The Flying Icon
#1 Nonlinear Film School - Locations
The sea was calm, under the stars the young merchant dreamed of his home in Plovdiv, the ancient Bulgarian city which some say is the oldest in Europe. The merchant was born there, and it didn’t matter to him how old his city was for a home is eternally youthful in the heart. He was engaged to the daughter of a shoemaker. But before he could take her in marriage, her father filled a ship with shoes and said, “Don’t come back until you have sold every single pair.”
Ever since they left the seaport, the shoes walked, day and night, back and forth, in the ship’s hull. The merchant felt sorry for the shoes locked up bellow so one night he let them walk around the deck. Some of the shoes got off in the port city of Sinope. There, the merchant was invited, as a guest of honor, to a performance of the comedy “The Merchant,” written by the venerable poet Diphilus in 5BC. By curious coincidence, the merchant of the play also crossed the blue Nirvana that is a sea, but his ship carried olives, not shoes. When it wrecked, the olives spilled ashore to delight people to this very day with their sea-salt taste, with laughter and hints of adventure.
The merchant of our story carried on to a Georgian port where all shoes walked off but a single pair. Never mind how hard he tried, our good merchant could not find a buyer for that pair. When he saw a barefoot beggar, his heart took pity and he gifted him the shoes. He counted the price with his own coins, threw them in the treasure chest, and set sail back to his homeland.
The sea was calm, under the stars the young merchant dreamed of his home in Plovdiv, the ancient Bulgarian city which some say is the oldest in Europe. He played a joyful song on his flute for the father of his beloved would be happy with all the riches in the cargo bellow: Ornate pottery, silk and spice to trade, exotic garments and a beautiful set of overstuffed ottomans.
The dreamy merchant didn’t notice the approach of the pirate ship nor hear its stealthy crew climbing aboard behind his back. He started pleading with them, but the pirate captain would not hear any of it. He had also loved a woman, or several; he had also sailed to fulfill some, or many fathers’ dowry escapades; and besides, he loved irony as much as gold and silver. The heartbroken merchant watched the pirates carry away the heavy treasure chests, and he heard the ghosts of shoes walking, the full moon was the face of his beloved. And he cried in silent prayer.
“Look,” shouted some of the pirates. A bright light came towards them from the East. It grew bigger and bigger. It could not be the sun for the moon still shone above the two ships. Crazed with fear, the pirates fled to their ship in panic leaving the good merchant and his treasures untouched.
The merchant watched the pirate ship dissolve into the darkness. When he looked up to the sky again, an icon painted by bright light was flying above him. The icon flew with him all the way back to Bulgaria.
On the last night before the good merchant saw land, the Georgian beggar appeared in his dream and this is what he said: “I’m the brother of a renowned painter. I’d traveled a very long way but was stuck without any hope in Sinope. Until I met you. Your kindness helped me walk further on, all the way to the Georgian monastery where my brother was putting the finishing touches to an icon of the Virgin Mary. When he saw me, he fell on his knees for he thought me to be dead. I helped him to rise and told him all about my journey and you grace.”
The sea was calm, under the stars the young merchant dreamed of the daughter of a shoemaker…
Many are the stories about the icon of Virgin Mary Eleusa which would fly back and forth between Bulgaria and Georgia across the Black Sea. Until one year the icon grew tired of flying back and forth and gave a clear commandment to a Bulgarian monk in a dream. Since then, the icon of Virgin Mary Eleusa has settled in the Bachkovo Monastery where this Saturday, August 26th, 2023, some 700 years later, a Bulgarian film crew started making the feature film “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”
The miracles abound around us, don’t close your eyes to them!
They say in the movies: Location! Location! Location! A carefully researched and crafted setting, with all the stories it embodies, becomes a character in a film. A location cannot exist outside of us.
When a film goes into pre-production a Location Scout starts suggesting shooting locations to the film director. Different film directors look for different attributes based on the story and the creative vision.
Once the director picks a few locations from the photos, he or she goes to see them. Then, the location is locked, permits are issued, businesses and residents are notified and so on.
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The final step before filming is a Technical Scout where the film director along with a stripped down creative and logistics crew walk the locations planning each shot.
We walked the locations for “Don’t Close Your Eyes” last Tuesday for 12 hours and then again on Wednesday for 10 hours.
Technical Scouts are vital to the success of a film production.
Story by Bogdan Darev. Editor Nelly Dareva. The photos are from Bachkovo Monastery "Assumption of the Virgin Mary" and Church "St. Cyril and Methodius" in Sofia.