Pioneering filmmakers that have expanded the image vocabulary of documentaries, Mark Magidson and Ron Fricke join BYOD to discuss Chronos, Baraka, and their new creation, Samsara.
Discussing the difficulties of capturing stunning images in remote locations, and the signature filming techniques that have blown millions of minds, Ron and Mark key us into their inspiration behind Koyaanisqatsi, Cronos, Baraka, and Samsara.
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BYOD is hosted by Ondi Timoner, director of “DIG!,” “JOIN US” and “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC,” and has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice. Each week the show explores a different documentary filmmaker or aspect of filmmaking, with special guests and a live Q&A– diving deep into creative process and the business realities of producing and distributing films. Ondi shares her insider views, opinions, and personal stories, welcoming audience participation. BYOD aims to entertain, inform, and elevate documentaries in general by bringing attention to films and film makers that deserve exposure.
In his early work as director of photography, co-editor and co-writer for “Koyaanisqatsi“, a renowned nonverbal art film, Ron Fricke experimented with many previously obscure film techniques. He used time-lapse, slow motion and optical phase printing to present familiar images from a new perspective. ”Koyaanisqatsi” won a 1983 Filex Audience Award.
Indulging his passion for 70mm, and determined to make life affirming films, Fricke proceeded to direct and co-produce “Chronos”, an innovative, nonverbal, IMAX film that won the Grand prix du jury Award at the first Festival International Omnimax de Paris (1987). For “Chronos” Fricke designed an IMAX compatible camera with the capacity to shoot motion controlled images, a revolutionary concept in the IMAX industry. Fricke gained experience on several other IMAX films including “Sacred Site” (1986) which he directed and photographed.
Developing the themes of interconnection and transcendence, which Fricke began to explore in “Chronos”, “Baraka” is a journey of rediscovery that plunges into nature, into history, into the human spirit and finally into the realm of the infinite”. In order to capture the exquisite rotating star fields in the film’s finale, Fricke designed and built a more flexible and complex version of the (65mm) 70mm time-lapse camera he designed for “Chronos”. Fricke directed, photographed, co-edited and co-wrote “Baraka” (1992).
“Samsara” will be a visual quest that explores the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. “I feel that my work has evolved through “Koyaanisqatsi”, “Chronos” and “Baraka”, says Fricke. “Both technically and philosophically I am ready to delve even deeper into my favorite theme: humanity’s relationship to the eternal.”
00:01 BYOD Introduction
00:24 Welcoming Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson.
01:18 The purpose behind their film’s structure.
02:02 Filming an erupting volcano and going places we’ve never been.
03:54 How Samsara is different from Baraka.
05:44 Samsara, Trailer.
07:08 Where to see Samsara.
07:50 Approaching the film and using technology to maximize the power of images.
10:02 The attraction to Buddhism.
11:55 Getting access to sacred places.
14:10 Mentally prepping the film and ideas and inspiration.
17:52 Filming robotics.Robots.
22:58 Working on location and having confidence in the concept.
24:32 The shooting and editing process.
26:28 Working with composers in collaboration with a zen approach.
29:00 Filming a musical number in a prison.
33:39 Samsara, Clip. Canyons.
34:36 The way Samsara needs to be seen, and time lapse.
36:16 Samsara, Clip. Cityscapes.
37:34 Filming in China and working with government minders.
38:32 The shooting schedule over three years, and arduous shots.
40:40 Possible follow-up movies, and countries that said ‘No.’
41:30 Response to the film from audiences.
42:58 How the relationship between Ron and Mark has evolved over 30 years.
44:17 Thanks and Goodbye.
44:40 Samsara, Clip.