Our perspective is everything. It shapes the decisions we make and how we interact with the very world we live in, ranging from lighthearted humor to crippling fear. Filmmaking requires a cinematographer who not only possesses the technical knowledge and skill to manifest this through the camera, but also is sensitive enough to deeply comprehend the director and writer’s aspirations for manifesting such a view. Mufeng Han is extraordinarily accomplished at this, displayed prominently in the film Bone World. Mufeng’s visual approach for Bone World differs vastly from the wide open spaces he manifested for Good Friend from the West (International Independent Film Awards Winner) and Patrick (heralded with wins at the New York Film Awards and Los Angeles Film Awards) yet all of these are infused with their own unique potency. Viewing the work of this remarkable DP, it’s clear that he has the ability to extrapolate the elements of a script which highlight the individuality of a story and transfer them to the screen. As it has always been, it’s the skill of those who tell the story that captivates those of us who become transfixed by it.
Bone World is a puzzle; one which unravels in a very precise and calculated manner by intricate construction. Mufeng describes his visual design stating, “From the cinematography perspective, building a believable world is the highest priority in this film. Each visual style presents various feelings which transfers to the audience. In this film, our story follows the protagonist's POV to discover empathy and develop the plot. The visual language approaches a more personal/first-person angle of presentation. The goal is to allows the audience to catch the same feelings as Charlie, our protagonist, through emotional camera movement and framing. Meanwhile, there is also an unpredictable dream world that allows us to present things in a more creative way, which is a good opportunity to indicate images with more artists and experimental specialties. I chose 16mm film to shoot this film on because the image development method of the film is by silver chloride chemical reaction, meaning that each frame of film is unpredictable and special. As a celluloid film lover, I'm so proud that I can still shoot on film in the present day.”
We experience the events of Bone World through Charlie, a young boy who finds his life and family in a state of odd suspension. Mary, his mother, has left him in charge of the family dog (Sticks) and the house for a few days while she takes care of a pressing matter. Charlie discovers and begins reading his older brother’s (Francis) journal. Francis has been in psychiatric care for the past year and the contents of his journal are odd and troubling. When Sticks begins bringing home strange bones from the forest, Charlie becomes increasingly confused about what he has been led to believe about both of his parents. As the pieces of Charlie’s world deconstruct, the drama of this story expands.
There is ample slow tension in this film, both director Henry Choa and Mufeng admit to being fans of this. The ideal elements must be respected and attained to manifest a storyteller’s vision. Working with under age actors can present certain obstacles but the dividends can be far more beneficial. Mufeng has plenty of experience with this scenario, having worked with young actors before like Mateo Ray Garcia (on the film Lumen) of People’s Choice Award Nominated Series 9-1-1 and Netflix’s Magic for Humans. The cinematographer relates, “This film includes the three most challenging elements to shoot with, which are animals, minor actors, and underwater shots. Combining these three elements is hard for the production and equally difficult for the cinematographer to put them in the frame together in a manner that looks normal. Being patient and always maintaining creativity is the key to helping me discover the solutions to impeding issues. Our young actor was fantastic in this film!”
Bone World has an expected release date of September 2022.