Saturday, November 3, 2007

Get to know an Asian Canadian Filmmaker: Gloria Kim, ROCK GARDEN: A LOVE STORY

Installment #3 of "Get to know..." featuring Gloria Kim director of ROCK GARDEN: A LOVE STORY, which Atom Egoyan called "stunning" and "absolutely beautful". Maybe Mr. Egoyan speaks in superlatives all the time but chances are he meant it and it IS a gorgeous film. Plus, we'll be watching a 35mm print of it during the Power Play programme on Nov. 15th. So don't miss it.

Gloria Kim, Director of ROCK GARDEN: A LOVE STORY

still from ROCK GARDEN

Aram Collier: What Was The Inspiration For Rock Garden?

Gloria Kim: A Dream - i dreamt of my friend enza supermodel who is a trans woman - she was in a field of rocks that miraculously turned into flowers and was applying make up to her face with such love and care. I woke up and ran to the computer to write it down - i knew this was something i needed to say - something about love, transformation, change, self-acceptance. I feel trans people are some of the bravest people in the world. They really play with identity and aren't afraid to do it.

AC: How Long Did It Take To Make?

GK: 3 years - 2 to raise the financing and a year from pre-production to post . The cgi work by pixray studio took about 9 months because andrew szerszen the head of pixray was determined to do it beautifully and not stint, even though he was donating his time and services because he really believed in the project and also because he's a perfectionist. Anyway, i think it worked out beautifully.

AC: Can you talk about the experience of shooting on 35mm for this film? Was this the first time you shot on 35? How is it different than other formats?

GK: It was the 1st time and it was wonderful to do. It's not so different from 16mm - i mean, there's a technical difference but for my purposes that wasn't what i was thinking. It was aesthetic for me - the concept - fields and fields of rocks and fields and fields of flowers in the midst of blue sky as well as the light in the interiors - i just wanted to capture that in the perfect crystal quality you get with 35mm. I mean, that sort of saturation of colour is something you only really get with 35. Even before the colour correct, the film looked fantastic. The digital intermediate was amazing too - we were able to concentrate on detail and really see what it'd look like up on the big screen. It was amazing.

AC: How do you feel about producing work that doesn't feature any "asian content"? Do you feel pushed or pulled towards either direction? On one hand you may feel a desire to show asian faces and on the other you may feel that you'll get pigeonholed if you do right? Was that a factor in the production of this film?

GK: Well, i was open to all races and ethnicities in the casting but we got 2 actors of colour - one was too young and the other had no clue what the script was about. I did feel sort of weird about casting non-colour, if you know what i mean, and definitely in a way, i really feel responsible to my community, but this wasn't the right project. The next project, “the auction” is about a korean family so, i'm happy about that. But i have to take my ideas as they come. I can't force things to happen if they;re not happening. And i do have it in the back of my mind always.

AC: The production design is really great as is the 'look' of the film. Can you talk about the process of your production design and cinematography?

GK: Harold Gay was my production designer and he was so great. He really helped me shape it into reality. I knew i wanted warmth inside, like a cocoon, and he was the one to go and paint, build, find props - bring together my words and feelings into something that i thought had tremendous heart.
Joshua Allen was my cinematographer and he was also amazing. Again we talked about my colours, the kind of light that i wanted, the effect that i wanted and he took my words and made them happen. It was such a rewarding experience for me working with both hank and josh - they were so talented. And it wasnt' just the talent - i felt a real spiritual connection with them both - sort of corny, but i felt like we all sort of came from the same place- a place of love and tenderness and this translated into the work.

AC: On The DVD Special Features, What Would Be A "Deleted Scene" From Your Film?

GK: Well ,there wouldn't be a scene but there'd be an "easter egg" (is that the right expression?) - it'd be me and the crew in slow-motion shot on the last part of the 35mm reel, running down the hill destroying the rocks that took all night to make - we had a blast doing that. It felt good.

AC: What Is Your Next Project/What Are You Working On Now?

GK: It's called The Auction - it's a period piece set in the 70s about a little immigrant girl who at xmas wants to buy her mother a fur coat. I'm super excited about it. I have some found super 8 footage of my parents that i'm incorporating and i think it's going to be beautiful!

AC: What's the story behind your headshot?

GK: Which headshot? Is it me leaning my head into the plants? If so, that's a polaroid i took myself. I woke up one morning and just loved the light flooding in so i grabbed the camera and took the shot. I'm a fanatic about nice light.

note: I couldn't resist posting this other headshot too from an article Gloria had in the Korea Times Daily...