Stuck in a Rut

We have reached that point in our film where although we can say that we have two thirds of the interviews we intended to get, we by no means can say our film is two thirds of the way done. We are really struggling to piece the interviews we have thus far together, and can all agree on one thing it is definitely lacking in a common thread. We do have one more interview to come however, this one with a very interesting man named Jason who started out as a mentalist/ magician and has now transitioned into being a psychic entertainer. We are really hoping he will be the missing piece to our puzzle, yet at the same time can not put all our eggs in one uncertain basket as we do not specifically what we will get, or if we will get anything useful at all.

To assist with getting ourselves out we have decided narration will be a perfect way to initialise the story and the thread, virtually setting everything up in an expository type manner. Using almost every history channel cliche` ever and making the whole thing a bit over the top we came up with this:

“Beyond the world of the five senses, lie subtler realms known only to the initiated. For, time is not what it seems, with one event following the next like an endless row of dominoes because according to the ancient scriptures – all events, past, present and future – unfold simultaneously through infinite parallel universes. It is the role of the fortune teller and psychic, to pierce the veil of the present and illuminate a path for those who seek to know. “

We are hoping to get it said by our final participant Jason, filming it on a green-screen to make the opening really strange – think him floating space, all seeing eyes opening and closing behind him, light illuminating from his hands – the works!! Stylistically we know what we want, and it won’t be your standard doco that’s for sure!!

Now we just have to hope our final interview goes well and get editing like crazy.


Interview 2: Barbara

We recently interviewed our second participant Barbara, a spiritual psychic who specialises in spirit drawings/ art. With a crew of four, Simon, Moses, Neha and I we headed down to Barbara’s house; she was a fascinating, warm and very genuine seeming woman who was keen to show us everything around her house that displayed the range of her abilities. The shoot went relatively well, and we got some particularly interesting stories one of the ones I found most intriguing regarding how she predicted that a bushfire would completely wipe-out a woman’s house destroying everything and leaving the yard covered in ash.

The spirit drawing component was also extremely interesting, in this section she looked beyond Simon’s head to connect with one of his spirit guides discovering he was an elder named Thadeus a writer who lived in germany around the 1700’s. She then proceeded to let the spirit come to her and draw his image as he would have appeared when he was alive in this world. As she drew with her pastels both spectacularly and brilliantly she had this heavy breathing going  on – which was ridiculously trippy to listen to whilst monitoring sound, wasn’t quite sure if there were spirits floating around or I was going insane or what for quite a while!!

We got quite a lot of footage from Barbara, however, it was very much on her times- for her she was really almost using it as a promotional tool it seemed to me at times and she was really in control of what she said when – often when asked saying, oh I’m going to talk about that later can we skip it for now. She also didn’t do the greatest job explaining what exactly spirit drawing was, which was a shame because visually that was one of the most interesting components. Another major problem we had was in regards to sound, during the interview portion there is a massive fridge buzz that is really over-bearing and barbara being soft spoken can at times be hard to hear. We have a lot of evaluating to do after this interview, our two participants thus far have both been incredibly different.

The First Shoot: Elizabeth

The first interview we had for our documentary was with a tarot reader named Elizabeth; being our very first shoot we had no idea what to expect or the general direction of the film. We did however gather a general sense of Elizabeth from speaking her to before hand the type of character she was which gave us big ideas to how we wanted the film stylistically. Elizabeth having done events such as hen nights and such also classed  her-self as an entertainer and was more than willing- (in fact she even suggested it) to amp it up and dress up in costume cape and all. Given this, we did want to make the framing and the lighting very dark and dramatic, and really wanted to get a tarot reading read directly down the barrel of the camera hoping to give the illusion that she was reading the fortunes of the audience.

The shooting went really smoothly, we had 3 crew members come along as Elizabeth felt that given her home setting any more would be too crowded. Simon was on sound, Michael was on camera and I was the interviewee. We had a two camera set-up with one stationary and one floating, which proved to be really efficient and provide  an adequate amount of cutaway and interview material. Despite a minor moment where the camera cut out just before we were finished with the reading component of the interview it was all smooth sailing- thankfully we had opted to shoot sound and video separately and still have the option of using sound over cutaway footage if necessary.

We were able to get quite a bit of information out of Elizabeth however, she wasn’t inclined or very willing to go too deep into the big and emotional things and would skim over them lightly. She provided a lot of general statements, and even the predictions given to me about my future were quite generalised: ie. there will be a man in your life very soon, someone will get married in the next couple of years etc. etc. This could potentially be a really good contrast to the other interviews, it is at the moment hard to know what we will use and how it will fit in with everything else we still need to get. We did get some great footage, with some truly beautifully framed and lit shots.

