Thursday, 26 April 2018

Mixing Genres

One of the good things about making a documentary film or an arts documentary film now is that you have the freedom provided by all the previous films that have been made which provide one with a myriad of styles and examples which you can draw on - not so much to copy but to use as inspiration or guidance and for dispensing with any boundaries. This does not mean a free form film but encourages a fluidity between genres , a mixing of styles which can work. So that the difference between The Fairground Booth and a feature film or a documentary or an avant-garde film will be blurred.

Bearing this in mind, The Fairground Booth is proceeding in production and editing almost simultaneously and with editing and writing working in tandem. One or two posts have been completed and put up on the special site that is dedicated to The Fairground Booth project and is almost turning into a self sufficient blog. The latest blog post can be accessed here and refers to the role of neoplatonism in Blok's work and in The Fairground Booth in particular. A whole section will be included in the book which will accompany the film and will be included as part of the Russian Theatre Film Series.  



 I have had some difficulties with a section of the book which deals with a comparison of The Fairground Booth with one of Shakespeare's plays and which I will write about a little later. It comes as a result of reading Hoffman's "Princess Brambilla" and some of Alexander Tairov's comments about his production of the play in the early 1920s. Hoffman had a big influence on Russian theatre and the Russian Avant-garde as a whole.  

Sunday, 15 April 2018

David Burliuk and the Japanese Avant-garde screening in Moscow

I forgot to give an update on the screening of David Burliuk and the Japanese Avant-garde which took place on the 7th April 2018 at the Museum of Chuseyev in Moscow as part of the Sogetsu Ikebana exhibition marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the school by Sofu Teshigahara. There was a mad scramble to get the translation and subtitles in Russian finished before the screening. The text is quite philosophical and technical in places so that held up the translation a bit.  Most of it I was able to complete myself up to a point but then it all had to be checked and corrected and then put up over the original film. We managed to get something pretty much decent ready in time with one or two problems here and there but no one seemed to notice. 

As always a screening is nerve wracking experience and this was no exception. Also it is the first time I have screened one of my films in Russian to  a Russian audience. David Burliuk is unique because not only is he the "Father" of Russian futurism but he left Russia and spent 2 years in Japan up until 1922 before finally emigrating to America where he lived for the rest of his life with his family.
 
At the end of the film there was a long question and answer session about the film and about our journey to the island of Ogasawara, also known as the Bonin Islands,where we filmed. Burliuk spent several months on the islands during his stay in Japan. There is a book I wrote about our visit and the islands themselves - Journey to Ogasawara.

The film was warmly received  and there was strong interest in the other films in the series about the Russian Avant-garde as well as requests for an updated Russian translation of the book Journey to Ogasawara.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Biomechanics - Film released


The film Biomechanics is the latest in the series The Russian Theatre Film series. This film is a slight deviation from the documentary style films of Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-gardeStanislavsky and the Russian Theatre and Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre. It is a film without text, consisting only of the movements of the material which was shot for Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde.
Here  it has been extended and reworked to make a full 30 minute sequence of most of the experiments we worked on in a studio in Moscow with William Pease and Oksana Petrova performing the movements. The film itself is something of an experiment as were the performances  whereby we tried to find the essence of Meyerhold’s experiments in particular their graphic content.
As I have stated before this is not an instructional video about how to do biomechanics, it is not a reconstruction of Meyerhold’s acting techniques and a means for actors training. The film is more of an exploration to see what we could make of Biomechanics using the knowledge we had and improvising on some of the themes which Meyerhold’s experiments provided. It is in this spirit that the film is presented.
The whole film can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Japan Philosophical Landscapes - Release


Have been working constantly on the old film Japan Philosophical Landscapes film. Have made a new version in a different format and finally I managed to get an edited version which works. Certainly it is good enough to put up on Amazon Video Direct which I think is the perfect platform for this film. I never thought it would work on DVD. However I have since revised that opinion and I might release a DVD version as well. The Amazon video direct spot is perfect as it can be viewed as part of the Amazon Prime service which doesn't entail buying the film although the film earns money for the amount of hours it is viewed.  I have completed the closed captions. In many ways I have changed my attitude towards the film. I took it much too seriously and therefore feared criticism. Now I have an easier relationship to it and do not think of it as a real heavy laden piece of work but something much of an experiment - looser and adapted for the internet, concentrating more on the story rather  than the preciseness of the images. Some things have worked well, better than I expected. The film fits within the overall project Japan Philosophical landscapes which includes the film Tokyo Journey and David Burliuk and the Japanese Avant-garde as well as the book Journey to Ogasawara. The film can be downloaded here: Japan Philosophical Landscapes

