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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back in Tokyo, back to editing KINGYO

Kudou Amane as The Wife in Kingyo

I've returned to Tokyo since Sunday night. It's been a hectic few days. I actually had a film shoot in Klang on Saturday and had managed to do another quick short film with the help of Lesly and Han, that film was an experiment with the Nikon D90, which I saw Ming Jin and Lesly used for their short film, THAT DAY WE WOKE UP. To be able to complete another short film, what a joy!

Yet now that I've returned to editing KINGYO, my poor Japanese short film that I've left in the can since January (and did a bit of editing late February during my one-week stint in Tokyo), I find myself having some problems trying to work on it. Being separated from the project for so long is one reason, I think it also had to do with my involvement in so many other productions since KINGYO. Since my KINGYO shoot, I've done:

- The editing of THAT DAY WE WOKE UP, a short film that actually took me a while to edit not due to its complication (Ming Jin and Lesly took only a few hours to shoot it), but because I had to switch from my PC laptop (it nearly died trying to handle HD videos) to a Mac, and familiarize myself with the Final Cut Pro.

- And then there's the shoot for the feature film, WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER. Not only am I the producer of the film, I was also editing it.

- And finally, the short film I shot in Klang just a day before flying off to Tokyo.

During my involvement in the three aforementioned projects, I was looking through numerous references for research, in order to help with their development. Ming Jin's short film and feature film veer towards naturalism, somewhat edgy and dark, so the films I went through for research were from the likes of Kore-eda, Reygadas, etc. Based on the documentary-like approach (especially the former) they have towards filmmaking.

And I also started poring over videos and films of the French New Wave in order to aid me as I prepared for my latest short film. I watched Truffaut's JULES ET JIM, and searched through my own memories of other French New Wave works I've seen, I still remember how much I hated Godard's MY LIFE TO LIVE when I first saw it few years ago, and find it ironic that I was drawing from it for inspiration as well.

So, with all these floating clearly in my mind, coming back to KINGYO after all these months was a slight shock. I wasn't sure whether it's in a good way or in a bad way. As I started throwing myself into the editing process again immediately after I got back to Tokyo, some slight doubts started surfacing. It's always advisable for one to stay away from his film for a while before starting the editing process, so that one can be more detached and objective towards footage. If I had edited KINGYO immediately after the shoot, I'll be so intoxicated by excitement and sense of self-satisfaction that I'll probably overlook most of its flaws. I'll be swept away by the excitement and enthusiasm of the rest of the crew. My constant desire to experiment with style and form in filmmaking became a slight impediment, KINGYO, so different from the subsequent short film I shot, felt a little unfamiliar and 'cold'. It's like getting to know an estranged family member again.

Slowly I had to adjust my own senses, remembering that KINGYO, unlike the films I've done since then, was less cynical or edgy, and more stylized. I forgot that I was drawing more from the likes of (mid-90s) Wong Kar Wai and Shunji Iwai and other visual stylists of that sort, I also drew from music videos etc. Characters in the film are not the dispassionate and rebellious protagonists of a French New Wave film. So I had to sort of erase my latest state of mind, banish images of Jeanne Moreau and Anna Karina and try to recapture how I felt during the making of the film. As I did that, more possibilities opened themselves to me.

Even so, I don't think KINGYO will be that easy to edit.