Been off the grid for awhile. Here's a video I just finished up with Bloodroot Blades that I filmed a few months back. It was a pleasure to just be in the background and watch as these friends were masterfully forging these gorgeous knives.
I wanted to do something different this time. I am kind of tired of the traditional journalistic interview approach and went in to film with the intention of not getting in the way of the craft of their knife making with a sit-down interview or pre-lit scenes or a storyboard, etc. It's overdone. It's every reality show and mini-doc out there. It takes the magic out of so much of filmmaking for me. I feel like some things are best left unexplained and ought to just be experienced. So with this particular video, which I filmed on a whim as a passion project, everything you see is the way it happened. In some ways, that feels almost more cinematic to me than totally controlled environments where the foot candles are measured precisely and the crew is managed nicely and the scripts are in order or whatever. It was just me and and my camera. Hopefully, sometimes they forgot I was even there...
I wanted people to feel what it is like to be in the woods in Arnoldsville, GA with Luke and David as they are putting their bodies and brains and creativity to the limits as they are making these refined pieces out of such raw materials. There's so much science involved. It is hard on their bodies and such a physical job. It is this mysterious process that unfolds through an incredible amount of skill and knowledge and fire and grit and sweat. I was a like a little kid mesmerized by all of the cinematic moments surrounding me that day. Grateful to just be a wallflower.
Anyway, I was merely playing around with this whole idea. Got inspired by Fire At Sea's director Gianfranco Rosi when I read an interview he did where he went in with the same intention. No interviews, no script, no real answers - just a pure documentary film experience via an artist's interpretation. It's a gorgeous film. Check it out.
This approach is definitely hard and requires more time (I think he spent a year on the same island with his camera), but the resulting quietness/minimalism/slowness in cinematic feel is worth it, I think. The Birth of Sake was another recent doc that inspired me with a similar approach - quiet, patient, unobtrusive, yet filmic, cinematic and gorgeous in its depiction of a world often unseen and under-appreciated by others. I was brought to tears during this film...probably mostly because I miss 日本。
I often find myself making excuses for my work to others and this BB video helped me to realize I don't need to do that anymore. It's MY work. It's MY interpretation of something that happened to me and around me. And I've been mulling over the length and slowness of the video and realized that if someone can't sit through 5 1/2 minutes of slow footage of these brilliant guys laboring intensely to pump out a mere 4 knives on a daily basis, then that person does not deserve to hold one of these impeccable creations in their hands!
I probably won't do this every time I film, but it was just another test in the never-ending pursuit of filmmaking. Like they say, boundaries and limits cause you to be more creative and to take your time and to think things through. It also causes you to pay attention more and be on your feet ready to capture something.
I hope to keep up experiments like this and to keep pushing myself in my approach and not grow complacent. I also hope to just keep growing as a filmmaker because I genuinely love it - the craftmanship David and Luke exhibit is what I aspire to in my work as well.
Music courtesy of Nick Kuepfer! A cool guy up in Montreal, Quebec. Check him out!
Thanks again to Bloodroot Blades for letting me invade your space for a day. Keep up the amazing work!