Technology can be a great force for equality in art. That’s especially true for filmmaking, particularly with the rise of digital video and computer-based editing systems. The blu-ray format plays a less-recognized but no less important role in helping micro-budget filmmakers producer and distribute their work to the masses. The technology has become affordable enough that daring souls can release films on video that would have a hard time getting to theaters. Autonomy is one such brave outfit doing this kind of micro-budget work – and their recent blu-ray of Blood For Irina gives kind treatment to the kind of movie that couldn’t get arrested at your local multiplex.
The transfer does well by a film that was shot in quick, cheap fashion: Blood For Irina was made using consumer-grade cameras, even using an iPhone for some shots, so it’s only going to look so good in any home video format. That said, the high-definition format enhances the film’s flashes of boldly colored lighting and lends a crispness to the deliberately gritty photography. A 2.0 stereo mix is included for the main feature and it brings a lot of oomph and atmosphere to the film’s wall-to-wall mixture of music and experimental sound design.
The disc tops things off with a few interesting special features. There are a pair of trailers, both of which accurately express the film’s demanding style in an appropriately minimalist way. There’s also a reel of outtakes that reveal some of the choices Chris Alexander made in editing the film: a few scenes incorporate dialogue, an element that was totally excised from the finished film. These outtakes also include some funny goofing around, like a bit where Alexander hums the theme from Zombie while a corpse in a bloody shroud rises from the ground. A brief snippet of video entitled “RIP Riviera” shows Alexander visiting the film’s main location after it was demolished and offering a few quick comments on its role in the film.
However, the final extra is the most substantial. It’s a commentary track featuring Alexander, co-cinematographer/actor David Goodfellow and actresses Shauna Henry and Carrie Gemmell. In an interesting contrast to the film’s slow rhythms, this commentary is a pretty high-energy affair. Alexander acts as the ringleader of the track, leading the conversation as he discusses the film’s many influences, the reasons he made particular choices, how and why the locations were chosen and the techniques used in creating the film’s sound effects and musical score. Goodfellow chimes in with some interesting info about the cameras and lights used for different shots and Henry and Gemmell offer a few comments from their vantage points as actresses. It’s a fun listen, something you might not expect from a commentary on a film like this.
All in all, Autonomy has assembled a solid little package for this micro-budget effort, showing that even the most cost-conscious members of the film world can enjoy a slick treatment on home video.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Blood For Irina, click here.