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View Full Version : New Doc shot on DVX100A in Russia



pashapasha
12-22-2004, 03:12 AM
hi. i'm new to the forum. just wanted to let you guys know about a doc i shot this summer in russia on the dvx100a. footage from it can be found at http://russianwomandoc.com/montages.html - you need the latest quicktime to hear the sound apparently (i didn't encode this thing) but you can see the picture no matter what. it was a crazy shoot, with many locations and a variety of interview setups and i just loved having the dvx around. a great camera for doc production, especially cuz we were sometimes concerned about getting stopped by russian security/militia types. and the footage looks great, in my humble opinion. anyway, let me know what you think. just wanted to advance the cause with another film.

paul

XCheck
12-22-2004, 08:54 AM
Hi there!

Pretty powerful stuff, and some very interesting and beautiful footage.

I assume you are a small crew - how many of you? How did you manage getting the locals on camera? Was it hard?

I've been to Russia once - almost twenty years ago (St. Petersburg). I can imagine things got worse for some people, but I'd expect majority would like the relative freedom they have now when compared to before 1991. I liked the 'shizophrenia' comment by one of your interviewees. I think Russia has always been that way, though - at least since Catherine the Great (and probably before). Of course, seventy year of Communism didn't help.

I don't know about other Eastern European countries, but in Czech Republic where I come from, the society is also very divided on the issue of stability vs. democracy (the old vs. the new regime). I was there recently filming some stuff for a documentary I've been working on, and I found a similar schizophrenia in people there. That different people disagree on various issues is to be expected, but what I found striking is how many people have confused and contradictory views about how the society should work. Sort of saying 'A' in one sentence, and then completely negating it in the next.

Anyway - this is about your film, not mine. I'd love to see the whole film - is it available on DVD or download?

pashapasha
12-22-2004, 12:47 PM
hi again. the way we went about producing this film - we found a lot of contacts through the internet, especially our most eloquent guide, who made the schizophrenia comment. it really helped to have him when we went out of moscow into the rural areas where people still live like it was the 60s or 70s and are not too media savvy. we also had some contacts in the intellectual/art community from some research here in america. that helped in getting access to some of the higher profile people. overall, i found that just saying you're making a documentary and you're from the west still holds a lot of power in russia. people were very fascinated to offer their stories for a western audience.

as far as the inherent schizophrenia - it seems like it's really playing out now with president putin's power plays. many people seem to be willing to give up their freedoms quite easily. and for us, this conflict played out even more succinctly because we focused on russian women, who for the most part wanted traditional families, security, and were often willing to give up their careers for the sake of a stable, man-oriented life. of course, this was not as much a case in the freewheeling moscow, but even there you could sense this characteristic of the russian society.

as the film's still in post-production, it's not currently available for screening, but i'll let you know as soon as it's ready.

how's your film coming along, jerry? is it already being exhibited?

XCheck
12-22-2004, 01:50 PM
how's your film coming along, jerry? *is it already being exhibited?Ha! I wish...

I just returned four weeks ago. I am still reviewing the footage. I will be trying to put a website and a trailer (or at least a few clips) out for the new year, but with fourteen people in my house for Christmas... ::)

I will probably have to go back for additional shooting, maybe in the spring. During filming I made some new contacts and learned additional information for the story, but didn't have the time for extra shooting. I also found November probably the worst time for a documentary - days are too short for exterior shooting, so I don't have as much coverage as I'd like to.

I hear what you say about Russian women. Yes, I think women under communism sort of got used to relative stability, with state-supported child care, long maternity leaves, and other things they exchanged for their freedoms. The situation in C.R. is very similar. I don't mean it in any negative way - I think those things are very good for families, and in the west they are sacrificed in the name of individual responsibility and economic opportunism. So now a lot of people back home are saying: "what did I gain by having to be more self-reliant and having to compete for every piece of the economic pie?" The result - Communist party in CR is second strongest with close to 20% popular support :o. Especially a lot of young people who don't remember the times people couldn't read foreign books and newspapers, couldn't travel, couldn't run a small business, now listen to the communist rhetorics and think 'hey, this social equality sounds pretty good to me!'

