Translated excerpts from Fabrice du Welz's Vinyan Blog. Read the original here.
The excerpts here only concern the film Vinyan, for more information on du Welz's interests, etc. please read the blog. I am not a professional translator, so if you have any corrections or suggestions they are very welome. Send them here.
I. From the introduction to the blog (not by du Welz)
[The oft-repeated basic premise of the film has been omitted.] Their crazed (crazy) quest begins in Bangkok and very quickly takes them into the jungle where suprises and disenchantments await them. A "mind" film, a ghost story, Vinyan looks to be a mind-blowing trip led by a hallucinatory Emmanuelle Béart.
Entries by Fabrice du Welz
So here's the blog. Premiere has offered me a platform and I'm taking it. A way to keep the adventure alive, the moods. the fracas and the post production, which is winding down... Today, Monday 4 February, Vinyan is in sound mixing (editing), week 3, long and painstaking audio work. The music is coming together, special effects, too. The film will be finished around March. I'll be happy to finish. Not that it intoxicates me. No, the production (creation) was an extraordinary adventure that I was able to "burn at both ends", an insane shoot, an exhilirating ordeal. Now, it has to stop. Move on to something else, air out the spirit. There are a few weeks left of agitation and important choices. And then, without too much damage, I hope, the delivery. This small soapbox will immerse you in a pleasant and regular fashion in the tortures of an adventure which is ending... Till soon. F.
Across the hall in the sound studio Fred and Gilles are working ceaselessly and watching over the aural harmony of the film. However, I regret having been so negligent with the live sound recording on the set, even though we post-synchronised and salvaged a lot of good things, a lot of beautiful things were unfortunately not salvagable. The problem was that between the hellish filming sites, the 150 Thai children, the impossible work schedule and the general mess all around, it was difficult for me to stop during the filming.
Michaël, my producer and good friend, tells me that the opening of the film might be moved up by a few weeks, he talks about 20 August. The summer. To tell the truth it is probably for the best, the bottleneck of September risks making some people unhappy. As much as the month of August. Nothing has been gained yet.
Here, apart from the negative (print) which has strangely disappeared and which will quickly be found again - they assure me - everything is rolling along. I doubt it and suppress a dull anger.
Most of the time, the sound mixing is a pumping-up phase - for me anyway - the rest of the time it's simply enthralling. The film is getting stronger and stronger. The vision of the film risks being a very unique aural and visual experience, a kind of baroque opera of sounds and lights. Pink Floyd in Pompeii. On Sunday I'll be in Paris with Francois, the composer, and Sebastien, his mixer, to finish the music mixing for the 4th and 5th reels. And then a final tunnel of two weeks of mixing here in Brussels before the calibration in Paris with my friend Benoit, the chief editor.
Marcel Hartmann, the photographer, has just called me, very happy to have learned that De la Martiniere publishers want to put out a book with his photos of the fiming. On the shoot Marcel took photos of knock-down-drag-out beauty. Many of which I have not yet seen. I'm going to see Marcel at the end of the month to choose the best photos together.
Yesterday I spent the day with François Eudes and Sébastien who were finishing mixing the music at Pamplemousse, Rue de Bagnolet. I'm very happy with François Eudes' work, even though it wasn't all easy. I expected a lot from him and I wasn't disappointed. The work on the sound and the music was difficult, long and demanding. I knew from the beginning of the project that everything would depend on the music. Since the very first viewings of the first rough-cuts, I have been incessantly repeating to Michael and the various financing partners that the film will demonstrate its full value when the sound and music are finished. And at certain stages of the work it is sometimes difficult to ask the producers and financial partners to understand what the film will (eventually) become...
Vinyan is - also - a "mind" film and giving a sensory account of the madness, the paranoia and the dismay of the couple is not an easy thing. Even though there is still work to be done I dare to think that we are not far from our goal. In any case I gloat over all these experiments - which sometimes scare Michael - , I just hope that the audience won't make me regret them.
