2.57k (Canada | 2015, 13 minutes)

Directed by: Eva Colmers

Written by: Eva Colmers

Cast: Amber Borotsik, Tony Olivares

From dust they arise, drawn together by a magic frequency …

Interview:

An Interview with Eva Colmers, Writer and Director of "2.57K" by Caleb Dawdy

CD: Regarding the use of Black and White, with such a definite and stark contrast, what did you seek to convey with the removal of color?

EC: We shot the film in colour and, initially, even edited the footage in colour. But with an overriding interest in minimalism, it didn’t take long until editor aAron munson and I realized that stripping the film of its colour is the way to go. I firmly believe that “less is more” and by removing the colour, the viewer can focus more deeply on other elements of the film like texture and patterns – important aspects of this work.

In our often excessive, “über” society, more is frequently equated with better. But if we replace our quest for more (quantity) with one that instead looks more deeply at what we have, we may be rewarded with the discovery of hidden treasures.

CD: What influences in cinema, art or theatre, lead to your use of that B/W photography?

EC: With a background in theater, I always admired plays that unfold richly on a black stage just with lighting, strong acting and music – no clutter of set and costume. Having studied Indonesian wayang kulit shadow puppetry and then wrote/directed several shadow plays only added to my fascination of light and shadow. The whole minimalist movement fascinates me. So … randomly, and in no particular order, some of the artists that influence me are: filmmakers F W Murnau, Jane Campion, Tarsem Singh, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, photographer Michael Kenna, painters like Käthe Kollwitz, Marc Chagall and musicians like Steve Reich, Air but also Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq or architects like Douglas Cardinal.

CD: There exists in this piece, a large nod to the creation of life. What was the reasoning behind the symbolism of life from dust?

EC: Watching sand-sound artist Gary James Joynes do “magic” on his cymatic plates, prompted me to research and write free-styel about sand and vibration. As I dug deeper, I realized that sand (matter) and vibration (motion) are the key elements of life. Many different cultures reference sand and breath (a form of vibration) as the beginning of life. So, "2.57K" is indeed a creation story of sorts. But I also wanted to go further and show the continuous change of matter and shape – within the micro as well as the macro level.

CD: When the sand in the film is used as a weapon, I couldn’t help but immediately think back to that infamous seen in ‘2001’ when the first tool is used as a weapon. Could you speak towards this imagery in your own words?

EC: In a world where there is nothing but sand, sand becomes everything and the actors use is fluidly and alternatingly as gift, offering as well as a weapon. I guess, every object can be used in a positive or negative way – it is up to us humans how we utilize it.

CD: When creating this piece, did the idea of the physical performance come first, or was this medium in service to the story you looked to convey?

EC: Gary James Joynes is a cymatic sand-sound installation artist and when I first saw his live performance in 2013, I was absolutely enthralled by the magical beauty and simplicity of the moving sand grains. Eager to somehow work with this medium, I introduced myself to Gary who, to my surprise, knew about me and expressed equal interest to collaborate. But what should it be?

CD: Are you able to speak a little to the writing and shooting process?

EC: Initially, I simply watched …again and again … how Gary carefully sprinkles fine white sand onto a metal plate mounted onto a speaker while adjusting the sound level to decibel levels so high that the plate starts to vibrate and the sand grains move and create intricate patterns – not unlike ancient mandala patterns. It’s magic without computer technology. It’s simple and yet so encyclopedically powerful.
Some free-flow writing on the words of sand and vibration was very useful to me. As I dug deeper, I realized that sand (matter) and vibration (motion) are the key elements of life. Many different cultures reference sand and breath (a form of vibration) as the beginning of life.

I had only three rehearsals with the dancers, Tony Olivares and Amber Borotsik, primarily to help them feel comfortable with each. The beats of the story were down on my paper but we needed to find the best way to physicalize the characters’ motivations and goals. Tony and Amber explored and developed specific movements to communicate with the other. All these rehearsals took place in a studio with a wooden floor and did not fully prepare the performers for moving around in 80 cubic feet of sand. So, several movements had to be adjusted on set.

Most complex was the camera rehearsal. To allow the eye to see each grain of sand, we had to massively slow down some particular shots. This is possible with the newly developed Phantom camera which can shoot up to 1400 frames per second (normally, pictures are shot at 24 or 25 fps). However, shooting at that rate, requires a lot of light which was a challenge since our two humans in the film meet in a dark, almost black place in space. Fortunately, aAron had experience with this powerful camera but we also had an extensive practise shoot with the Phantom as well as with our second camera, the Sony F55.

CD: What were some of the issues you faced in creating this piece?

EC: Cameras do not like sand and we constantly had to clean lenses and find a way to protect the camera yet be as close as possible.
Shooting the moving sand grains on the metals plates was rather challenging, too. In order to motivate the sand grains to forge these amazing patterns, the volume needed to be high … very, very high and we had to shoot with heavy ear protection to block out the ear-piecing high pitch and volumn. The pattern created at 2.57 kilohertz was our favourite, ying-yang like sand pattern and, ultimately, became our title.

CD: Lastly, what are you working on currently? What can we expect from you in the future?

EC: I’m producing an animation short film for a Hungarian puppet friend called "Sophia." I’m in production with a short doc called "We Before Me" for the Canadian broadcaster BravoFACTUAL. And I’ve just finished post-production for a dramatic shortfilm called "Happy Birthday, Mango!" about a foreign careworker who desperately tries to connect with her son back home, on his birthday. The film looks at our “busy” life style and our ability or inability to connect with other. I will premiere this fall and I hope it’ll be at the New York City Independent Film Festival in 2018.