LLoiro, a great fan and follower of our Red Feline adventure from the very beginning, posted a simple phrase with a picture at Crux Forum: Camille Forever! His comment ignited a conversation, beginning with this response:
ranger1 LLoiro said: Camille Forever.
Camille as a victim of crucifixion is quite intoxicating. Her performances at each stage of her crucifixion are captivating, realistically portraying the suffering, fear and final acceptance of her fate. I was able to photoshop your posted image (thank you) with this result.
As we approach the 21st anniversary of Red Feline Pictures and the year we released Red Feline On The Cross, is good to remember who made it all happen, the legendary Camille, aka Carmen. If you ask Amy, or Mila, or Dani, or whoever is takes a leading role in our productions, who is their inspiration, they will say Carmen, undoubtedly. They will also say that she’s amazing and beautiful and without her none of the great films that came after would have happened.
Don’t get me wrong. Camille is well and happy, living his artistic life in France, still acting, shooting and editing films, in different but equally defiant and defining roles, and she’s turning 44 on December 6.
The discussion that suddenly and spontaneously began with Lloiro’s comment, inspired us to do more to add to the adoration of the true incarnation of a martyr. So, Camille Forever! is now a project to do!
The question is, what kind of project?
We have the movies, including the not yet released series of tapes titled Training of Camille. We also have the wonderfully illustrated The Diary of Camille, as well as all those pictures and videos that tell her story.
We also have the stories that were published in the old club when the films were released. One particular poignant story is that of Red Feline On The Cross, a must read for the fans of crucifixion stories.
The idea is to prepare a nice package of all that work and release it under the inspired title of Camille Forever!
We’re considering the kind of format in which this idea could be more effective and enjoyable. Maybe as a section of the club, which would include the films, or as a package to be downloaded which could include the videos, pictures and all those pages of text… We might even invent a format to cover this, really. We will release the films in DVD format in our store, both, for download or physical, that goes without saying.
ranger1 Your posting lead me to seek special moments from several of Camille’s ‘Via Crucis” series of films (there were 10 in all). Camille jerking and twisting as she’s being nailed in VC Camille #8 is extremely realistic and quite erotic.
We are preparing to release The Training of Camille tapes. We hope to release at least one of them by the middle of the month to celebrate Carmen’s birthday.
Three videos of that series are ready to be set up as DVDs. One inclination is to put all three in one DVD, another possibility it to have them in three separate videos. They are rather short, around 10 min each, but they are exceptionally valuable… priceless, in many ways. Furthermore, they can only be fully appreciated by true fans of the French Lady of the Cross. How many of those are there in the world? Dare we experiment?
ranger1: Her portrayed suffering as first her right foot then her left foot are nailed are riveting (pardon the pun).
As I mentioned many times through the years, those films were not made for public viewing. They were rehearsals for a feature film Jac had in mind with Carmen in the leading role and for Jac it was a way of testing Carmen’s acting in this particularly difficult role, as well as to work the details of how a scene like that would work in a film. In addition, at the beginning of their famous rehearsals, Jac used a VHS camera, thus the look and quality of the image has the feeling of old home movies. They are also very personal.
ranger1: One of the most erotic (to me) scenes from Camille’s captivating series of Crucifixion films is from Via Crucis #2. After suffering a brutal whipping, Camille is lowered to her knees on the floor. Releasing her arms, her executioner ties her arms to the patibulum which has been placed on her torn and bleeding shoulders. She is dragged to her feet and whipped to force her to struggle bleeding and semi naked through (imaginery) crowd of spectators.
Later on during those rehearsals, when he noticed that Carmen’s performance and the camera work were beginning to look really good, Jac decided to use the Sony Umatic, 3/4 inch professional camera used for the miniseries, the standard for television in the late 80’s, a camera that in the middle of the 90s was already dated and was being replaced by the more sophisticated Sony Betacam. A very expensive proposition for that time.
The Umatic tapes cost 20 dollars, for a 10min tape, but the cost of the editing console could easily run into the thousands of dollars. And the quality, oh the quality, was not near to what we have now. And yet, those tapes of The Training of Camille and The Via Crucis of Camille are priceless.
ranger1 This second vidcap shows Camille returning to her place of crucifixion after staggering under the weight of her patibulum.
