An interview and film showcase with Tatia Shé

Accompanying FITH’s music is a trilogy of experimental films’ by Tatia Shé that accentuate their collective interest in exploring the relationship between music and cinema. In this exclusive interview for ESF online, Tatia chats with us about making the films and her friendship with FITH.

See also FITH: Artist collective showcase

Could you please introduce yourself and tell us how you became involved in film?

I used to make 16mm short films, but now I mostly work on video. The medium has definitely changed. It used to be that you saw a film in a cinema, or watched them on TV. Now there are all these video platforms on the internet, in museums, gallery spaces, on mobile phones. It’s certainly not easy to define oneself in this transitional environment…

Collaborations, however, are interesting. Whether it is with musicians, other filmmakers, or making a video piece for a particular space. I’m interested in trying out different things, much like a painter, who ventures into sculpture, or etching, or even using an ipad to draw. There is a curiosity to navigate within the field that one is working in.

 How did your relationship with FITH originate?

Via Dalia Neis. We have known each other for a long time and we were both avid cinephiles during our college years. So when she suggested making a video for her  band, it  felt like an extension of our shared  interests and dialogues. Dalia was adventurous and very supportive during the process. We have an unspoken understanding  and respect for each other. I think there are films and filmmakers that we both like and there are others where our opinions might be at odds, but the differences are not important.

How did your collaborative process work?

 I really enjoyed working with them (FITH) because I had the freedom to do what I wanted and there was great complicity in our exchanges. The discussions were mainly around technical  elements, such as what worked well and what did not work well in the editing, or how the pacing was advancing, and so on. We did not physically meet during these collaborations (I have not seen Dalia for 3 years), but we were emailing each other and I was sending her the video files during the editing.

As a filmmaker, what generally inspires your interest?

Everything! For example, hiking in nature inspires me. I’m also inspired by the people I meet everyday, and those I live with. I can be inspired by drinking green tea (also an incentive to long hours of editing), electric current passing through the body, or other people’s films. For me, inspiration can come from something very banal or intellectually sophisticated.

 Who influences you and how have they shaped your trajectory?

I won’t go listing the names of filmmakers or well known cultural figures because the list is very long and my influences are periodical, they change! However, I think a painter once said  that you  learn things, even from  bad paintings. This influences me greatly.

Tell us about the filmmaking process, what were the toughest/most pleasurable aspects of making these films?

I guess the toughest moments are the ‘cul-de-sacs’ created while filming and editing, and the pleasure is when you find a way out of it! There are always moments when things don’t work out as anticipated and often things are solved in the process. I might put a few shots together in my head and while editing they might not work as well as I imagined. Other times, the pacing can be altered completely by just cutting out a frame or two.

Tell us about the main themes and motivations of each of the films you made for FITH. How do you see them fitting together as a trilogy?

For me, all three of them are quite different from each other. Some of the footage was shot a long time ago. In fact, ‘Swamp’ was the only video that I had shot specifically for the song, while ‘Bialystok’ and ‘L’au Delà’ I put together from the unused images of unfinished films. In ‘Swamp’, the female body is an integral part of the landscape, representing both its  sensuality and its force. It comprises a body of a woman on a bed superimposed with landscape images. She emulates the rhythms and blends with the  natural elements that surround her. I wanted to suggest the pleasures of the female body finding consolation with elementality, but it is also open to interpretation. If a work does not do that, then that work has failed. Even if I want to include my own interpretation by adding sentences to justify or clarify things or give it some contextual gravity, it must still be open to others’ interpretation.

The ‘Bialystok’ and ‘L’au Delà’ videos, on the other hand, were shot indoors, in an enclosed place, with several protagonists. As they say, the face is also like a ‘landscape’ and, here, faces dominate and become increasingly stared at. Like the body, the face is also full of sensuality.

What about these films is typical of your style and what did you experiment with?

With every one of them I tried to do something different, and every video was a new journey. ‘Bialystock’ has a somber tone, a slight narrative touch and suspense. ‘L’au-Delà’ is  more free handed and lighter in tone. Here, the camera appears and the process of filming and framing is present.

Many things were also explored during editing. In fact, this was very important for all three of the videos because essentially they were all ‘created’ while editing. During this time, you can feel when something is not working and needs to be cut out. It is much like the process of writing when a single word can change and alter a phrase. This is especially so when making a music video because, at the end of the day, the edit has to rhythmically adapt to the music.

 What are you currently working on or what would like to be working on next?

Right now I’m working on a new video for FITH. I’m just at the stage of trying  out some images, playing with editing. But nothing is certain, so it’s not at the stage to be confirmed.

Tatia Shé Film Showcase