A Weave of Light: An Interview with Bram Ruiter
Gökçen Fındıkçı • 18.01.2023
Gökçen Fındıkçı: First, Bram, how has it been going? How are your days?
Bram Ruiter: As year-end stretches go, it's been reasonable in how busy it was, and I’m excited to have things starting up again.
GF: As a starter and to open the gates, I’d like to hear about your journey in the industry as a filmmaker, or as one who has stories to tell.
BR: Well, it took me a while to understand what I wanted. Or rather: to embrace my fate. I already knew what I wanted in my late teens. Through some forums, I found a handful of .avi files and among them were Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and Stan Brakhage’s Commingled Containers. Needless to say, they blew my mind. Both of them were silent, were not concerned with fiction, and contained imagery I had never seen in narrative films. I wanted to make those types of films, but I had no idea what that would entail. So I stuck to an older plan: when I was 8, I saw Jurassic Park, and since then, I wanted to become a filmmaker. At the time, making narrative films seemed to be easier. However, a second watershed moment happened a year into attending film school: I hated it, so I quit. To pay the bills, I started freelancing as a videographer and was free to explore my artistic autonomy. Over the course of the 2010s, I made many commissioned videos and ran the occasional autonomous production, honing my craft and homing in on the type of films I now make.
GF: Regarding the film A Weave of Light and your declination: you have been using - used a collage technique; therefore, I wonder, what is your approach, to be more precise: it is like first, you gather the materials instead of deciding on a specific idea or another way around. How?
BR: It’s more and more like a dialogue: I have an idea, I film some of it, I edit a piece, I think about it, I film some more, I try it out in the edit, I look at it - ad infinitum or until I deem the film to be done. Sometimes the starting point is a place; sometimes, it’s something I’ve filmed, and other times, like in the case of A Weave of Light, it’s an object. But it’s always something that contains a multitude of possibilities.
GF: I also like digging into the artist’s processes, es - as you examine in your films or maybe through your films; anyways, I do love to hear about your process and the style of working progress. Are there a kind of certain steps, or more impulsive and experimental?
BR: In my creative life, I’m blessed with a lot of discipline and determinism. So as much as I admire highly ritualistic processes, I’ve come around to the idea of tackling things with a certain ease. To cut me some slack, so to speak. You see, I always feel like I’m not doing enough, that I should do more. I’ve taken the ritualistic approach, but it just gave me more reason to think lesser of myself. And so: ease.
GF: To me, A Weave of Light is a kind of really successful ‘attempt’ : throughout the film, the words are philosophising around - very abstract though- with emotionally powerful visuals. Very poetic and somehow primitive, I’d say. So, how did this film emerge, develop, sprout and reach its audience? I would like to listen to the story of the film.
BR: My grandfather used to run a thrift store, and one day I received a box with super8 paraphernalia, among them a Canon Auto Zoom 814 Electronic and 3 rolls of film. One of those roles was exposed, meaning: someone had filmed something until the film ran out but never brought it in to develop. I then asked some people if they imagined what would be on the roll. It could be anything they wanted or needed. They shared with me descriptions of situations and images, and we often ended up talking for more than an hour. And during the processing of these interviews, I discovered a theme of perception: perceiving and being perceived. So, I ran with that.
GF: Changing forms, vanishing, in the attitude of like an alchemist. Maybe it’s like super wrong interpretation, but I feel like you create /build a storyline/order in the attitude of like an alchemist; I felt at the end that when the visuals get abstract/scratchy, somehow this moment, like interrupting the words, and the limation of the language and certain clear visuals, if you have an idea what I mean, then I can ask what is on purpose or?
BR: I don’t know much about alchemy, and so I owe you a proper answer. I do like the idea. It sounds cool.
GF: Therefore, which factors convinced you to shoot your last film - The Weave of Light with Super8? I highly assume that your passion for texture should lead you in this direction, I would love to hear about your experiences with super8. Was it a given decision beforehand the shooting process, or how?
BR: It was a given to film on super8: I was asking people to imagine what they wanted to see on this undeveloped super8 roll, so naturally, I wanted to capture their imaginings of super8. However, I had never worked with film. I went to film school in the heyday of MiniDV (another obsolete format I love), and since its ubiquity has been replaced by digital, it’s an incredibly costly material. One of the properties of super8 I like the most is its immediacy (pushing the trigger immediately results in an image), editing in-camera and having physical material. I’ve always had to approach the film as a purely digital process, so taking it out of that box was a revelation. However, as much as I do like what it looks like, I don’t consider myself a purist. I love grain, diffusion and halation, but there is nothing holy about those properties. We’ve never had this many textures to play with and this many tools to emulate properties specific to a format. We’re able to learn and emulate and apply and, in the process, discover new textures. I had a chance to watch Godard’s The Image Book in the cinema last year, and his high-contrast over-saturation has been on my mind a lot. It made me realise how much untapped potential there still is.
GF: Besides that, I know that you are into music. I do believe that editing ability comes with a sense of rhythm. While I was watching ‘A weave of Light, i do like a lot the editing technique; how is these two - Music on Rytym on your side in the case of the film?
BR: I’ve been using DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) since 2002. I didn’t have access to a camera, nor did I know what to do with it if I would have had access. I watched a lot of MTV and one-day FatBoy Slim’s Ya Mama came on. This was the first time I became aware of sample-based music. I started to dig deeper and stumbled upon two cheap CDs at the local record store. One was DJ Shadow’s The Private Press and the other was DJ Krush’s Message at the Depth (both are incredibly underrated efforts). I’ve spent so much time listening to those two that I started the extrapolate ideas about sound. I didn’t have any training, so I could only respond to the quality of the sounds and their construction. Shortly after, I found out about FruityLoops. I taught myself how to produce beats, and through trial and error, my music got better. Knowing what I know now, there are three things that are common in my filmmaking: a key interest in texture, an autodidactic approach through deconstruction and, as you say, a certain sensitivity to the rhythm. I don’t make much music nowadays.
GF: Lastly, I heard that you did a pitch and got financial support to make another film, has it been growing?
BR: I did! I’m editing the film as we speak. It’s a project that has been long gestating, and I’m very excited to get it done and get it out there, but that won’t be for another few months, I feel like.