It's Tuesday. The nice weather continues. We are slowly getting to the end and are now waiting for the HD copy which incorporates the special effects. The atmosphere turned to ice yesterday. Problems with communication, egos and bad will. It happens. It's exhausting. Let's move on. Tomorrow will be better.
At the studio we're waiting for the HD copy with 90% of the special effects. It's coming tomorrow. A viewing for the crew (sound crew) is planned for tomorrow around 4 pm. The aim is for us to evaluate our sound editing work of the last few weeks integrated into an HD copy. This viewing will allow us to have a new overall conceptiom of the film, to correct some mistakes and finish the mixing. The end is in sight. But still the problems continue... I'll spare you... Benoit (Debie) starts the calibration next Monday, while I finalise the mixing here in Brussels. Then I'll join him for 2 weeks of working together. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with my old friend. Benoit has just come back from a few weeks in Japan where he was filming the new Gaspar Noé movie. There were also a lot of problems over there... Those who know and love Benoit`s work risk being surprised by the formal boldness of certain sequences of the film. I am convinced that with Vinyan he`s signed off on his most successfully completed photographic work.
Sunday. Today we finally screened the HD copy. I rediscovered my film. You should have seen it. Oulalalala.The skin textures, the lustrousness, the contrasts, the backgrounds and certain "layouts"(?) And that's only in HD, imagine the effect it will have in 2K. Benoit and I will have a lot of fun calibrating all that. The showing this afternoon gave me a lot of satisfaction, a kind of silly satisfaction, but who cares, I'm not the type to conceal my joy. Besides, I haven't had this sort of feeling since the first day of filming... Of course there will be some modifications and adjustments before the showing on Wednesday. On Wednesday Michael, my producer, accompanied by Michel Burstein, the press attaché, and by David Altan Jackson of BackUp Films, are coming to Brussels for a last showing. Michael has seemed rather restless these last few days. WWrried that the film won't be commercial enough, I guess. Worried about the reaction of the public and the professionals. The stakes are high and I cannot/do not want to disappoint them, even though I know that in a few weeks I won't be controlling much any more... we'll see. What seems clear to me - but am I really objective? - is that Vinyan is a modern "spectacle". Modern in the Rimbaldian sense of the word. Poetically modern... you'll see.
Monday. Just two quick words and a photo. The adjustments to the sound editing continue. For the best, I suppose. At Aléa Jacta, the atmosphere is very relaxed these days. There's laughing, wise-cracking, drinking. Undoubtedly due to the end which is approaching. Laora, my favourite script(girl), came to pay us a visit. We had lunch together. Back from lunch I showed her reel 3. Twenty minutes later Laora came out of the screening room saying: "It's a very tense atmosphere...(pause)...I think I have a crick in my neck..". I'm not sure that's a good sign. Even though...
At 5 pm Michaël (producer) et Michel (press attaché) come to attend a screening of the edited film. We're still sweating blood and still trying to salvage certain special effects, but it's getting done, they asssure me...
No news about the lost negative. I'm blown away. Losing a print! It kills me. My jaw drops..
It's Friday. A lot of stuff has happened in two days. First of all the screening with Michaël and Michel. What I remember most is that after the screening Michel said to me: "I was afraid you would rest on your laurels, I see so many first films which are rarely confirmed [by the second]. After seeing "Vinyan", "Calvaire" doesn't exist anymore, it's already swept away...". That's what I heard most clearly. Michaël also seemed happy. His perception is understandably less fresh, however he rediscovered the film.
The screening last night was more surprising, I had gathered people from different environments, some adolescents and some friends who had no or very little connection with the film. it was a complete surprise. A lot of strong reactions and, despite certain reservations which have to do with each person's subjectivity, the trip works and the immersion seems to be distrubing and moving. Emmanuel, an old friend and head decorator on "Calvaire" was present. In his opinion, "Vinyan" was made by two different directors, two directors who were confronting each other. According to him, there is a director who is building up a visceral dramatic story with finesse and another director who is making a film of the spectacular knock-out genre. Manu is probably right, "Vinyan" is a schizophrenic film, a film which plays with rules and genres. I would like to be able to work differently, undoubtedly that will happen one day, in the meantime this is the way it is, and I accept it. Let's hope that the audience does, too.
