“Almost like a real web site”

Search | Contact
News | e-News |
Rumour Mill | Stories
Foreign Language
in70mm.com auf Deutsch


Todd-AO Festival
KRRR! 7OMM Seminar
GIFF 70, Gentofte
Oslo 7OMM Festival
Widescreen Weekend

Premiere | Films
People | Equipment
Library | Cinemas
Todd-AO Projector
Distortion Correcting

Ultra Panavision 70
Super Panavision 70

1926 Natural Vision
1929 Grandeur
1930 Magnifilm
1930 Realife
1930 Vitascope
1952 Cinerama
1953 CinemaScope
1955 Todd-AO
1955 Circle Vision 360
1956 CinemaScope 55
1957 Ultra Panavision 70
1958 Cinemiracle
1958 Kinopanorama
1959 Super Panavision 70
1959 Super Technirama 70
1960 Smell-O-Vision
1961 Sovscope 70
Cinerama 360
1962 MCS-70
1963 70mm Blow Up
1963 Circarama
1963 Circlorama
1966 Dimension 150
1967 DEFA 70
1967 Pik-A-Movie
1970 IMAX / Omnimax
1974 Cinema 180
1976 Dolby Stereo
1984 Showscan
1984 Swissorama
1986 iWERKS
1989 ARRI 765
1990 CDS
1994 DTS / Datasat
2001 Super Dimension 70
2018 Magellan 65

Various Large format | 70mm to 3-strip | 3-strip to 70mm | Specialty Large Format | Special Effects in 65mm | ARC-120 | Super Dimension 70Early Large Format
7OMM Premiere in Chronological Order


Australia | Brazil
Canada | Denmark
England | France
Germany | Iran
Mexico | Norway
Sweden | Turkey

7OMM Projectors
People | Eulogy
65mm/70mm Workshop
The 7OMM Newsletter
Back issue | PDF
Academy of the WSW

• 2026 | 2025 | 2024
2023 | 2022 | 2021
2020 | 2019 | 2018
2017 | 2016 | 2015
2014 | 2013 | 2012
2011 | 2010 | 2009
2008 | 2007 | 2006
2005 | 2004 | 2003
2002 | 2001 | 2000
1999 | 1998 | 1997
1996 | 1995 | 1994

in70mm.com Mission:
• To record the history of the large format movies and the 70mm cinemas as remembered by the people who worked with the films. Both during making and during running the films in projection rooms and as the audience, looking at the curved screen.
in70mm.com, a unique internet based magazine, with articles about 70mm cinemas, 70mm people, 70mm films, 70mm sound, 70mm film credits, 70mm history and 70mm technology. Readers and fans of 70mm are always welcome to contribute.

Disclaimer | Updates
Support us
Table of Content

Extracts and longer parts of in70mm.com may be reprinted with the written permission from the editor.
Copyright © 1800 - 2070. All rights reserved.

Visit biografmuseet.dk about Danish cinemas


A Conversation with Mark Magidson and Ron Fricke
Aero Theatre, Santa Monica, USA. After a screening of "Baraka", 30 April 2010

The 70mm Newsletter
Transcribed by: Peggy & Paul RaytonDate: 21.08.2011
The AERO in Santa Monica. Image by Paul Rayton

Editorial note: This interview has been transcribed from the original event recording. It has been slightly modified to optimise clarity in reading. The complete interview can be listened to in its’ entirety [downloadable MP3 ZIPed file, 36 mBytes, ed]. Timepoints are inserted every so often, so you can access the specific question or answer more readily. Some questions from the audience were not audible from the tape, but the sense of the questions have been described herein, where possible. Many of the mumbles, “ummms” and "you knows" have been edited out as unessential, but you can hear all of them in the audio recording. However, the full essence of what was actually said is presented here. Words [in brackets] have been added in by the editors, to fill in some unspoken word gaps, since unscripted answers to questions can sometimes be somewhat “stream of consciousness” and not initially organized the same way as written articles .

Q - Moderator
I'm curious about how you guys conceptualize a movie like this -- what's the starting point? Do you start with an idea you want to explore, or locations? ... What was the origin of this film?

Ron Fricke
That's a good question for you, Mark.

