Both Sharon and I have been stumped as to how to write about what we are experiencing right now, but we want to share it with you. (Check out Sharon’s blog post for her account.) We are ensconced in an apartment in a old stone chateau in the medieval village of Le Broc, halfway between the sea and the mountains. It’s incredibly picturesque and incredibly cold. Everyone has written a book, My Year in Provence, My Summer in Provence, etc. I guess this is our “Two-Months-in-the-Middle-of-Winter-in-Provence.”
Sharon is writing her book, The Whole of Life, I am editing The Restless Hungarian, finally, after six years of gradually accumulating and producing the material for the film.
The routine we have developed is to get up at 7:30, turn on all the heaters in the house, have muesli and tea, and get to our desks around 9:00 AM. Mid-morning we take a break and walk to the bakery at the other end of the village to get a baguette and some croissants, which we have with coffee when we get back. Then we work for another 3 or 4 hours, take another walk before the sun sets and heat up some soup from the huge pot I have made for the week, along with bread and cheese. Then we read or try to find something to watch on Netflix or Amazon. There are absolutely no distractions and we are working like demons. I tell you this because I don’t want you to think we’re lazing around, slacking off and living the high life on the Cote D’Azur. That being firmly established I can now tell you that we are absolutely loving being here. We love the people in the village we’re getting to know. Flavio, the Italian grocer, who drives to Italy once a week to get fresh veg. Christophe, the barkeep, who waves to us every morning on our walk to the bakery. And Marc and Domi, who are crazy for all things Middle Age (they have a suit of armor in their foyer), have invited us to a feast of fruits de mer with their friends after the New Year.
Working hard makes the days on which we play hooky all the more delicious. Twice we have ventured out on hikes into the hills. On one we encountered a complex of iron age ruins, some dating back over 2000 years.
The views, looking down from the hills toward the Mediterranean sea, as the sun sets, are astounding.
One day we made an excursion to visit the Marc Chagall museum in Nice.
Standing in a room with six huge canvases depicting the Song of Songs, I was moved to tears. Yesterday we were in Vence where we had and incredible lunch and an incredible dinner. Le Broc has only one restaurant open in winter, three days a week, six tables and incredible food. It’s good thing there are not more restaurants closer so I must make soups. Otherwise we might simply eat ourselves into penury, as well as a state of permanent stupor. French cuisine is a dangerous drug.
Now I want to tell you something: Editing is a joy. It is my favorite task in the many tasks required to make a film, where everything comes together. What I imagined becomes tested, tried, and made manifest. However nothing unfolds the way it was imagined, yet imagination gives birth to it. There is a script (thank god), but nothing is fixed. A bar of music, the gesture of an actor, the way the light falls on a scene can trigger an alternate vision for the story’s telling. Sometimes that route is true and sometimes it’s a dead end. At the heart of the creative process is something mysterious. Associations transcend logical progression, creating their own autonomous reality, making more sense than plodding cause-and-effect. This is not to say that everything cannot, without warning, simply collapse into a pile of nonsense. The trick is keep self-doubt at bay, because it extinguishes the spark. I overtly apply myself to some perfectly useful, logical and necessary task, while covertly I am experimenting, tasting, and caressing the sounds and pictures in my digital bins, rubbing a magic lamp and hoping for inspiration.