Feedback from John Sealey

This is really good work. You take a subtle but non-flinching approach to a subject or series of issues using a layered/textured montage style, allowing the images tell their own story. There is a strong degree of experimentation here in terms of your use of a modular narrative structure and you do well in taking on the issues which arise from this approach; namely how to draw on existing signifiers/motifs of how we understand the classical journey. The task then is to try to mould this classical structure to fit your own aims outcomes (for the artist, experimentation chiefly requires exploration into territory without a map, allowing you to draw on a more experiential aspect of the moving image as a way of resonating with the viewer). Overall your approach works well in terms of the direction in which your protagonist is moving (physically left to right, and metaphorically). Beyond the experimentation, there are certain degrees or patterns that can be seen in your work, mainly through the editing: cutting to and back to, and the length of the shots.

In terms of thinking of the future in making new work (in relation to this film), there are moments in the opening sequences that could do with consideration with regard to pre-production/production – adapting and changing processes on set, for example. The overall pace and aesthetic of the café sequence is in conflict with the rest of the work. This is not to say that it is the shot that is an issue, but the way it is paced (presented through editing). For example, in the café, it is clear as to the meaning of the two shots which;

a) track up from the head of the character (as if the character is having an out-of-body experience)

b) tracks back from the café to reveal the physical empty space (an embodiment of his mind).

However, in relation to the rest of the piece, it is not clear as to the speed with which the audience experiences these two ideas and how long the images are allowed to stay on-screen (an excellent example of pacing can be seen in the cinema of Yashusiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa). I would also consider to what degree the lighting effects in the café scenes are an affectation of mood in the above two shots and the shot where we see the back of the character outside, looking at himself inside. Beyond the idea of using lighting to represent the internal conflict of character, the physical space is markedly changed, as is the character’s appearance – his suit is very light (almost grey) in those scenes as opposed to the outdoor scenes.

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Test Screenings and feedback so far…

It is a mixed bag here so far, as of the 5 requests for crits and feedback sent out, I have received only two completed replies, from Iga, and from Sam, John Sealey has assured me he is writing his and will send it soon, and we were due to meet up this week but I fell ill with a virus and spent two days in bed so was unable to meet him.

I have met up with Rusty and Lucy Leake at the college, and we did a brief test Screening on PCA’s larger screen, and Lucy has assured me that she will send feedback, she also asked me if I had entered any festivals yet and when I replied no, she asked If I wanted to work with her and the film department to build a package for festivals, to which I, of course, replied “yes please”! I have had no further contact as of yet, but I am reasonably adept at making a nuisance of myself in the film arts department so will follow this one up as soon as I return to Plymouth.

I have as of yet heard nothing from Alister Gall. I am also thinking of sending out the film to Vanya Chokrollahi, A fellow filmmaker I met in Warsaw, his film Noir was an artful and poetic piece, and crucially he is several steps ahead having pursued and won funding for work. the feedback may come in late for this module but it would be very interesting to get his views. I am slightly in awe of his work as It really stood out as a polished professional and mature piece. What I am realising is that networking opportunities are to be explored.

 

 

Return to the ‘Habitus’

It is back to  the theories of the social Theories of  ‘Pierre Bourdieu’ (1930-2002) that I would like to return for this final post, there is good reason, I wished to reconnect some of the ideas of his theory of ‘Habitus’ to the notes and readings I had made on the effects of modern capitalist/consumer societies on mental health, this quote below from  the International Journal of Epidemiology, entitled ‘Is modern Western culture a health hazard? looks at the argument made by Archana Singh-Manoux, and Michael Marmot  in their paper ‘The Role of socialization in explaining social inequalities in health'(Singh-Manoux and Marmot, 2005) seems a perfect place to start;

“Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’, they argue that social structures become embodied as schemes of perception that provide individuals with class-dependent and predisposed ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, which are then reproduced. However, we can also think of such processes as going beyond matters of class; socialization reproduces lifestyles and identities, not just social differences in them. A culture of individualism and materialism could also produce those attributes of a culture of inequality. In other words, these developments in thinking about inequality in essentially cultural terms invite a broader consideration of cultural factors as determinants of health.” (Eckersley, 2005)

