Making Tracks: an interview with Jules de Niverville

In two and a half weeks we will head to Kingston for the 14th edition of Making Tracks, the first since January 2014. The event will form part of Ballet Boyz' inaugural FRAME: The London Dance Film Festival and will give ten filmmakers the chance to see their dance-based short films with a totally live brand new soundtrack performed by The Cabinet of Living Cinema.

One of those films is Jules de Niverville's sensational TWITCH, an experimental performance video incorporating contemporary dance, contortion and acrobatics. According to the synopsis, the film "chronicles the life-pulse of a creature in conflict: its stirrings / twitching / convulsions, its agonizing missteps and battle with demons; an ode to overcoming dark energies that lie within". The film was awarded the Audience Award for best short film at Quebec's IMAGE+NATION LGBT film festival in 2015, and the Golden Sheaf Award at the Yorkton Film Festival in 2016.

TWITCH teaser from MSFTS productions on Vimeo.

Jules de Niverville is a Canadian-born visual and media artist with a background in photography and film spanning 30+ years. After starting out as a set decorator in the American and Canadian feature film industry, his career shifted to cinematography and editing, primarily contributing to short dance and circus based productions. Although his photography has been exhibited internationally, TWITCH is his first film as a director/producer.

Jules will be travelling to London in June to attend the festival and experience TWITCH with its audio makeover. We interviewed Jules about the film's original soundtrack, his interest in circus, and why he wanted to have his film re-scored at Making Tracks.

Why did you submit Twitch to Making Tracks?

A friend and colleague who also has her film screening at Making Tracks (Marites Carino – VANISHING POINTS) had spoken to me about the event as the deadline approached. I loved the idea of having TWITCH re-scored, and felt that such an opportunity would be rich with possibilities in exposing me to what else could have been. As filmmakers we become so locked into a particular vision when a project matures throughout the post-production process, that the idea of having the work re-interpreted was immensely intriguing… my film potentially existing in an alternate universe.

Part of your background has involved working on circus-based productions. What is it that draws you to circus and acrobatics as an art form?

Circus arts involve risk taking, pushing the limits of movement in performance, and with coexisting moments of extreme vulnerability and ecstasy, they can create very visceral (if not emotional) empathy. The energy that an acrobat/circus artist can harness also makes for great visual fodder for the screen. I find working with such performers very inspiring as I attempt to adapt their artistry into a narrative or experimental expression, mirroring my concerns and themes touching on the turbulence of life.

Tell us about Twitch’s original soundtrack - how did it come about?

The process for me ended-up working backwards, and felt counter intuitive. I initially had a track in mind when scripting and storyboarding the film, but by the time it was all shot, it had evolved so much that the original soundtrack no longer fit. As an editor, I prefer cutting to music, so I now had to rethink the whole process. I collected sound bites that I found from various sources to map-out and punctuate the emotional read to the film, giving it its rhythm and mood that allowed me to edit. Once the cutting was final I then brought in a composer to score on top of my pseudo soundscape, and recompose using what I had laid out as a guide track. I was very fortunate to find such a talented composer willing to work this way, but it was far from ideal as a work flow.

On the 11th June, you will sit down to watch your film with a totally new soundtrack - one that you will be hearing for the first time and will have absolutely no control over. What are your hopes, fears and expectations?

Firstly, having no control over it will be extremely refreshing. I always worry as to whether an audience will enjoy TWITCH, but somehow this time that stress is shared, so it lets me relax a little! Mostly I hope the musicians enjoy the process and that the film inspires them to freely tap into their creative talent. Other than that, I really have no specific expectations, other than enjoying the moment, and really look forward to how The Cabinet of Living Cinema interprets the film.

Making Tracks will take place on Saturday 11th June at the Rose Theatre in Kingston upon Thames. Find out more and book tickets

Photo credit: Toma Iczkovits

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