Short Film: Close to Us

 

Close to us was a short film, which was created by myself alongside my regular filmic counterpart during that time, Rich Craig, who still I believe, resides somewhere out there online, making both music and video (look him up) shortly after finishing our previous short, Almost Knew.

The film was, similarly to AK, an attempt to explore a chosen perspective within a destructive relationship. This time, unlike its predecessor, the narrative focused on a single point of view, rather than observing the relationship from both sides. The film follows our protagonist home, as she returns from a hospital stay, towards an unknown partner, whose intent may be of a questionable nature. Along the way she is accosted by both friends and strangers, all of which draws some of the more painful memories to the surface.

I have for some time debated as to whether to upload this short, for although there are some elements of it I am still to this day proud of, there are other areas where I feel although the attempt was worthy, there were problems with the overall result. These issues, which I still have towards this film, I take sole credit for, as I will extrapolate upon below.

The film again stared actors who were paid only in meals, wine and many thanks, however this time through a more length recruitment drive, we ended up with a fantastic cast. Azimah Kheedrali (our female protagonist), Mufaro Makubika and Elena Hargreaves all gave great performances, alongside very strong supporting roles. Of Mufaro I am aware that he continued to receive critical praise for his stage and spoken word performances, and Elena I believe has continued to peruse a stage/musical career. My complicated feelings towards some of the scenes stem not from their performances, but my contribution to the overall production. I am weary of some of the cinematography in some of the longer scenes, of which I was responsible for, and that some of the lines of dialogue seem awkward and a little stilted, again something that came from my end.

That said, there are sections that I am still proud of, and I feel that overall the film was a success, mostly due to the collaborative effort of those involved. As always, many thanks to those who gave their time, energy and effort in working on and around its production, and to those who helped bring it to fruition.

James Kramer

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.