A Dailies Project
By Pamela Cole
Imagine making a film without any extra lighting or music; with
no special effects or filters; no murders, weapons, or car chases;
and no flashbacks -- all in a single location. Why bother?, one
might ask in this age of CGI and Final Cut Pro aficionados. But
such was the task for the daring filmmakers of Dogme.AughtSix,
the latest Dailies Project.
If you are reading this from outside Atlanta, you're probably asking,
what the heck is the Dailies Project? Well, the Dailies Project
is an Atlanta filmmaking project now in its fifth year that "unites
filmmakers to explore their craft through community and creation,"
according to its mission statement. Dailies is a consortium of actors,
directors, producers, and crew who work together to produce films.
To date, Dailies has spawned over 100 shorts and three features.
One of these films was Exquisite Corpse, which evolved
into The Signal, produced by POPFilms and just accepted
into Sundance. (See
article about The Signal in the March 19, 2006 print
edition of Southern Screen Report.)
In the spirit of Lars Von Trier's Dogme 95 movement, which advocates
pure filmmaking that focuses on story and actor performance, the
11th Dailies Project was designated as Dogme.AughtSix. Like Dogme
95, Dogme.AughtSix has a set of rules to guide filmmakers. There
are actually 10 rules in this "Vow of Chastity":
1. Shooting must be done at one location. Sets must not be brought
2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or
vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the
scene is being shot).
3. The aspect ratio of the finished film must be the same as
it was shot.
4. Special lighting is not acceptable. Practical lights, the
sun, and a bounce board are your only instruments.
5. Optical work and filters are forbidden - including any post
6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons,
etc. must not occur.)
7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That
is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
9. Films must be between 12 and 18 minutes.
10. The director cannot be the camera operator.
Rules for filmmakers? This really seems to go against the
medium grain, but eight local directors jumped into the Dogme arena
and the results were pre-screened on Dec. 12 at PushPush Theater,
the home of Dailies. All but one of the films was available for
screening. About 35 cast, crew, and press were on hand for the screening,
which lasted about two-and-half hours including intermission.
The trick to watching Dogme films is not to get bored, given our
quick-cut, over-active camera, MTV viewer expectations these days.
A good Dogme film draws you into the story so completely that you
don't realize there are no other effects -- there's just the story
and the performance.
Critiquing works such as these requires a different set of standards.
First of all -- the films got made -- a huge achievement deserving
accolades. Most of the films adhered strongly to the Dogme.AughtSix
Vows, though everyone had to get creative at times to do this. Writer/director
Lucius Williams, IV, stayed within the Dogme restrictions by making
use of his cell phone video camera in Mongoose. The
quality of the films varied and you can make your own decision about
that when you go to the public screenings in January. But I'll let
you in on some of my favorites.
I was mesmerized through most of The Singing, delighted
by the pace and the high-level theatrical acting. The Dogme vows
seemed to do exactly what they were intended to do in this piece
-- put the focus on performance while eliminating the distractions
of filmmaking. It ran a bit too long for me and missed a few good
ending points before introducing a third character. The story was
a little unclear to me, but I found the relationship between the
characters to be the more interesting story anyway.
Hoopla was another piece that clearly benefited from
Dogme restrictions (some say releases). Set entirely in a foggy
field, it was beautifully photographed using depth-of-field to create
an ethereal quality that emphasized the mystery of the story. Again,
the acting really shined in this stark setting, the performances
getting the camera's greatest attention.
Most of the films dealt with personal relationships, but Patrick
Paints a Picture had an interesting script dealing with
artistic expression. I loved the shot from the point-of-view of
the painting, and the close-ups, which accentuated the excellent
Dogme imposes many problems for today's technical-savvy filmmaker.
All the filmmakers agreed that one of the biggest challenges was
audio. With no post-production sweetening allowed, be prepared for
lots of hum and don't hesitate to cover your ears during the occasional
Lighting isn't as much of a Dogme issue using the highly sensitive
DV cameras of today. It does force the DP to display his mastery
of the camera, to squeeze every available lumen into the frame.
I thought all the films were adequately lit.
Victoria Warren, writer/producer of Truths, said
that it was "the most tortuous production ever," but added
that it was a great exercise in "bringing the goals down to
a more personal level." Some filmmakers said that working within
this restrictive framework actually freed them to experiment.
Go to one of the screenings
of Dogme.AughtSix in January. It's well worth the price of a
ticket ($8 - $25) to see what local filmmakers and actors were able
to concoct using this extreme formula. It's not easy to be a dogme-master.
But Dogme.AughtSix had some very successful attempts.
A Choreographed Dance Routine Between Two Siblings
Written by Raymond Carr, Sarah Martin, & Jeremiah Maeda
Directed by Raymond Carr
Written & Directed by Scott Balzer
Written & Directed by Lucius Williams, IV
Patrick Paints a Picture
Written by Anthony Pearson
Directed by Nick Hiltgen
Written by Rob Nixon
Directed by Rob Nixon & JD Taylor
The Thought Before
Directed by Charlsey Adkins
Written by Charlsey Adkins & Ashley Patterson
Written & Directed by Adam K Thompson
Written & Produced by Victoria K Warren
Directed by Erica Crabb-Moon
121 New Street, Decatur, GA 30030
January 5 & 6, 2007 at 8 pm
January 7, 2007 at 5 pm
January 12 & 13, 2007 at 10 pm