Tokyo Journey – New film release
The new film about Tokyo is finally released from Michael Craig and Copernicus Films:
A short film about Tokyo and its unseen character. I don’t really know how to explain but if you spend a long time in Tokyo you start to feel the hidden world which lies beneath the electric and neon façade. Traces of a dream world or forgotten world which belies the ultra modern appearance of Tokyo and which seems to be a continuance of some other parallel world existing in the past but in some way eternal and forever present. Noh dramas give a whiff of this other world and how it can creep up on you. Usually the waki, an itinerant monk, old man or traveler meets a local person whom he questions about the the history of the area. As the conversation continues the waki draws out the shite’s story it gradually becomes clear that the shite is the ghost of a historical figure who is still clinging to this world either through desire for revenge or anger,or a desire for love. The ghost often asks the waki to pray for them to be released so they can be reborn in the Amida Buddha’s western paradise. The swirling neon dream world of Tokyo with its episodic visual context opposed to the spatial coordinates that we are normally used to in most cities, disrupt the senses which feast on the abundance of light which subvert structure and the visual plane.
The Cityscape of Tokyo is a text-scape a kind of anti landscape. The city, a symbol which stands for something but also has its own intrinsic meaning- an hieroglyph We live in the age of light and nowhere is light, luminosity, a feature of the urban landscape as it is in Tokyo – it flows around and through the city like a liquid radiance.
The Quintessential city of light and its neon landscape casts a luminous dome across the night sky turning dark night into a phosphorescent panorama. This urban phenomena of the night reminds us of the ancients of Japan who feared the darkness and longed for the dawn, for the comfort of clear light, for the sun goddess Amaterasu to remain.The film which is in post production will form a journey through the streets and known regions of Tokyo revealing anomalies which occur at boundaries which separate the apparent from the real and the interface between the sentient world and a hidden non sentient world. Its a phenomenon which occurs everywhere in Japanese literature. Murakami in Kafka on the Shore explains that the Tale of the Genji is filled with living spirits which could sometimes travel through space often unbeknownst to themselves.
The world of the grotesque is the darkness inside us, what could be called our subconscious which was obvious to people and gave a focus for their fears. Until the invention of electric light the world was in darkness, the physical darkness and the darkness of our souls were mixed together with no boundary between them. In their past living spirits of literature such as Ueda Akinari who wrote “Tales of Darkness and Moonlight” living spirits were both a grotesque phenomenon and a natural condition of the human heart and people of that time were unable to conceive of these two things as being separate. However the darkness in the outside world has vanished but the darkness in our heart remains just as before. It remains sunken in our subconscious and as Murakami points out that estrangement can create a deep contradiction or confusion inside us.
Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre – Release announcement
The Russian Film Archive at Krasnogorsk – Filming in Russia
Russia has some of the most outstanding collections of film archive. The documentary film collection is housed at Krasnogorsk which is a small town just outside Moscow. I remember my first trip to Krasnogorsk where I was able to acquire archive footage for many of my films including Rodchenko and the Russian Avant-garde and Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Theatre.
The system is straight forward and everything is delivered on a format of your choosing. Once you get the material up on the moviola and run it through its one of the most extraordinary feelings to see this material from maybe 80 years ago coming alive in front of your eyes. Films by Ziggy Vertov, “Man with Film Camera”, Eisenstein, “Battleship Potemkin” and Esfir Shub who directed “The Fall of The Romanovs” in 1927. She was a pioneer in the genre of compilation film, in the use of historical footage, and in recreating historical scenes in order to shoot new footage.
Many of my film making friends in Russia who hail from the soviet time are forever extolling the virtues of film, they talk about the smell, the feel and the sheer tactile sensation of handling celluloid. Even though I have grown up using tape and and now digital, when you first open those cans and get to handle original material its a magnificent feeling and a powerful sensation of participating in a rich history.
For more information about the film production services that Copernicus Films can offer in Russia click here
Filming in Russia
With regard to filming in Russia, Michael Craig first worked on a sprawling BBC drama in St Petersburg twenty years ago. We filmed everywhere from morgues, to hospitals to the main police headquarters and even the prison, as well as locations all over the city. With a crew and actors of 140 or so the main problem was finding enough food to feed them each day over a three month shooting schedule when food was not easily available in those days. No one could say it was easy but then this was the early 90s. The last day of shooting coincided with the storming of the White House in Moscow, so conditions were not ideal. However despite all the problems the film got made and was within budget. Things have changed a lot since then.