The screening yesterday evening was a very exciting moment and it was very refreshing to meet up with people who are unfamiliar with the project .In some people's opinion, the music was a bit repetitive, sometimes lacked development and ended up becoming dreary, for others, the music was monumental, very well employed and helped with the physical immersion of the characters... Since this morning, Manu and I have been working and adjusting small things we found relevant, without changing anything in the concept of the film score, for which I assume full responsibility. It is Friday and it is my last day here, with my friends at Aléa Jacta. This evening, we're celebrating the completion of the editing. Fred, Manu, Valène and Gilles did exceptional work, under difficult conditions. I owe them a lot. From Tuesday on, I am in Paris for the calibration. It will be the last step of a long process. Till soon. F.
It's Saturday. A big week. I joined Benoît Debie for the calibration at Duran in ILM (Issy-Les-Moulineaux). Digital calibration offers dizzying realms of possiblities and Benoit sometimes has the tendency to lose himself in them. Generally, I join themafter lunch and my fresh viewpoint is welcome.
I spend my mornings at Autre Chose, the special effects company, (at) Porte de Champeret. We are completing the last effects. One sequence is especially difficult: the nightmare. In this scene, a few dozen children slowly approach Emmanuelle and surround her. The scene was filmed with two cameras positioned on a sort of rotating plate, which, with the help of a home-made motor, allowed us 360° movement.
Between the two cameras, we installed a one-way mirror in order to be able to reflect the same image and separate the colors in post production. We used black and white and color and a speed control. It is now a question of working and of improving the faces of the children, in a very expressionnist manner. My references were certain works by Kirchner, Schiele or Grosz, but in the end it was a Belgian photographer, whom I did not know and whose work I like very much, who influenced me the most in the graphic design of the "masks". His name is Jean-François Spricigo and I invite you to discover his work:
Benoit and I had a slight attack of depression when we viewed the first test reels at LTC (St Cloud). On some proofs, the contrasts were too marked at times, the brilliance was dull and some scenes were really faded and soft. In the end, it seems that we have found a solution, but Benoit and Gilles (the calibrator) seem nervous about the time remaining to finish everything...
The worst is that my negative still hasn't been found and we'll have to reshoot those lost scenes. They're nature scenes, specifically the sun, but, it's like - that's not the only thing I have to think about. I still can't get over it. The director of post-production says that he personally handed it to the laboratory. He says he's sorry but he's not responsible. I haven't got over my anger and I do not believe him. It is his responsibility. Let's move on.
...During the day benoit and I put on finishing touches and calibrate without letting up in Issy-Les-Moulineaux. In the evening we have drinks...Paris Paris…
I'm happy with what I'm seeing. It's contrasted, dense, brilliant and very natural. The light is fabulous and Debie is the best director of photography in the world.
We spend long hours in company of the calibrator, a detail-oriented boy who answers to the first name of Gilles. Taking into account the time that we have left to finish - next Wednesday - the rhythm has picked up and Gilles is fretting. The correspondance with special effects intensifies and the comings and goings between "AutreChose", the FX place and "Scan Lab" exhaust everyone.
Though some good news arrived to brighten the week, first of all, the ratification of film stock (the 93rd) for the final positive copy of the film. This stock means a slightly higher cost for the distributors, but allows a distinctly superior result. Benoit is happy, me too.
The other good news comes from an important publisher; "les Editions de la Martinière" want to publish a book about "Vinyan", illustrated with Marcel Hartmann's sublime photos. Elisabeth Quin [sic], who was present during the filming will be writing some text and interpreting the selected images. I'm happy about this. Firstly because "les Editions de la Martinière" are an inportant reference for those who love beautiful books about the cinema. Secondly because the book will come out a bit before the release of the film and will be a great promotional tool. We are supposed to meet with them again in a few weeks.
