'Cyce-Re' Trailer. 2016
A tribute to Maya Deren, Cycle RE is led by the idea that nothing is truly original and everything is a part of a growing spiral of adaptation. A collaboration between Ana Marija Marinov (filmmaker), Monika Voisnyte (choreographer/dancer), and Vismante Ruzgaite (DOP), Cycle RE was created during a two-week Summer Media Studio in Lithuania.
Writer/Director/Editor: Ana Marija Marinov
DOP/Editor: Vismante Ruzgaite
Choreographer/Dancer: Monika Voisnyte
Release date: 2016
DOP/Editor: Vismante Ruzgaite
Choreographer/Dancer: Monika Voisnyte
Release date: 2016
Artist Interview: ANA MARIJA MARINOV
ANA MARIJA MARINOV details
Vimeo: Ana Marija Marinov
IntervieW Transcript: ANA MARIJA MARINOV
What inspired you to make a film that is led by the idea that nothing is original. And that everything is a part of a growing spiral of discovery and adaptation?
AM Marinov: For a long time I was preoccupied with trying to find ways to make something that has not been made, or think in a way that has not been thought, or be able to add something new. But then I realized that everything lies on something that's already been there and the only thing that is constant is ever changing-ness of things. So if I would accept that things always change, and if I would accept that they come from something that already existed, then at the end it's true that it's a spiral of something that was already there. Of course, there's this thinking that ideas could come as pure matter from I don't know where, and I wouldn't say that this is for sure not real, but I think the way we live our lives is through adaptation and things that we experienced and saw even with a glimpse of our eye, might have stayed somewhere and developed into something much bigger years later.
In a way, it's a realisation that we are creatively indebted to the history of art making; that the ideas have their legacies in something that's been done before. That we are this continuous flow of creativity. And one of the beautiful dance filmmakers that we are quite inspired by in making Dance Cinema is Maya Deren. And I know that your film Cycle Re is a tribute to her and I'm assuming that that is because of this thought that there is a legacy behind your own visual interests and your own creativity.
AM Marinov: Definitely. For example, for this specific film I was always having in mind ‘A Study in Choreography for Camera’. It's her third film, and it's the film where she's actually completely trying to break the physical boundaries of theatre and trying to break this idea of a three-walled stage, and free the human body completely from this. The techniques she used then were quite astonishing for the time because she was really combining the choreography with the camera work and editing. And what I found interesting is when I was reading about this film there was also an interview with her from I think 1945 when she said that she made this film as a sample for dance films and this in a way was like, as I understood it personally, Ok this is my research and I kind of give it to all the other dance filmmakers to be able to maybe think in different ways. She really opened a little window. I haven't seen anyone breaking physical space in the way that she did with editing, where a person starts a movement in a jungle and ends up in an apartment.
In your film, one of my favorite scenes is when a dancer slips from the boat onto the tennis court. So now I'm realizing that's a direct reference to Maya Daren.
AM Marinov: Yeah yeah. The editing style is definitely a reference and a tribute to her. The thing that I also wanted to explore when I worked with the dancer was to create movements that are circular. She basically did the whole choreography, my input in it was very minimal, I just wanted her to create the choreography and then put her in spaces where she could repeat it, where this choreography would develop in very different ways. I didn't want her to develop a choreography especially for the inside of a car, or for a tennis court. I actually wanted to make it as an experiment and to have her in a car and then see what happens. So the editing technique is definitely a tribute. And then this part with the choreography, I think this is how we live. We find ourselves in unexpected situations and we still carry all the patterns of behavior that we've been building for years. So now we have to use what we have and find our way in the surrounding that we're in. So sometimes we'll end up in a very small car, and sometimes we’ll end up on a big tennis court, or on a boat.
So she's basically performing the same movements in different locations?
AM Marinov: Exactly. Although they sometimes don't even look the same because they're very adapted to the space she's in. Of course you wouldn't be able to do the jump that she does on an open space, in the car. But there are elements of each part of the choreography in every location.
And that's also how the idea of recycling is introduced into the film because the movement is recycled throughout the film... How many different locations are we seeing in the final edit?
AM Marinov: So… the first one was at the sea where we just started with circular movements. Then we go to the boat. From the boat we go to the tennis court. From the tennis court, we go to the car. And then we end up on the pier.