Jac had a simple storyline for those rehearsals, the classic interpretation of a crucifixion. The set was the bedroom, the participants just the two of them, Carmen and Jac, a VHS camera, no tripod, a couple of patio lights of 500 watts, the wooden post Jac had set up in his bedroom, a piece of wood meant for the floor as a crossbar, a handmade whip and something resembling a hammer and big nails.
The entire concentration of those exercises were on Carmen’s performance. That was all Jac needed at the time. She was amazing and it was her daring, her realistic portrayal of Camille suffering the pain of torture and crucifixion that inspired Jac to produce a the low budget feature film, Red Feline On The Cross. The final post production and the release of that film happened in New York, where they moved from La Paz. Thus they began a mini industry. The rest is, of course, HISTORY.
ranger1 In posting a response to “Camille Forever” posting, it brought to mind the shelved Camille and Gabrielle crucifixion films, Training of Camille Double Cross Seven Days on the Cross #5 (all episodes in 1 film) Cross and Barbed Wire Martyr (Torture scenes only). Are any nearing release, please?
Before the times of Video, Jac worked on celluloid film, that was his experience. The cost of buying the stock footage, for 16 mm, was 165 USD for a 10 min reel. Add the laboratory costs and your budget for a one hour film was over 100,000 dollars just for the stock and lab costs, if you were not very ambitious about your shooting and limited your shooting ratio to less than 3 to 1. Adding to that the cost of professional film cameras, like the 16mm Arri cameras that rented from 500 dollars a day. And then you had to edit the film. In Jac’s case he loved to use the famous Steenbeck Flatbed, a six plate German editing table.
Taking all that into account, his first feature film, a docudrama shot in Haiti, cost half a million dollars and never made all that money back. It was sold to international television, like Channel 4 in England, PBS in the US, but… Meanwhile Red Feline On The Cross cost somewhere between 500 and 700 USD and in its first year made over 70,000 in sales. The early success of RFOC and the Inquisition series shot in 1998 in New York made it possible for Jac to dream bigger. He bought a top of the line Canon Digital camera and shot two feature films, Martyr and Nocturnia, one after the other. Carmen worked on both, the protagonist in Martyr, and as AD (Assistant Director) in Nocturnia, where she also plays a drummer in a rock band. With those two films a cycle came to a close.
Martyr began its festival circuit in 2005 at two international film festivals, Amy saw it in one of them and she change the course of her life, instead of continuing with his planned trip to Chile, she decided to join Jac for a decade long adventure in challenging filmmaking.
Commentary on VeermerWorks’ Martyr
by Rich Moreland, September 2020
I came to Martyr late (is was released almost twenty years ago) but my friendship with its creator, Jac Avila, led to this commentary.
For a substantial overview of the film which is not included in this discussion, go to Ralphus.net for JoeKO’s summary. In the sources for this commentary, I’ve also included references to reviews by Amy Hesketh (Transformation and catharsis in Jac Avila’s Martyr, August 29, 2010), Charles Lonberger (Review: Martyr or the Death of St. Eulalia, January 15, 2014) and C Dean Andersson (The Fascination of Fear versus the Beauty of Horror , 17 November 2012). And, of course, there are the words of Jac himself to help us understand what Martyr is all about. Continue Reading
The Red Feline adventure started when Jac met Carmen, in Bolivia of all places, he also met Amy in Bolivia. Go figure. As I was saying, Carmen and Jac met and began to work on a miniseries for Bolivian television. Carmen as the leading lady, he as actor, director, producer, and so on. Soon after they were done, Jac told Carmen about some of his more bizarre ideas, one in particular that involved the torture and crucifixion of a young woman. Carmen was intrigued, interested and willing to be part of his ideas. They began to work some tests where Carmen was put through the motions, all recorded in a VHS camera Jac bought in NYC months before. In 1995, one year before Carmen’s 20th birthday, an adventure began, one that is, still, going strong.
The time to release all those The Training of Camille ‘lost tapes’ has come.