In the last 10 years I’ve done a variety of projects that were not straight-up narrative films. I like to experiment, I like to bend traditional narrative structure and pour that into a video, or press it into the pages of a book. So, for this blog post thought I’d share a few of the projects that are more on the edge of conventional. When I experiment I find ways to expand my story-telling in the bigger film projects, so each one of these has taught me something new and very valuable. And this is a practice I intend to continue, if not rev up. ;)
Scheherazade was an answer to a nasty curator I met in the art world. She was demeaning and exclusive and shook me to my core. In fact, she was so awful, that after I left her office, her assistant emailed me to apologize for the woman’s behavior. I appreciated that, but the damage was done and I was questioning my motives and myself as an artist. Three months later, I made this video. In it, I affirm who I am and how I want to tell my stories. The point of Scheherazade is that I am the woman in my stories, and that I have a right to tell my tale, and how I want. We all do. And part of the storytelling experience, is having an open heart to listen when someone is telling you their tale in their own language. This is what I wrote at the time I made the film in 2004: “Scheherazade” is a personal little film for me, which looks back on the things I’ve created in the last two years. It takes all the stories I’ve told and puts them in front of me for review. I once had a photography teacher do that when I said I was struggling to find my voice. He simply laid out all my photographs in front of me and said, “take a look.” I guess every once in a while it’s a good idea to do that for yourself.
So maybe I should thank that woman who was so horrid to me, and so critical of me wanting to be an artist. It’s because of that meeting that I stepped forward with more strength and determination to make films as I wanted to, and didn’t cower into a corner and let her (or anyone else like her since) destroy me. I would thank her – but she’s so evil – she doesn’t deserve it. LOL! She’s still flitting around the art world now, I’m sure she’s still tearing young artists down to the floor, but what she doesn’t realize is that at the same time she’s building up power-houses that are becoming artists in spite of her venom and disdain.
The Triptych Heart is a companion to Scheherazade. I used the same script and changed words to reflect on what I was going through at the time – eight years later. In between working on bigger projects, I love to run out into the forest with my camera and film. It’s me alone and I can come up with shots on the spot, depending on all manner of things from the image in my head to the way the sun is shining through the branches, to surveying the landscape around me to see what it reveals. There’s a definite story I’m setting out to capture, but when I get there I let inspiration take over, and carry home a whole treasure trove of footage that I’ll string together in editing to tell my tale.
Beauty and Her Beast was inspired by the Lytro Camera and the ability to focus on several different points. The film is told in focus, rather than movement. This is the whole photo, but at other times, portions of the picture will blur depending on where I am in the story – and show you only what is relevant. I really liked this video and the concept. It’s a definite manipulation of the audience by telling you where to look, but I think it’s also an exciting discovery as more and more in unveiled as the story goes on.
WITCH, BRIDE, and BONE is where I ask you to experiment and participate. This project began Halloween 2012, with WITCH, and continued this year with BRIDE. It will conclude next year with BONE. In it, I present the viewer with a series of vignettes and half a story and ask to be told a tale. This is quite the opposite of Beauty, and passive viewing. But I think it’s important in art to engage our audience. Even when I make a traditional narrative film, I hope the story and characters will be carried out of the theater or off the computer screen and sit with the audience for a while, conjuring up tales from their own lives, and provoking them to affirm something about themselves. What else is art for if not discovery and affirmation?