So we return to the sea which is another circular moment…
AM Marinov: Yeah… where she ends up in the sea actually.
And what is the significance of that final shot where she ends up in the sea? And what is the significance of water in general?
AM Marinov: Well I was thinking a lot actually how to end the film, should I end it before she jumps in the water, should I end it when she jumps in the water... And then…. for me water is something very wild, something I can't even imagine how rich it is and how immense… I've been born and raised at sea and it's a place that makes me feel so comforted and at the same time it's so powerful, so vast and kind of enormous and standing on a boat in the middle of the sea always feels like being just a little tiny piece of this world. I think the sea in this case was just the idea that anything that happens next is completely unexpected as it is always in life. Anything after this is possible because for me the feeling of being in water is really like anything is possible… Also in my mind the ideas that come to me while I'm floating in water are usually much more, I don't know if I could say much more interesting but I can say that I feel like when immersed in the water the whole surrounding world just goes silent and there's, there's so much space for what's inside to develop.
So do ideas come to you in general when you are in the water or by the water?
AM Marinov: Very often… or at least that's the time when I feel like I have time to think, time to dedicate to myself and to the projects… Yeah for sure. Water makes me… makes me feel calmer. And makes me feel more focused.
Is there a certain ritual that you maybe have before you go and shoot a scene? Something that helps you enter specific creative mood?
AM Marinov: Well, I am not very good, for example, at storyboarding. I'm not gonna be able to sketch every single part. The first time I get an idea I always have the whole thing in my head. So from the beginning to the end, the film rolls in my head and then I try to put it on paper. I try to do it as precisely as I can. For some people it's very easy, for me I think it's gonna be a whole life exercise. And I feel it's actually easier to explain it to someone. So for example with the DOP it was really nice to be able to have this chance… On this residence we had a really big freedom… We had equipment and time and all the possible resources to just find our location, come there and just try out an experiment and see what works. So I would say the ritual would be just to have enough time with myself if I'm shooting or with the DOP to try things out.
Tell me more about this residency ... What is the Summer Media Studio as part of which this film developed?
AM Marinov: The Summer Media Studio has been going on for about 20 years and it's organized by the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater and usually it works as a two-week workshop residency project. In the year that I was there the theme was dance for screen, which they had a few years before as well. So sometimes the themes repeat, sometimes even the tutors repeat. The year that I was there we were staying at the NIDA Arts Colony which is a beautiful artist residence space that was built by the Academy and it's on the sea side. And we had two tutors - Helena Jonsdottir and Jeannette Ginslov - and basically how it works is that they put together creative people that are able to form a team for a particular project. So in this case we had DOPs, editors, directors, choreographers and dancers. When we came there the first few days we all had dance workshops which was amazing because everyone could participate. We could also see the dancers improvising which was kind of their version of pitching. And after that, after these two first days of getting to know each other and seeing people's preferences and the ways they think, and also trying to physically get to know each other which I think is very important because often the people behind the camera just stay behind the camera, and to have this experience makes you be able to understand more how you can work with movement if you have ever been a part of a movement. ... And then we had to pitch our projects. And some projects were chosen to be made into films and then we were put in teams, somewhat by our preferences, somewhat by the decisions of the mentors ….
And how long was the residency?
AM Marinov: Two weeks.
And how much of that time was divided to making of the film?
AM Marinov: I would say the actual filming and editing part was about seven full days.
And you had to finish the edit before you left the residency?
AM Marinov: Yeah we had a screening and awards ceremony at the end so everything had to be finished by the screening which meant people were working the last days 24 hours round the clock.
So you didn't had much time to find locations or the car or all these things?
AM Marinov: Logistics were set so we had equipment, we had vehicles, we had editing stations… Basically we had to have an idea, work with the choreographer and dancer, find the locations, shoot it, edit it. Everything else around the production part was taken over by the organization and in every team we had a producer, a person taking care of everything - the contracts being signed, getting the permissions for the locations, etc.