In other words, they agree with the central ideas of ‘Habitus’ as put forward by Bourdieu, but look beyond the wider social structural consequences and take the potential effects into a sphere of wellbeing and health. It is easy to jump to conclusions here, and make assumptions that mental health is something that afflicts mainly the working class, I do not agree with this but If we are following the logic of Bourdieu’s argument we are faced to look at the consequences of this social stratification on the cultural psyche of individuals, under this argument the taught and learnt coping strategies are just as important as the healthcare available, as Manoux and Marmont put it;

“In other words, individuals at the bottom of the social strata have fewer psychosocial resources to cope with life events. Resilient personality characteristics may be less accessible, by not being available in the repertoire of learnt behaviours, to the socio-economically deprived, thus increasing their vulnerability to life events. The socialization hypothesis has proved useful to examine development of attitudes (Glass et al., 1986; McLanahan & Bumpass, 1988), and is likely to provide insight into psychosocial vulnerability.”

I am not too sure how far we can go with this before it becomes a trap in of itself or starts to sound like a dumbing down of a lower class, but what is worrying here is that the idea of learning behaviours from the environment that surrounds us the familial learning environment to the one cast around us socially does hold considerable weight. The key area of sensitivity here is where the breaking of this as a pattern emerges, which in returning to Bourdieu’s text is critical if there is a suggestion that the effects of environment and teaching affects us psychologically how do we escape the bounds of this?

Does this govern our very behaviour and then responses, therefore, making a movement out of said social circumstances impossible? Of course not! We can clearly see that these limitations and conditions even when treated as a mean, should be read as a  theoretical warning, a negative limitation that has potential to damage social and cultural freedom.

But it is Interesting all the same. the habitus came to mind on a very personal note over the summer, As I took on a job, hard physical labour, which I have been accustomed to since my youth, It was in a way too comfortable, I was tired at the end of day physically that I never am studying of utilising predominately the mind. This tiredness and the direct sense of a days work well done is somehow hard-wired into me, I slept better, And found my mind relaxing, the menial nature of the job and the disassociation from decision making was difficult, to begin with, but actually a nice break, and most crucially I was bringing in much-needed income.

The reason that I mention all of this is because these conditions of work that I grew up with, this sense that if I am not exhausted physically attaining a wage something is not quite right, still have an impact on my perception of work today.  I have of course worked in conservation where we generally take an almost monastic vow of poverty whilst taking on extra responsibility and autonomy. But even today this conditioning effects how I approach work.

Something else I noticed was in the grit and grime of shifting bricks and timber is that I simply became too tired on two of the days off to apply much of my analytical or creative mind to my studies, the concepts and drive were still there, but became dulled, sinking into the background noise. I am probably just a big wuss! And it did take a month to adapt back to this level of physical work again, after all, I am not 25 anymore, and it may be with more time I would have found a better balance, however, The price extracted in sweat for others gain is always one of significance.

With this fall back to old habits, came initially a sense of as I say comfort, then inevitability, then blind panic! Was this all I was fit for!? After all the work and struggle to be studying for this long and be back here! It is funny how quickly the confidence can start challenge itself when faced with patterns of behaviour, I took on these internal accusations and decided that pragmatism ruled supreme, I had very nearly crippled myself by the age of 35 using chainsaws and the like, so it was not a question of staying, or returning, simply moving forward one step at a time.

It is not all negative of course, I quickly learnt that same work ethic could be applied to written work, research and study in general, and when it was, It paid dividends. To draw this rambling semi-autobiographical blog post to an end Is to bring it to the beginning, to the crux of ‘Habitus’ and a renewed sense that class and socially defined barriers are designed and built and reinforced structures that should be continually challenged and broken, and ideally where possible smashed level to the ground. We are all far more than mere spectators in our lives, we are participants, and by becoming actively engaged in the frameworks of culture and society we can all have more of a say on how things are shaped.

