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1 How would you describe the aesthetics of your film?
The form of KALAMA SUTTA: Seeing is Believing was very much governed by the fact that this work was shot on DV. As both maker and film editor for many years I consider all footage -- shot by myself or gathered from any other source including: archive, internet, undercover, Burmese junta TV -- all to be found footage when I sit down to cut it. Non-linear editing may lend itself to fast cutting techniques and ability to imitate the experimental film work of the past 4 decades, but video filming lends itself to long, slow, generous shooting: one can look at something/someone for a long time without feeling one is in a taxi with the meter running! I think the real potential of DV lies here (at least one of them!): the ability to keep your finger on the button as long as you like! This allowed me to shoot my own interviews in natural light, spontaneously, wherever & whenever I pleased. No need for lights, sound people, etc. (not that I ever used ditto anyway!).
2 Why did you choose to shoot on dv?
Was able to film inside Burma carrying false ID, in guise of tour operators making "video brochure" -- looking like every other tourist! For reasons of finances and logistics, tropical climate, agility, I could not have made this film in any other way. I am a 5'2"" woman, and was able to make a personal and poetic feature film about human rights, indiginous rights, etc. inside Burma -- researched, directed, filmed, and edited -- by myself. I was assisted by my co-producer/second camera Katherine Pieratos, who shot with an old Sony Hi-8 camera and kept things organized throughout. Gorgeous shots of hers made their way into KALAMA SUTTA.
3 What was special about shooting in dv (e.g.compared to 35mm, was it your first time with dv or are you used to it)?
First time. My last experimental feature BULLETS FOR BREAKFAST (World premier Berlin Film Fest, 1992) was made from Super 8 originals reworked on 16mm via JK optical printer. In my early documentary days (1965-70 - Fisher-Slezas Films inc) I worked as a camera/sound team: I did sound, and together we needed something like 15 cases of equipment for every shoot. With DV I was able to travel to refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border, or by motorcycle -taxi in downtown Bankok, with complete camera/sound capability in a small backpack on my back. I love the flexibility of being able to go anywhere at any time, shoot my own interviews, etc.
4 Which camera and which editing software did you use?
Sony 1000 w/ Sunheiser shotgun mounted on top and a pair of earphones. Custom-made battery packs that lasted through 3-4 hrs of shooting and fit in a belt pack and were plugged in at night (or 2hour quick-charge if there was power. Often in Burma there was not.) We also took several 'throw away' power packs that we only needed once or twice. That's it.
5 What was your shoot-edit ratio?
High. I learned that in shooting a video doc alone as I did there is no boundary between the research and the 'hunting/gathering' (shooting) phase. Therefore the ratio was high. I shot and gathered from a multitude of secondary sources over 200 hours of material. We also taught our translator at the Thai/Burma border how to shoot, and supplied him with Hi-8 film on several occasions. He was able to cover when the refugee where we did our interviews was burned to the ground by 'associates' of the Burma army. The finished work KAKAMA SUTTA: Seeing is Believing runs 96 minutes.
6 Would you have preferred to shoot in another format? If so which?
7 Does using dv mean that you are considering other means of distribution opposing the established? If so which?
Still need to learn what options I may have. Will consider any means to get this work maximum visibility.
8 One good word about dv (or two):
): I can't imagive ever turning back to film. Of course I'm still wanting it to look like film -- but am very interested in video's own look. Projection will of course improve. I am currently working with a very dedicated On-line guy, and am amazed at the stunningly beautiful results of his work. I will never go back to the old days of film timers, reject prints, lab costs, time lost, money lost, bankrupt labs, timers who retire in the middle of your job, labs that put your original on the street when they go out of business, etc. I have experienced all of this.
9 One bad word about dv (or two):
stay away from long shots!

[Holly Fisher has been active since the mid-60’s as an independent film-maker, teacher, and editor of feature documentaries. She received her BA Degree in Chinese Art History from Columbia University in New York City in 1964, and an MA in Cinema Studies from New York University in 1980. From 1966-71 she collaborated on cinema verité documentaries with a focus on political and environmental issues. From the early 1970s to the present, she has made numerous experimental films around issues of narrative, memory, and perception. Fisher’s films were given a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1995, and have been shown at major museums and festivals in the USA and Europe. Exhibits include two Whitney Museum Biennials; The Beaubourg Museum, Paris, France; ‘Image Forum’, Tokyo, Japan. Fisher’s film works are in the collections of the Donnell Film Library, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Parabola Arts Foundation. Films / Filme : 1966-71: Waterman, Progress. Pork-Barrel, and Pheasant Feathers. 1970: Subway, Psssht. 1972: Offseason. 1974: Apple Summer. 1976: Glass Shadows. 1978: This is Montage, Chickenstew, From the Ladies. 1980: The Wildwest Suite (Part I: Amarillo, Part II: Westcliffe Stampede, Part III: Ghost Dance, Part IV: Blue Movie. 1984: Rushlight. 1987: Soft Shoe. 1992: Bullets for Breakfast (Forum 1992). 1999: When Spiders Unite... 2001: KALAMA SUTTA: Seeing is Believing.]

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