Pressure is never easy; it does however force us to choose one of two diametrically opposing paths. When things become overwhelmingly difficult we must either grow in new ways or resign ourselves to defeat. This year, many of us have been faced with such decisions and artists have been particularly effected by the pandemic in regards to their work. Though deemed “non-essential” the public has come to realize how much we are comforted by the varied productions we watch from the safety of our own homes. These productions require large crews and cast members to manifest the stories which entertain us…or do they? Art Broken is a new series created with a new approach which is being explored during this Covid-19 era. Bianca Cristovao, Creator and star of Art Broken, collaborated with director Erin Wesley to create this new style of production. The one thing these two were in complete agreement on from the beginning was that the visual style of the story would require an exceptional and highly creative cinematographer. The duo enlisted Italian DP Lucia Rinaldi to aid in manifesting this cutting edge comedy with striking dark moments. Rinaldi’s early work with still photography as the DP of a 1977 music magazine ad (Italy), with Vanity Teen (UK), and others testifies to her exceptional eye in capturing the perfect moment while her accolades in film include recognitions at the Asian Cinematography Awards as well as Best Cinematography Awards from the New York Awards (Plastic Love) and the Canadian Cinematography Awards (The Doll). The stark difference in so many of the films and television productions being created during the pandemic is an intuitive and interesting visual language; for Art Broken, Rinaldi has fashioned a look which earnestly and overwhelmingly achieves both these qualities.
Art Broken is a tale which many people can relate to at this moment in time. Cristovao appears in this series as Sabina, a woman who quarantined with her boyfriend at the start of the pandemic. When her romantic partner suddenly abandons her, Sabina is left to deal with the emotional fallout during a time when the comfort of friends, family, and new love is not available to her. In this unique time, the standard support system following a break-up is absent in a way that has not been seen in many lifetimes. Most of the episodes in the series feature Sabina as the only human subject, though a tiny film crew and the disembodied voice of her ex are also present at different moments. Lucia created different ways to drive the action and interest of the episodes and storyline. Early on, there is a palpable documentary style to the camera work that is notable in its movements which often exhibit the sense of spontaneity so prevalent in this style of filmmaking. There is a prominent shift in the tone of the story and the filming in episode 5 when a phone call between Sabina and her ex reveals just how much her mental state is declining. Abandoned by her love in a world that no longer makes sense, the visual mood which Rinaldi adopts places the audience within Sabina’s crumbling emotional state. The camera work becomes our proxy for Sabina’s outlook, literally shaking at moments as she becomes increasingly upset.
Art Broken was filmed with a crew of only three people, a feat seemingly unimaginable when viewing the high quality of this production on screen. The creators of this series were adamant about working within the rules imposed by Covid-19 and responsible work practices. The demands and the pressure of creating the series were substantial but also afforded the professionals creating it to demand new ways of working and bringing the best of themselves. Lucia confesses, “This experience made me realize that I am capable of making beautiful and cohesive images with very little equipment/help. It is something we often forget about ourselves as we depend on people and budget to make things happen. This demonstrated that we, filmmakers, are extremely resolute and excellent at problem-solving. Our talent doesn’t depend on expensive equipment or advanced technology, it mostly depends on the level of sensitivity we are willing to express in our art.” Art Broken is currently available for viewing.
Writer: Cecil McCoy