Tuesday 3 July 2012

Original flavour

If one starts listening to others' opinion, it's a fall in an endless well! Zed and I tried to shoot new scenes, after we heard Carol and Ryan's input. But we just didn't manage to come up with anything satisfactory. I don't know whether the full moon did play any part in it - I'm so sensitive to the moon... I was just not into it. I looked tired and lifeless. 
"You don't have the enthusiasm and the energy you had last week." Zed said. 
We had to admit that it wasn't a smart idea to listen to what everybody has to say - even close friends. Since it is my first experience at directing a video, I didn't feel that much confidence and accepted their remarks too willingly. But Carol and Ryan did miss one major point in the song: it was about the loss of memory and the listlessness of life when nothing seems to connect. So adding close ups of myself looking straight at the camera did not suit the purpose and the meaning. Zed didn't feel we had shot anything interesting today anyway. Neither did I. The shots looked like they were done for another project. So after watching some of the rushes, we decided to stick to our original version and toss them aside. Usually the first intuition is always the best. That's how I felt the video should look like. There will always be someone to voice some criticism. 
"If I had to direct the video myself", Zed added with a smile "I would actually do it in a very commercial way and add more footage of you singing!"

I guess the video of Nothing comes to Light will be ready very soon!


My father wrote that his new work were a collection of stories written by my mother which he set to music under the title of Contes de Grand-Mère (Grand-Mother's Tales). I couldn't help but feeling moved by the way he tries to keep my mother's mind alive and creative. I suppose those folk tales are the ones that she adapted for a bilingual book of Vietnamese tales - a project which has been dragging for years and never sees the end. Maybe if it was completed, my mother would feel she's reached the conclusion of an important chapter. I have a new book project in mind that I would like to realise this coming year: a book of poems by Hàn Mac Tu that she translated a while ago, illustrated by photographs by my friend Yves Schiepek. I believe that this could turn into a beautiful object. I just need to find the impulse and the right timing to make it happen. Yves is excited about the idea, my mother had lots of praises for his photographies. Let's do it!!!

I have decided to give up all hope to have any work presented at the French May in Hong Kong. Now that this commission from the Berlin Symphony has come into the picture, it would be sheer madness to also write the play, stage and perform it next spring! Beside, Gilles had warned me about the working conditions in Hong Kong theatre houses: only four hours on the day of the first performance to set the stage, do the lighting design, and have a run through. Not particularly ideal. Wei Wei will be busy performing in another play that very month, and now, I'm having second thoughts as whether to have Bévinda playing the French part. The odds are against me. I must wake up to reality and know that such ambitious a project could not see the light in so short a time. Give it time...
But that wasn't the main reason. I had a long conversation with Gilles, which left me with a bitter after taste. He was teasing me about this picture I posted on Facebook, which sees me carousing in my underwear. It caused many friends to suddenly pay attention to this unexpected side of me. For me it was partly a narcissistic game of self-portrait, partly a training to feel more confident for my upcoming session in front of Norm Yip's camera. But for Gilles it created a confusion  about the way people may perceive me: a musician who is also moonlighting as a playwright and photographer, who shows some skin in languid poses, who writes and perform his songs, directs his videos and composes for the Berlin Symphony. I guess the confusion is his alone. in France, as soon as someone stops doing the one thing he's been known for, people are taken aback. Labels are important. And once someone is labelled, it's indelible.
Another blow came when I realise that Gilles was never much that genuinely interested in my work, despite his friendly - if slightly condescending attitude toward me. Or am I too hypersensitive?  He didn't bother to watch and listen to the Cd's and DVDs I had given him, which explains why he finds my artistic path so unclear. But he obviously finds me more exciting when, as he put it, I'm 'this vaguely artsy, good-looking lad who uses his body as a work of art'.
"I found you fairly boring as a dark and tormented composer." he wrote during one of your on line chats. All is said. My first impulse was to bring the drama to the foreground. Poor me, the misunderstood artist, for I do believe that those who do not have any feeling for my work cannot really be my friends. Egotistic? Maybe... Let me calm down and I'll have another view in a few days.
Another explanation could be that since Gilles used to be an artist agent, he very well knows what hardship we are going through. Since he has forsaken that thankless path for the security of a position as a government official (I can't blame him, it IS a thankless job) any reminder of the struggles of an artist's life makes him uneasy, although the status of struggling artist is not something I want to carry on for too long. Fortunately, it's going much better than, say, last year! My father often tells me about former fellow students from the music conservatory, far more talented and skilled than he was, he said, but who ended spoiling their gift because they chose an easier path than that of a composer. if that can be any consolation... Here and now...
But I can't really say it was the boldest move to bring a Picasso exhibition to Hong Kong.

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