Mark Magidson (00:42)
It's so long back I can't even remember now. I think it was something we ... it's really realizing something that you're trying to communicate, I think. Which, I guess, hopefully, the film does. By making a film piece of art that is not really trying to make statements so much as to let you have an inner kind of experience, like as Ron would call it, a "guided meditation" … that’s a starting point. But then you have to realize [accomplish] that, in reality, by choosing locations [for the photography] and [then, specifically] choosing [properly selected] locations that allow [your vision] to come across.

Q - Moderator
And what are the logistics of that like, [with multiple locations]? The end credits of this movie, you look at one location after another [listed]. How did you even start to plan this movie?
It would have been great if we had YouTube! In those days we didn't, so it was lots of picture books and videos and [knowledge from] other projects, you know, that we'd worked on before. Especially, I come from a large format background so it's a lot of travel projects.

Well, speaking of large formats, this was shot in 70mm and I noticed in the end credits that you guys built your own 70mm cameras, is that right?
R (2:06)
Yeah. I wouldn't recommend that. It's not something you want to do...

And why did you do that? What does yours do that the normal Panavision [cameras would not do].
R (2:15)
Well, we were really into the time-lapse mode, so we built a special camera that would let us pan, tilt, and dolly and time-lapse [all at the same time] (applause).

And why ... the film you did before this -- that was "Chronos", right, and that was shot in Imax. So why did you choose to switch over from Imax to 70mm?
M (2:38)
Well, a lot of of reasons. I think Imax was great, but it was a little frustrating at the back end of it. First of all, the films usually are supposed to be within an hour -- they turn the theatres every hour, usually in museums. And the content in Imax films is generally of a certain kind of nature, [so] that we felt it was time to go beyond with a longer form, a feature length film. And this format, the 5-perf widescreen -- will play in a 35mm theatre as a 35mm anamorphic print also, so it just opens up an entirely different kind of way to see the film. It's frustrating to work so long on "Chronos" and then not have theatres. In those days -- there are more now -- but you couldn't show it in San Francisco, for example. There wasn't an Imax theatre, that kind of thing. And you would wait many months for theatres to open up because they booked films for months. That kind of thing. So, it was just time to move to a longer form of film and to a different format.

And what kind of camera package and crew do you have? Like, how big is your production that you're travelling all over the world with?
R (3:48)
What's that ... 40 cases, something like that? 20 or ... ?
No, no, it's far more than that. Like 40 some [cases of cameras and associated equipment].. We had two camera systems, we had the time lapse camera system, we had a Todd-AO system that shot conventional frame rates that we rented, and then we just had a crew of 5 people only, so it was about being as minimal as you can be, and then that allowed us to be out longer. You know, we're basically shooting in natural light 95% of the time, so you don't need a lot of lighting. A little bit, but [not much].
A lot of waiting in airports!

What kind of schedule did you have, I mean, were you going ... Did you have breaks in between the locations, or how did you structure the whole shoot?
R (4:33)
It was pretty much non-stop. It was 12 months. (directing question to Mark: Was that what it was?)
More in 70mm reading:

An Interview with Ron Fricke

"Sacred Site", A short film in 65mm Omnimax

"Samsara" to Premiere in Canada, September 11, 2011

"Baraka" cast and credits
"Baraka" HD Digital
Todd-AO at "Sea" in Copenhagen

"Samsara" a 70mm film project by Ron Fricke
"Samsara" - in Panavision Super 70 / System 65

Internet link:

Official "Baraka" web

Magidson Film: "Samsara", "Baraka" and "Chronos"

Spirit of "Baraka"


Ron Fricke around 1992, at the time of "Baraka"'s release.

I think we did 14 months. We did 24 countries and we would go out for maybe 6, maybe 7 weeks, max, and then come back for maybe one week, or maybe 10 days or something. We didn't ship film back; we carried it with us. It was risky to carry, it was also risky to ship it unattended, so we ended up taking it with with us so we really didn't know what we had. We'd come back and look what we got and go back out again. People back home would be kind of setting up the next "loop", as we called it, while we were out. And we'd go out.. It's tough to be out there for more than 6 - 7 weeks at a time. You just ... it really gets difficult to be out that long, and ... grueling. We work almost every day.

And how much of what you're capturing is planned, and how much of it is discovered?
R (5:33)
Well, it's a ... We just go out and shoot the heck out of everything, so it's as much planning as you can do. We have a scenario we work with, you know, sections of the film. But [then] you just get out there and start shooting!

