A journey through development


When given the assignment of an 'experimental film,' I saw it as a very interesting challenge. Rather than focus on the solidified rules and methods of film making; I'd turn my attention to rejecting these established approaches and actively trying to make something new. This in itself can be difficult as I'm used to creating films in a structured manner. However having total freedom over a project including the definition of 'project' should be fun. 


Editing - I was particularly influenced by the transition sequences from the game Call of Duty: Black Ops. Set during the cold war; it combines a range of media including stock footage, documents and visuals to make a surreal experience that grabs your attention. There is something organic about watching it that gives the impression that we are viewing someone's memories or thoughts. It's this visualization of someones thought process that really intrigued me. It's not common that we "see" what someone is thinking and it's this concept that I'd like to explore.

Style - I'm a particular fan of Oliver Francis, a lesser known rapper from the Midwest. His music generally focuses on nostalgic imagery and living in the moment. I recall shifting through his music videos one night when a couple of them grabbed my attention. This one is particular I enjoyed as it liberally changes aspect ratio without hesitation. Combining what appears to be wide angle DV tape footage, DSLR and TV recordings. It's this style of using older, outdated media that I would like to experiment with. As someone born in the late 90's, there is something very nostalgic about magnetic tape and VHS. Oliver is well known for making references to cartoons and anime, it's this reflection and nostalgia that I'd like to introduce to my piece.

Visuals & Sound - Adding onto my last point of outdated media. Joji utilized the use of DV tape in his music video "Yeah Right" earlier in 2018. I believe this video was a key contributor to the "Lofi hip-hop" genre in relation to style and sound. I was personally influenced by the use of random visuals and locations that help the video feel erratic and upbeat despite the somber tone of the song. The incidental visuals feel like quick glimpses into someones experiences or memories, it's this randomness that I would like to include in my experimental. In recent years, we often seek higher quality, but in this example Joji decides to take a step backwards and it's this gesture that I'd like to employ in my experimental.

For my experimental film, I aim to create a piece that experiments with the style of media. Particularly blending the line between digital and analogue recordings. When I was younger, I was gifted my uncles old JVC Camcorder and used it frequently to make my own films with friends. Whilst I still own it, I was unable to get it working properly and thus I unfortunately can't use it for this project. However I am instead going to use old cell phone footage that I've taken over the years and remix them into a montage. Using editing to help age the footage and give some organic separatism like in Treyarch's video game. 

I began by making a rough cut. Taking the liberty of combining a series of random clips together. Then thinking how I could take it up a notch and literally layering them on top of each other or playing them in reverse until I achieved something I deemed unique. The point was to avoid using logical film techniques and drive to make something bizarre and different. Combining multiple clips together felt like memories were being corrupted digitally which gave me inspiration for the title "Corrupted Memories." 

For sound I had picked a song by Joji that I felt generally fit the theme of the film. I slowed it to about 94% playback speed and then put it in reverse. What I discovered is in reverse, the song still keeps it's somber and soft tone but the lyrics become distorted and almost satanic in nature. It was this moment that I wanted to put more emphasis on distortion in my piece that I initially expected. I fiddled around the EQ settings where I settled to boost lower frequencies to simulate a heart beat. However I then decided to use a band pass effect. Effectively only allowing certain frequencies within a desired band, this way I could use key frames to higher or lower the EQ at any moment. I would erratically change the band during the film to disturb and keep the viewer on their toes when viewing the film. I felt the band pass would definitively help with distortion and corruption.

I used color and chroma keyers to help remove the background of certain footage. I was aware that they wouldn't work effectively on shaking or low light recordings but I felt this would help contribute to the 'corrupted' theme of my experimental. Frankly the fact it doesn't work is what makes it work for me. I would remove a portion of one clip and use another for the background, having both play simultaneously so the viewers attention feels divided.

For the "DV" or "VHS" appearance I used real static that I added in another layer and adjusted the opacity throughout the film to affect the 'distortion.' I also used a color blur and changed blue and red horizontal blurs to give an aged appearance to the footage. Using white noise and static, it came in handy when needing to make necessary jumpcuts and also reinstated the theme of distortion that I wanted to incorporate. 

So with a combination of color grading, keying and layering I generally found a style that I liked and kept it consistent throughout the film. At first I was simply experimenting with effects and filters until something unusual happened, it was when I found something that I liked that I decided to keep it in the film. If I had been doing things "by the books" it is likely I never would have discovered even  a tenth of the shots featured in the final cut of the experimental.

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© 2018 by  Michael Montgomery

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