March 27, 2012 at 10:50am
POKING AROUND AFTER THE MOTHER OF ALL GLOBAL WARS >>>
My journey to Koinonia, the new feature by Tacoma's Andrew Finnigan, begins last Thursday. Mount Rainier looms larger and Highway 410 gets narrower as I head toward my destination. Buildings melt away, replaced by nothing but trees in all directions. I brake for a train of deer leisurely crossing the road. Every movie is a transport to another place; Koinonia hasn't even started shooting, and already I feel swallowed up in my surroundings.
But "roughing it" does take some time to adapt to. I arrive at the snowy, spacious cabin in Greenwater Finnigan has rented for the crew, and see director of photography Sam Graydon trying to find Internet service. Others wander through the rooms, phones in hand, searching for a signal. (I get one bar if I stand ... right ... here.) Finnigan's 2-year-old battles her own ennui by hopping from couch to couch and slapping everything within arm's length - including Daddy's junk. Twice.
This technology-deprived scene could have easily made it into Finnigan's latest script. Koinonia (coin-oh-NEE-uh) takes place in a future where global war has disintegrated nearly all traces the civilization we all know and love. Though title finds its roots in a Greek word meaning "fellowship," none seems to exist for the protagonist John, a wanderer forced to endure nature's beauty and hostility alone. One tiny hint to a former relationship exists if you look closely - the wedding ring on John's hand (on loan from the director himself; his wife and Executive Producer Brooke didn't seem to mind too much).
Finnigan's film fellowship, on the other hand, consists of about a dozen professionals from the local industry who quickly fall into working as a team. He's brought back some of the same people from his last project, Fantastic Confabulations (which won Audience Choice at the 2011 Tacoma Film Festival), like Scott Waters on sound and actress Carollani Sandberg (now filling the role of 1st assistant director).
Director of Koinonia Andrew Finnigan with his wife (and executive producer), Brooke.
But besides a mostly fresh crew, Koinonia marks new cinematic territory for Finnigan. Gone are the multiple locations, the dialogue-driven scenes, the extensive lighting setups, even the steady tripod shots of FanCon. Now the main action happens almost entirely in and around a cottage John stumbles across very early in the film. And he doesn't carry around a volleyball like other Crusoe-esque characters I know, so why talk?
Lead actor Tony Doupe (a favorite in local indies including The Off Hours and Safety Not Guaranteed) barely mutters a few lines in the whole 9-hour shooting day last Friday. This anti-talkie philosophy finds its fullest expression in the very first scene filmed, where Doupe, in take after take, dunked his head under the frigid waters of a bubbling stream. Boy, and I thought I had the hard job as PA (which could mean Production Assistant, or, if you happen to see this article, Press Agent).
The cinematography also contributes to a story stripped down to its essentials. Without neglecting his characters, Finnigan has chosen to let visuals more than dialogue tell his tale. And his camera of choice - the RED EPIC®, which packs about twice the resolution of full HD - does a lot of talking. Going with a handheld aesthetic, Graydon, as far as I see, doesn't bust out his tripod more than once during the first day. He and Finnigan also decide to leave the lights in gaffer Rory Emmons's truck and trust in nothing more than sunshine for illuminating the exterior scenes.
A moment of down time for actor Tony Doupe.
I mentioned before that early in Koinonia, John reaches a house as isolated as he in the wilderness. What does he find inside? Dusk approaches on Friday, leaving us with no time left to shoot our first interior. I suppose I could look ahead into the script, but why read when I can see (and help make) the movie?
Part Two of my tale picks up next week; in the meantime, follow Koinonia on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/koinoniamovie
Off duty rules.
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Looks delicious! Thank you Jackie for share ^^
Banff National Park is a breath of fresh air. A small mountain town with world class facilities...
Too many cover-bands play at The Swiss.
Wohoo! Love this and great work! From one Assyrian to another I congratulate you and am rooting...