My first pitch was .. The idea was there, the same idea that came out in the film was 100 percent there but it was so complicated. It included ten dancers and this and that and actually a part of it was contained in this theatrical vision. I had this idea of breaking the space but I realized it was very conservative. And then the more I started thinking about it, the more I realized the idea that Maya Daren had in The perfect form being the ever changeigness of things is connected to this breaking of the spatial boundaries. So I realized that this doesn't make sense to keep things in three walls and the stage, the audience being in front of this fourth wall but actually I could try to play a bit with this… At least with these three walls, I don't think I was brave enough to play with the fourth wall but maybe this will come in another project. So it was very complicated and included a lot of things and props and this and that. And … the tutors, especially Helena she liked the basic idea, the idea of recycling movement, the idea that we live in a way by adapting all the things that have been created, that have been growing inside of us… And by talking to her and to Jeanette, with time it became much more simpler and simpler and simpler and simpler until I realized I actually don't need anything except a human body that can tell the whole story. … So I'm very grateful to them for this input. The whole thing is really like a two weeks of creative bootcamp. We were talking to the mentors two times a day. We had one meeting a day with them for sure but then we'd be sitting at dinner or breakfast and we'd be still developing these ideas and trying to figure out what to do. So it changed everyday. And actually in a way this is also the story of the film; everything changes all the time so every day there was some new input every day there was a new idea how to develop it.
And do you find that working methodology of intense two weeks period of complete focus on a project more beneficial creatively than if you had two months to develop something and you’re breaking the process by doing other things?
AM Marinov: For me I think the intense two weeks (I think I could do an intense month with no problem) is definitely better because then I'm all in; this is the only thing I'm thinking about. Of course sometimes when you do other things in between you get inspiration, you get inputs but I think in these cases when it's like 40 creative people living in one space, in one area and constantly sharing inputs, it's really happening all the time that you get a spark or just someone's enthusiasm. You get infected by it or someone just says a word and it spirals away in your head into something else.
So if you have a good team and if it's intense two weeks for me it's the best way to do it… Although of course, the idea behind the whole thing is not something that happened there. And I'm sure also for the dancer, for Monika it's not that this choreography just happened there and the only input she got from it was from the workshop. All of these things happened for months before and years before. But then to have this luxury to have all the logistics there ready and just work on something non-stop for two weeks, it's really a luxury.
And the team that was created for your project was Monika Voisnyte who was both choreographer and dancer, and DOP Vismante Ruzgaite with whom you edited the film. So there wasn't an additional editor? It was three of you that were the core team on the project?
AM Marinov: Exactly. It was three of us. Monika basically developed the choreography. There were some inputs from me; I wanted to have a lot of circular movements but I didn't want to prepare her as I said for certain locations or spaces because I wanted to have it as a real time experiment in a way. And Vismante was very good with just trying things out on set. I knew that from this scene to that scene I wanted this movement to be a transition. And I wanted the framing to be more or less like this but we really worked together. She was really a DOP, she was not a camera person.
And all three of you had an experience working with movement on screen before?
AM Marinov: I had very little experience. I had a film that was also made basically in three days. It is called Concerto and it came out of an experimental film workshop on a festival where I met a performer and immediately knew I wanted to do something with her so first we had a three hour interview and I had no idea what to do. And then, I said: maybe just bring all your costumes and we can see what happens. And this performer – her name is Maja Petrovna - she was amazing and we just started playing around and in no time I realized that she's having a choreography and I'm replicating this with the camera – we were dancing together in a way. So this was a complete experiment and I have never done dance for screen before. So I had very little experience but I knew I wanted to go into this field. … Monica has done mostly performances for stage and theatre at that point but she was incredible, she was really ready to try out anything. And Vismante was at that point still studying cinematography but she's very talented. I think she's one of these people who will not have a very long preparation… some DOPs have shot-list for everything. She's just very good at capturing moments. And this is what we needed because we all kind of wanted to make it as an experiment and see what comes out of it. It wasn't that we had a perfect plan. So usually I say when I have an idea for a film the whole thing already plays out in my head. And this time, the specific locations when I saw them things played out but we didn't know what's going to happen with the whole thing. Even when we started editing we had transitions from locations but we didn't know exactly how to start, we weren't sure how to end so it was really like a two-week process of getting to the point of having this film.
I like how you spoke about dancing with a camera with a dancer. And it takes me to the question that I ask few people that I interview about the way that we find cinematic language for dance and whether it's something that happens as we develop choreography, that we already think in cinematic terms? Is it something that happens through the camera or through the way we see the dance? Or is it something that actually comes together in editing where in editing we find this cinematic language?
