Here is an interestingly thoughtful article written about Zen Filmmaking, the Roller Blade Seven, Scott Shaw, and Donald G. Jackson. This article was written in Russian and is from a Russian website. The link is below. This is the Google Translation of the article. Nothing was changed or altered in any manner except the Roller Blade Seven photographs from the Russian website have been removed.
Editor's note: We decided to take part in the action # avengarda month , which was launched by Moore (wonderful), calling all not indifferent "to give people anew to revel in the pleasure of the uncompromising and violent avant-garde of the last century, whether Dadaists, experimental cinema, difficult and unusual poetry, daring philosophy , crazy architecture, beauty of painting, outlandish fiction, shocking actionism or avant-garde music. "
Details of this wonderful action can be read on the site of Moor, and our first Chapaevsky blow in this direction will be a note of Dali Lama XXIII about such a phenomenon as a zen cinematograph (those who are already acquainted can start to whistle softly - but this is optional).
In the world there were many avant-garde movements that proclaimed a variety of ideologies - mainly, of course, declaring their main goal to change human nature, renewal of art and other such epic and pretentious things. But there are also a few creators who openly admit that they are engaged in art for entertainment, making it a priority to get pleasure from the process. Not particularly well-known in wide circles, but having its own face, the school of "Zen-Film Directing" is the brainchild of precisely such people.
The story of what was later christened "Zen Filmmaking" began in 1991, when Donald Jackson, an American producer and director who directed the continuation of his low-budget production films Roller Blade and Roller Blade Warriors, invited Scott Shaw, an actor, musician and script writer, engaged in martial arts, - to participate in the creation of this sequel, called the Roller Blade Seven.
Perhaps because the film's design can be briefly described as an action story about samurai and ninjas on roller skates, during the stage of putting into effect the script written by Shaw and Jackson, most of the actors hired by the authors completely failed to fulfill their hopes (and the author of these lines in something can understand them): in their acting out half-naked novices of the Order of Light there was no soul and fire, and the models of samurai swords dissected the air without sufficient enthusiasm.
After several days of shooting, Shaw and Jackson made a fateful decision, which instead of another boring exploit freak they came out two parts of a very unusual film, which on profile sites continue to receive almost exclusively, either as low or as high as possible.
Shaw and Jackson decided to abandon the script, replacing it with improvisation: they invented story collisions on the move, explaining the remaining actors the general outline of what is happening and the approximate content of what they should say, and then relying on their improvisational abilities. Soon Shaw, who had been fond of oriental mysticism all his life, realized that this was truly a Zen approach - so this method was given the name of Zen filmmaking; and so Shaw found a new occupation for himself, to which he continues to devote most of his life.
The principles of Zen-filmmaking, formulated by Shaw after working on many films, are as follows. First of all, the absence of a script is important. Shaw gives two main reasons for this approach. Clearly scripted scenario, in his opinion, deprives the creative process of freedom, restricts the creators of the film to make changes, guided by spontaneous glimpses of inspiration. In addition, when faced with the embodiment of his clear plan by other people, the author will almost inevitably be disappointed that his ideal plan can not come to life exactly as he wants. In the case of Zen-filmmaking, "what happens is what happens."
In addition, Shaw formulated six rules of Zen filmmaking:
+ Use any unexpected situation.
+ If you can not waste time, money and energy to create large-scale scenery - do not waste it. Instead, find picturesque places and shoot there.
+ Just act! In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred everything will pass without problems.
+ Let your creative vision always be more important than the plot. For many directors, the starting point is a "good script", which they are trying to turn into a film, but everything written in the script can not be realized if the budget is not particularly large.
+ Zen filmmaking is a spontaneous process. Zen teaches that the attainment of enlightenment, satori, is possible only when the ordinary mind stops its activity: it is just as impossible to achieve Film Enlightenment by building its film according to scenarios and clear plans - there will always be a gap between the desired and the real.
+ Zen-filmmaking assumes rejection of expectations and desires - so any result becomes perfect.
