Simplicity is a language.
Two happenings with unknown outcome took place, two unconnected dots, before making "Sunmoon", my first experimental film that wasn't suppose to be a film, but only a new video about making a bionic woman with an synthetic voice having human feelings through art, something I do to learn new creative skills, software and apps.
Back in 2017, I won the "Culture" prize of $7,000 for the chapter "The Value of Simplicity". It was part of the "Organizational Culture" change management module of a highly applicable leadership training course I designed for startup entrepreneurs and small business owners in the "Patterns for Success" crowdsourcing competition launched on the open innovation platform HeroX.
Before that, in 2014, I won another prize of $5,000 in a challenge called "Humanizing Tehnology" with a highly addictive banking app concept design I called "Your very personal banking coach" that seduced and scared in equal measure also me.
What these two winnings have in common is not my English (I am not a native speaker) or my genius solutions, but the language of simplicity, a dialect that has a laser effect that gives an idea or a story the force to rise above the crowd. Simplicity helps a good enough piece of content to breakthrough even though you don't have enough resources to make it look hiper professional. The old school basics never die, if everything goes wrong, a good story will always compensate the rest of the work. It's a matter of balance at its core. Simplicity is a muscle, the more you train it, the more powerful it becomes. It helps you cut through complexity and confusion and break it all down to simple and clean ideas.
Time went by, many things happened in between, including my enrolling in the Film Production MFA program at The National University of Theatre and Film "I.L. Caragiale" (UNATC) in Bucharest and here I am in February 2020 locked in my house during the first quarantine of the covid pandemic, watching all my projects floating in the air.
By that time my youtube channel hosted about 20 short experimental computer-animated more or less funny videos featuring Piper, my bionic woman learning how to feel alive, so I thought it's a good time to continue my experiments and make her a movie star.
The other movie and theatre star from the human side of the world, Romanian-French actress Marcela Motoc, my chosen one to play Nina, the lead character of my 37-minute drama comedy "The Locationist" that we managed to produced later that year, was restless. As the pandemic put our movie on hold, there was nothing much left to work on, each isolated in her own home.
Three characters from different realities: a human, a bionic and an animated one.
This is how all these dots started to connect and fall together in this unique experimental film about existence and love, consience, self and alter-egos, but at its core essence about the mechanics of dissociation, the way trauma splits the human mind and self, and about the mechanics of love as the antidote.
Why not put Piper work with Marcela? We have a human, a bionic...but why not also an animated character?
It is how Phany was created, as a necessity for a facilitator between worlds, the saviour who manages to get 6 extra minutes (the film duration) for Piper to make the ultimate choice.
There was no cent available to tell this unplanned story and no high power computer or advanced video editor to help me escape the nerve wraking frustration of working on a laptop crashing 10 times per minute and having its screen broken, a thing that distorted all colours, having no clue what the hell I was doing.
So, I had to compensate all lacks and limitations with old-school approaches, imagination , at-hand and free to use applications to create my film's environment.
Tools used to make the storytelling possible in an impossible context.
I used the following combination of software, hardware and apps: MovieStorm to create Piper's movements and gestures and to build the set, Sony Vegas 16 Movie Studio Platinum for video edit, From Text to Speech for Piper's voice, Photo Mirage to animate the themed photo, one that I made with my mobile few years before in the Canaries during a hypnotic sun eclipse, photo that also inspired the title of the movie, FlixPress, VoiceChangers to transform my voice (moon's voice), my laptop Lenovo Yoga 720, my Zoom H6 sund recorder.
Simplicity: a vital necessity.
The most important decision I had to make was to keep it as simple as possible, to not complicate things. No room for creator or director ego. No need for perfection. That meant I had to focus all my resources on the story and on Marcela's performance.
Marcela was supposed to see in Piper's reality, but not immediately, I needed a moment with her without knowing what exactly she's seeing. I needed her to be confused like someone who goes to sleep in their own bed and wakes up in a completely different reality. But Piper's reality didn't exist in our layer of existence and she was recording her lines on her smartphone while I was directing her from her laptop's screen abusing Zoom to make this work.
Marcela asked: "Why don't we just meet?". A legitimate question and a great opportunity to escape for a day or two our isolation.
But I was telling a story about transcending realities, so we needed to be the first who manage to transcend the distances between us. So, I approached the distance as a catapultor and the lockdown as an intensifier, amplifier and pressure maker. And my friend Scott Moodie's beautiful music to stand the heat. Nothing really tangible if I think about it.
It took me a month of torture to put it all together. I made many calculated compromises, but I told the story I wanted to tell crafting its way out of thin air into our layer of reality where people can see it.
I estimate its overall production value at $10,000, I enrolled it in about 80 film festivals to test its potential, was an official selection in two innovation focused small film festivals (Goa, India and Reykjavik Visions, Iceland) and its side effects are totally unexpected and unpredictable. Like any experiemental endevour, the unknown is the way.
For example, this year it brought me to CEE Animation Forum - the leading regional pitching, financing and co-production event - as a producer for the talented Romanian director Ana-Maria Gardescu's animation film "In Good Company", an experience that will make some differences for me in future when applying for grants and a unique learning opportunity, meeting industry professionals and festivals programers that I couldn't have met otherwise.
Here is Sunmoon trailer movie and this is where you can watch it.