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Sundance Labs: “There is no end. Everything that’s happened will be carried forward.”

[ Filmmaker concludes its exclusive look inside the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs (which wraps up at the end of the week) with a final entry from Filmmaker Braden King [pictured above], who’s been posting weekly stories on his experience at the Labs.

His project is titled Here, co-written by himself and Dani Valent, and follows an American mapmaker charting the Armenian countryside who’s traveling with an adventurous landscape photographer revisiting her homeland.

King has directed music videos and short films for Sonic Youth, Will Oldham and Yo La Tengo. He co-directed the film Dutch Harbor: Where The Sea Breaks Its Back.]

Sunday, June 24, 2007 – 12:10 A.M.

I am sitting on the floor of the bathroom with my laptop as my wife and kids sleep in the other room. They’ve been visiting for the weekend that divides the production side of the Directors Lab from its final week — the Screenwriters Lab. It seems hard to believe that I’ll have to be leaving here soon. I wonder if anyone’s ever just refused to go.

The actors and crews have left; it’s all quieting down. A separate Documentary Lab has kicked in but we don’t have a ton of interaction with those folks. The vibe has changed. It’s not better or worse, but it’s different, more reflective, slower. The Institute folks keep telling us that this is a week of recovery. I’m still deciding whether or not I want to recover.

My co-writer, Dani Valent has arrived from Melbourne, Australia. We had a couple of great one-on-one meetings on our script today – one with Howard Rodman this morning, the other with Atom Egoyan this afternoon. After dinner tonight, Atom screened a print of The Sweet Hereafter for a small group in the screening room and discussed the film and its production afterward. Dani and I walked up the mountain trying not to let our chatter about the day distract us from the landscape. We collaborated on our script long distance; this is the first time we’ve been in the same place in almost six years. It feels like we just saw each other yesterday. In many ways, we did.

Talk to me, trees. Talk to me, river. Tell me what to write. What do I remember? I close my eyes. I remember Lubna Azabal spontaneously singing “Rhythm of the Night” (no –- NOT the Lionel Richie song, the Corona song that closes out Claire Denis’ Beau Travail -– remember Denis Lavant’s fantastic dance?) on set the first day of shooting. I took this as the very good omen that it turned out to be. I remember the snowball fight that broke out in the meal tent after Institute Executive Director Ken Brecher dropped a huge chunk of snow he’d brought down the mountain into the middle of the room. (See the photo that accompanied my first missive from the Lab. Yes, that is Michelle Satter front and center, winding up. She’s got wicked aim, by the way.) I remember the first time our scenes were projected. How overwhelming it was to see all of that great work that had happened so fast. It never stopped being overwhelming, even into the final scene screenings this week. I can and can’t keep going with this. I can’t, because if I do, I’ll still be typing when the sun comes up and I still won’t be close to half finished.

I do not remember arriving.

There is no end. Everything that’s happened will be carried forward, everything that’s happened will continue to evolve and change. I’ve failed to scratch the surface.

I go back to where I started – my own lack of ability to fully articulate what goes on here. As I’ve written, yes, we do shoot scenes, work with actors and crews, talk with advisors, screen films, stay up late, exhaust and use up all of ourselves. But something greater has transpired. Something about it all eventually even transcends making movies.

There’s a flow, an energy, a spirit, a life.

I go back to the river.

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