Referance and notes:Is modern Western culture a health hazard? Richard Eckersley Epidemiology, health, and culture

‘POINT-COUNTERPOINT Is modern Western culture a health hazard?’ Richard Eckersley Epidemiology, health, and culture (Eckersley, 2005).

Below are the references that I have extracted from this interesting paper, I do Intend to write a longer essay piece utilising this or I may choose to include these ideas and reference them in my dissertation.

Chiefly this builds the argument for the harmful patterns of modern life, built and constructed by us, but seeking to draw connections between the rise of mental health issues with these patterns of modern life and culture. The reason it is not included as a finished blog is simple, time and complexity, I felt that to do this justice I would need to find and reference at least two other sources and this would then turn into a major essay or paper, one in which I would like to do the subject proper justice and look at arguments both for and against this whilst tying this all back to the role of film as a medium of popular culture and of information delivery. This will be better achieved and placed I feel in the next module. I include the notes here in this form to make it clear that part of the process of the research for the film looked into and took into account these ideas, the background for the film is not just based on opinion or speculation.

“Singh-Manoux and Marmot14 take this cultural perspective further in suggesting that socialization provides a mechanism for integrating the cultural, behavioural, structural, and material explanations of social inequalities. Socialization is the process of transferring attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours between and within generations, the means by which societies shape patterns of behaviour and being that then affect health. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’, they argue that social structures become embodied as schemes of perception that provide individuals with class-dependent and predisposed ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, which are then reproduced. However, we can also think of such processes as going beyond matters of class; socialization reproduces lifestyles and identities, not just social differences in them. A culture of individualism and materialism could also produce those attributes of a culture of inequality. In other words, these developments in thinking about inequality in essentially cultural terms invite a broader consideration of cultural factors as determinants of health.” P252

“Western individualism confuses autonomy (the ability to act according to our internalized values and beliefs) with independence (not being reliant on or influenced by others).13 Someone who holds collectivist values is behaving autonomously, but not independently, when acting in the interests of the group. (Or, to put it somewhat differently, ‘thinking for ourselves’ has been redefined as ‘thinking of ourselves’.)” P254

“The confusion of autonomy with independence encourages a perception by individuals that they are separate from others and the environment in which they live, and so from the very things that affect their lives. The more narrowly and separately the self is defined, the greater the likelihood that the personal influences and social forces acting on us are experienced as external and alien. The creation of a ‘separate self’ could be a major dynamic in modern life, impacting on everything from citizenship and social trust, cohesion and engagement, to the intimacy of friendships and the quality of family life. “ P 254

“So the issue here is not just a matter of the changed relationship between the individual (as an entity) and society, but of the way in which the individual self is construed. In other words, the result is not only increased objective isolation, but also more subjective loneliness (even in company or within relationships); out of regard for privacy—our own and others’—we may fail to seek support when we need it, or hesitate to offer it to others when we should.” P254

“Modern Western culture undermines, even reverses, universal values and time-tested wisdom.12,13 The result is not so much a collapse of personal morality, but a loss of moral clarity: a heightened moral ambivalence and ambiguity, a tension or dissonance between our professed values and lifestyles, and a deepening cynicism about social institutions. Without appropriate cultural reinforcement, we find it harder to do what we believe to be ‘good’; it takes more effort. And, conversely, it becomes easier to justify or rationalize bad behaviour.” P254

“Culture’s impacts are most clearly observed in the study of psychological well-being, as the above discussion shows. Given this, and epidemiology’s traditional focus on physical disease, it is worth noting the personal and social costs of mental illness. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world.36 In the global ranking of the burden of disease, measured in terms of both disability and death, major depression is projected to rise from fourth in 1990 to second in 2020.36 In high-income countries, depression and other neuropsychiatric conditions account for more of the disease burden than heart disease or cancer.37 Suicide, which has been called the mortality of depression, ranks in the 10 leading causes of death in these countries.36” P255

