Margulies Documents Muralist's Process with Short Film

Brenda Kaye at work in Eagle, Idaho.
Brenda Kaye at work in Eagle, Idaho.

Michael Margulies, ASC, resides in Eagle, Idaho, and has been teaching at Boise State University for the past five years. A recent project offered him the opportunity to use the skills he honed over a 40-year career as a Hollywood cameraman.

Evolution of a Mural is a 15½-minute film that is a step-by-step depiction of an artist’s creative process. Michael met the artist, Brenda Kaye, as she was finishing a 36’-long mural in Eagle. They had a nice conversation, but that was it. Then, last year, Michael saw that Kaye was starting another mural, one that would be 86’ long and more than 8’ high. Michael asked if he could document the process photographically, and Kaye agreed.

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Brenda Kaye

In her “Artist’s Statement,” Kaye says, “My motivation to take on such large projects is the fact that sharing art makes this world a better place. The ultimate value of life is in that which stimulates our sense of well being. If people take a moment and enjoy my art, I have added a drop in their bucket of well being. That is my way of adding to the ‘greater good,’ one drop at a time.”

For her new mural, Kaye planned to depict a scene in the nearby Eagle Island State Park, where a hot-air-balloon festival takes place annually along the banks of the Boise River. “We knew in advance which five balloons Brenda was going to paint, so one of my students and I attended the festival last August and shot footage of them,” Michael says. “In the film, Brenda also talks about what motivates her and about her creative process, including her approach to mixing colors and how she translates the image to the wall. When she finished the mural, she signed and dated it. It was just wonderful.”

Michael used a range of cameras to shoot the project, including still cameras and a small Panasonic HD camera. The film includes some time-lapse photography. All the exterior lighting was natural, and the interviews with Kaye were lit simply. After four months of shooting and a long editing period, Evolution of a Mural is finished.

Michael Margulies, ASC, at the location.
Michael Margulies, ASC, captures some footage.

Michael raised funds for the project through Kickstarter — the ASC was among more than 80 contributors — and when the film receives its premiere next month at the Eagle Hills Country Club, contributors will receive autographed prints of Kaye’s work.

Evolution of a Mural will also screen at the Louisville International Film Festival in Kentucky and the Eugene International Film Festival in Oregon. Michael is waiting to hear back from Sundance.

Michael tells me he was thrilled to have the opportunity to make a film almost entirely solo. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do — an item on my bucket list, you might say,” he says. “I wrote, produced, directed and shot this project, and now I’m involved in the distribution. It’s completely rewarding. It’s the first time I’ve ever shot something just for myself.”

Here is a trailer:

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