Dark Forest in the Mountains - Film By Roger Kupelian
Posted 30 May 2001 - 09:37 AM
Kupelian(center) on location in the Caucasus, 1994
ArchFilm was founded in 1994 by Roger Kupelian as a vehicle for independent filmmakers and producers to create and distribute independent projects without the usual obstacles. Using the medium of the internet and digital filmmaking tools, ArchFilm is committed to bringing quality projects to the right audience.
In the early 1990's, as the Soviet Empire disintegrated, two former Soviet Republics, Armenia and Azerbaijan, squared off against each other over the fate of the 170,000 Armenians living in the small mountainous region of Nagorno-Artsax.
The war eventually claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced close to a million people. By the time of the tenuous cease-fire, most of the enclave was in the hands of its longtime Armenian inhabitants. Dark Forest in the Mountains was shot on location in Nagorno-Artsax and uses a mix of digital animation , live footage and expert interviews to tell the story of that region of the world, and the events that led up to the conflict.
It also focuses on N.K.'s northernmost territory, Shahumian, and the partisans who manned its treacherous Gulistan Front.
You cen get Hold Of the filme at http://www.archfilm.net/orderhere.htm
[ May 30, 2001: Message edited by: MosJan ]
Posted 14 November 2001 - 03:15 PM
if one picture is worth 1000 words, one video is worth over a million words and will most definitely shade some light on different aspects of Artsax conflict...
I wish Roger Kupelian was front of me , i would hug him like my brother rand thank him of creating this film .
film that has brief history of Armenia and Artsax, animtions are don professionaly,
Film that has documentary footages from sumgayit and baku, a film that will make you Cray your eyes out.
Have you seen Marine ?? a 14 year old girl from Shahumyan, a daughter of Fedayi Boris, her life his been shuttered by the fanatics and mercenaries of azeri army ( more like hooligans and terrorists who can only kill and rape the kids and the older, cowards who start fledging and let their grandmothers and their grandfathers behind, knowing that a Armenian FEDAYI will never kill the unarmed civilians. ), see if you see the life in Marines face, her hands have been blown a way by the missals... go ahed look in her eys and tell me if tomarow
haw you feell about Artsax and it's struggle.
in this film you can see my good friend Karo Qarkedjyan, the world that he has fight for and the people that he gave his life for while defending the mother lend from the savage and providing much needed medicine and necessities to Artsax.
film is in English so the none ARmenians and many of our Diaspora-Armenians who are limited to Armenian can understand whets going on.
this video tape will be one of the best tapes in my collection, such grate think to have to show to your none Armenia friends, to any one that his interest in Armenia, Arstax and our struggle.
once agene I like to thank Mr. Kupelian for crating this tape.
Posted 24 November 2001 - 03:49 PM
From: "Pedro Zarokian" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 22:00:17 PST
Digital Producer Magazine
Documentary Filmmaker Roger Kupelian
by John B. Virata
The advent of the Internet coupled with less expensive but very effective
digital media creation tools, has opened the doors for a new era of
documentary filmmaker. Roger Kupelian is one such filmmaker. Kupelian is an
accomplished digital matte painter for studio films, but his passion is
When Kupelian isn't contributing his art to such films as The Devil's
Advocate, The Truman Show, Mission to Mars, Final Fantasy: The Spirits
Within, and the as yet released The Lord of the Rings, Kupelian is wearing
the hat of documentary filmmaker, one of his true passions. His most notable
documentary film to date is Dark Forest in the Mountains, with principal
photography (in this case the use of Hi8 video) completed in 1994, and final
finishing and distribution occurring just this year.
