Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

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Michael Slowe

Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Michael Slowe » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:52 pm

As one of the people who were enthusiastic on seeing this film I would like
to put my piece in on the discussion. It seems that as soon as anything appears
that does not folow the norm (club 'comedy', documentary, travelogue) people
get worried and upset. There were obvious flaws in Nothing Girl but the maker
gave us an opportunity to think about what was happening and to think for
ourselves for a change. The girl was obviously lost in many ways - her sexuality,
her aimless existance and her feeling of exclusion. She was a 'Lolita' (for
those who saw the film of the famous book many years ago)and I am sure the
producer meant to indicate this by having the girl sucking a lolipop. The
scene in the laundrette was wonderfully done. I think she may well have been
some sort of prostitute but I would have liked to have had the briefest of
glimpses of the driver of the car she entered (the passenger side remember
on the continent).

I am reminded of a film show at an avant garde art gallery where one of mine
was included (it was actually a BIAFF International winner and it received
a completely blank look from the whole audience who were mostly young video
producers. I could honestly not comprehend a single one of the other films
(videos) shown. I dread to think what you all would have made of them! Whilst
I do not welcome this extreme direction that video 'art' is heading I do
urge a little tolerance. With more young people using video to express themslves
we will see much material that is totally different from what amateur clubs
have produced over the last sixty years whether we like it or not.

I am genuinely upset to read the views expressed this week by people who
I respect as friends and accomplished film makers. I am reminded of some
of the dreadful intolerance shown to some art and music created under two
awful dictators of the last century.

Willy Van der Linden

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:08 pm

"Michael Slowe" <forums@theiac.org.uk> wrote:
I do not welcome this extreme direction that video 'art' is heading I do
urge a little tolerance. With more young people using video to express themslves
we will see much material that is totally different from what amateur clubs
have produced over the last sixty years whether we like it or not.

I am genuinely upset to read the views expressed this week by people who
I respect as friends and accomplished film makers. I am reminded of some
of the dreadful intolerance shown to some art and music created under two
awful dictators of the last century.
Oh, Michael, your last sentence in the last words on 'Nothing Girl' ! ...
It's very extreme to say such a thing ! On a discussion forum you are free
to express your views. But are there any views that show intolerance ? I
shudder with horror when I hear or read the word "intolerance". And who's
against "avant garde art" ? I think that all the forum-friends do their utmost
to attract young people. In Belgium there isn't any club that is younger
than mine. I consider this forum as "Speakers' Corner" of the IAC or am
I wrong ?

Dave Watterson

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Dave Watterson » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:36 pm

I rather like the fact that we can discuss important issues like what is art
- or art as it relates to the movies we make. Usually most forums (?fora)
only get into serious debate when dealing with politics or personalities.

Willy - don't worry, we are happy to have robust debate and we all know one
another well enough by now not to take any comments the wrong way. We admire
not just your film work but what you do for your club and its members too.
The same goes for everyone who has talked about 'Nothing Girl' - all people
who contribute so much to the amateur film movement and who have made such
wonderful work, that their views for and against must be heard and valued.

Michael - I don't think we have to guard the gates against the barbarian
hordes yet!

I am tempted to encourage Pierre Daudelin to join in ...!

But we should remember that many people who read these pages were not at
BIAFF and don't know what we are talking about.

I also applaud all the film makers whose work was chosen for screening -
including our Ian, whose 'Insomnia' amused its audience a lot.

Now what's next ... the Cotswold and Guernsey Festivals in our part of the
world for those who can get to them.

If you don't plan to go to these events, how will you spend the next six
months? Not m aking movies, surely?!!