When Michael Craig first moved to Moscow and was invited to visit Mosfilm, the studio was in quite a dilapidated state and morale was very low. A year or so ago he was invited to the Mosfilm studio as part of a delegation of diplomats to view the studios with the aim of showcasing Mosfilm and its facilities. Karen Shakhnazarov, the Russian director had been charged with the revamping and modernisation of the studios a few years previous. The transformation was astounding. The grounds had been neatly laid out, new buildings had appeared and old ones had been completely renovated and updated. The sound studios (the biggest in Europe) had been updated to the highest standards and a whole 19th century Russian town had been built as a set in the grounds of the Mosfilm complex. It displays a commitment to and understanding of what a foreign film company would require to make a film here in Russia.
As a director, Shakhnazarov set himself the task of outfitting Mosfilm with equipment and standards which he himself would want for any film he would make. With this in mind he went about the task of changing Mosfilm into a world class film making facility. The transformation of Mosfim is indicative of the new conditions which make it a great place to make films
Since that time Michael Craig has been involved in several large scale productions in Moscow as well working with numerous smaller companies and organisations in Moscow. Michael Craig founded Copernicus Films which has made eight documentary films independently in Moscow, an opera and interviews and journalistic projects. With the right guidance and support anybody can have a positive experience making films in Russia in a stable environment. Michael Craig and Copernicus Films’s twenty years working here in Russia, making contacts and establishing a sound business base has given him the insights and experience to offer such a service and benefit those companies or individuals wanting to come here and shoot a film project. No project is too large or too small for us and advice can be tailored to individual projects as required.
The Russian Avant-garde Film Series – Slide Show
The Russian Avant-garde – Renaissance or revolution – Book of the film series
Book of the film series – More about the book I am writing in conjunction with the Russian Avant-garde film series. The series of six arts documentary films is already complete and has been for some time. They consist of:
Alexander Rodchenko and the Russian Avant-garde
Architecture and the Russian Avant-garde
Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-gardeKandinsky and the Russian House
David Burliuk and the Japanese Avant-garde
I have always wanted to write a book based on the material in the 6 films but also including additional material which I have collected over the years as well as much material which could not be included in the films themselves. I have now started the book and I am well into writing and collating material. The point of the book will be to expand the subjects outwards and in depth both visually and textually. Plus I will add material like interview transcripts and new articles. As yet there is no dedicated site for the book but that may change in the future. For the time being I will make post here or on copernicusfilms.com+Michael Craig and Copernicus Films
J-FEST Moscow 2011. Festival of Contemporary Japanese Culture
In his lecture he spoke about contemporary Japanese landscapes from the perspective of Japanese culture.
Takayuki Suzuki: “Situated in the Far East, modern Japan is one of the centers of world culture and therefore for understanding the future we need to talk about the features of Japanese culture, characteristic of the Japanese urban landscape and everyday life of Japanese youth”.
New Copernicus Films storefront for purchase of DVDs in UK
Have been updating the web site to include a store front which specifically gives the opportunity for those in the UK who are interested in buying Copernicus Films DVDs the opportunity to do so. Previously it was necessary to buy the disc on Amazon.com in the USA and pay for shipping to the UK. People have been approaching me on social websites and by e-mail wanting to purchase the discs in the UK. Now there is a facility to purchase disc in the UK with free shipping. Check here for more information. Alternatively click on the tab above PURCHASE DVDs ON LINE and in the sub menu click “Purchase DVDs in the UK”
Process" in Film making in relation to "The Fairground Booth
Making my way around Moscow to meetings and checking out various possibilities, cameras etc, for the films. The last few days have been a question of working out a tone and style for the film adaptation of The Fairground Booth. The accompanying documentaries in the project “Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre” and “Carnival in Russian Theatre” are relatively straight forward with the stress on relatively. However a film adaptation of Blok’s play is distinctly problematic. Firstly, there are many stereotypical takes on the main characters -Pierrot, Columbine and Harlequin which I want to avoid. I aim to find a particular tone and style for the production and this will effect the overall design for the play, costumes set and general look. This will take time so the best thing is to continue with the shooting script and background research to all the three films. This will provide the necessary depth once some of the other questions begin to get solved. Its a similar situation I faced in the film “Alexander Rodchenko and the Russian Avant-garde”. It was the first film I made in Moscow and required scenes showing Rodchenko at work at his desk and other scenes of Rodchenko. For an extended account about the making of this film click here.
In this film I needed to solve two basic problems. The style in which I would shoot and casting the role of Rodchenko. It took a long time and followed a specific process of finding the right person for the role. A similar process is emerging once again whereby there are a lot of questions and and you have to wait for some of the answers.