Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Happy New Year, Class

Today's topic is: 
What constitutes an audience? 
Has the audience changed as I've moved from dance making to filmmaking?  
How has it changed from 1978 to 2018, over the 40 years since I first began presenting work?

[Wait! What? 40 Years?? ok, let's proceed.]

When I was in the business of presenting live work, typically the audience was the folks who bought their tickets, sat together in a darkened room and applauded at the end.  
(I'll never forget dancing right in front of one man who was fast asleep ... did he applaud at the end? ... never mind.) This audience probably actually knew something about me and my work or they wouldn't have bought a ticket in the first place.

Of course, when Arthur Avilés & I compiled the NEWSLETTERS recently, I was reminded of just how often Marta Renzi & The Project Co. performed outdoors for audiences who didn't necessarily buy a ticket, or choose the experience, or know anything about me - or contemporary dance for that matter. Often they wandered by; they stayed for as long as they felt like it; they voted with their feet.

Now that my work screens in festivals, the relationship to an audience can be similar in some ways: if it's at a festival there's usually a ticket, there's a group sitting in theater seats in the dark and there's applause at the end. They may not know my work; they're interested in the form, tend to trust the programming, and are up for a Q&A after.  

For this kind of audience, I'm flying all the way to California twice in early 2018 - to Borrego Springs Film Festival in January, and to SF Indie Fest in February - just for the experience of witnessing-the-witnesses to Her Magnum Opus. If a tree falls in the forest, I want to be there, goddammit. Since September this particular tree has fallen about monthly, but that won't last forever...

Of course my work can also be seen by a solitary viewer in online "festivals" - which I've discovered are completely unrewarding for me. My 2013 short Her Children Mourn was in one sponsored by New York Women in Film & Television, and included a pre-scheduled "chat" - which no one attended. Both Children and Honeymoon are currently in one called Cinemaniacs, which creates venue through Vimeo-On-Demand. Only $5, which is less than the price of a theater ticket in 1978 ...

And then there's the audience who stumbles on my dance films for free on Vimeo or YouTube. Brother's Keeper below is an example of lovely work which had some festival success, and lately has been "followed" or "liked" by men who like men. A self-selected audience who enjoys private screenings for free and has absolutely no interest in me or for that matter contemporary dance. 
Ok by me; I think these men are beautiful too.

Thanks to Vimeo/Youtube, I can even measure my audience by number of views and viewing time: Plays vs. Finishes. (True, I could've done the same with that sleeping viewer years ago, if only I'd remembered to clock him at show's end.) It's no news that nowadays we all vote with our fingers, easily clicking away when we're bored. Why not? In fact, even for you, Dear Public, what's posted above is only an excerpt, because I presume that you don't have the patience for the full 6:45-minute original.

So, class, to summarize: nothing much has really changed. 
I'm still making what I want to make, having some success at it and making it free and accessible whenever possible. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Skipped a period

Although these posts are meant to be monthly, last month's was merely a list of upcoming screenings. Her Magnum Opus has now had 4 of them: two at the Port Townsend Film Festival on the Olympic Peninsula, one at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, and one at YoFiFest in Yonkers. I'm happy to report that after 4 viewings, I don't twitch at every transition. I can almost see what's actually there instead of what existed in an earlier draft.

Certainly audiences see what's there - and they seem to be very moved by it.  

Delicious and whimsical. 

Stunning. Blew my mind on a dismal afternoon.

People have commented on how the toys dance, on the house-within-a-house, on the music, on how Opus makes them want to dance, how it allows viewers to receive the narrative at their own pace. One dear woman was crying too much to speak!

As well as a local screening coming up on Wednesday December 13 at Rivertown Film in Nyack, Opus is an Official Selection in the Borrego Springs Film Festival, where it will screen over MLK weekend, January 2018.  Now that I actually believe in it myself, I'm daring to submit to film festivals again, so there will be probably be more good news soon. I look forward to getting so jaded that I go out for dinner during the screening and only return for the Q&A, like a real filmmaker.

Below is the latest my latest short film, in search of lost time, which had a preview at BAAD! last month, and is already a semi-finalist in two festivals: 

- the 37th Black Maria Film Festival - where I have a 30-year history starting with Mountainview

 - Midwest RAD Fest.

One a dance/film fest, one not  : just like I like it.

In December, when I would be writing the next post, instead I'll be in Sao Carlos Brazil, where I was a guest artist 3 years ago during their Sao Carlos Videodance Festival. Over the course of a few weeks, I'll concoct a dance film, based on the work of choreographer Francisco Silva and his URZE companha  de danca, and shot by a local cameraperson.  

The plan: trust. The storyboard: a dream. The budget: love.  
And whatever magic does or doesn't happen, there's always the editing - what dancer Andy Chapman calls "editography".  To be done back here in Nyack, over the winter with images of summer in Brazil to keep me warm.

As Thanksgiving rolls around,  I have a lot to be grateful for.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Monthly dosage: Her Magnum Opus

October 29
Upstate Films
Rhinebeck, NY

November 5
Yonkers, NY

December 13 
Wednesday 8:00pm
Nyack, NY

Need I say more?

Friday, September 08, 2017

Calendars out, please!

A month (!) of east coast events will follow the west coast premiere of Her Magnum Opus at the Port Townsend Film Festival September 14-17. Here's hoping you can join me at some or all.  

Saturday, October 7 @ 8:30
Teatro Latea 
New York, NY 

Honeymoon will screen in the "Las Jefas" block of the 3rd Annual Official Latino Film Festival on the lower east side.  Block 8 looks like a great line-up of films, all directed by women.  And check out the great page Danny Hastings made just for Honeymoon.  I'll be attending, and I hope Carlos Gonzalez will too, since he and Tina Vasquez are the two Latinos who lend me cred.  To join me, get your tickets here.

Sunday, October 22 @ 3:00
the Bronx

This will be a special multi-media event sharing with the public the completed 2 volumes of MARTA RENZI: NEWSLETTERS, created by Arthur Aviles with photographs and newsletters spanning 3 decades.  Arthur will present a live dance performed by Jonathan Gonzalez, along with another book he created to archive that dance. All 3 books will be shared as both hard copies and projected on screen. Click on the newsletter image above right because you might be in there! If you are, I hope you can make it up to the Bronx to join in the reminiscing.  And lest we get stuck in the past, there'll also be a sneak preview of my latest short film, 
In search of lost time, featuring Aislinn MacMaster and David Thomson.
 Free admission. RSVP here.

Sunday, October 29 @ 2:00 
Upstate Films
Rhinebeck, New York 

A screening of Her Magnum Opus held in conjunction with 
Upstate Films and Bard College to celebrate the 86th birthday of our leading lady Aileen Passloff.  Arthur & Aileen will join me for a Q & A after, with cake to follow.  Follow us on Facebook to see who else will be attending.

November 3-8, details TBA
Yonkers, New York 

The east coast premiere of Her Magnum Opuspresented by the coolest film festival in the Hudson Valley.  If you can't make Aileen's October birthday party, join us in Yonkers where there'll be a red carpet and a whole lot of other great films. 

And for those of you who live between the two coasts, stay tuned because we're concocting plenty of opportunities to see Opus in the future.