Greece: What Failure Brings

August 2nd, 2007 · No Comments · 2007 The Oldest Song We..., Greece


Despite a dedicated and talented crew, our video shoot on Saturday was a total flop. Poor planning and fatal weather. However, the shoot on Sunday was ideal: there’s nothing stronger than complete failure to inspire success. Here’s the story.

The disaster started Friday afternoon when we tested the city and realized that the “difficult element that might work or might not” didn’t work. We’ve found that whenever we “hope it just works out,” it never works out. These kind of problems frequently takes so much energy to solve that they can become central components in the art, not just technical details. It’s important for art to have problems that the artist fights through. Boring art happens when problems are avoided.

So there we were, with several elements that didn’t work, at 4:00pm with performers coming on the 9:00pm boat for the shoot the next day.

Trying not to panic, we got back to the studio and threw ideas back and forth. The winning solution seemed like it might just work, as long as the weather was with us. Why wouldn’t it be? — the weather had been perfect for two weeks in a row. We spent the rest of the evening frantically creating a large U-shaped contraption that stylistically matched our city [chief element] while taking care of the technical problem [which had to do with holding the city in place, with something underneath it, while the city was being pulled into the ocean].

The next day the waves came. Huge powerful rollers that had no patience for quickly assembled U-shaped contraptions hanging on the rocks. We couldn’t even stabilize the system for a photo shoot. The whole morning we spent hanging oddly-strewn guide wires from the rocks to the structure. The waves were so brutal, two people had to hold the structure at all times to keep it from getting pulverized. To make matters worse, the waves were kicking up sea debris everywhere. Tzia normally has crystal clear water–it was now muddy brown and filled with floating particles (think Long Beach, California, or even Galveston, Texas).

The water was bad, but our chief mistake was throwing an untested structural element into the game too late. All the wires needed to stabilize the U-structure were too much. We were trying to do more than what we were able to do. Even with a great sea conditions, this would not have been good art. I wonder if I would have realized the mistake had the sea been good?

Megan and I woke up early the next day and re-scouted locations. We found another beach with perfect conditions and, after considering everything that happened the day before, reformed the choreography: drastically simplifying it. We cut about 70% of what we had previously planned and cut another 50% of the crafted elements we had built and were planning on using (including a found lamp and 30 arrows we made). We’ve been in conversation with several people about economy (DT and JH) whose helpful critiques contributed to our streamlining.

We came back to the studio, mapped the new plan for the performers, hit the beach and captured 14 decent takes with much improved choreography and perfect water conditions. One take, the final one, is particularly good.

Cheers to failure.

Category: 2007 The Oldest Song We... · Greece

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