“Cultural fraud The apparent harm caused by materialism and individualism raises the question of why these qualities persist and even intensify. Both have conferred benefits to health and well-being in the past, but appear now to have passed a threshold where rising costs exceed diminishing benefits.13 Various forms of institutional practice encourage this cultural ‘overshoot’. Government policy gives priority to sustained economic growth but leaves the content of growth largely to individuals, whose personal consumption makes the largest contribution to economic growth.” P256

“This ever-increasing consumption is not natural or inevitable, but culturally ‘manufactured’ by a massive and growing media marketing complex. For example, big business in the United States spends over US$1000 billion a year on marketing—about twice what Americans spend annually on education, private and public, from kindergarten through graduate school.46 This spending includes ‘macro marketing’, the management of the social environment, particularly public policy, to suit the interests of business. Psychologists who have studied cults and mind control warn that even the brightest and best of us can be recruited or seduced by social situations and conditions to behave in ways that are contrary to our values and dispositions, to engage in actions that are immoral, illegal, irrational, and self-destructive.47 As Zimbardo has said, many agents of mind control ‘ply their trade daily on all of us behind many faces and fronts’; we need to learn how to resist them and to weaken their dominance.48” P256

“One of the most important and growing costs of our modern way of life is ‘cultural fraud’: the promotion of images and ideals of ‘the good life’ that serve the economy but do not meet psychological needs or reflect social realities. To the extent that these images and ideals hold sway over us, they encourage goals and aspirations that are in themselves unhealthy. To the extent that we resist them because they are contrary to our own ethical and social ideals, they are a powerful source of dissonance that is also harmful to health and well-being” P256

Referance:

Eckersley, R. (2005). Is modern Western culture a health hazard?. International Journal of Epidemiology, 35(2), pp.252-258.

Post production 2 : sound design and late break throughs

I am not a sound designer, That much is clear, I have spent some time watching others who are or working alongside them, but that does not qualify me as even a fledgeling. I make this point straight out because even though I was able to get hold of a copy of Logic pro, and begin a short learning cycle I was unable to apply the power of this software and therefore a real working knowledge to my film. I have long bemoaned the loss of a sound designer on this film, and I take it as far as saying I would even like to go back at a later date and work with someone to fix the weaknesses within the design as I see them.

I have spent a lot of time researching and trying to learn all manner of post-production techniques over the course of this film It recently occurred to me that I should probably have made a proper documentation of this process, as It very possibly runs close to 100hrs possibly more of tutorials experiments, in colour correction, titles working with Luts, Digital Masking, working with noise reduction software, and I could go on, the fact that I haven’t properly done so probably reflects my attitude toward this learning as “necessary working knowledge filmmaker skills” therefore not specific to this module, I am probably wrong, but The way that I approach this is similar to the way that I approached the corporate work I took on last year, which is to compartmentalise it and work on it in a different head space. this means that some of the skills, of course, cross over and get reused making it hard to see clear delineations.

For Low season I have less excuse I put time aside to work on how I could optimise black and white images that have mostly been shot in a flat log style, and how best to process these using Luts (Look Up Tables) learning to read and then working with, it took over a weeks work, and I still feel that there are compromises and that My knowledge is rudimentary at best. Did I want to get help here in the grading of the film? Yes, but as with a lot of things, this skill set went north to Coventry with my Producer Jake.

So when it comes to working in post with sound I had almost no time to learn Logic and was forced to work with what I had and Know a little, which is Adobe premiere and Adobe Audition, this meant post foley session I had intended to go back in to College and work with a Sound designer. Instead, I took the route of working in longhand, on my own at home. This sounds counterproductive, but unless I was to pout this crucial process in the hands of someone I absolutely trusted, who I already had a shorthand in of communication of ideas in sound It would be a fruitless and dark experience of compromise.

As I say I took the long route of recording sessions around machinery in cafes in town with my own sound equipment and finding racks I already had, finding free royalty free sound bites off the internet, and in the case of the cafe scene Which I would estimate took upwards of 100 hours for less than 5 seconds of soundtrack, I simply worked my brains out.

