Saturday, 5 December 2009

Lost and Found Film

Lost and found films are created with existing footage - old educational reels, home movies, even other films. Filmmakers take this material and cut it into something entirely new.

I've heard from several people that if you love film and filmmaking, you will love editing. I didn't understand that for a long time, and even found it discouraging, because whenever I sat down to edit, I was so frustrated with my own footage that the process was very painful. But then, in my senior year, I took a lost and found film class. Editing existing footage freed me from the obsession with the flaws in my own shooting technique and allowed me to focus entirely on the heartbeat of the cuts, the ability of shots to speak to each other, and the ways to use flaws to produce beauty. Lost and found is a mental exercise, especially in a class where you have to respond to a prompt using footage that may have no relation at all to your theme - it's stretching out your creative muscles.

After riffling through the Prelinger Archives I started to feel potential even in extremely mundane footage. I started seeing the hidden moments - a genuine smile in a 1950s reel about moral choices, or an off-beat moment of joy in a car commercial. Once I began cutting these together, the footage started speaking. And usually I drifted away from the strict words of the prompt into an idea that was inspired both by the prompt and by the footage, and finally, my own voice speaking through both.

That's how my response to "otherness," a prompt inspired by the philosophy of Satre and Lacan, turned into a reflection on childhood - the home movies I stumbled across are soft with time and feeling, familiar but alienating. And my response to "hyperreality" (see Baudrillard, Eco and Virilio) turned into...elephants. Both videos are below.

But first, I'd like to link to my friend David Golan's videos, which unfortunately I can't find a way to embed directly here. Dave was one of the first people I remember telling me about the connection between the love of editing and the love of film. He has a few lost and found projects on his site, as well as some 16mm work, one of which Carlos and I stayed up all night to help him shoot. I'd suggest starting with "Blossom" and "A Study of Hitchcock."

Here is my "otherness" lost and found film:

There Was a Child from Hannah Sternberg on Vimeo.

And below is my project on "hyperreality."

Wheels Across Africa from Hannah Sternberg on Vimeo.

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