Dave

pierre daudelin

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by pierre daudelin » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:21 am

Well, here I am, I have to admit that I was deeply moved by most of the comments
made about my short film "Nothing Girl", be they good or bad. Indeed, the
out of focus shots were part of the plan. As a matter of fact, I explicitely
demanded of my director of photography that she shoots the film in the worst
way imaginable. I would tell her to find a frame she thought was appropriate
for such and such shot. And then I would encourage her to reframe it in an
unruly fashion just so it would go against the grain. I would insist she
kept a lot of space behind the characters in every shot instead of ahead
of them. I would insist that she kept shooting even when she was out of focus.
I would insist that she kept on shooting long after the action was over.
She did it with bravado and I can only applaud her courage and talent. To
be perfectly honest with everyone. I never even dreamed of having this film
shown to anyone but a few select friends that worked on the project. I followed
the advice of one such friend who honestly believed it was the best short
film he had ever seen. I thought it was all flattery but I went ahead and
followed his advice anyways and sent it around the world to as many festivals
as I humanly could. It has been sent to one hundred and sixty nine festivals
so far. Twenty nine of these have selected my film so far as part of their
competition and eight have even given me an award for it. I guess the one
lesson that I learned from the whole experience is that once you have made
a film, no matter what you might think of it, send it out there. If there
is the smallest amount of honesty and authenticity in the work you have created,
then it will find its own audience. Once you have finished a work of art,
it takes on a life of its own. Let it go out there. It might very well surprise
you. For the moment, I will leave it at that. I am exhausted from a long
day of work and I desperately need my sleep. I will definitely come back
here during the weekend to talk a little more about the whys and the wherefores
of "Nothing Girl". Again, a million thanks, even to those who did not think
much of my film, especially to them, they are the ones who make me question
my motives, and that's when creation is, I believe, at its best.
pierre daudelin

Dave Watterson

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Dave Watterson » Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:03 pm

"pierre daudelin" <pierre_daudelin@videotron.ca> wrote:
Well, here I am, I have to admit that I was deeply moved by most of the
comments
made about my short film "Nothing Girl", be they good or bad.
I will definitely come back here during the weekend to talk a little more
about
the whys and the wherefores of "Nothing Girl".
Hello Pierre, thanks for joining in - before I got round to dropping you
an email!

Both in your article about the film - for which I thank you once again -
and on this message you talk more about the how and not the why. I think
we all would like to know what you meant the film to say. Was there a specific
story or an idea at its heart?

Since you work in the industry now, you know the normal rules and yet you
chose to break them. For what reason?

Anything you care to say will be eagerly welcomed.

Lots of us still will not like 'Nothing Girl' - but we are all interested
in the man behind it.

Dave Watterson

pierre daudelin

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by pierre daudelin » Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:33 am

It wasn't meant to be so experimental at first. The original story entirely
took place in the laundrette. And it focused mainly on the man's perception
of the young girl. It was meant to be a reflexion on the status and the representation
of women in the media where young fourteen year old girls are routinely being
used as models for skin products and such. You end up with a society that
becomes obsessed with youth without ever considering that there might be
awful side effects to that trend.
It then shifted to the young girl's point of view for two very simple reasons.
First, I became a father and I now have two wonderful daughters, named Beatrice
and Clemence, of whom I am very proud. Second, I was witness to an event,
as I was working as a technician on a documentary. That event somehow changed
my perception of the young girl's motivations in my story. It took place
in a back alley adjacent to the junkyard that was used in my film. We were
shooting some stock shots for a documentary when the staff at the junkyard
walked out in the alley for a fifteen minute cigarette break. Some of the
men, in their forties and wearing their dirty overalls, went in a corner
to sit down and have a smoke. They were soon joined by two young girls that
asked them for a cigarette. They ended up spending the duration of the cigarette
break sharing a smoke and a few laughs. It got me wondering as to what sort
of conversation could mature men have with rather young girls, wearing light
summer dresses and flip flops as they were sharing a cigarette break. Something
felt very wrong in that picture. Where were the young girl's parents? Why
weren't they at the pool like most kids on that very hot summer day? That's
where the back alley idea came from. I simply combined the two and went ahead
with a story dealing with sensuality, the desire to seduce and a very long
hot summer day.
What it has become, in the end, is a mental note so that I shall not forget
that there will come a day when my daughters, who are now respectively five
and three, will become young women, they will inherit this desire to seduce
that is present in all children but heightened, I believe, with young girls.
One day, whether I like it or not, they will become sexually active, they
will be interested in exploring their sensuality and the attraction they
can exercise on boys and men alike. Also, older men will look at them in
the very same way that my male character looks at the young Nothing Girl
of my film. I have to be aware of that in order to react accordingly when
the time comes. Never to forget to be there for them when the questions arise.
To forever be present in their lives so that they know they have someone
they can count on in these very insecure moments so specific to teenagers.

