Work on the set is creative effort in extremely unfavourable conditions. The crew work under time pressure and against difficulties which seem to conspire against the film. Each take is almost snatched from the throat of a monster whose aim is to prevent the film from being made, and has attacked using any possible weapon – bad weather, actor’s illness, conflict between the cameraman and the director. Situation is like before a Christmas Eve dinner, when nothing is ready and the guests are arriving in five minutes. And on top of that, in the centre of it all there is a strange camera’s eye that is supposed to record the making of the whole film.
Great masters of cinematography – Andrei Tarkovsky or Akira Kurosawa – have in their output film materials documenting their work on the set. It is difficult to say whether a similar tradition existed in the Polish cinematography – on the one hand, the filmmakers were often visited by the Polish Film Chronicle, and on the other – only few films’ production process is accompanied by a documentary about it. A prerequisite for recording good film set material is certainly the director’s trust in its author.
Films presented during the festival Etiuda&Anima 2015 represent various documentary forms. From pure recordings (Andrzej Wajda liked On the Set/Na Planie by Jerzy Ziarnik so much that he planned to incorporate its fragments into his film Everything for Sale (Wszystko na sprzedaż), a documentary with narrator’s voice off the camera (150 days of the Pharaoh/150 dni Faraona), to a film joke like, without a doubt, Kieślowski’s Slate (Klaps). Kieslowski’s title slate creates the film’s reality, and at the same time reveals its symbolic nature; it also stresses a certain absurdity of the situation. Delivering the same lines many times (“what a lot of rubbish” is repeated by a person during the meeting), and presenting actors’ mistakes or unintentionally comic situations seem to constitute arguments supporting a thesis which in Kieśowski’s work reads: making a film is not a serious undertaking. Paradoxically, it is in this short (in which the film machinery appears not even once) where the whole specificity of a film set is visible – its repetitiveness, boredom and symbolism of the created world. After the sound of the slate a bloke bursts out laughing and the actors start off with a heavy piece of furniture. And then – one more time, and again one more time…
Films from the set presented during the festival were made by directors and cameramen who impressed a permanent mark in the Polish cinematography. This is what gives them additional value, apart from the pleasure of looking behind the scenes that they provide.
Polish making of
Rotunda (large screening room)
28th November (Saturday), 2.30 p.m.