Vicino alla Montagna | Director's Statement
One Symbiophony... Two Symbiophonies... Still counting...
Music, Nature & Humankind — Is there more to Life?
By Flint Juventino Beppe
Vicino alla Montagna is a fictional film presenting Nature, Music and Humankind as main components. It is the second production in the trademarked genre Symbiophonies.
The conflict in the drama is: What happens when Humankind experience problems with absorbing the impressions inherent in the unified force of Nature and Music?
The two girls representing Humankind in Vicino alla Montagna are seemingly without willpower. They are in a way remote-controlled by this immense entity of Music and Nature, like puppets steered by the puppeteer. This leads to "blank stares", and forced behaviour to a large extent.
The Grammy-nominated soundtrack is performed by Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Flint Juventino Beppe. In addition, Tom Ottar Andreassen (flute), Håvard Daae Rognli (violin) and Wolfgang Plagge (piano) are soloists.
One of the principles in a Symbiophony is that the inner nature of the music is equal to the visual aspect, and this entity incites much of the action. Therefore, some alternative aesthetical choices in relation to the sheet music have to be made. These are not your typical conventional filmic choices. A Symbiophony is more like an art exhibition, where the impressions will materialise on several levels. The pictures are strictly edited to fit the aesthetical intentions, and not necessarily to fit the rhythm or timbre in the music. This is not music set to film. This is film set to music.
This is quite the opposite of the "recipe" in many other films, where music and other sounds are used to emphasise a visual action. The script and the storyboard are created from the essence of the music. Everyone on the set who inevitably leaves an «artistic trace» in the film, such as camera people, helicopter pilots, the recording manager and the actors must immerse themselves in the music, and as a rule, the music is played on the set during the actual filming. This is important for the pace and mood of the film. The storyboard is carried out in great detail, and all of the actors' movements are precisely written down. The helicopter pilot is instructed to move the machine in bird-like motions or the like wind, all in relation to the music.
The important principle in a Symbiophony is that the aestheticism and symbolicism in the music weigh more heavily than the purely epic-visual from the very beginning. This is in order to create a «third eye» in addition to what we actually see and hear; almost like going to an art exhibition where one assumes a philosophical approach to the work of art. Often the action in the film is just a subjective suggestion — one way of many that leads to the same understanding — that which is eventually created in the mind of each audience. This is what I mean by a «third eye», which can see between the invisible lines of moods.
There are three «universes» in Vicino alla Montagna:
1. «Reality» as seen from the Humankind´s point of view.
2. «Nature's speech» – a lesson from Nature, appearing largely in black & white.
3. «Dream visions» of the Humankind.
A major difference between many music videos and Symbiophonies is that I wish to depict a «world within a world» — one which doesn't follow «conventional, dynamic splendor», for example by editing a beat in relation to the music. The music might as well be edited to match a non-rhythmical pattern in a tree trunk instead. For a little beetle struggling to climb up a small leaf, the world is perhaps as dramatic as the music sounds. Pictures and music must match the content in a picture frame – and not necessarily fit the conventions people expect in general. Therefore, I often dare to let a picture remain static even if the music's dynamic character changes.
I am concerned with seeing the large dimensions in what appears to be small. A huge mountain is not always synonymous with intense music. I feel it is best to let philosophical questions remain open — without the need for an answer. I want, in other words, to bring the audience with me to an abstraction level that is deeper than what is visible to the eye. Therefore, a certain amount of attention is required in order to take in all the small details.
I think the most useful way to approach Vicino alla Montagna is to watch it as a pure concert film or as an art exhibition. Those who expect «ordinary» epic action in the film will soon encounter the world of surrealism. In other words: I have no answer – therefore I act.
Having said this, it has been interesting to see that all kinds of people at all ages manage to follow the film and get their own experience out of it.
This Video On Demand release is dedicated to my dear friend Tomas Evjen (1972 - 2012), who was the photographer in this film. A big personal and professional loss.
To learn more about the film, please have a look at the Behind the scenes (free bonus material) on the Video On Demand page.
Director Flint Juventino Beppe and Director of Photography Tomas Evjen.