Now about the form of the film itself and why did I feel this need to break
the conventions. Well let's say it had as much to do with the restrictions
we had to face in order to shoot the film as it had to do with an artistic
approach. When you are dealing with unprofessional actors, you have to be
attentive to every single moment that they spend on camera in order to capture
the defining ones. And they are, more often than not, these short moments
that precede or follow the acting per se. What I mean to say is, let the
camera roll, if it's on video, especially MiniDV, just keep shooting, long
after you got what you needed for the shot, because that is often when the
magic occurs. That last second smile, those inquiring eyes. The passage from
an acting stage back to their true nature. So instead of setting up every
shot laboriously, we would keep shooting gorilla style until I felt I had
all I wanted to express the intentions needed in this or that moment of the
film. I think it worked pretty well but it is inherent to video shoots only,
I could never afford that approach with film.
Which brings me to my next project. It will contain dialogue, it will be
shot on film, and it will be shot in a vertical ratio very much like a painting
because it will be a portrait of a teenager and how she deals with the disappearance
of her mother. So the end result will be screened in a 3:4 ratio or very
close to that. It will give me a chance to explore a new framing approach
because we are so used to the widescreen way of composing images now, what
with the event of widescreen TVs and DVDs that bring us the original ratios
of films long forgotten. So again, in a desire to break the conventions but
also to try and find different ways of saying the same old things, we will
ago against the grain, Giulia, my partner in crime, and I in our next project.
You might hear from me yet, in a year or two. And to those who found Nothing
Girl inept, beware, the next one might even please you...
pierre daudelin for Nothing Girl

Dave Watterson

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Dave Watterson » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:17 pm

"pierre daudelin" <pierre_daudelin@videotron.ca> wrote:

Thanks, Pierre. As you can see from the discussion so far, some people found
it hard to get beyond the experimental techniques to see the message. Others
got some parts of the message without being too specific. That's the price
of using unusual techniques. (Unusual for most of us ... as Michael Slowe
indicated there is a world of "video art" which uses such techniques routinely,
but seldom to such a direct or important purpose.)

If I understand you properly, you are recognising that to some degree contact
between older men and very young girls may be instigated by the girls. Whether
or not they fully understand the fire with which they are playing is another
issue.

For my part I suspect the "difficult technique" was one of the very few ways
in which this subject could be tackled. A direct, conventional narrative
would seem sleazy, tacky and exploitative. In our society in the UK it is
very hard to talk about such issues because of a national paranoia about
paedophilia. I understand that a distinguished Belgian amateur film maker
has tackled such a subject, though there is a similar paranoia in that country.
You might hear from me yet, in a year or two. And to those who found Nothing
Girl inept, beware, the next one might even please you...
I really look forward to it! And I think that your two girls seem to have
a very understanding dad, who will help them through the difficult puberty
years so that they can find their own adult relationships in due course.

Dave Watterson

Peter Rouillard

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Peter Rouillard » Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:00 am

"pierre daudelin" <pierre_daudelin@videotron.ca> wrote:

^You might hear from me yet, in a year or two. And to those who found Nothing
Girl inept, beware, the next one might even please you...

I really look forward to it! And I think that your two girls seem to have
a very understanding dad, who will help them through the difficult puberty
years so that they can find their own adult relationships in due course.

Dave Watterson
As the one who was perhaps the most critical of 'Nothing Girl' I have to
say that I admire Pierre's courage in joining in this forum and fighting
for his corner. It hasn't changed my opinion of 'Nothing Girl' but, like
Dave, I am looking forward to seeing his next production - and on film too!

Peter Rouillard

Ian Gardner

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Ian Gardner » Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:40 am

"Dave Watterson" <david.filmsocs@virgin.net> wrote:
I rather like the fact that we can discuss important issues like what is
art
- or art as it relates to the movies we make. Usually most forums (?fora)
only get into serious debate when dealing with politics or personalities.

Willy - don't worry, we are happy to have robust debate and we all know
one
another well enough by now not to take any comments the wrong way. We admire
not just your film work but what you do for your club and its members too.
The same goes for everyone who has talked about 'Nothing Girl' - all people
who contribute so much to the amateur film movement and who have made such
wonderful work, that their views for and against must be heard and valued.

