Experimental film and emotional response
As artists, we dream of what the future of our art form will look like. I don't have to tell you, but our art form has exponentially advanced in the past two decades. More K's and dynamic range, along with VR/AR and 360 capabilities. While making films we sometimes get lost in this "technology" and forget that our films connect on an emotional level no matter what tech is used.
During the final unit of my advanced filmmaking class, we discussed experimental filmmaking while exploring the work of Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage. We viewed Deren's "Meshes of The Afternoon" (1943) and Brakhage's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" (1981) and "Kindering" (1987). The students were enamored by how Deren was able to use the camera to create a movement that would be created today via visual effects and large-budget practical rigs. Brakhage, on the other hand, confused them. Why did he not use sound in Delights? Why did he manipulate home movie footage to make us feel scared? These questions led to unique discussions around the question of what filmmaking actually communicates.
After viewing the films I asked the question, "How did that make you feel?" If film is a language, then these films spoke to the students. I assigned our experimental film project using this question as the impetus for the films. What happened next caught me off guard. One of my students raised their hand and said "Why don't you make a film with us?" I thought about it for a minute and said, why not? While I was unable to complete it in the same time frame as the students, I told them I would finish a film before the start of the 2023 school year.
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The "Dream" series began during the pandemic. Being alone I wanted to see what was possible to create alone. Using my anxiety about the pandemic I set out to capture how this isolation made me feel on an emotional level. Emotions that could be captured through different mediums including super 8mm, super 16mm, and the Fuji Xt series cameras with their digital film emulations.
Below are the first two installments of the Dream Series with #3 (the one I created for my students) coming soon. I am grateful that my students reacted positively to the experimental genre, and thank them for challenging me to create alongside them.
Camera: Nizo S56 Super 8mm
Film Stock: Kodak Vision 3 200T
Location: PCH/NorCal/Bodega Bay
Camera: Fuji Xt-3
Digital Film Stock: Fuji Acros
As you go off into the world and create I ask this question; What would happen to your films if you put as much thought into the emotion as you do into the technology?
Current Reading selection: "Film and Philosophy: Taking Movies Seriously"
Author: Daniel Shaw
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