Thirteen – The Film

Blog The Week, College

In my last blog post I confessed all the troubles I’d been having with my Final Major Project, and I left saying I was going to try making a film about the process. I’m not sure the film I made is a film about ‘this process of learning and working in a new medium’, but it’s definitely about me – and my process. I’ve been making a self portrait film, I didn’t know it at first, but I am.

People refer to ‘the language of film’ all the time, and I’ve used the analogy a lot in my writing – going so far as to parallel alliteration to match cutting – but I’d never really tried speaking this language. With this film I decided to do that, and I let each stage of the process speak as it wished; I wrote things, I filmed things, I recorded things, I editing things, then I graded things, and with each stage I just said something about myself in the language of film. It was only a self portrait because I needed something to say, but really it was just trying to speak – kind of like the Spanish lessons I did as a kid, we started by learning how to introduce ourselves.

A good summery of how I felt about the film was probably it’s title, I Have Nothing to Show After Two Years of This. Which, while it’s not altogether true, does encapsulate a lot of the fears I had starting this project. Going into this project, I only really had one aim: I wanted to have something to show people when they asked what I was doing with my life. And, though I failed to achieve that with The Willows, and I don’t have something to show them to prove I’m doing something meaningful, I do have an answer to their question: I have nothing to show, but I can use the language I’ve been learning to tell them that, and show them. Perhaps it’s just childish arrogance, or maybe it’s some new flavour denial, but I really think this film was the film I needed to make right now, more than I needed to make The Willows, or any other piece of work. I feel like I did something right.

The film ended up blurring the line between what was real – like my conversation with my mother and sister – and what was hyperbolised, or even metaphorical, which proved to be incredibly freeing, especially after following such a strict structure in a lot of my other work – like my interpretation of The Willows. Also unlike many of my other projects, there are a lot of scenes that didn’t make it into the film, which again was freeing – this time in the editing process – as I could craft the ‘story’ without feeling like I was throwing away weeks of work, and damaging my carefully considered narrative. Similarly, with no script to adhere to, I was able to feel something in the edit, and just go out a make it – if the film need some respite from intensity, I could go film some flowers, or something like that. This whole sense of freedom allowed me to experiment with all sorts of new techniques, and to quickly replicate techniques I’d used in previous projects, just to say something I had no words for.

All this lead me to putting a lot of different things into this film, and I’m going to try to break down how I did some of them before I move on from this film, so I’ll probably be blogging about making two versions of myself appear on a VHS tape quite soon.

Thanks for reading all this.

PS. The film isn’t pretentious, it might be arrogant, or clique (without me realising), or narrow-minded, and it is self-conscious and self-mocking and self-indulgent, but if it is all those things it’s because – at this point in time – I’m all those things too, so I needn’t adopt a pretence to be them.

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