In the early '90s, Paul Blom and Philip Francis met at a Cape Town based film-school in South Africa. While Paul dropped out in the middle of 2nd year to continue self-study, Philip stayed on and from there ventured straight into the industry. Paul was also occupied with musical ventures at the time, occasionally dabbling in personal visual projects (like a 2hr video for his band V.O.D ('93) and a documentary on the 1995 Buffalo Motorcycle Rally - Philip filming on both of these). Paul also became a film and music critic, writing for a range of publications, including his own website.
Their aspiration to make something they really wanted to, on their terms, finally came in June 2004, when spurred on by the Apollo Film Festival. They endeavoured to get their shit together and make something, anything, to act as a creative vent (as opposed to working for someone else's vision).
With only a week for pre-production, a week to shoot and a week for post production on a non-existent budget, they pooled their energies and said fuckit! With the generous help of Brad, Rod and the people at MCC, essential lighting and grip equipment was donated, as with Michael Cleary's Canon Digital camera. Sure, film would be the first choice, but unknowns without a budget would make a luxury like that virtually impossible (and none of the producers are home-owners who could mortgage their abode...)
Having collaborated together on several photographic- ( DESERT STORM, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE ) and musical projects ( TERMINATRYX ), Paul's fiancé Sonja Rupperberg was an integral part, acting as co-producer, make-up artist and lead player.
Paul wanted to shoot something more visual and visceral than a dialogue driven plot, resurrecting an idea for a dialogue-free piece (of 10-15 mins.) focusing on circular elements, acting as transitions driving the basic tale of faltering humanity and a downward spiral of a mind falling apart. The original idea was Perfection, a 5 minute plot of a guy going on a rampage of sex and murder (how original!), all tied together with circular object (car wheel, coins, wedding ring, glass, condom, bald head, handcuffs, hammer, nail, wheelchair, revolver, clock, blood drop…). One morning Paul woke up and expanded this basic idea with a gender switch for the lead, more characters and events, a title switch and with it more circular possibilities being born. The straight "kill tale" also got a new surreal angle with possible fantasy elements and multiple ending possibilities. Initially Paul was content to go hand-held with his not quite perfect digital camera. As Director of Photography Philip whoever wanted it to look as slick as possible and arranged with Michael Cleary to use his Canon DV and essential lighting and grips from MCC - raising the production values substantially. Along the way some ideas were added if someone came up with something good, often accidentally.
The arduous task of shooting a narrative with specific stylistic elements was a challenge as a first outing and to exercise their abilities it included the circular devices, a split screen shot, specialFX, composite shots, dolly shots, musically based sequences etc. Trying not to be pretentious was hard, seeing as the entire basis of the exercise was a pre-set notion which forced many shots in specific directions - sometimes limiting options.
Too many to mention, perhaps. Besides the non-existent budget, time was the biggest bastard - no time to do FX tests, location scouting, rehearsals... Super-late evenings (or early mornings) ensued, mostly in the week with many participants having to get up for their day jobs. Many shots and ideas had to be sacrificed - simply not enough time (and often energy - but the tequila stretched a few extra hours out of some marathon evenings). With the circular motifs in place, this restricted the freedom of improvising somewhat and the idea to have each and every shot start and finish on a circlular shape had to be discarded, especially in the interest of narrative flow and editing possibilities. Many compromises had to be made - but that's the way it goes...
As to be expected, numerous technical hitches were unavoidable, and even included faulty DV tapes on the very first night! The already tight post-production schedule in both the editing and music creation department was also jarred, but sanity prevailed and no monitors were thrown from the 6th floor. The bliss of modern technology.
With no dialogue present, the music played an important role. Paul had a definitive idea of each scene's musical accompaniment. With a catalogue of music he has created in both a solo capacity as F8, as well as his other project TERMINATRYX (also featuring as the club band), he selected cues from existing recordings, remixing and adapting some while re-recording other ideas and incomplete riffs & songs to fit the visual rhythm and narrative drive. With the short film's dark subject matter, appropriate cues and arrangements were used to fit each of the main scenes, from ominous to up-tempo. Three TERMINATRYX songs feature: AbsinthMinded, Virus (a shortened instrumental version) and SleepWalkers (for the end title sequence). Some thought it would end up one big music video, but the audio is supplementary in telling the visual tale on screen.
- the cycles of life are not always as perfect as we may have hoped -
Subconsciously or blatantly we all choose our path in life - it does not always end up the way we had anticipated. The human condition often leads to inexplicable actions - be it under duress, stress, momentary lapse of reason, temporary (or dormant) insanity, primal urges, or for the sake of seeing if it can be done. Between the waking world and the unconscious lie a no man's land often blurred by dimensional shifts between reality and fantasy, the media and changing attitudes to life and its worth further blunting already cold emotional states.
imPERFECTION is a short thriller with shocking, seemingly inexplicable elements, but is fuelled by artistic experimentation whilst delivering social commentary with a satirical slant. Blood, sex and death are the most exploited themes of modern times. While these happen to be the essence and futility of existence, here its imperfection is explored around the recurring theme of the perfect circle, the open ended outcome also a circular link to the beginning - each viewer's outlook on life and mindset allowing them to see the ending as they would want it to be. We are bound by cycles on every level, from time, the month cycle, our life & death, to our duties and responsibilities, our power and our limitations.
Interjecting shots of security and surveillance cameras add to the hint at man's voyeurism and safety fears, as well as its inability (or maybe reluctance) to change the decline - an obsession to watch and not react.
The short film has had interesting and varied reactions, from disturbing to philosophical.
The imPERFECTION title also acts as a silent metaphor for the young filmmakers' non-delusional approach to the chosen art form they're still trying to grasp, the physicality of the craft relating to the visceral as opposed to an overly intellectual story.
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