And how did the people react? Especially when you were in the more rural areas? Were they ... you know ... how did they react to your 65mm and 70mm camera equipment?
R (6:01)
A lot of time we had to hide in the van and shoot out a secret little window to get the shots of kids in the streets, and people we wanted. And then a lot of times we'd re-enact the scene. We'd see it the day before, and then we'd come back the next day and get everybody in the same place.

Q Moderator
Some of these locations today would seem pretty politically volatile, like Iran. What was it like then? Shooting? Did.... Were you guys ever ... did you ever feel like you were in danger in any of those places?
R (6:38)
Yeah, in Iran there were bullet holes in all the windows of the hotels. And in Kuwait there were no [locks]. All the locks were taken off the doors!
We were there in Kuwait, that was really an amazing thing, for 3 days, at the time of the Gulf War. And all the mirrors had been broken by the Iraqui soldiers, for whatever reason -- I don't know! You know, it was easier then than it is now. We are currently making another non-verbal film. We've been out for 3 years to 26 countries, I think, and we're in the editing process now. It's harder now than it was then, from just an access standpoint. People are much more concerned about ... they want to know a lot more about the project before they let you film them [than] they did before we made "Baraka", so in that way it's easier and probably on the other hand it's probably a little easier being out ... [And] the sort of quality of food around the world is a little better than it was then! So, I guess [you could say] there's sort of, different ... things!
Access is the big problem. Just getting access to things. That's what makes or breaks it.

Q Moderator (7:45)
Did you guys have somebody sort of going ahead of you as you were going out on these "loops"? To get permissions, to shoot in all these places, and things like that.
The best we could, yeah. But you just never know [until] you get there.
We had local people we hired in each country in advance. That was pre e-mail, so it was all by fax.
Mark Magidson around 1992, at the time of "Baraka"'s release.

Q Moderator (8:03)
At what point in the process do you start thinking about the music? Because the music and the sound design of the movie is amazing and is that something that you're thinking about as you’re shooting, or is the music -- does that come into it completely in post-production?
R (8:18)
It's a little of both. On "Baraka" we were cutting with music, and without. On the new project ["Samsara"] we're ... it's a whole zen thing: we're cutting the whole thing without music.

Q Moderator
What format are you shooting the new project ["Samsara"] on?
Well, we didn't learn our lesson! We're back out there with these old Panavision 70mm cameras. You know, we could be shooting HD but ...

Does that pose any kind of distribution problems? I mean, did you find it hard to get 70mm theatres that would play this movie when it came out? I don't even know how many of them are still around ...?
M (8:53)
It will be a hybrid, this process. You know we certainly are not "old school" to the point we ... when we started this project we'd been doing it so long that back then the standard -- the digital standard -- was not what it is today, even [just] 2 or 3 years later. So we didn't want [to be technologically obsolete].... "Baraka" has had a very long life [since initial release] but that kind of started slow, and has kept going, fortunately. And, in anticipation of, hopefully, a similar kind of film that doesn't have sort of star-driven [storyline], that's not going to drive hoards of people to the theatres ... You sort of have to think that -- you don't want to shoot in a format that will appear to be dated in a couple of years, and digital -- everything digital! -- has that issue. We went back to 70mm just feeling that it would hold up forever, but we will do a hybrid situation with the 70mm negative. We'll create a digital, what's called a "digital intermediate", that'll allow us to take advantage of -- for example -- new projection systems that are just being introduced now, a 4K standard that's coming out, that has much higher quality than the previous 2K standard. Not to get into the technical part of it, but, it's important that the film hold up into the future.

Q (Moderator)
I'd like to open it up to the audience if anybody has any questions.

Q (10:18)
Thank you very much. It's totally inspiring, even for all the times I've see it. I've a quick one - "micro" question and then a "real" question. The micro question is, there is [that] sort of spiritual/architectural space in it, you know, sort of, the cathedral sort of space with all the reflective mirrors installed all inside. Where might that be?
(Mod: Did you guys in the back hear the question?)
That was the hall of mirrors in Iran.