More good news, we reshot the sun scenes from the lost negative. Contrary to all expectations, they turn out to be better. Markedly superior to what we had. Thanks to the sun of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, I assume.
Nothing really new. Apart from my "problematic" scene which could get us a -16 restriction.
Work continues on the poster. I liked one design. It shows Emmanuelle surrounded by children. She's holding out her hand towards a child seen from the back. The image is arresting and the gesture is very engaging. I'll be looking at new designs in about 10 days.
The work on the trailer and the poster continues. I have started working with Toto on the graphics for the ending credits; quibbling, smiling and avoiding annoying subjects (the possible -16 restriction), while patiently waiting for the decision on Cannes.
Mainly I have plunged into the twists and turns of the script of my next project: « L’Ile aux 30 Cerceuils » (The Island of Thirty Coffins). For the past few weeks I have been savagely confronting the problems of the story and adapting it. The work is exciting, and my partner in this venture - from whom I'm learning a lot - is pushing for a decisive accuracy. An accuracy which fires my imagination and my desire to make this exceptional project happen.
Next week I hope to know about Cannes. In the meantime, to hell with all the old fogeys!
"Vinyan" won't be at Cannes. "La Quinzaine" (The Directors' Fortnight) doesn't want it. And apparently neither does "l'Officiel". A miracle could still happen. John Lennon could also return from the dead. Too bad. "Vinyan" wasn't presented for the "Semaine de la Critique". "Calvaire" was selected there and the idea of taking the same route seemed boring. It will probably be Venice. I'm obviously disappointed, but not despondent. It will pass. The adventure continues.
It's Thursday. "Ô" beautiful days!.
This week was particularly taxing. One thing is sure. Even though some people are mentioning a possible recovery for the film with a midnight showing, I have completely let go of Cannes. "Vinyan" has not achieved a consensus among the selectors, especially with the Directors' Circle who seem to "vomit" the film (hate it). Maybe a good sign? Bah, you'll see for yourselves.
Work on the poster is tightening up and I'm beginning to be happy with the result. Last week we organised a photo session with Emmanuelle. I wanted her character's face to be very close up and staring at the camera. Marcel Hartman took the photos. Beautiful of course, like Emmanuelle. She found it a bit difficult to put on her costume from the shoot. It felt weird to me, too.
Work on the trailer is also coming to an end. It's effective, a bit obvious it seems, but effective. With regard to the problematic scene, we found a solution: shorten it by a few seconds. The scene will be shorter, less expressive and we'll avoid (it seems) a -16 restriction. It's idiotic, dick-headed, schmuck-y, but a relatively simple equation: if I get a -16 restriction "Vinyan" risks being released with only 30 copies and the multiplexes won't want it. Which will considerably reduce our chances of getting viewers... It's not a great solution, I agree, but I find myself with a hell of a dilemma, the plague or cholera, as Michael would say...
No news is good news. Roughly speaking, that's about it. Apart from the threatening cloud of some legal problems (which I'll return to if ncecessary), things are reaching their logical conclusion. In the end I didn't cut anything from the "problematic" scene. We'll be showing the film to the censorship board soon and I'm praying for a -12 rating.
A few days ago I was talking with Pascal Laugier who is encountering quite a few censorship problems with "Martyrs" (and in a much more extreme fashion)... He said a very true thing: "In 'Rambo4' there's killing all over the place, heads fly off, the Burmese blow up children in the mined fields, but still the film gets a -12 rating. On the other hand (and another genre), there is 'Funny Games', where two adolescents torture a family during an hour a half and the film is restricted for -16. On the one side we have a big US studio film and on the other one by an 'auteur' held sacred by the Parisian cinema press. We, the "deviant" and "irresponsible" young film-makers naturally deserve much less leniency." Well said. Bah, I'm not going to complain.
"Vinyan" is not a gory film, it's an honest film which I wanted to be troubling, spectacular, poetic and abstract. And at the end of the day they are pissing me off with their possible restriction. Times are tough for those who try make films which are free and forthright. In the end, as others would say: "we're not saving lives"...