Dark Forest in the Mountains chronicles the war between Armenia and
Azerbaijan over the fate of the 170,000 Armenians living in a small
mountainous region of Nagorno-Artsax. Kupelian, an American of Armenian
descent, began shooting his story in 1994 with Hi8 video, conducting
exhaustive interviews, and mixing it with animation and live footage to
create Dark Forest in the Mountains. Kupelian chose to make the film in part
because of views that the mainstream media didn't pay much attention to the
Documentary filmmakers have several things working for them and several
things working against them as they try to bring their visions to wide
audiences. Advertising and production costs, while important to studio
projects to keep under control, are bigger factors to the documentary
Equipment costs alone can balloon to the stratosphere for those on limited
budgets. While a mainstream studio project has the backing of the studio,
which can deliver resources in an attempt to make a film successful,
documentary filmmakers oftentimes make movies in their spare time while they
hold down more traditional jobs that pay them. The documentary filmmaker
concentrates on making a film that makes you think, as opposed to
studio-backed films, which for the most part, are made to make tons of
money, and to entertain. For many who make documentary filmmaking their
passion, developing the resources to not only make the film, but to
distribute it as well, can be challenging.
The power and functionality of desktop digital filmmaking tools have grown
exponentially during just the last five years alone. Many of the digital
tools that were used to create the likes of Jurassic Park and Lawnmower Man,
have become widely available in varying forms from a variety of
manufacturers. For Kupelian, his toolchest consists of Power Mac G3s and G4s
running Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop, and Apple's Final Cut Pro.
His primary acquistion device is a 3CCD Sony DV camera.
In the correct hands, these tools can be used to help communicate a message
just as effectively as the traditional big iron and proprietary tools.
Oftentimes the price of a single big iron tool exceeds the entire budget of
a docuemntary film. With the advent of these tools running on Windows and
Macintosh and Linux based computers, documentary filmmakers have a more
level playing field when it comes to telling great stories.
While traditional films have the power of the studio behind them, the
documentary filmmaker has the worldwide distribution power of the Internet.
The Internet has become a vast distribution medium for these films, which
range from just a few minutes in length to 10, 20 and 30 minutes and longer.
Studios have huge budgets to market a film, documentary filmmakers have the
power of the Internet to market their films. In this Q&A, Roger Kupelian
discusses his passion--making documentary films with DMN senior producer
JV: You have worked on so many films that are full of digital effects. What
particular film(s) that you worked on do you feel is the best representation
of how digital effects best serves the story?
RK: Although there are two films in recent memory that I would point to,
Final Fantasy being one and Lord of the Rings being the other, I would have
to say that Lord of the Rings would have to be it-just in terms of the sheer
scale of re-creating Middle Earth and the fantastic events that transpired
there. Final Fantasy was all about special effects, in that the story seemed
even secondary to the innovation that was taking place in making the film.
In a sense, the effects WERE the story. You were supposed to go to this film
and be wowed by an entirely realistic CG environment. In LOTR you've got a
lot of live action and a terrific ensemble cast, and the effects are there
to accentuate their performances, not overshadow them. Although it boasts a
lot of innovative effects work, LOTR is based on a famous series of books
with a tremendous following, at a time when audiences have already started
growing weary of effects-driven films. I guess in the end it is a maturity
JV: What are some of the issues that impact today's documentary filmmakers
with regard to the dearth of technology available to them today? Are we
seeing better use of technology to get the message out?
RK: It seems so, although some very practical issues are still in the way.
Documentaries are a great way of not only informing an audience but
encouraging that audience to action...whether it be environmental
conservation, humanitarian issues on a global scale, abuses in the penal
system, whatever. One assumes that the availability of the internet would
allow easier and more widespread access to audiences that would be
interested in documentaries. However, the bandwidth issue, and the fact
that the Internet is still available only to a relatively small percentage
of the population are both obstacles to getting the word out on one's
project. Also, word of mouth is still by far the best way of getting your
work advertised, since a lot of competition already exists when it comes to
getting noticed via a search engine. Some have resorted to using
optimization companies to get their projects ranked higher on the results
page when using a search engine. That way when an interested party types in
"pipeline politics" they'll most likely have my documentary (which is partly
about pipeline politics in Trans-Caucasia) come up on that first page.
People are still people and most don't have as much time to look through
pages and pages of textual information, so you have to get the info to them
quickly and with minimum effort. Unfortunately, most companies still have to
advertise in more traditional mediums to direct people to their websites.
