A Cultural History of Tai Chi

Working with both Scott Phillips, and a fantastic group of student filmmakers at the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, was an enlightening experience. Teaching filmmaking techniques while negotiating the extensive combination of history, kinesthetics, art, dance, music, and religious ritual that Scott offered to this documentary, was one of the most challenging experiences of production I’ve had.

Scott’s book, “Possible Origins”,  further clarifies the ideas summarized in the video, and it’s a great way to get deeper into the compelling arguments he makes to recombine the histories of dance, fighting, religion, and art, that were separated through international war and cultural change.

Working with such a unique scholar, historian, and practitioner of martial arts was like a dream. Scott Phillips is a wealth of expansive and inter-connected ideas, sounds, and movements, all around the theme of reconnecting disparate cultural traditions. Having such a compelling subject actively making his own voice, image, and concepts available to our documentary production was a boon for a film production teacher and the students expecting a semester of repetitious curriculum.

Characteristically, the film is dense with meaning, metaphor, images, and sounds and it was a struggle to compress into it’s short length. You can feel the compression while watching as you’re compelled to re-watch the film to get a handle on the complex epiphanies. However, each repeat screening does reward a viewer with new understandings.

My crew, the video and sound production class in the RMCAD Animation Department, who are all credited at the end of the video, were the most engaged group of learner-makers I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Thanks to everyone involved.