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Fairground Booth book and film - News and progress









The last chapter of the first draft of The Fairground Booth is now being completed which will be the basis of the book. Why is this important. It is important becuase once the book is finsished and published a script will be adapted to make a film about Blok Meyerhold and The play "The Fairground Booth" This film is actually being edited already even though all the material has not been shot and the script is only part finished. Having said that, good progress has been made on this project and both the film and the book will make a significant contributiuon to The Russian Theatre Film Series

This series consists of 3 films: Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde, Stanislavsky and the Russian Avant-garde and Vakhtangov and the Russian Avant-garde Also included in the series is the book Michael Craig and the Russian Theatre Film Series 

I have decided to use the Copernicus Films site now as the main hub of all the material connected with my work. I have been using a blog (which I will continue to maintain) but this will be the centre where everything gets published and all the news is distributed and all the other sites I have will connect to this site. anything published on another site will end up here.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Michael Craig - Books

Journey to Ogasawara

In September 2005 we traveled from Moscow to Japan to make a film about the Russian futurist, poet and artist, David Burliuk, also known as the Father of Russian Futurism. The film was one of a six part series about the Russian Avant-garde. The visit involved a journey to Ogasawara for several days. This book is an account of our voyage to this island in the Pacific Ocean.



Purchase on Amazon



Encounters with the Russian Avant-garde


Encounters with the Russian Avant-garde complements the series of six films made by Michael Craig and Copernicus Films about the Russian Avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. Fully illustrated including stills from most of the films, it is not only an account or explanation but also an introduction or to be more specific an "encounter" with this exciting phenomenon. The title reflects an active relationship: firstly through the experience of living in Moscow for many years, plus a direct encounter with the buildings, the architecture and the very territory in which much of the avant-garde arose and to some extent still exists.

Purchase on Amazon

The Russian Theatre Film Series


The Russian Theatre Film Series is an account of this arts documentary series with all its pitfalls, successes, limitations and achievements. The three films which have so far been completed are "Meyerhold, Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde", "Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre" and "Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre". This book is part of the overall project - The Russian Theatre Film Series and is a milestone and a marker in this developing project. It is also a commentary on what it means to make an independent arts documentary film series in a foreign country namely Russia.

Purchase on Amazon

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tokyo Journey and Closed Captions on Amazon Video Direct

The short film Tokyo Journey is now available for download on Amazon Video Direct. View the clip here. Download it here. In due course a DVD will be available as well. Before it could become available on Amazon Video Direct it was necessary to provide Closed Captioning even though there is no dialogue in the film.


Closed captions is something that defeated me in getting my films ready and published on Amazon Video Direct. I use an Amazon company called Create Space to market my films on DVD and the Internet. Now DVDs are becoming more difficult to sell on the internet and downloaded films are becoming more important. In 2016 all my films (all eight of them) were migrated to The Amazon Direct Video Service so that they could only be downloaded and sold directly through Amazon. The criteria for publishing is quite specific and somewhat strict. One of the criteria are closed captions for the those whose hearing is impaired or are deaf. Closed captions are like sub titles. 

Closed captioning (CC) and subtitling are both processes of displaying text on a televisionvideo screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information. Both are typically used as a transcription of the audio portion of a program as it occurs (either verbatim or in edited form), sometimes including descriptions of non-speech elements.

This can be quite tricky but there is a way of doing it which can minimise the pain. Most non linear video editing programmed have a closed captioning facility. Go into the closed captioning facility and add the captions according to where the dialogue or text is located in the film. Once you have finished you render your film to which ever format you want and then save and export a srt. file which stored the textual data which can be used and matched by amazon when it is upload to your dashboard on Amazon Video Direct.

The editing programme I use is Vegas Video Pro. The process is as follows. Find the point in the timeline you wish to insert text into. Click on Insert and then command and the menu comes up. In the command box chose 608CC1. Then type your text in the comment box and press OK. Then repeat for all the other text you wish to insert as a closed caption. Rememeber also to change the Timecode format to Time and Frames.

To export the srt. film click on tools, scripting and chose export closed captioning for Youtube option

The process is different for Adobe Premier and other programmes but the priciples are similar.