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The making of Sublime

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Sublime got a 5-star award at BIAFF 2009. Filippo Lubiato writes about the film.

Knocking over the White Rose

Sublime was inspired by a newspaper article. A long-dead body recovered from the river Aare in Berne was found looking like the result of a suicide. We added the standard elements of British horror films (sleepless nights, woman in a wheelchair and schizophrenia.) Although the film was shot in 1997 and therefore some props are no longer current (telephones, diskettes), the tragedy of a man and woman not communicating remains true. In 2007, the movie "Sublime" by Tony Krantz came out, but this rather superficial psycho-thriller had no partnership issues at its heart.

Still from 'Sublime' showing the gift of the rose. Still from 'Sublime' showing sunset over Berne. Still from 'Sublime' showing the man.
Sublime was written as plain text, just like most of my scripts are written today. We used no storyboard and no technical frills. We only wrote the actions and some rudimentary dialogue. I use this system for fiction films, because it leaves plenty of room for improvisation. That way the actors can contribute. And now that I am working with young people, it is they who bring suggestions. Constructivism has become my motto in life. So I work with young amateurs usually making 10-minute long films. We need a day or two for preparation, two days to shoot and two or three days for editing. What takes up a lot of time after that is the promotion of the film and the subtitling. (We work in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and there is a strong demand for French subtitles for the French-speaking part.) I often work on this late into the night and so next evening I have to spend correcting mistakes arising from my tiredness.

Constructivism is a movement in art and education which rejects the approach of "art for art's sake" in favour of art as an activity directed towards social purposes.

Still from 'Sublime' showing man scared. Still from 'Sublime' showing figure in wheelchair. Still from 'Sublime' showing girl at romantic dinner.

There are rumours about alternative endings and it is true that the current conclusion was not in the original script. The plan was to have a final scene that took a glimpse into the future. Rita, the wife, would still be sitting in a wheelchair, but beside her would be her husband, Martin, and a newborn child. It would show a happy family. That scene would have relieved the film's rather gloomy perspective. But since we could not find either a suitable location or child for this scene and time was pressing, Thomas Kallweit had the idea of knocking over the white rose. It is just a shame that the rose is seen at different stages of opening through the whole film.

A Small Miracle

The scene at the end with the wasps was the hardest of all. I caught a wasp at the nearby rubbish dump and released it out of the window. The shot was simply reversed. But the job was harder than expected. It took about ten wasps before one flew right out of the window.

A small miracle, however, was how the scene in which the wasp flies onto Claudia's head was shot. My assistant, Roger Herzig, and I tried several times to throw a carved coffee bean onto the actress's face. This did not look right. Then, as if from God's hand, a wasp flew into the window and onto Claudia's head. Claudia responded naturally and backed away. Great, just as it should have been in the film ... but was the camera rolling? Yes, because after the previous attempts, none of us had remembered to turn it off !

Still from 'Sublime' showing computer diskette. Still from 'Sublime' showing girl hanging curtains. Still from 'Sublime' showing wasp approaching girl.

When casting, we put an advert in the newspaper and through that found Claudia Progin-Blaser. That turned out well, as Claudia and I are still working together today. The film was shot with a Sony VX-1000 by Thomas Kallweit. Roger Herzig gave me a lot of help on the shoot for Sublime with the lights, sound and dolly. Since then I have taught myself how to work alone or with young people who are interested in film. Meanwhile I integrated film into my activities as a youth worker. I have created lessons, where I make short films with young people on specific issues and then use them with other groups as the basis of discussions about their problems. From that process ClipClub emerged.

Still from 'Sublime' showing the white rose knocked over.My main profession is a technical operative. I archive video records of parliamentary debates for Swiss television and do research for the archive. This has led to some confusion among other amateurs, who think that working for Swiss Television gives me an advantage or that I shoot films as a professional.

During the revision of Sublime in 2005 small changes were made which crucially improved it. Apart from a few technical refinements some of the dialogue was re-arranged to create a different chronology for the film. And right at the end of the film a wheelchair squeaks over to the fallen rose.

Sublime was generally perceived by the public as intelligent and well-made. Even some professionals have praised it. In amateur competitions the film won some awards. That motivated me to prepare subtitles in various languages so that many amateur film friends around the world could see it (French, English, Italian, Czech, Russian). Only our friends in the Cotswold Festival were a little unenthusiastic, giving it a Silver Diploma ... maybe because they know even more gruesome ghost stories there! ;-).

- Filippo Lubiato

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Page updated on 06 October 2011
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