It was actually a very interesting if frustrating process, which owes more to reductionism than to adding, at one stage I think for this cafe piece I had 23 channels of sound open, this was considerably reduced, as I had to hit the muddy point of too much going on before I realised that less is certainly more! Also, the only tools used in this process where various forms of reverb within Audition and time changes within Premiere. to put this in perspective every time I worked in Audition from Premiere It would mean generating a different composition to replace the original sound clip in premiere, this takes time and then you have to listen back to the mix to see how it fits… This is why it is longhand, however, my longhand became through necessity both fast and reasonably efficient, it had to!

In terms of headspace after even 4 or five days working on a small segment of sound which is supposed to represent something quite internally dark for the character, It literally was messing my head up! It was both frustrating and mentally exhausting to have to keep going back to this short burst of sound but as such, the moment represents such a crucial shift in the states of the film and character I had to keep going.

What do I think of it now? Well to be perfectly honest I came to a compromise with this section, I reduced it back to a mere shadow of its former self until it at least in part described what I wanted, and then I had to move on, it is not perfect, in fact it is not quite what I intended, but it is a working solution…For now. other sound elements I am much happier with the footsteps leading to the arcade sequence I am reasonably happy with, the mix here, of course, is much simpler and less conceptual, but I think it works. overall I think my total lack of knowledge has been improved upon, and I know I have one thing in my favour, I have a pretty good ear for sound, however, the gulf between this and production and mixing of a professional soundscape still remains a wide and deep one.

The edit of the images themselves is a different matter, I have mentioned already a meeting with John Sealey and his critique of the middle of the film in terms of edit. This lead me to totally get back into the film become more experimental again and nothing short of look for the film within the dead and lifeless material that was currently on screen as the assembly edit.

My first major point here is that although John Suggested I think About this I had already tried something similar, and when I went back into the timeline I found the segment of experimental edit further up the timeline, the reason it had not worked became instantly apparent to me, it was attempting to intercut footage that was either already preceding or two or three shots ahead in the timeline, it gave no clear sense of time or purpose for our character, no trajectory, it achieved a broken feel to the nature of the edit but that was all, rather like a spinning top it eddied but went nowhere. By making a clear-cut to a future event and this future event is a stationary one, ie we cut from movement to stillness not only did this introduce movement and trajectory and a feel of a mind fragmenting to the edit, but it also crucially described or suggested where this mind was. the static shot is our anchor as a viewer, not just a destination. It tells us or suggests that this could all be going on in the head of the character, it means that we avoid narrative but still feel connected to the world of the character (at least I hope so)!

John Had shown me Point blank, and yes I lifted the idea in a big way, yes I went for the footsteps (this Similarity is after all why John showed me the shot) But rather than want to copy this shot I wanted to harness some of the power and energy that it created and completely distort it to my own ends, that is my shot goes from movement to stillness, then to moment. it also overlaps this movement to suggest lack of actual progress, it wants to play with our perception of the characters movement in the real world because perhaps this is not entirely the real world we imagine it to be.

Now John Boorman’s use of the shot does something similar, but essentially he is cutting from movement the walking ‘Walker’  and incoming trajectory represented in sound as well as image, and then the parallel action is someone his ex-wife going about her day totally unaware of what is coming, it is brilliant, he uses an overlapping edit to create again momentum but to bring actions and characters together to one point. for me, it was always one character but to show a parallel between mind and physical world and to bring them to a climax in the arcade sequence to almost find themselves again under the pier.

I hope it follows in the rich tradition of ‘influence’ that everyone from Scorsese to Godard has admitted to doing, not simply the nicking of ideas.  To sum this process up It has reminded me once again that the films I make I really do have to be lost and found again in the edit, I may like the idea of storyboarding as I followed here, but  I believe that films come alive or perish in this magical process we call the cut.

