Friday, September 18, 2009

Dogme 95

Ever since my BF hung the poster for Julien Donkey-boy up, I always had a thing against Dogme 95. Why? Because featured on the poster were a list of "Confessions" about the making of the movie and a tiny logo of an eye inside of a pig's ass. What is that you might ask? Oh, just Dogme 95 - a film collective started by two Dutchmen: Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. As a fresh-out-of-video-production-school kid, I wondered what it would be like to shoot a movie Dogme 95 style - despite the pretentiousness of Harmony's confessions.
There are 10 simple rules for Dogme 95 (with 10 being the most dramatic):
  • 1. Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.
  • 2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed, i.e., diegetic.
  • 3. The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.
  • 4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
  • 5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  • 6. The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  • 7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).
  • 8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  • 9. The final picture must be transferred to the Academy 35mm film, with an aspect ratio of 4:3, that is, not widescreen. Originally, the requirement was that the film had to be filmed on Academy 35mm film, but the rule was relaxed to allow low-budget productions.
  • 10. The director must not be credited.
As I read through the rules at my old night job, I was horrified. No wonder Harmony had to confess to the fact that he couldn't get his then-girlfriend Chloe Sevigny pregnant. If he hadn't, he would have broken rule #1 in a major way. He confessed to using a pillow from the location to fake her pregnancy in the movie, apparently. I refuse to watch Julien Donkey-boy because my BF has told me a bunch of times that it's really, really depressing and I'm NOT a fan of depressing movies / content. And the last time I watched something that involved Harmony Korine (a little diddy he wrote called Kids), I was depressed to the extreme AND I hated life for a long time after that.
So, I wanted to take the rules of Dogme 95 and mock them because I felt that it was a mockery of the evolution of filmmaking. Sure, they called themselves purists but isn't art supposed to evolve with time and be an expression for the artist: in any way they want to convey their message? If Harmony Korine wants to write / direct movies that are depressing as hell, that's his choice and I do my part by not watching them because I know I'm not comfortable with his content. So making a genre of filmmaking (breaking rule #8 in itself) to get away from Michael Bay-esque filmmaking sounds a little childish to me. Like, when you were little and started your own club because the other kids wouldn't let you join their club. But of course, once Lars and Thomas realized that they, themselves, had started a "genre" of movie, they broke up in 2005.

I think films can still submit for Dogme 95 status after they've taken the Vow of Chastity but I'm not sure. I don't think I can stand behind that. And I'm not the only one.



Katzi
S.L.Y.A.S.D.I.