I recently attended a performance of the dance troupe Pilobolus at Nazareth College Arts Center. Prior to each performance, an experimental film was shown. In one, the filmmaker had made almost a collage of clips from old films that was fascinating and very well done.
I found it so interesting, that I decided to try my hand at one (Symphony for Modern (Wo)Man), but I also decided to talk to a couple of the producers I knew were working in this genre.
The first is Rajesh Barnabas, who works at RCTV as a Producer/Director, and who has created a number of experimental works. His sister is a performance artist and introduced him to films and literary genres that are more experimental in nature.
“My move toward experimental work reflects the evolution in what I’ve read and seen. I tend to gravitate more toward the abstract.”
He also attributes his evolution toward experimental work to the fact that he began his career as a journalist.
“In journalism, you’re not supposed to editorialize. You put out the facts and information, and let the reader decide. The experimental genre borrows from this objectivity. You don’t want to hammer the audience with your opinion. You put out the ideas and let them float. At the end of the day, experimental work is utopian art.”
Rajesh has recently moved somewhat away from the experimental and toward political interests. He hopes to combine the two.
Next, I spoke with Eric Massa Maira, whose feature-length work The Dead Deads, an experimental horror film, will premiere at the Little Theater on Friday, May 2 at 7 PM.
His work along the experimental lines began as a solution to an age-old problem: No budget.
He decided that, by taking a more creative path and not trying to go head-to-head with big budget production houses, he could produce a film that would stand on its own merits.
One of his strategies is to incorporate a more emotion-oriented experience.
“We decided to focus on emotion so that the audience could take the movie for what it is to them. So we’re looking for an audience that’s willing to participate and interpret.”
Eric showed the trailer for his film at the recent RCTV OUTPUT Film and Video Festival, and viewers definitely got the sense of it being a psychological horror film, because of the ambiance that was created.
“I wanted to create a sense of stillness. I put the camera down and let mood and atmosphere seep into the film. I let the camera linger, which runs counter to what most horror films are doing these days.”
Inspired by the filmmaker David Lynch, Eric mentions that the more unsettling films are those that don’t show the disturbing things that happen, forcing the audience to use its imagination, often more vivid than the film might be.
“What I’d really like to say to anyone interested in making a film is to just do it! All you really need is the phone number of a really good pizza place to feed the crew, and an idea. Even if people don’t like or support your idea, just do it!”
Good luck on your premiere Eric!