuf

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Russian Film Archive at Krasnogorsk - Filming in Russia

One of the most sought after resources when filming in Russia is archive footage. Michael Craig and Copernicus Films can guide you through the process of choosing archive material for your films or even choose and acquire the material on your behalf; dealing with the Russian archive authorities, negotiating payments and handling any documentation pertaining to copyright. At the archive You get to select the material yourself on a Moviola. The first time I tried it was a bit difficult having only used one before in St Petersburg but I soon got the hang of it again.

Russia has some of the most outstanding collections of film archive. The documentary film collection is housed at Krasnogorsk which is a small town just outside Moscow. I remember my first trip to Krasnogorsk where I was able to acquire archive footage for many of my films including Rodchenko and the Russian Avant-garde and Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Theatre.


Eisenstein
The system is straight forward and everything is delivered on a format of your choosing. Once you get the material up on the moviola and run it through its one of the most extraordinary feelings to see this material from maybe 80 years ago coming alive in front of your eyes. Films by Ziggy Vertov, "Man with Film Camera", Eisenstein, "Battleship Potemkin"  and Esfir Shub who directed "The Fall of The Romanovs" in 1927. She was a pioneer in the genre of compilation film, in the use of historical footage, and in recreating historical scenes in order to shoot new footage. 

Many of my film making friends in Russia who hail from the soviet time are forever extolling the virtues of film, they talk about the smell, the feel and the sheer tactile sensation of handling celluloid. Even though I have grown up using tape and and now digital, when you first open those cans and get to handle original material its a magnificent feeling and a powerful sensation of participating in a rich history.

For more information about the film production services that Copernicus Films can offer in Russia click here


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Filming in Russia

With regard to filming in Russia, Michael Craig first worked on a sprawling BBC drama in St Petersburg twenty years ago. We filmed everywhere from morgues, to hospitals to the main police headquarters and even the prison, as well as locations all over the city. With a crew and actors of 140 or so the main problem was finding enough food to feed them each day over a three month shooting schedule when food was not easily available in those days. No one could say it was easy but then this was the early 90s. The last day of shooting coincided with the storming of the White House in Moscow, so conditions were not ideal.  However despite all the problems the film got made and was within budget. Things have changed a lot since then.

When Michael Craig first moved to Moscow and was invited to visit Mosfilm, the studio was in quite a dilapidated state and morale was very low. A year or so ago he was invited to the Mosfilm studio as part of a delegation of diplomats to view the studios with the aim of showcasing Mosfilm and its facilities. Karen Shakhnazarov, the Russian director had been charged with the revamping and modernisation of the studios a few years previous. The transformation was astounding. The grounds had been neatly laid out, new buildings had appeared and old ones had been completely  renovated and updated. The sound studios (the biggest in Europe) had been updated to the highest standards and a whole 19th century Russian town had been built as a set in the grounds of the Mosfilm complex. It displays a commitment to and understanding of what a foreign film company would require to make a film here in Russia. 

As a director, Shakhnazarov set himself the task of outfitting Mosfilm with equipment and standards which he himself would want for any film he would make. With this in mind he went about the task of changing Mosfilm into a world class film making facility. The transformation of Mosfim is indicative of the new conditions which make it a great place to make films


Since that time Michael Craig has been involved in several large scale productions in Moscow as well working with numerous smaller companies and organisations in Moscow. Michael Craig founded Copernicus Films which has made eight documentary films independently in Moscow, an opera and interviews and journalistic projects.  With the right guidance and support anybody can have a positive experience making films in Russia in a stable environment. Michael Craig and Copernicus Films's twenty years working here in Russia, making contacts and establishing a sound business base has given him the insights and experience to offer such a service and benefit those companies or individuals wanting to come here and shoot a film project. No project is too large or too small for us and advice can be tailored to individual projects as required.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Alexander Rodchenko: Revolution in Photography

Alexander Rodchenko: Revolution in Photography

5 Oct. 2013 – 12 Jan. 2014

Kjarvalsstaðir

In October a retrospective of the photographs of Alexander Rodchenko, one of the leading  Russian artists of the first half of the 20th century, will open at the Reykjavík Art Museum’s Kjarvalsstaðir site.

Born in St. Petersburg in 1891, Rodchenko worked in Moscow as an artist and designer from 1915. He used many different media in his art: he started out as a painter and sculptor, then moved into photography in 1925.  He was a pioneer in photography and graphic design, designing for instance book covers, posters and advertisements in collaboration with Varvara Stepanova, his wife and closest colleague. The posters are among Rodchenko's best-known works, and remain inspiring nearly a century on.More information about the film Alexander Rodchenko and the Russian Theatre can be found here