My Favourite Shot of the Day

Film-TV Archive Footage :: Trionfi: Tarot Playing Cards

This piece of archive footage could come in handy when it comes to the making of our own documentary as it has images of the cards within a tarot deck, which we would easily be able to pull apart and piece together as we wished!

The music in this piece of footage is also quite comical and whimsical, and musical along these lines may be fun to include at some point within the doco.

Film-TV Reenactment Inspiration :: Forbidden Lie$

One of my favourite documentaries of all time is Anna Broinowski’s reflexive documentary “Forbidden Lie$”, which sets out to explore and uncover the truth about best selling author & con-woman Norm Khouri’s deception.

One of my favourite elements within this documentary was a re-enactment scene constructed to the ‘truth’ of what Norma had written in her novel, this re-enactment containing cheesy elements such as Bollywood style music, driving off into the dessert hijab blowing in the wind and complete with the classic tooth sparkle ding! Then as respective parties weigh the truthfulness of what has been published, the events on screen are altered to reflect the difference between Khouri’s words and reality.  (For instance in one scene, Dalia’s brutal murder is dramatised on screen, ending with the actors involved rising and laughing, including the one playing the victim.)

I think a cheesy over dramatised re-enactment, in a similar style to Broinowski’s could work really well to begin our documentary. For instance starting out with the traditional hollywood gypsy fortune teller stereo-type (dressed to fit the part) sitting at a round table adorned with a red satin table cloth, a deck of tarot cards and a crystal ball. Smoke would fill the space creating a mystical mood along with typically mystic associated music. Any dialogue whispered in a creepy manner. This re-enactment could then be juxtaposed with the reality of tarot reading today, establishing and creating a stark contrast and setting the mood of the piece.

Film-TV Inspiration :: Decoding The Past – Secrets of the Playing Card

This History Channel documentary which focusses on the origins of playing cards as we know them today was rather fascinating. Its visual expository style worked really well, and the use of a voice-over narrative, mysterious music, graphics, sound-effects, relevant cutaways, and face to camera interviews with experts; really made for a good informative/ unveiling type of documentary style. I particularly thought the effect of having the cards seem as though they were floating around in a black space, before various zooms on particular cards was rather clever and a good way to interchange between points. This kind of effect could be really visually stunning with the use of tarot cards as opposed to playing cards. Graphics and animation something that we as a group should definitely consider.

At the 24 minute mark the documentary moves into talking about a different deck of cards, which directly relates to our theme! The mystical deck of the tarot cards!! – note I really thought the fast manic pace of the cuts between cards and the eerie/mystic styled music worked perfectly for the tarot theme. The angle exploring the egyptian origins and the myth of gypsies as the first to bring the cards to europe, an interesting way to bring in both the history and the stereotypical gypsy association.

After doing some research into the origins of tarot, which no one is a hundred percent certain of despite the many, many theories; it was interesting to hear a new story delivered by both the ‘voice-of-god’ style narrator which indicated historians believed the tarot deck was created as an addition to the standard playing card deck for the duke of Milan, the richest man in Italy at the time. The extra suit called triumphe or triumphs, was that they beat the ordinary cards. The suit consisted of a set of 21 cards each with a symbolic picture on them, were added to the standard deck of 56 playing cards, a further playing card known as The Fool then brought the standard tarot deck to the total to 78. Thus they were made to originally play games with not for the occult. But the striking symbolism of the design of the tarot separated these cards, which had no definitive explanation, separated the cards from any other. Then there is all the templar symbolism, and the legends of the knights and the Holy Grail! Some even believing their secrets were preserved on the tarot for future generations, being able to keep them hidden yet broadcast them at the same time.

The documentary brought up many questions too, one being if the tarot deck was made for fun and games why were sinister images such as the skeleton of death, the devil, the hanged man and the burning tower included?  The fortune telling aspect of the cards, as I had discovered in prior research went back to a french man named Ettelia who was the first and most professional of the fortune tellers, assigning several meanings to each card. Each card having various meanings once reversed or in different positions. The immense symbolism within each card playing a key role in these meanings, capturing the attention of many occultists who came up with various theories. The cards have even played a role in the art of voodoo, priestesses claiming the cards can give directions.

Overall, this documentary was enlightening on just how immense and mysterious the tarot deck actually is; and that the history could be a potential and very fascinating angle to head in, in regards to our documentary. The immense symbolism of the cards has truly grabbed my attention and I am rather fascinated by the enigma of it all. The mood of this particular documentary, however, is a lot more intense in style than what we are aiming for. At this moment int time we want to keep it more whimsical, bright, light-hearted and mystical.