Framing the figure: loneliness and isolation in film

 

Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942
Nighthawks (1942)

Finally I get to write about the shot compositions themselves,  except I have already done that in a much more detailed way back along in 101, the shots all of course have origins and many have evolved since the first sketches and story boarding, but I will leave the shot analysis to history and look instead at the research that springs forth from the creation of the ideas within the frames themselves, the film is a loop and so by definition is the research process.

It is of interest to me now that an important influence in the tonality and feel of this film can be traced back to the world of painting. As I have made clear before, I am not well qualified to talk about painting, I know little, and would quickly be out of my depth, however I know what strikes me on a laymans level, and this is not the first time I have looked back to the world of painting for either inspiration or influence.

I have written elsewhere on Edward Hopper (1882-1967) his work has strong links with the world of film both influencing film makers such as Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007) Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) and Wim Wenders, as well as being influenced by the cinema himself (Allen and Hubner, 2012)

Hopper work has been very much associated with the examination and depiction of loneliness and isolation, (Allen and Hubner, p 205, 2012) and although he is quoted as saying in connection with readings of his work “The loneliness thing is overdone” It is easy to see why so many of his painting still evoke these feelings, as David Morrison observes;

“The strategies for evoking loneliness range from general qualities, such as blankness, stillness and emptiness, to more specific tropes; the downward gaze, the act of eating and drinking alone, the isolation of characters within the frame or the gaze rom the window-Hopper is a pertinant artist to concentrate on, partly because he employedso many of the elements noted above” (Allen and Hubner, p 205, 2012)

 

 

HopperAutomat
Automat (1927)

How Many of these tropes have I knowingly picked up and used in Low Season through my gazing at Hoppers work I wonder? Some we might see as universal reflections of experience, That may or may not be the case, but in others Hopper has quite literally elevated to the status of art form. The example of ‘Nighthawks’ (Hopper 1942) is an intriguing and moody masterpiece of introspection and isolation. His use of  the window as portal that seems to give a sense of isolation or even dislocation and imprisonment  fascinates and inspires me, and it is a feature that reoccurs across his work.

 

Office in a small city
Office in a Small City (1953)

As David Morrisson suggests in his excellent chapter ‘Framing loneliness in painting in film’ (Allen and Hubner, p 205, 2012) when he quotes from Gail Levin’s ‘Edward Hopper: The art and the artist’  ‘He was directly concerned with emotional content in his art’, However to finish her quote and return it to its proper context, she continues;

‘even though he may not have intended that content to be clearly interpretable. And while the meaning of his paintings may not always be accessible to us, Hoppers admitted search for personal expression invites our investigation into the nature of his personality as a key to the understanding of his art’ (Levin, p9, 1981)

What I take from this Is amazingly important to me as a filmmaker, It is suggesting that more than simply trying to emote through his work he was burying deeply encoding within in it his own inquiries and inner search.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 19.25.09
Tip Is isolated and left alone in the frame, this shot is longer and he becomes smaller in the frame, but due to matching shots  it had to be cut slightly in length

It is well documented that he was well read on Freud and Jung, (Levin, p9, 1981) and without making gigantic leaps of supposition, his search seems to have been at least in part an existential one.  What lies behind the process is that thing that drives and motivates an artist to produce work, it  is both individual and can often be deeply personal, But it is in identifying what this force is, and then living with its consequences, that can lead to a deeper understanding and relationship with the work itself.

So back to the framing, I could sit here and ramble for hours about the influence of these paintings, some I have discovered over the course of this film like ‘Automat’ (1923) It captures in one frame a great deal of what I am reaching for, but it is not a direct influence that I can truthfully link my work to.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 19.26.45
A simple reading of this shot is that of being trapped in the mind, returning again and again to an unsolvable problem. The weight of the pier and its corporeal and consumerist amusements above bear down on him, the bars impede his forward movement his face is turned away from us,  looking for a way out from this maze-like prison

In Nighthawks, however, I can, you see, even though it has become one of those iconic images that have passed so far into the public consciousness that it has been widely parodied ( I particularly like the One credited to Banksy). It still feels full of mystery, I have watched and read several discussions and readings of the piece and  I still think it holds many of its cards close to its chest, Just like it’s Author.

