Film Short: almost knew

The short film almost knew was an experiment in several different ways. After a feature length film in which we had experimented with non-scripted dialogue from characters designed from long periods of public improvisation, we decided to try a scaled downed version in a short film.

We developed two characters, a couple in the mist of a prolonged ending, and took them on a variety of public scenarios to see how they might behave, act and consider one another’s thoughts and feelings. Experiments with this led to our ill-fated couple stormed out of one restaurant after a very messy argument, leaving one bar in a brawl, and making at one point some individuals in a park very uncomfortable. Surface to say that we felt we had their tumultuous affair developing organically enough that we could place them before a still camera and allow them to speak feely, improvising lines and responding to how one another formed the narrative.

We filmed lengthy sequences of to-camera interviews from both of the main protagonists, selected cuts of which were then chosen for the edit. While perhaps not the most seemingly scripted of scenes, this was the intention. The aim was to have fully realised and therefore flawed characters on screen. Both myself and my creative partner (Rich Craig) were fans of the Dogme 95 movement and ardently aping their techniques at this time, we were keen to see characters contradict themselves, appear culpable to actions which they might later deny, be hyperbolic in their innocence or just generally make the whole fun plethora of genuine human mistakes that any one of us would do when a realised camera was placed before us and we were told to be honest about how we felt.

So the first experiment was to be nakedly sincere in characterisation, with all the rough edges that that would lead to. The second came in post; as to juxtapose the natural, more documentary elements of the project was to experiment with the idea of the film around them breaking down aesthetically. This was done via the application of contrasting colour pallets, fractured sound and harsh cuts to the final edit. The feature film that preceded it had been black and white, and while that had suited that particular theme, for this we wanted something a little more guttural, more present and the postproduction as a realised presence within the story. We experimented with the use of still shots in place of video footage, the removal of diegetic sound, and black leader to have the structure of the film dismantle and break apart.

The end desire was to have the film collapse along with the relationship on screen. This was done through the employment of breaking the otherwise fairly standard narrative timeline, by cutting up the on-screen visuals and shaking the soundtrack in a glass jar until it hurt. The end, we felt, both represented the nostalgic yearning for the relationship before its implosion, and the more rose-tinted vision of a coupling that we have clearly seen to be anything but peachy.

My sincerest gratitude to all of those involved, who gave their time and energy for little more than red wine and cigarettes, thank you.

Author: jameskramerblog

James Kramer is a fiction writer currently based in Beijing.

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