Awesome. OK, so then, the "real" question: One of the things that I found most powerful is the humanness of this film, all across the board, and one of the aspects that really emphasizes that is your entrance into the personal vulnerable space where people open up to us as an audience, and to the lens directly, with their gaze. I'm interested to just hear you talk for a moment about what the experience was on the location with those individual people, as to how you were able to be welcomed into their personal emotional sphere and it seems that was one of the things you were after and, if not, it certainly came across, and it's something that really inspires me and has me really looking forward to "Samsara" as well. So, yeah, ramble at will...!
It's like it comes from the still photography. A really good portrait photography, where you plop the camera in front of someone and ask them to stare into the lens. So ... and there's really no direction. You get a lot of who and what they are. It's what I call the "guided meditation" aspect of it.
Berlin 2009, Mark Magidson and location stills from "Samsara" on the computer. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

Q (following up)
So people who were such as -- it looked like it was Thailand, perhaps? -- where there was that military sort of little pile of ammunition and the guys there...?
They were right outside our hotel in ... Cambodia.

Q (continuing)
... And they were just able to say "OK, yeah, we're fine being exposed."?
Yeah, they looked great! They were all posed and we set up and said, "OK, guys ... look over here"!
I'm sorry I think Ron is being a little modest. I think it's a lot about us picking a subject, choosing a subject, that is more open, you know, possibly. I don't know, you got a gut feeling, that's all what it is. It works. It's finding people that are able to kind of expose their inner selves to the camera.

Q (12:50)
Thank you guys so much for coming [out] tonight. Your footage of Kuwait was particularly extraordinary. I've got kind of a compound question: Was that what was known as the "Highway of Death", and if it was, what were your feelings shooting that, and, [question 2], how did you end up there in Kuwait at that particular time? Was that coincidence, or did you jump on a plane and go when you heard about it on the news? So, kind of, all these topics ...?
Yeah, where were we? In Egypt?
We were nearby ...
Yeah, that was the "Highway of Death", and we were glad we weren't down there, that's for sure. And it was really cool -- they offered us free helicopters and numerous [other help].... I remember when we were finished filming for the day, we were just black from oil [smoke].
It was raining oil.
We had to fly around all the plumes [of smoke] and not get caught in it.
We saw it on the news and thought, "yeah, maybe we should try to get in there", and it just turned out that the government of Kuwait was actually very into have it documented so it kind of ... they welcomed us in and, as Ron said, they gave us helicopters to use for 3 days. It was fascinating -- we were staying with all the international crews that were there to put out the fires, from Canada, and Russia, and all over, eating with them [etc.], so it was a very interesting 3 days. But it was ... just, it just rained drops of oil all day!

Q (14:29)
Thank you. I was wondering if you travel with [women] on your crew for either [making that] film, or on the one you're making [now]?
Well, we had girlfriends on the first one, and on the second one -- no girlfriends!

Q (15:04)
Thanks again. (much barely audible, but ends with: I just wanted to know how you approach a shot like that.)
R (15:34)
I think that was the Soy Cowboy in Bangkok. We just walked around and found a friendly bar... I mean, they're all pretty friendly, and we just got permission to shoot the girls, so we just brought them out and sort of posed them.
And again, it's this guided meditation kind of thing, where you're not asking them to do anything, you just let 'em settle down. Usually what I do -- especially on this new film where we have a lot of portraiture -- is I set the camera up and then I try to get the crew out so nobody is looking at them and I just kind of turn the camera on. I don't even look through the lens most of the time.

Q (16:20)
Thank you very much, you guys, for coming out. Where do you see the future of this visual story telling, and also what does a lesser [small, like yourselves] outfit have to do to get funding?
M (16:38)
You know, [I'm not sure I understand] the first part of your question ... where do we see this type of project, where do we see it ... [as far as the future of visual storytelling?]

Q (16:45)
Yes. (fur
Go ahead ...
M (16:57)
I can only speak for us. This project is something that has meaning, and you've got to do something that you feel. I couldn't speak for anybody [else], but our project that we have the desire and inspiration to do it. As to funding, it's very difficult; it's all independent, private.

Yes, [another] thanks for coming out! I want to know at the end of the film, there were scenes where you were shooting... it looked like the sun was out, and stars as well. I don't know -- I was completely blown away by that and was wondering how it happened?
R (17:39)
That's all during the full moon, so you get that bright light like the sun. And you're doing long exposures -- I think they were, what?, 60 seconds or something.
M (17:48)
We only shot those like 3 days a month, so that [entire] ending sequence took a lot of full moons because you needed enough moonlight to light the monuments, or the natural monuments. So 3 days a month, we'd do that. And you'd end up with about 10 to 12 seconds a night.
R (18:06)
I think about 6 to 8 hours to shoot 10 seconds.
Mark Magidson and Ron Fricke in Arizona with 65mm time-lapse camera

Q (Moderator)
I was wondering about that -- with some of the time-lapse sequences, how would you... I mean, they seem like they would have taken quite a long time. Did you guys just go in shifts or something? How did you ...
R (18:22)
We'd just go to sleep in the hotel and leave somebody with the camera! [laughter in audience]. It was usually Mark. [laughter in audience].