This Painting captured my imagination so much as a young man that it has never left me, (not surprising as it so strongly evokes cinema) But now I make my own attempts at artistic work I wanted to know more! I have always been most interested in the character with his back to us, He feels like the main character, he could be us because we are not able to see his face and he brings us into the cafe, these are sloppy half readings of my own, What I think is very  important to me as filmmaker is the intrigue and the mood that the painting sets up, we can but attempt to comprehend, what Hopper was trying to say or where it comes from, the mood and the feeling he creates, however, have made me curious  to enter that cafe and the mind of that man for a long time.

If there are ‘tropes’ of Loneliness that I have explored in ‘Low Season’ I hope that at the very least I have shared a little of this predilection and choice  with a master, and although I feel sure that again this absorbing of cultural touchstones happened long ago, bringing it back to the conscious front of my mind and into the light of further study has proved a fruitful and rewarding process.

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 19.27.47
looking,

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 19.28.41
Birth? Death? Reconnection? Remerging? Swimming.

Feed back Sam Johns

Sam is a freelance Filmmaker and professional film critic.  He graduated with a 1st class honours degree in film arts from PCA in 215

The theme of nostalgia is one that is heavily adapted and approached within the realms of cinema. Rose tinted glasses often blur the remanence of memory giving way to cheap bait-like tactics in luring an audience to submit via quick-fire montage scenes of popular cultural milestones and moments of importance. Opposing this is the alternative route of black and white melancholy, whose aim it is to highlight the void of present life, presenting a visionary postcard that wishes you were there and not here.

It could be mistaken therefore that Low Season is nothing more than a dismal representation of time, and while I believe this may have been the director’s initial approach, I can’t help believe the film and the director evolved beyond this. The seaside town in which the film is set could arguably be credited as the main character of the narrative. A wasteland of empty shorelines and darkened amusements where buskers fold within its creases and steel rusts away beyond the weight of the waves. Moving through the space is a man whose exhaustion can be felt beyond the camera lens. As he wanders with no sense or purpose, we are left equally as stranded to experience the weight of the world. A bleak and cold environment that makes no effort to connect, a disjointedness that crosses over to the edit and enveloping the viewer in a world of maze like qualities, not too dissimilar from the journey Orson Welles takes within The Trial.

Pursuing the journey is a soundscape that marches forward in a concoction of rolling waves, energetic machines and stampeding footsteps upon the sand. A film that lacks dialogue can often fall short in representing a story’s true narrative, but Low Season manages to create a voice for the world, answering these very questions depending on the willingness of the audience, a respect that Chris shows for both the audience and the medium of cinema. The strength lies in the countability of rewatching the short several times. An occurring trait in all of Chris’s films, where the subject and reason of looping narratives and repetition plays the utmost importance.

Which is why I’m forced to ignore singular moments of the film and choose to examine Low Season within the frame blocks of a loop. It would be naive for me in knowing the director’s thematic capabilities to not go where he wishes to take us, in what I believe to be a continuous experience, or at least a 5th or 6th viewing. A singular viewing grants us a story of foreboding capitalism and forgotten times, the loop, however, guides differently to a film of opposites and experience. For this you can use the ocean, which plays a prominent part not only in the film, but also in the director’s identity and entire workflow of thought. As the shore rolls in, it will roll back out again. Nothing changes but equally nothing stays the same. With death there is life and with a low season, comes a high. Mistakenly, the end could be seen as dramatised suicide. For myself, I see it as a total submersion and acceptance of the surroundings and the director within his work.

I would argue that Low Season equally represents both beauty and discontent. A battling of opposing ideas can be felt in the director’s mind within the entire piece, each struggling for dominance. All working to help deepen the films texture. A film portraying less about political ideology but experience and complete truth. Ultimately, showcasing the most honest film Chris has made to date.