Work started this week on my short film, a look at a well-known Brandon figure, Weiming Zhao.
Weiming is an ‘en plein air’ painter – a term that means the great outdoors is his studio. It’s a hearkening back to much earlier days in painting, when natural light was the most plentiful supply for artists. Weiming has committed to doing at least one oil painting each day for several years now, and can often be seen in area streets, parks and neighbourhoods with his easel set up portraying the world around him.
I was keen to make him the subject of this project, first and foremost because he’s a fascinating person who’s accomplished great things. I won’t give too much away before the filming is completed, but his education in art and culture is entirely self-generated — he creates out of a deep appreciation for beauty and life and his motivation is long-standing and sincere.
I gathered a few establishing shots on Tuesday, which saw great light and location, but howling winds that threatened to knock over both Weiming’s easel and my gear. It certainly didn’t do much for any ambient sound I might have hoped to get that day, but it was a compelling insight into the kinds of conditions he often faces in pursuing his passion. Weiming literally goes out every day, regardless of weather – I’ve actually seen him paint in -30 Celsius temperatures.
Wednesday May 22nd saw a slight easing with the wind, and we moved to a location he’s painted many times before — his south-end neighbourhood. It was interesting to see passersby and neighbours walk past and chat with a man who’s become a fixture in the area. The photo below is one of those curious onlookers.
More shooting to come in the next few weeks – until then, a bit of education in sound gathering and hopefully calmer winds, too.
Weiming’s art can be viewed online at his blog: http://weimingpleinair.blogspot.ca/