Another important feature of Zen movies is editing: in the era of video clips, any footage suits, if you apply imagery to it. Shaw warns, however, that the spontaneity of the Zen film process does not mean ease, and compares it to sit-down zazen meditation: just as it is difficult for people to truly realize that they are already enlightened and possess the nature of the Buddha, it's not easy even when shooting a film, just letting it take place. In general, the ideology of Zen filmmaking can be characterized as the elimination of the maximum possible number of obstacles in the filming of the film - and the author's expectations are among the obstacles; The film process should become free and natural.
Guided by these principles, Shaw and Jackson constructed two parts of the film from the footage, the Roller Blade Seven (for which there is not a very distinct translation from the nineties with the appropriate nasal dubbing) and Return of the Roller Blade Seven, which the author of these lines believes, perhaps , their most outstanding achievement.
How does Zen look from the outside? Of course, to some extent both parts of the film resemble something like the movies of the studio Asylum, where the emphasis is on the savagery, to some extent - the actor's cabbage or the LARP session. But thanks to many factors, the story of the travel of the unruffled action-hero Hock, played by Scott Shaw himself, into the Roller Zone and about battles with weird villains looks like an excellent example of surreal cinema.
Roller Blade Seven and Return of the Roller Blade Seven from ordinary low-budget thrash movies are distinguished by easy and unconstrained "dreaminess" and unpredictability of what is happening, which is strengthened by the hypnotic soundtrack (the author of which is again Shaw) and a very unusual montage: for example, some action - scenes are shown many times from multiple angles at different speeds with small variations, which makes the banal fights turn into a fascinating spectacle reminiscent of duels of wizards, where everything is not what it seems.
Roller Zone with its inhabitants, moving almost exclusively on rollers and skateboards, is perceived as a psychedelic limb, the land of the dead, who have not yet realized that they are dead - the old rocker who played himself asks a gentleman in a cylinder in the middle of the desert where he can find Buddy Holly. Here are representatives of the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness, starting negotiations with a polite exchange of courtesies, several minutes send each other three letters, sitting at the table. Here against the background of the American flag raves about the skateboard villain Pharaoh, chained to a wheelchair.
In addition to Jackson and Shaw, obviously enjoying filming in their own film, other actors, some of whom are very famous - like Frank Stallone, Sylvester Stallone's younger brother, or Karen Black, portraying a fortune teller who shares a mushroom trip with Hock and his mentor, "Father Donaldo." Return of the Roller Blade Seven is compositionally more meditative and more saturated with fan service: oh yeah, sometimes boobs are shown here, like in the co-operative cinema of the nineties, so that the viewer does not relax.
Try to believe the author of these lines, who watched a lot of bad and boring low-budget films: both parts of the Roller Blade Seven only formally belong to the "next thrash of the nineties", and (unlike some Samurai Cop, just made fantastically bad) thanks to the creators' love they blossom real art - and their example is able to inspire and teach something new. However, no, never believe anything on what is written "Zen", check everything yourself!
I focused on two of the most outstanding, in my opinion, Zen works of Shaw and Jackson. However, Shaw has shot many more films, both alone and in collaboration with the now deceased Jackson; many movies are not so easy to get, but you can order through his site. Also, this site is full of notes on many aspects of Zen philosophy - and as the Real Zen Master, Shaw appears as a figure that is difficult to say if he is serious when he is shooting films such as "Beverly Hills Vampires-Bikers" or "Guns El Chupacabras ", or maybe all this is a grandiose rally or trolling ... If you are interested in this figure, you can undertake further research yourself .
In the future, perhaps, the author of these lines will finish the Russian subtitles to both parts of the film; but due to the general dream of what is happening, the translation here is perhaps no more important than in films like Jarmusch's "Limits of Control". Due to the underground nature of both parts of the Roller Blade Seven, the existing rips in the network, unfortunately, do not have a high image quality; However, when was the situation different with Enlightenment?
Dali Lama XXIII