JV: For those of us who are unaware, what does a digital matte painter do?
RK: Well basically matte painting and its digital counterpart are
descendants of scenic painting. By that I mean backdrops for live plays,
etc. Matte painting for film was first done on very large pieces of glass,
and filled in the areas of background that would have been too expensive or
too difficult to film. The areas that were to be painted were covered over
by black matte board, placed directly in front of the camera (hence the
name). Then the live footage was projected onto the glass painting and
refilmed, putting the two images together. Some of the great names of early
matte painting are the late Albert Whitlock (Hitchcock movies, The
Hindenberg) and Chesley Bonestell (When Worlds Collide, The Conquest of
Space). Whitlock actually pioneered the 'held take', where he would convince
directors not to develop their takes until they had also been re-exposed to
the painting. That way the paintings worked with the live footage better.
Later on live actors were rotoscoped manually and placed over backgrounds
via optical printers. When digital hit, all that was replaced by paintings
executed or at least completed using computer software, like Matador and
Adobe Photoshop (the latter being the more popular). This allowed digital
matte painters greater flexibility in their approaches, and the
incorporation of projected matte paintings (a painting mapped onto simple
geometry to give a better illusion of movement and depth, as pioneered by
Yusei Uesugi of ILM).
JV: How has the availability of desktop digital tools opened the doors for
filmmakers who don't have the budgets for big iron tools to share their
ideas on film?
RK: Filmmakers are now able to buy or lease higher processor speeds and
versatile software at a fraction of the cost of doing the same thing a few
years ago. This allows an independent the option of putting together a small
experienced crew in a small rented space or someone's souped up basement and
banging the imagery out without the standard Hollywood bureaucratic red tape
in the way. The line from Storyteller to product gets shorter, and that is
usually much more efficient in terms of budget and creativity.
JV: How about your own personal digital studio? What hardware and
applications are you using to craft your documentaries together?
RK: I'm basically a Mac-head and have been since I got into this line of
work. I'm using G3's and G4's with Adobe After Effects and Photoshop. Once
my footage is together I'll capture it from a 3-chip Sony digital video
camera into Apple's Final Cut Pro 2. I'm even using Adobe GoLive to get my
websites going as the projects start nearing completion.
JV: How is making the documentary different from working on a big studio
project like Final Fantasy or Lord of the Rings?
RK: Again, less red tape and the message is much more personal. I don't have
to worry about making someone else's vision come to life because it is my
own vision and it can evolve if it needs to. that's the greatest asset.
Versatility--the option to change my mind midstream if I need to change it,
and sometimes you do. Some people will stick to storyboards if it kills
them. I wont. That happens on mega-budget films. If a Mega Budge director
changes his mind, everyone pays for it both in time, money and brain cells.
JV: Dark Forest in the Mountains-Tell me about this film. Why did you make
RK: At the time there was a little known war raging in the Caucasus between
the newly independent former Soviet states of Armenia and Azerbaijan. It was
a Bosnia situation, with an Azeri government trying to either drive out or
suppress an Armenian enclave placed within their borders by Stalin ages ago.
The news media was doing some reporting on it but very rarely anything
substantial. Having ancestral links to that part of the world (really
distant ones) I realized this was a chance to go and film a very real story.
I sold equipment, put the rest on credit cards and went over. Having ended
up with Super 8 video, it was a process of editing and re-editing using
available tools at the time, usually Toaster or some like. I was never
really happy with the edit I ended up with, and after a few years in digital
effects, I applied what I had learned and redid the project, adding historic
animation and more precision editing.
JV: What are you working on now?
RK: I've got a couple of things on the burner but one of them is an historic
documentary, a man-hunt if you will of an enigmatic Chinese prince who had
ties to the Persian Empire and possibly a lot more. The others are short
subjects that will be shot in New Zealand.
To view clips of Dark Forest in the Mountains, please visit www.archfilm.net/index2.htm
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