The trouble is, as you say, that far too many people are willing to have their freedoms to be taken away for the sake of a simpler life. The funny thing is that Americans and Canadians are like that, too, but they don't realize it. Most people I know here in North America count on someone else ("free" press, special interest groups, activists) to take care of their freedoms for them.

Before someone says again that I am taking things too seriously: Pashapasha - is that Russian for Pavel Pavlovitch? ;)

Hey, make sure you let us know when your film is finished!

xray
12-23-2004, 10:31 AM
The russian footage looks great, you shoot in 4:3, and progressive. You dont think its a problem with festivals? The material is color corrected? Can you say something about the difficulties in lighting, an other technical element of your shoot? ( I cant here the sound)

pashapasha
12-23-2004, 11:52 AM
hi. thanks. to hear the sound, you need to download the latest version of quicktime from http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/standalone/ - unfortunately th editor encoded the files in some new format... and what you see in those clips now is just the raw footage at the moment - it's not color-corrected or processed in any way yet. we shot 4x3 so as to avoid squeezing the images. if we'll need to, we'll matte it in post for a wider look. but there's a chance this will go to television, so the native 4x3 might work out... as far as lighting situations, i only had a rifa light with me (500 i think) and reflector and used both sparingly - most of the time opting for natural light. i like the natural look and it worked well i think with the subjects of the documentary - especially when we were outside moscow, it just made sense to portray everyone as naturally as possible cuz that's how people lived - they don't actually use much electricity.

and the camera did great in all kinds of light conditions - for instance, we shot a whole segment on these rural witches in the middle of the night in the middle of some swamp. at first they had a fire built overhead but the ceremony was actually below and only lit by a few candles. i just had a very basic flashlight to light a couple of things and had the gain at +3 or 6. then we went to this pond/swamp for a ceremonial midnight swim with these girls and the lighting became even less - i still stuck to +6 and i think it actually worked to augment the mystery of what was happening. there's just enough lighting and looks quite cool. overall, i was really impressed with the low-light performance of the dvx. there's one wide shot of a woman silhouetted against the midnight sky and all she has is one candle. i just let it play darker and i think it really works... my preference anyway...

[to jerry] pasha pasha is russian - my russian name would be pavel/pasha.

XCheck
12-23-2004, 12:00 PM
then we went to this pond/swamp for a ceremonial midnight swim with these girls and the lighting became even less
You have my deepest admiration - I would surely miss all the shots. There would be no lights and no camera!

Seriously, though - those are beautiful shots. The flower wreaths remind me of some of the paganic rituals we used to do back home in my youth... 'cause that's what we are - pagans posing as Christians. ;) Only the Pople doesn't know it.

Yeah, I knew about Pavel=Pasha, but why 'Pashapasha'?

pashapasha
12-23-2004, 12:13 PM
that's really what we found in Russia - a strong resurgence of the pagan roots that have always simmered underneath. there are many many newspapers and ads in very public places catering to all kinds of pagan activities. the Russian version of Christianity is always mixed with much superstition and earth-based traditions. the wreath-ceremony was on the night of Ivan Kupala (http://www.wscsd.org/ejournal/article.php3?id_article=127) - it's the same holiday depicted in Tarkovsky's Rublev, where all's well until the monks come in and beat up on everybody... so these girls had to swim in the pond after midnight all bare and let the wreaths float away on the water - part of it was to initiate them as witches, part to lure in a good man. and when they came out, they drank from this huge glass of vodka as it was quite nippy. :)

i was born in russia and lived there until 1990 so my name used to be pavel/pasha and when i came there now i found it odd to be again referred to as such (cuz in the states i've been paul) - but now i kind got used to it. so perhaps pashapasha is overcompensation. pasha was also a regional ruler's title in the ottoman empire days. so... :)

XCheck
12-23-2004, 12:28 PM
Oh yeah, I forgot about that. My mom used to say: 'Don't just sit here like a pasha and do something useful'. ;D

I think she would say the same thing if she saw me spending all that time on DVXUser.com. 8)

I have a couple of producing questions (if you don't mind), just to put my shoot in perspective:

How many days was the shoot? How much footage did you shoot? You already mentioned lights - I wish I travelled more lightly (actually had four lights and only used one). Were you the producer/director/DP, or did anyone help you?

