German photography David Zimmermann’s fashion film Yellow Darkness stakes out its abstract narrative ground in the field of professional sport as a critic of the industry’s often cavalier attitude to those who sweat, bleed and sacrifice in an arena where winning is everything. It’s a profession which can require people to develop a competitive, hard character if they’re to generate the victories and medals expected of those at the highest levels.
“That’s what I wanted to show in an abstract way in Yellow Darkness. Therefore I integrated the typical catharsis of a hero in to the structure of the film. After the teaserlike introduction the plot starts with the first positive part which correlates to the ‘affection’ phase of the catharsis. At the end of this part her first injury and her first defeat were shown in a symbolic way. Then the second part – in the catharsis titled ‘suffer’ – shows the struggles and fears which she must face during the times she’s injured. In the last part she develops a kind of new or second dark character and loses her innocence and happiness of the first part. In the catharsis it’s a little bit different, because the third phase is more like a clarification. But this difference is also intended, because in the real world, the whole hero thing isn’t as good as it’s described in fictional storys I think. The whole plot is bounded by the repeating of the scene in the shower, from where she looks back and remembers.”
Zimmermann meticulously planned out the film beforehand, storyboards providing the blueprint of shots to be captured over the two days filming at the school gym location in Cologne. Well laid plans or no, a cancelled train causing their model actress to arrive late and a Kinoflo Spot crashing to the floor and suffering four smashed tubes (forcing the set to be cleared for half an hour whilst the gas dissipated and glass shards were swept) meant that there were eight additional shots they were unable to shoot. The fallen Kinoflo was compounded the fact that one of the production’s spots was out from the beginning of the shoot, but fortunately DoP Leif Thomas was able to utilise the Red Epic’s good iso range to compensate for the three, instead of five spot lighting set up – the image being further enhance by Thomas’ Davinci grading once Zimmermann locked the Premiere Pro edit.