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Sundance Labs: “I feel everything becoming much more about a solidification of process.”

[ Filmmaker continues its exclusive look inside the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs. Every Monday Filmmaker Braden King [pictured] will be posting a weekly story on his experience at the Labs until its conclusion on June 28.

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 17, 2007

It’s 10:42 P.M. I have to get to bed. Another shoot starts in the morning. Two days.

I walked home through the mountains from the Saturday night party (well, O.K., after party) as dawn was breaking this morning. We danced until 5:30 A.M. — fellows, advisors, crew members alike. The sky, blue black, led the way home.

There is literally no time. This is a good thing. It’s beginning to sink in: What we are learning is how to use all of ourselves. To give ourselves over. To put ourselves into it, into the film. Because if you try to get out of it more than you give, that’s when it all falls apart.

My youngest son turned two today — on the other side of the country.

* * *
We had a great group of advisors in this week. Fernando Leon De Aranoa (Director), Keith Gordon (Actor / Director), Catherine Hardwicke (Director), Andrew Mondshein (Editor), Ueli Steiger (Cinematographer) and Alfre Woodard (Actor). The vibe was good — supportive but tough. They had a great sense of when to get involved and when to lay off. It seemed to me that we all took enormous jumps forward with our work this week.

My six-day week consisted of two edit days, a rehearsal day, a shoot day, another edit day and then another rehearsal day for the scenes I’ll be shooting this week. On top of that we had advisor meetings, night screenings and script readings and the aforementioned, very necessary Saturday night party. No day was shorter than 15 or 16 hours. Most were longer. It passed in about five seconds.

We had today “off,” but this afternoon I set up a screening of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Distant, which I’d never seen on the big screen. Right after that, we had a fellows meeting at 4:00, a reception for this week’s new advisors at 5:00, a scene screening at 6:00, and then dinner and another screening after that. If you’re waiting for me to return an e-mail or call, now you know why it’s taking so long. It’s not you, it’s me.

The tentativeness of our first week of shooting has faded. It was exciting to see everyone starting to play their instruments without thinking so hard about which levers to press at the scene screening tonight. The week we’re heading into is the last of three shoot weeks. As we turn the corner into the home stretch, I feel everything becoming much more about a solidification of process. We’ve started to find our individual grammar. The next step is to lock it in, to make it instinctual, second nature.

You have to be rigorous. You have to listen to the voice and you have to go deep. You have to be in. You have to obsess. You cannot do it half way. Be demanding.


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