I guess I am just trying to compare the uncomparable. :)

pashapasha
12-23-2004, 12:44 PM
We were there for a month and shot about 50 hours. We're hoping to go back and get some follow-up footage once we edit this thing down to its essential story. I was the producer/DP while Katie Fischer (an Australian TV personality) was the director/producer. We also had local help, with 2 interpreters/guides who helped with different parts of the project (i know russian but it's really hard to operate and translate in some situations). also used a soundguy for several interviews and the wiches ceremony. and got a makeup artist twice for a couple of high-society ladies (whom you don't see in the clips cuz frankly they aren't as interesting)... that's about it i think.

what was your shooting setup/situation like jerry? and what was the focus of your film, if you don't mind me asking?

mixedclimber
12-24-2004, 06:44 AM
I love it Pashapasha,
I especially love the religion clip. Now that is what I call capturing actual events in Russia. I must admit though, I could have gone without the party clip, but as much as I hate to say it, I suppose that is a big part of Russian lifestyle. All I have to say is WOW!! I'd love to see your finished product.

pashapasha
12-24-2004, 02:51 PM
thank you, mixedclimber. the party stuff was a big contrast certainly and overall i preferred the things we shot outside of the big cities, as they were more genuine and unusual. but as part of our focus on the changes in the lives of russian women, the playboy party was a great way to illustrate the ongoing reconstruction of the female image in the country. the playmate of the year, whom we interviewed, is this small-town daughter of a miner, a very simple almost naive creature, who's being transformed into this cosmopolitan femme fatale by the publishers of the magazine. very illuminating story in itself.

moe_snodgrass
12-24-2004, 03:47 PM
I'm on a dialup until after the holidays and will have to wait to view http://russianwomandoc.com/montages.html. I worked for Pasha on a 35mm short about year ago. Some of his DVX grabs on his other websites are very, very nice (I assume they are grabs and not stills). Pasha's had some recent success at a *festival here in New Mexico. For your "micromike" exteriors, Pasha, you might want to survey user "Disjecta"'s DVX settings. Disjecta is the best with available light exteriors. Small world but BIG internet. Jerry, if you weren't so far away I'd PA for you, too :-).

Best to both of you,
Moe

pashapasha
12-24-2004, 03:58 PM
hey moe, are you rick? ;) don't remember a moe. yeah, the micromike stuff is on hold for a little bit, as i am in LA trying to work out something, but thanks for the suggestion on disjecta's settings. shooting snow will be a challenge in itself. for anyone who's wondering, we're talking about a documentary i'm trying to put together on a hermit who's recently been found living in a cave right on supersecret government land in los alamos, new mexico. here's some info about him: http://www.newspiritcinema.com/micromike.html

moe_snodgrass
12-24-2004, 04:08 PM
hey moe, are you rick?

I am he ;). Great to see the interest and common ground between you and Jerry. Jerry has been the biggest help with my own headscratching for my upcoming doc. This is a great board. Let me know if you need a crewmember in NM or elsewhere.

Best,
Moe

davidblumenfeld
12-26-2004, 09:10 AM
Nice work! I'm working on a project in Poland now. I'm wondering how you handled the translation/subtitle issue. I have about 8 or 9 interviews so far in Polish which I need to have translated now (I don't speak the language). My translator gave me rough idea of what they were saying, but we mainly let the subject just go, so now I have the huge task of translating this stuff and then subtitling...what method do you suggest? Translate the whole interview and then go back and pick the quotes and find the timecode? Transcribe the interview sitting with a translator and give a reference to the time code? Is there a program for this? What program did you use for subtitles? thanks

pashapasha
12-26-2004, 10:26 AM
hi. i have the advantage here of knowing Russian. but what the director of the film is doing now is sitting with the translator and picking out some quotes/referencing timecode and the editor adds the subtitles. and i am not sure if there's a specific program to do this, but we're just doing it in the editing software. it would be a huge undertaking to translate all the raw footage. depends on how much flexibility you want, i suppose.