Contemplative Filmmaking

bear catching salmon Does every movie need a plot and a punchline?  I'd argue that it depends on the purpose of the movie.  The suspense / resolution formula of traditional storytelling has a long history of making stories memorable.  It is also good for attracting attention, as in increasing box office receipts or web site hits.  But some filmmakers make films with other goals in mind.  Fisherman-slash-filmmaker Dan Kowalski (Bainbridge Island, WA) is more like Ansel Adams than he is like Martin Scorsese or James Cameron.  In his words,

As both an approach and a practice, Contemplative Filmmaking is a way of seeing. It's an expressive form with a kinship to poetry. Contemplative Filmmaking is less concerned with telling a linear story than discovering and revealing essence. Even so, it is often an integral part of a narrative film, lending texture, atmosphere, nuance and emotion. 

ocean wavesWhy is Dan concerned with the essense of things?  As someone who has spent weeks on end in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight, I can attest to the power of the ocean to cast our human storylines into a new dimension.  I can't really speak for Dan, but it seems hardly farfetched that a man spends each fishing season on a boat near some of the most awesome marine sights north of the equator would be summoned by the siren of essence.

You can see some of Dan's movies that convey some of the essence of waters in the Pacific Northwest on his Vimeo page. Better yet, if you're interested in learning more about Contemplative Filmmaking, check out his workshop on the subject at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle on Feb 25 & March 10, 2012 at 10am–3:30pm.

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