The last reel of "Vinyan" will be "shot" during the next week, as is, without any cuts.
All that's left is the chemical calibration which I will do with Benoît during the week. I'm looking forward to the screening of reel 5 at LTC...I attended the screenings of reels 2, 3 and 4 at LTC and god - how happy I was. We're talking about organising a crew screening at the Max Linder in mid-June. According to the latest news the film will come out on 24 September.
On Friday afternoon 6 June there was a screening of "Vinyan" at the Pathé Lincoln for a few journalists. There were people from STUDIO Magazine, Première.fr, Canal+; there was also Laurent Grégoire, Emmanuelle Béart's agent, some women's magazines that I don't remember the names of, and others...
This screening was mostly organised for Michel Rebichon of STUDIO Magazine who absolutely wanted to see the film.I don't have all the details, but I can say that Rebichon and his team liked the film, liked it so much that they are proposing something good... Gaël Golhen de première.fr also saw the film. He talked to me about it with feverish enthusiasm. A "psychotropic" film, according to him... Having said this, the film is not to everyone's taste. Naturally.
Later that evening, around 8 pm, still at the Pathé Lincoln, there was another screening for Emmanuelle Béart, accompanied by Jean- Jacques Puchu, her treasured make-up artist/hairdresser (who shared the filming adventure) and Valérie, her press attachée. It was Emmanuelle's first viewing of the film. Which put me into quite a panic, especially after the refusal from Cannes... I greeted them with Michaël Gentile. They settled in and the film began. During the screening Michaël and I went to relax in the chic cafés on the Champs- Elysées.
An hour and thirty-five minutes later we met up with them again. I was relieved when I saw their faces at the end of the screening. Emmanuelle took a bit of time to re-emerge, she went off on her own for a few minutes. Jean-Jacques seemed pleased. He told me he was proud of the film, that the film resembled what we had experienced in Thailand. In his opinion it was really what we had filmed, something that isn't always easy... Valérie seemed very moved. Emmanuelle resurfaced very slowly, she talked confusingly for a moment, she pointed out a few things, she expressed a few doubts, she underlined a few impressions, and then she stopped dead and smilled at me. A smile which lit up her face. I suggested we go for dinner. At the table she whispered softly: "It's been a long time since anyone filmed me like that..." Michaël suggested another bottle of wine. Then another, and another. Until no one was thirsty anymore. Until the next morning... It was great.
Hi. You'll be able to see the poster and the trailer for "Vinyan" exclusively on (the site of ) première.fr next Friday. June 27. Apart from that, I saw the first 35mm copy with Debie at LTC on Tuesday. I cried . Damn. You should have seen it... "Vinyan" will be out on 1 October. It's final. So far... The wind is blowing, and pretty much in the right direction. Let's hope it lasts...
Today is actually the day that the post-production on "Vinyan" is finished. During the past weeks, Benoit and I did quite a lot of adjusting on the negative copy, today, still at LTC, it's all approved. Glistening, damp and highly contrasted the way we wanted. We're happy. The trailer has sparked excitement and quite a lot of curiosity. Thank goodness. On 7 July the film will come before the censorship commission. -12? -16? That is the question. Whatever happens we are not cutting anything. But that doesn't stop me from praying for a -12 rating, for proper distribution and the hope of selling a few tickets... A -16 restriction would be very painful. I've surely said this, but "Vinyan" is not a "gore" or "bloody" horror film, it's a story which slips slowly from a realisitic world into an impressionistic, savage and fanstatical one. A disturbing and spectacular experiment which seeks to arouse emotions, reactions, of repulsion or fascination... No matter what, as long as we provoke something! Actually, it's a proposition. A cinematic proposition, forthright and foolhardy. Today it's finished. Really finished. I won't have anyone to annoy, except the distributor, Michel Burnstein, and, of course, Michaël... So, while waiting for September, the festivals, promotion and debut, I'll take advantage of the time to immerse myself in the script for the Island of 30 Coffins...