Michael - I don't think we have to guard the gates against the barbarian
hordes yet!

I am tempted to encourage Pierre Daudelin to join in ...!

But we should remember that many people who read these pages were not at
BIAFF and don't know what we are talking about.

I also applaud all the film makers whose work was chosen for screening -
including our Ian, whose 'Insomnia' amused its audience a lot.

Dave
Thank you Dave for your comments.
Discussing is a great way to learn because you can have your oppinion change
on something. But it can, and does lead to tension as we found out on here
a few months ago.
So the question of the day is.........

Can we REALLY speak our minds, or do we have to water it down abit so to
fit in a bit better?
Over the last month, I`ve just learn`t NOT to speak my mind and to go with
the flow abit! It`s got me into trouble (not that serious!)
Ian Gardner

Willy Van der Linden

Re: Last Words On 'Nothing Girl' ?

Post by Willy Van der Linden » Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:13 pm

"Peter Rouillard" <rouillard@cwgsy.net> wrote:
As the one who was perhaps the most critical of 'Nothing Girl' I have to
say that I admire Pierre's courage in joining in this forum and fighting
for his corner. It hasn't changed my opinion of 'Nothing Girl' but, like
Dave, I am looking forward to seeing his next production - and on film too!
The more films we can see and enjoy at Biaff, in Guernsey, at the Cotswolds
Festival, in the States ... the better. I appreciate all films. Also Pierre
Daudelin's "Nothing Girl". It's true what Dave has told us. After we have
seen five super Appeltans-(Verbist) films, one after another, then we have
the enormous desire to see something different, a film of a different style.
It may work refreshing. A more or less science fiction film like "225" for
instance, or a film like "The Prodigy" made by Phil Martin, or "La Battaglia
Delle Arance", or ... In other words a different kind of film, but very enjoyable,
very entertaining. It seems to me - unless I did not understand everything
because of the language barrier - that nobody could understand the message
of the film "Nothing Girl" for 100 percent, perhaps only some "flashes".
Therefore I have the same feeling as Peter. It hasn't changed my opinion.
On the contrary even, with all respect for the filmmaker. Me too, I'm looking
forward to see Pierre's next film, because one thing is for sure ... he's
creative and he wants to express his feelings in film. He is not a ... how
to say that in English ? ... He's not a pure "registrator" (=Dutch word),
a film maker who only shows persons, buildings, steets, without trying to
evoke emotions. It's ridiculous to flatter and to be hypocritical and to
say all the time "Wow ! That's fantastic !". As long as we don't insult
each other. We are friends ! A discussion forum has one enormous disadvantage
in particular for foreigners. What you have written remains. Perhaps you
don't always use the right words. Or the words that you have used don't always
give the right feelings that you would like to express. In an oral conversation
you can try to look for the right words and expressions together. Hopefully
you can understand what I mean. But I think (without flattering) that Dave
keeps everything under control. He is a bit like a moderator on this forum.
Anyway Pierre's film has caused quite a lot of talking, even in my own club
in Belgium. I had a chat with young Davy and Samuel for instance. I still
have a copy of the film "Victoria" made by Douglas Boswell about 5 years
ago. (I was surprised when he told me some time ago that he's "already" thirty
years "old". Time passes very quickly.) You should see that film. It's full
of shots out of focus. It's about a young man (the filmmaker himself) who's
walking down the streets of London near Victoria Station. He meets a pretty
girl, etc.. etc... These "out of focus shots" are very functional and have
been made deliberately. The camera is Douglas's face. I appreciate that film
very much though he didn't use his tripod at all. In fact it was good that
he didn't use his tripod. But "Nothing Girl" ... sorry, do not kill me for
having written this, Pierre. I don't have any problems myself when my own
films are being criticized. I have the impression (after havng read your
message on this forum) that you remain calm. That's an excellent characteristic.
Criticism may be useful from time to time. You only have to filter everything
that's being said. In my club some friends get furious when their films
are being critized, even if it's done in a very kind way. Also in your club
?
Next week I'll be in England for my friend's 65th birthday party. "It's good
to be in England now that April's there !"

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