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film as process

On travaille comme les fous. Post-production in a place of alchemy. Grenoble, MTK.

by Miki Ambrózy

The Possessed

October 2016

I’ve seen the possessed nature of the act. Not knowing anymore what’s outside of the lab, we keep film turning.

Configuring the workflow over and over again, time itself stretching on my mind, like a thin layer of foil on the remains of tonight’s dinner.

Only to keep returning to the contradiction of Kodak: there isn’t a perfect image in handmade film, because most images are good as they are.

To watch 45 seconds of film made with a process of 5-6 hours.  Film’s time commands respect.

We turned work into a sport - my grandma used to say.

Soviet-style achiever patterns, peppered with the resistance-nostalgia of craftsmen in 2016.

Everything I knew has gone into this work. And more: that which is missing.
The missing part becoming part of it.

have I tried

though I know very little
montage sans cesse:
the mind a giant splicer
ashes run through
just like me: 37 is already halfway.

The calming effect of images

Music to keep us simple.
Outdoors seems like a faraway country
while lab rats tinker away at works of heart.

Neural patterns - also known as chunks - have not been created yet: first time doing is uniquely clumsy. There has not been a lot of analysis going into my workflow, just the act of making. The possessed nature of making. Not that I filmed a lot, let’s say 300 meters (equivalent of 50 minutes), over a period of two years. It’s the acts of exposing, processing and projecting that have ruled the way. I have had to rely on a proceeding by a question-response method, which doesn’t necessarily show the big picture. Discovering the spirit of shared film labs turned this lonesome marathon into purposeful collective creation.

When I emerged from 5 days of non-stop developing, copying, and reorganising the material - incessable days in a dark, humid, wet place, with an equally possessed companion, Etienne Caire of the Grenoble film lab, I was alive.

We produced an hour’s worth of film duplicates to be used in the negative cutting of the film. This used to be half a day’s work in a commercial film laboratory, and it is certainly work that is non-existent in a telecine-based 16mm workflow.

What do we learn from working in the opposite direction?

I rehearsed the basic parameters. I lived the exhilarating moment when the exposure is right, an image forms, and image is viewed. I learned to work without an adequate testing method for exposure and colour filtration. I let the films elements lead me by the hand.