Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Interview with filmmaker Finn Harvor

3 Tragedies, 4 Seasons will be screening at the Straight-jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

How did you get into making films?
I started out as a visual artist and writer. I was always interested in films, but, never having been to film school, was intimidated by the process of making them. It wasn’t until after i moved to Korea that I got serious about the process. Making ambient movies and videopoems became my focus. And even then, there was a long learning curve involved—even though what I do is technically fairly simple.

*What inspired you to make your movie?
It was three projects that came together and merged. One was from a series called World Bardo, which were short ambient pieces or videopoems, and some were about the death of my mother-in-law in the summer of 2018. She passed away in July. It’s a sultry time of year in South Korea, and the sound of insects, the heat, and the humidity suffused everything. The second death was that of my brother — in January, 2013. The weather then was the opposite: frigid and spartan. My brother was fascinated by both summer and winter, especially the bleak, spectral beauty of winter. The final story is a work of fiction — also set in winter. Throughout all these pieces, wanted to capture a feeling of seasonality, and also the sense of the nature/life/death cycles that exist in the world. It’s easy to talk about cycles in an abstract way; after the death of someone you care deeply about, these sensations becomes very profound. The world, the environment, feels like it’s entering you. Intense sadness dissolves us.

*How has your style evolved?
Started off with short pieces that were sort of loosely determined by how much good footage I had and an intuitive sense of what « felt » right. Am becoming more interested in projects that are either strictly defined by a time limit (say, one minute) or using only certain elements (say, sound collage or vocal singing), or else are very ambitious (feature-length, with my own art, text and music). However, one stage of evolution just leads to another, and am sure I’ll be trying different approaches still in a year or two.

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film?
Like a lot of my longer projects, this took a few years to put together while I was going back and forth between many other, shorter pieces. So my experiences while making really varied as well. I think the strangest part was the feeling of déjà vu with my mother-in-law’s death compared to my brother’s. They died from very dissimilar causes (cancer versus alcoholism/malnutrition). But both ended up actually dying because of complications resulting from liver failure. They looked similar on their hospital beds. I had the eerie sense that they were having similar death processes — which on a purely physical level they were. But in the end, my mother-in-law was reconciled to her passing. My brother’s state of mind was much more complicated.

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind?
I agree strong that low and no-budget filmmaking have a strong future. Also agree with a kind of punk, DIY aesthetic. Filmmaking of this sort is merging with visual art, music, and video-poetry — and that should continue. More and more artists are becoming multidisciplinary and I think that’s great.
The point of view that filmmakers should put their work on social media and make it publicly available: I’ve done this with a lot of my work, and will continue to do so. More: it drives me crazy when alternative festivals insist that film submissions can’t have already been online. Incidentally, since I’ve done a lot of writing for small literary magazines, I’ve encountered the same rigid rules for poems and short stories. Generally, none of these places pay, so one has to ask: At what point is it just a will to power? However, I need to emphasize that I have sympathy for filmmakers who keep at least some of their work private. The art world is what it is, and people need to build “reputations”.

*What can we expect from your next film?
Im going to continue with videopoetry, and also do more videostories — maybe another videonovel.