Deploying the tenets of French pantomime, Japanese Kabuki and silent film, experimental short Courage from Patrick Knot takes a symbolic journey into the spirit of Bauhaus to celebrate the influential movement’s 100th anniversary. Premiering on Directors Notes today, we asked the Spanish Director to tell us how he and his crew stepped out of their comfort zone by heading to neighbouring France for the shoot and how a variety of influences from the realms of art and cinema helped shape this commemorative short film.
Courage is a small and risky project that I had the opportunity to create thanks to the invitation of Domain the Boisbuchet to shoot in its facilities in (Lessac) France, with its art collection and giving me absolute artistic freedom. The only condition was that the piece commemorated in some way the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus and this is how everything started.
From the beginning, I wanted to create something due to and for the world of art, without thinking about a traditional narrative but a conceptual one. From there arose the idea of SHE, our protagonist, a kind of spirit that embodies the Bauhaus. I wanted her to go through the spaces, both the natural ones (forests, lakes, etc.) and the castle, and to intervene with her “magic”. She brings the Bauhaus to the castle and its domains.
For the acting we worked with references of classical French pantomime or Japanese Kabuki theater, mixing them with classical references of silent comedy (Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Segundo de Chomón), to generate that sensation of strangeness in the spectator. The attitude of our character is that of an elf at times and a spirit of contemplative nature in others, creating a hybrid piece between these two opposing tones. This also affected the structure of the piece which was divided into two separate times, one before the castle and another after.
There was no doubt about the casting, I always knew that it had to be Nerea Revilla since she naturally embodied these two roles. She participated from the first minute in the creation of this piece contributing ideas throughout. On a symbolic level, I like to work with animals and there I knew that I was going to be able to use the one that has always been for me the symbol of freedom (horses), being a key oneiric element to separate the piece into two parts.
I wanted to create something due to and for the world of art, without thinking about a traditional narrative but a conceptual one.
The adventure began when we saw that the place where we would shoot was in Lessac, France while the whole team was based in Madrid, Spain. For budgetary reasons it was impossible to go by plane so, even though we were about 9 hours away by car, we took an SUV, we loaded it with all the camera equipment, the wardrobe and clothes for those 3 days of shooting with cold and rain that awaited us and we launched into the adventure. We were the minimal team, 5 people (director, talent, DoP, soundman and focus puller). We also had the help of two people (makeup and production) as well as the executive producer himself. It was 3 days of shooting from sunrise to sunset, with cold and rain, improvising and trying to keep the horses calm. Also, the sensation of filming with original historical objects was unique. It was a very intense and creative process.
More about the cinematography from DoP Jimmy MonaGar:
“I think that, like Patrick, working on the unexpected was my starting point. It was a challenge for me, as for the rest of the team, not knowing where the sequences would be filmed until we got there and we could see them. For my part, I could not define a lighting intervention when shooting without closed planning. I tried to create that magical and oneiric world of which Patrick had spoken to us, taking our creativity to the limit.
Patrick likes to work without planning which generates very different dynamics in the shooting, for that reason I like to work with him. He puts me to the test. I am never sure or confident with him, but we always manage to reach the destination we were looking for. At the technical level and for budgetary reasons, we shot with the Arri Alexa Classic and a set of Zeiss High Speed 1.4 optics that, with their triangular bokeh, was an addition to the atmosphere we wanted to create.”
Once filmed, the edit was completed with Noelia Aguilera. It was a smooth process although a lot of material and locations that we would have liked to show were discarded in favor of a better piece and a better rhythm. In just 7 days we had it closed. The color was done between the DoP Jimmy MonaGar and myself, looking for the most natural possible look.
More about the sound and music from Mediterraneo:
“Easiness, woods, winds (nature ones and orchestral), rain. The sound and music of Courage pursued an idea of calmed, humble connection and a comfort feel towards an audience that was always intended to be a friend, part of a magic and mysterious world that would embrace them and not repel them. The sound of the imaginary objects and the silence of the real ones are an important part of this connection.”
Reflecting on the references which influenced me at the time of creating this piece, I could mention the painter Kazimir Malevich, his geometric compositions and the use of primary colors. Also Tarkovsky’s, Louis Maille’s or Segundo de Chomon´s cinema. There is something of them and many others in this little piece. The French mime Marcel Marceau, the Spanish artist Jose Val del Omar – I could mention many others that have inspired me.
For me this film was a small leap into the void, leaving the comfort zone, travelling to cinematographic places where I had not been, and from there the title “COURAGE” was born. There is a team of very talented people behind this piece, Noelia Aguilera – Editor, Jaime del Corro – Graphic Designer, Valeriy Nayden – VFX, Sandra Revilla – Costumes, plus all the team that went filming to France. Without them, it would have been impossible to create a madness like this.