(inaudible question, seems to ber)
That was the multiple escalator you saw. The "waterfall of people".

(question inaudible, but having to do with editing equipment)
M (18:52)
We edited in linear 3/4" video tape, back in those days. Yeah, it's a little different now! It took a lot longer than it does now.

Q (19:02)
Do you take the film from the theatre and bring it in the the classroom in order to encourage students who are taking the from this non verbal art, to be able to use to create something to create dialogue -- beyond this theatre, in the classroom. Is that something that is [within] the scope of what you do, or is it more [exclusively] theatrical?
M (19:27)
You know, we have not done that, although others have, and we certainly [have] been open to them doing that. … I have gotten letters, and I'm sure Ron has, too, from different universities, or even elementary schools, where they use the film as a tutorial, but we haven't made or put any [educational] aids together, so to speak

(inaudible question, having to do with lighting equipment for the production)
R (20:34)
We had a very small lighting package. I think it was an Arri kit, with three 1000 watt lamps. Yeah, and most of the material in the film was all shot in time-lapse, so even though there was nothing moving, we would undercrank it to get the exposure up. So, very, very, low -- I think it was maybe just 5 or 6 shots where scenes were lit.

This is my favorite film! [semi-audible question: Where was the first place you premiered it, and please give us an overall sense of the crowd -- did they go crazy over it? -- and a summary of the overall size of the crew]?
M (21:31)
It was at Montreal -- Montreal Film Festival. You know, it's a great festival-type film. So, it's played great at film festivals. And, yeah, for us, it was just the small five of us, and Michael Stearns came in with the music later. It's a real experience to bring it out and show it to the world [after being in production for a long time]. The film took almost 3 years to make and you're sort of, "in your hole" doing that, and then ... it was exciting to take it out, yeah.
R (22:06)
We were totally freaked out! We didn't know whether people were going to think, really -- [to know what] to make of a movie with no words, or actors, or a real story...

Was there a moment [then, inaudible] when you felt it was [all] going to work?
I don't know! (laughter in audience). You mean it works?!?
Yeah, I think we knew it was working. I mean, I guess we were fairly ...
We just followed our gut a lot, and went along with our intuition. But you know, your head will tell you a lot of crazy stuff...!

(Semi-audible -- having to do with "what was the most difficult part of making the movie?")
R (22:51)
It was all hard to do. When we were in Australia, there was a fly epidemic. It was a ... do you remember that, Mark?
Yeah, that was nasty!
[They were] crawling in your nose and your mouth..., and so we ended up shooting aerials!
M (23:16)
There were those kind of experiences. Usually [considering] our subject matter, we get the shoot done within a day. [For example], the monkey chant that you mentioned ... it was [one] day, a full day shoot. You know it's a long hard day, but it's over. There wasn't anything that I'd say, as a shoot, was [impossible]. I do think some of the locations were quite difficult and challenging. Even recently, we were in Ladocque [?] in the cold time of the year for this new film, and it was pretty tough being there ... very cold and damp and ... no running water, not hot running water. They bring us buckets of water in the morning [for example], so it still can be difficult being out in some places.

Q (24:02)
(inaudible question having to do with previous movies Ron had worked on)
R (24:17)
Yeah, I worked on "Koyannisquatsi". Cinematographer and Editor. [applause from audience].

R 24:30)
This was the first time .... anyone had really made a non-verbal feature film. Then, when Francis Coppola liked it, we thought, "Wow, this is good!". But to embark on [a project like] "Baraka", it's a totally different frame of reference than “Koyannisqatsi” was. "Koyannisqatsi" was [about] technology out of control, and "Baraka" is, really, you could say, it's about humanity's relationship to the eternal....

