Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Michio Ito now available on Amazon

The short doc I completed last year with Bonnie Oda Homsey is now available for sale on Amazon. 

I loved working on this one. As a force on the cultural scene in pre-WWII Los Angeles, Ito was fascinating: a truly multicultural artist whose interracial company prefigures art-making from the end of the 20th Century. Not only that, but as a young performer Ito rubs shoulders with the giants of modern art, performance and literature like Pound, Yeats, and Shaw...he dances with Pavlova, confounds Stokowski, and trains a generation of modern dancers including Lester Horton and Bella Lewitsky in extravaganzas at the Hollywood Bowl. 

But with the coming of war, Ito falls under suspicion as a spy and provocateur. His Irish wife and Nisei sons can only watch helplessly as this supreme Modernist is interned and then deported.

He's an amazing figure and little-known outside the modern dance of those people who seemed to be everywhere and know everyone for a time until darkness overtook him.... Check it out!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Video Design for Long Beach Opera

Tonight is the closing of a pair of Surrealist operas, TEARS OF A KNIFE (that's the picture) and THE BREASTS OF TIRESIAS: another fun collaboration with Ken Roht.

Interesting contrast here: TEARS had a single, slow cue...a pair of dying roses. BREASTS was an almost endless parade of gags and buttons and craziness...marching storks and pearly gates and 50's appliances and so on.

These two pieces are probably more craft than art for me, but so much fun nonetheless! The crazy, kitchen sink design of BREASTS had me pulling stuff out of mid-air. Those roses in TEARS were really lovely...but some of the BREASTS cues were among the most, well, ugly stuff I've ever done (see below).
Mark Swed in the times wrote a review that couldn't be bothered to engage with anything aside from what you'd see in a chamber version of these pieces...this one, on the other hand, is a little more interesting:
Surrealism or Bust

On the craft side: with the help of Chet Leonard we managed to run this show out of QLab...but I'm thinking I would like to try Isadora or even Watchout (given the budget). Next up will be some experiments with Isadora and a new Cannon I just bought.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Masters of Production...opening

Here's one I've been meaning to post for a while...the opening segments of my PBS doc on Production Design: MASTERS OF PRODUCTION. I think this is the thing I'm most proud of from my years working on arts/cinema docs: wrote, directed and edited this one myself in association with KCET (in the person of the wonderful Joyce Campbell) and with the unflagging support and excellent counsel of Citzie DeMille Presley.

My idea was to use the movies that everyone really had affection for: CHINATOWN, CITIZEN KANE, GONE WITH THE WIND, BLADE RUNNER, THE GODFATHER and so on...and to explore that Hollywood art that's hidden in plain sight.

The interviews were the most enjoyable ever: bar none. Production Designers are, as Jack DeGovia says, "The ultimate dilettantes...." They have to master everything, and they have to make it all fit. They tell the story in amazing and surprising ways.

The film is dedicated to Dick I used to tell people on the project, "It's Dick Sylbert's Hollywood...we just work there." We spent a whole day with him, shooting all over L.A., and I learned a great lesson from that. The next day he wanted to know if we could get together and just record some audio: he had more stories to tell. I was up to my neck in production, and I begged off. Maybe later?

He was dying of pancreatic cancer, and that shoot was the last chance I had to talk with him. What had I missed by not taking him up on it? By not stopping and taking the time? I'll never know.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Karim's Bug Camera

For Christmas, we gave Emilien and Lucien (our neighbors) a little Praying Mantis hatchery...and the critters popped out the other day!

Their father Karim, who's done some amazing motion graphics for me, saw it as a golden opportunity to shoot some bugs! We added some crickets to the mix a little later in the evening...

Sunday, January 02, 2011

SAME-O ... Extended!

Great (and wholly expected) News! SAME-O has extended!

For those of you who haven't heard of this phenom, director/writer/choreographer Ken Roht is mounting his SEVENTH "99 Cents Only" show: SAME-O! The sets, props, and costumes are all constructed from items from the 99 Cents Only store...only this year, Ken's shooting for a wholly sustainable/recyclable show.

I'm very pleased to have the chance to join the spectacular creative team Bootleg Theater has assembled...Ken gave me a giant screen upstage to shoot all sorts of interesing stuff at...and I've got video a few other places as well. Here's a little promo I just did...

SAME-O ... Extended!

Monday, October 18, 2010

99 Cents Only Show research: CicLAvia!

I'm working on the next edition of Ken Roht's 99 Cents Only show, and (like always) I've gotta do something new. That was always going to happen on a show involving Ken, but now that he's decided it's got to be totally sustainable/recyclable...well, that's really interesting, no? The 99 Cents Only show is the height of plastic and plasticity ...

Video is, of course, an analogue for plastic: it's bright and hard-edged. So how do you create theatrical video that is at once video, but also somehow speaks to the feel the show is now reaching for?

Here's one avenue I went down...I shot a stroll through CicLAvia last week with my wife Risa, our strolling buddy Jeann Young, and a whole mess of Angelenos. It was a spectacularly pastoral event on streets usually ruled by autos, and I wanted to do something with the video to capture that sunny mood.

Here's that video...using CartoonR and Sony Platinum to give it just the right heightened reality. Seems like it might work for some aspects of Ken's new show, SAME-O.

CicLAvia 10-10-10 in Los Angeles... from John Flynn on Vimeo.