AM Marinov: I think for me … I mean I've seen amazing dance films where the camera is static. And you look at the performer moving in space. But, what I find very close to me or very interesting to me is actually not to be outside of the dance but somehow to be immersed in it and to be able to move with the dancer. It has also to do probably with the fact that I was never interested in dance as a lesson. I never went to dance classes, I never went to dance schools and then at some point I discovered dancing really as a way to save my soul, to put my mind somehow to peace, and finding freedom in movement was for me the best kind of creative therapy. And then when I got somehow into this dance for film, movement on screen I realized that I actually enjoy being as close to it as possible and researching it even on the level of micro movements. Sometimes I catch a shot of tiny piece of hair, or a movement of a finger and I get so excited and astonished by it and then again there are some big moments where you see the whole choreography and I don't think one is less exciting than the other so I would say the fact that the camera is able to go in and out ... for me it's really ... it's the way I like to do it.
So it's really then in the process of filming that you personally find this cinematic language of dance? Because then editing is already kind of there.
AM Marinov: Editing I find … it's like a tool that helps you, at the end, to look at this process that happened. You went into this dance and now you're able to look at it and to really put your own touch and perspective on it. So for example at the beginning of this film we had a whole choreography filmed. So we had her dancing in open space but then I realized, somehow it feels the closest to me just to start with this close-ups and minimal movements and circular movements… So the editing kind of gives you the chance to have this last decision of what you actually want to say. It's very, very important. It's no less important.
And how about the soundtrack? Because you didn't have much time to compose something I assume, so you used the soundtrack that already exists?
AM Marinov: Yeah we didn't have time to compose and at the moment we were doing the film, we were like: okay we have to think about the music and what to do. And then, Helena was basically showing us music that she worked with and we came across this composer Valgeir Sigurdsson and I just fell in love with his music. But I was so afraid to ask this man to be able to use his soundtrack because, I mean he's worked with Bjork and his music is so amazing, and this is just some kind of small workshop and only my second dance film and I don't know what to do. And then finally I got courage to write him an email and he wrote back and said: well actually I really like the film, of course you can use it. So this was, this was really amazing because otherwise I don't know how I would have found the music. I mean, the music would have happened other way for sure but this was just, this was just so amazing to be able to use something that you really hundred percent want to use and not needing to make a compromise.
So the choreography wasn't actually choreographed to that particular piece?
AM Marinov: Yeas, the music came after. And we recorded some foley sounds that we knew we wanted to use but yeah the music came after and was really just, I don't know a lucky coincidence or it had to be this way but I'm very grateful…
I'm actually very grateful to everyone that worked on this film, getting up at 3:00 in the morning and freezing on the Baltic Sea. And also the mentors that were just there to come to the editing room five times a day and talk about the same cut for hours. Everyone was so dedicated and I was incredibly lucky to have this chance to work with people that wanted to explore and experiment.
And one of these people is somebody that you call a real mentor now, somebody who has been quite meaningful for your creative process and I'm talking about Helena Jonsdottir… What does having a mentor mean to you?
AM Marinov: I think it's someone that's able to look at the creative chaos you're in and just filter the good things out of it or kind of put a bit of light on something that they see might be important. At some point, during this Summer Media Studio I was so confused with this beginning scene and the ending scene and Helena said: well if you feel it in your gut that this is the way you want to do it then nothing anyone else says including me matters. So I think a great mentor is someone that actually is able to put the light on things that they feel important but also push you to be able to listen to your own gut feeling, to what you think, or to how you see this vision of yours because at the end it's your vision. ... Besides her I'm also very grateful to our other mentor, to Jeannette Ginslov, and I would say maybe the difference between her and Helena were that Jeannette’s biggest impact on the work was through pushing us to put it simpler, to put it more simpler. And I was also definitely very grateful for this and we had very different relationships with both. And this was also something amazing because sometimes Helena would say one thing and Jeanette would say another thing and then in between there was the space created where I actually had the chance to find myself and to find where I want to go so I would say yeah having a mentor and having someone that's going to be there and dedicated to your work is…. it's amazing, it's a blessing to have.
"Whatever is lies on something that's already been there and the only thing that is constant, is ever changing-ness of things."