Sunday, June 21, 2009

shooting begins!

At long last, Nureyev is in front of the cameras, and as of this writing, the company is at the end of day 2 of 6 days. Five of the days are occurring now and will finish on Wednesday. A sixth day will be shot at a later time, when all of the "documentary" interview footage will be shot in a church sanctuary.

It is always very exciting for me the first day I am on set of one of Moze's movies. It is very thrilling to see his hard work come to life, through all the incredible hard work of others. And it always seems like a very natural place for him to be. My few hours there fell at the end of the day with the shooting of a sequence from the early life of Nureyev, being guided by his teacher, Pushkin. This was a new sequence for me: I had not seen it in rehearsal so it was interesting to see it evolve before me. It is one of the more narrative sequences, in which young Rudik's talent is observed and developed lovingly by his mentor, while his parents looks on with differing responses.

Pursuant to Moze's vision for this work, the set is a simple dance space with a rear view projection acting as the only backdrop. (This picture is shot from behind the projection screen and dance space. You can see the projector at right of the frame.) These projections are sometimes images that evoke place: in the sequence I observed for instance, the unmistakeable, gorgeous, gold domes of the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg serve as a backdrop for a narrative profile of the young dancer's life while training with the Kirov ballet.

I keep seeing people who crewed on Roxana, Moze's last film. In this regard it was a pleasure to meet up again with Mary and Madeleine who are doing make-up and hair, respectively, on Nureyev. While I was there, focus was on Nico's hair - and how to best represent the famed Russian dancer's 'do'. In the picture above, Moze, Madeleine and others confer. At right, Madeleine goes back to work on it.

Although the budget has been trim on this project, costs have been sunk into a few key pieces of equipment that will end up making all the difference to the quality of expression in the film. One is the enormous hanging balloon light (and I will have to find out the real name of it!) that is suspended from the ceiling over the set. Its diffusion creates a very lyrical and expressive space that is both warm and theatrical while also uniquely cinematic in its capacity to bring out faces especially on camera. Another significant contributor is the jimmyjib crane that dips and swivels around the action almost like a dancer itself. In the picture at top, the rear projection is visible on the monitor of the jimmyjib crane operator. In person, it resembled a small aircraft of some kind! Quite impressive. In the picture here, Moze chats with producer, Peter Gentile during a moment between takes.

During a break, I too got a chance to chat briefly with Peter, who was pleased with how things were going. At that particular moment, the company was running ahead of schedule, an almost unheard of thing, especially for a first day. After conversing with Assistant Director Derek Rappaport and Dylan Macleod, who is the D.O.P, a decision was made to try to pick up some of the smaller pieces from the enormous list of shots put on today (Sunday)'s schedule. As I left for the day, Moze was seated in front of the two monitors, waiting to work on close-ups of Tyler and others. The day was nearly done and it had been a good one. More tomorrow!

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