(inaudible, to Mark about "Baraka" at home)
M (25:12)
Yes, I hope you all go out and buy a Blu-Ray! We brought out the Blu-Ray last December -- no, October? -- something like that. It was, I think, a "first of its kind" process, where we made a new film element from the old negative. Film stocks have improved. Digital has improved, but film stocks have also gotten better in recent years, so we used... we [made that print] and then we did a high resolution scanning process that took each frame of the film and scanned it into a computer as almost like a high-resolution still frame. I think that the file size of the entire scan of "Baraka" for the Blu-Ray ended up being a file that was 30 Terabytes in size. That's amazing. It gets then [was] down-rezzed to [the] Blu-Ray standard which is much, much lower. But we did a lot of testing, and no one had ever done this before. And most people aren't starting with 70mm prints, or 65mm negatives, so we had an advantage going in. We did tests at different resolutions and it ended up really retaining more detail even though the ultimate Blu-Ray file was the same size as something [which could have been originated] at a lower [original] scan level. It was still better to go with the higher [resolution], huge file size because when it gets distilled it ends up with more resolution, more sharpness and more detail. So, it's really really quite a transfer and I'd urge you to check it out if you're interested. And we also, [with] the distributor, MPI, put together a 78 minute "The Making Of 'Baraka'" piece that we had never bothered to do. We had all this ... I guess it was Hi-8 ... videotape footage from [the days out during the shoots] that was sitting in a box in my office. I gave it to a filmmaker that put this thing together for us.

(inaudible question -- having to do with "did the experience of making "Baraka" influence your production of future projects, presumably including "Samsara".)
R (27:27)
That's a good question! Gee ... it's been a while since we made "Baraka" so ... I think it's just, as the older you get, the wiser you get. But I think it's helped us a lot to make the new film. You just let go of what your head is telling you, and you just work from your intuition and your gut, and that's what this kind of filmmaking is -- it's really that "guided meditation". That's what we're trying to do is [make it so that it] flows together emotionally, but [as] soon as it starts to make sense -- then it's a problem! It's a documentary. So, we're comfortable with that, but making the first one was .... was, you know, "tough"!

(semi-audible question, but having to do with the images of human skulls stacked up)
M (28:46)
I'm not sure what images you're talking about... There was ... Those photographs ... Oh! That was the killing fields in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge had similar practices as the Nazis, where they impeccably documented everything they did -- they took pictures of everybody. and then had them on that wall and it's now a museum called the Tillislain Museum. It was a school...
.... right...
... a school that was turned into a concentration camp, I guess.

(inaudible question)
We weren't there and I'm not sure what images you're talking about.
R (29:24)
Probably the Kayapo Indians.
That would have been in Brazil.
R (29:30)
There was a lot of mosquito bites there, I remember ... and ... suddenly they were out dancing, and it was like what!? So we had to rush out and shoot 'em. So, everybody was really friendly and open. I think it's the title we had, "Baraka", that's opened doors. We just didn't have any problems really, in that regard, being shut out.

Q (29:53)
I was just wondering ... on "Chronos", Michael Stern did the whole score. Of course, it's only 20 minutes long... With "Baraka", you licensed a lot of songs. ... Was there the idea the Michael Stern would do the whole score with original music or was it always decided from the beginning that you would license ... commercial ... ?
M (30:21)
Well, I think it was always the idea that we'd bring in pieces of music and this ... is something that is just a different style of filmmaking than [for example] "Koyannisqatsi", when there's one composer's music on the whole film. You know, I think it lends itself to when you're making a film that's got to hold [your] interest for an hour and a half -- or 96 minutes in this case -- it's important ... I think, to keep a dynamic soundtrack, where it's changing. It's not sort of like a "thumb print" of one composer. At least, for what we're doing. And that works for us. And Michael doesn't have ... [Michael is] a musical director, and not just a composer. He loves the right kind of music that's not [necessarily] his, so it was [that] he found a lot of that music for us. And [some] other pieces we found. I found a couple of them, and it all just sort of worked together.

Q (31:12)
And, for "Samsara", will music be the same musical direction?
Yeah. Michael's going to be involved. It will be a similar style. It won't be ... his original composition through the whole film, just like [we did here in "Baraka"]

There are 3 Kabuki girls ... is there a meaning to their dance?
R (31:33)
Ahhh, the Geishas. They just go into a trance. They're pretty easy to shoot! You just show up and light 'em, and there they go.
M (31:47)
I think it's a non-verbal art form, performance art, that’s called Butoh. There was also the guy with his eyes rolled up in his head and similar ... that it's a contemporary Japanese art form where they're ... and that one is particularly good because they went through all their emotions.
We went to their theatre and they went through a couple of different things for us. We shot several different things, not knowing what we really had in mind, just that we wanted their performance, and the 3 Geishas made it into the film.
And that is certainly not scripted. That's something you find. We found [it] there and didn't know how we were even going to use [it], but [we] found a place for it.

