The Great Work (reboot)

Project summary

The aim of this project is two-fold. To first restore and then complete a set of films that was started during the late 1980s.

“The Great Work” is an alchemical trilogy in three parts. 1. “Homunculus” 2. “Terpsichore” and 3. “The Box”. The first two parts were completed but silent. The third part, “The Box”, was started, but was never completed. This film requires the most work and support.

In addition Strawberry Wasp is a 20 minute 16mm film shot in Cinemascope with “separate magnetic” soundtrack, it is complete, but un-showable in its current format.
FilmingH

Project Introduction

During the last few years of the 1980s, I was working mostly in film. These were very low budget 16mm productions, but with rich and complex iconography, often utilising animation, costumes, and simple camera effects. The works were shown to some degree as part of “performance pieces” with the soundtracks often performed live by musicians, creating music and sound effects. The films are strong visually and often dark and quite obscure. Although not narrative in the normal sense of the word they are strong on themes and live in a kind of dark and existential alchemical world of folklore and fairytales.

My application here is to upgrade the films, digitising them to 4k digital cinema quality, thus preserving them, and in the case of the silent films, adding music and foley soundtracks with a view to seeking a new audience, both online and projected at festivals and screen viewings. In addition I wish to complete the 3rd part (The Box) of “The Great Work” of which only a tiny portion was originally completed.

Goals

My primary aim for distribution would be initially indie cinema showings and festivals. “Strawberry Wasp” and “The Great Work” could be either shown together, as they have some artistic connections, or as two separate films. Showings would be in Nesoddparken and other cultural venues in Akershus, but I would also be interested in participating in for example Cinematekets “Dream that Kicks” experimental show-case, Grimstad, Tromsø and at foreign festivals, Rotterdam (IFFR) , EMAF (Germany), London Short Film Festival. Thereafter a permanent website would be produced that would give additional background information, photos, original scripts, sketches as well as the films themselves.

SirEel

The Great Work

This is a trilogy of 3 mixed media films

Homunculus

Terpsichore

The Box

“The Great Work” refers to the work of the alchemists, who attempted to make the Philosopher´s Stone, turn base metals into gold, and investigate all manner of esoteric interests, albeit in a scientific and applied manner. The films “story” is not completely clear, as the three films, although obviously related (some characters, some locations) they concern different things, and could even be said to play in the wrong order.

In part one “Homunculus” an alchemist (that we referred to as Sir Eel) receives a wooden box, he eagerly opens it to find a phial containing a tiny foetus. This he places into a strange machine, which after some magical  effects produces a small and breathing child.

Part two “Terpsichore” (of dancing) is simply a chase. A princess runs through environments, perpetually pursued by two freemasons in full regalia, the “princess”(after a small animated dream sequence´), is eventually caught and torn in two.

Part three, ”The Box” (the yet to be completed film) concerns a box. “The Box” depicts beginnings and endings of the other two films, as well as a final scene. It could be seen as a re-working of the story of “Pandoras Box”. It shows the alchemist (this time animated using stop frame animation) at work, unaware that his creation (the Homunculus from the first film) escapes, it shows the Princess, still being chased, from a castle through woods and into a bowery. Also present are malevolent masonic rituals. The Evil that is finally released from the box into the world is shown to be the face of the film-maker.

The machine

Only the first two films were ever completed. Firstly they should be transferred to digital format, and as these two parts were silent, new soundtracks will be composed for them.

In addition I would like to complete the final part of this work.

“The Box” was started, indeed I have about 150 feet of 16mm film. Where the other two parts are a combination of live action and animation, this part will be wholly animated. The Box of the title is an artwork in its own right as it has drawers, each of which contains a tiny scene, which, after emerging from the Box, build themselves before the action in that scene can start. The characters needed for this film are unfortunately lost, so will have to be re built, using clay, wood and cloth.

Photos from the filming of “the great work” circa 1988