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Film research…

For my next part of research i am going to take a step away from art (but not for long!) and take a look at some independant film pieces which i have never really been a conaseur of, but have decided to look at ‘indie’ film as a step away from the usual big budget films that i watch on a daily basis.


 I am going to start off with Gus Van Sant’s ‘Elephant’. The film follows the events of Watt High School, and the students which become a part of a horrendous shooting, based upon the Columbine High School Shootings in 1999, we are taken on a social journey of sorts, with us as the viewer seeing the students on a typical school day and the events which eventually unfold into a mass shooting throughout the school. Van Sant didn’t use any actual professional actors but instead used local high school students from around Portland, Oregon.


The majority of camera shots within the film are behind the characters and almost as if we are following them in a secret manner.  This gives a sense of being a voyeur of each student without being right up in front of their faces as if in an intrusive manner.  These same actions are then repeated, as seen through the eyes of other students.  I found this a very clever use of weaving the characters and their friendships into the scenes, to almost give a reason that we are seeing these scenes repeated from a different angle and view.   I like how these simplistic shots are used throughout the film and there is no cutting between any of the characters journey from A to B within the school. 

Each character has an interesting part to play within the story, more to do with their social standing within the school such as Michelle, who is a lonely nerdy girl who doesn’t want to wear shorts for PE and also works within the schools library as an escape.  The characters each have their own position within the school and is a good representation of the types of students (and teenagers..) which you would find within a high school.

Gus Van Sant doesn’t use any special or complicated camera work but just leaves the camera to follow the high school inhabitants.  The only use of effects is within the last part of the movie when the shooting is taking place across the school and the use of guns and blood, but that is used to great effect and isn’t overly used for gores sake.  The story within the film is simple and doesn’t have anything within that is hard to follow, and i feel it makes it a great film which leaves you feeling uneasy.  The influence that Van Sant’s ‘Elephant’ has had on me as a film-maker is to not overstep my creative boundary’s in a complicated way such as with storyline and how this is put together with camera work and complicated angles if its just going to detract from what it wants to show and just being fancy for fancy’s sake! 

The next film i am looking at is more in the opposite direction with its fantasy and dream orientated aspects compared to that of the simplistic style of Gus Van Sant.

The next film which i am going to look at for ideas is Michael Gondry’s French film ‘The Science Of Sleep’, or ‘La Science des reves’ which translates to ‘The Science of Dreams’.  The film follows a man named Stephane who confuses reality with his own dreams and imagination and often leads him to his inability to interact with other people and situations normally. 


Gondry often uses stop motion animation to depict Stephane’s different and vivid dreams such as with Golden The Pony Boy which is just one in the many ways in which stop motion is used.  This definately gives a sense of a ‘dream world’, in which anything and everything has a life of its own and the possibilities of randomness can happen.  In comparison to Van Sants piece it can be seen as a complicated film with setting and with the general use of objects with stop motion. 

Having done a stop motion piece of my own for my Lens Based Media final piece last year, i am perhaps thinking about going inbetween the same lines of that of Michael Gondry’s stop motion pieces.  I really like watching the way inanimate objects can be illusioned to give the effect of being able to move.  The video below is the first stop motion video i have ever done and consisted of around 825 pictures!!

Afterwards i was in no hurry to undertake creating another stop motion piece until i watched Gondry’s ‘The Science of Sleep.’  The possibilities of what you can do is really endless and it has inspired me to think of an idea using stop motion possibly for the themes which we have been given to experiment and build ideas around.

Categories: Summer research
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