With "Samsara", how ... (rest of question is inaudible)
M (32:43)
For the most part, we try to get releases from [people], particularly from portrait subjects. Obviously, sometimes on the street you don't do that, and [in] crowd [scenes].
It's a lot tougher now than it was in the "Baraka" days.

(Inaudible question, apparently having something to do with "how did you get started making movies like these?")
R (33:05)
Gosh! (laughs), well, I think just working on some non-verbal projects. "Koyannisqatsi" and some others. That just always wanted to make a project of this nature ... a "guided meditation".

(semi-audible question)
M (33:38)
That was a steel mill in Poland, and I think it's coke they're putting in those ovens.
It was steel.

(isemi-audible question)
R (34:02)
I remember when we shot the Kecak, the big ... group of sons and fathers in Bali ... I remember this ... it was an 8 hour shoot, and, between camera breaks, you'd see the fathers and sons hugging and kissing each other. I just remembered thinking, "God, I never hugged and kissed my father like that", you know? All day long this was going on! It was ... an interesting shoot. It was really warm to see something like that.

(as repeated by moderator:) What's "Samsara" -- their new movie -- about?
R (34:50)
Birth, death, and rebirth are the themes we are working with.

I just wanted to know ... how these 2 films affected you, personally.
I don't know quite how to answer that ... Mark?
M (35:20)
I think we try to come from a non-judgmental place. I mean, I think that ... I don't know that that's changed ... from before to after. I think that ... you see and go around around in all these places, and see how people live, and everybody is looking ... in a lot of ways, for the same things: some meaning to their life. Some, obviously the basics. The food and the shelter thing, which is a challenge for a lot of people, much more than I think we realize here [in the US]. So, you know, I think that, hopefully ... it's just about for us being accepting and respectful, and reverential for everybody.

The AERO in Santa Monica. Image by Paul Rayton

Q (36:06)
I was curious, what ... happened to all the excess [unused] footage?
I think we shot this ... what, 10-to-1? It was a very low ratio, so there wasn't a scrap left.
M (36:30)
9-to-1, technically, something [like that]. You know, all the really good shots were in [the movie]. We had some of the footage ... [was made available] for commercials ... and stock footage ... occasionally. So there's not a whole lot that's not [already] in [the movie] that's real good.

(semi-audible question apparently having to do with any pre-production storyboarding and scenario)
R (37:07)
It was just sections of ideas for ... different ... sections of the film. Not too detailed, but we broke it up into 5 or 6 sections.
There were, like, categories of material, [such as] images [of manufacturing], or nature. What we called "organic" images, which are nature without any people in 'em. Or buildings. And ... prayer -- people in prayer, people in groups in prayer. The monk -- the [camera] dolly through the monk's head was a plan, and then the ending with the star field sequence was [a planned] sequence. But you know you go out and you can only plan so much ... it's got to be made with the images of the reality of that [which] you ended up with by being out on the road, and getting [it] and bringing it back. That's what you have to make the film with, so it has to change ... [you have] to be open to a changing [film].

(semi-audible question. approximately Is there [some kind of] a [educational] Foundation for the material?)
M (38:39)
I only heard a part of [that question] ... I [can't say] that we're involved in a foundation, per se. I've been supportive of a number of foundations. We let the film go out [to] a lot of groups for Earth Day, for example, [to groups that] want to screen the film, so they do that -- run the film for [Earth Day].
R (39:06)
To an earlier question, I do remember my feelings after "Baraka" ... The overall experience was .. you felt really thankful, and you kinda got this perspective that ... we've all been invited to this giant mudball that's spinning through space and you can get the idea that "life's the host and has invited everyone and didn't ask any of us to approve of the guest list". You get a feeling like that, when you visit 24 countries. You're very thankful you got invited.

That's a great note to end on, so thank you guys for coming and sharing your memories of this film with us. (applause from audience)
Go: back - top - back issues - news index
Updated 21-01-24