Final Paper for Experimental Film Class
Film writing and production has evolved significantly in the last century. There have been efforts to try new methods, which has led to creative cinema techniques and storylines. The term experimental film is used to describe the various types of motion pictures and video production that do not conform to traditional writing and production methods. Moreover, film matured as a distinct genre of art and literary expression from the 1920s. There were efforts by some filmmakers to curve their own identity rather than following the conventional literary genres. The experimental film began as an attempt to actualize the freedom of thought and expression and thought. Therefore, experimental film has evolved to become the distinct identity that emphasizes on creativity based on an artist’s imagination.
The major peculiarity of the experimental film is the existence of new narrative styles such as organizing story plots. For example, the 1983 film Wavelength differed from the traditional storylines concerning the subject it covered. The story centers on the idea of aliens who land on earth and mete much terror on the humans they encounter. The filmmaker grapples with the supernatural to a great level, which makes the viewer appreciate the new found freedom and creativity in the plot development. Similarly, the 1970 film Serene Velocity had major differences with the traditional story plots. The camera is placed at a fixed location, which was a masterpiece in the invention of shooting that had not been tried before. In addition, the film focuses on different sections of the hallway at high speeds, giving the impression of shifts in time, which is different from the traditional stories. Therefore, it is apparent that experimental film brought about major changes in the way film making and writing had been done before.
The Wavelength and Serene Velocity show that the structure of the experimental film showcases abstract ideas. Previously, the film industry was known for its realistic plots that showed the real-life events and themes that the viewer would easily identify with. Previously, the hallmark of a good film was how close it got to reality, with every effort made to present a feeling of normalcy. Bazin and Gray refer to the concept as “cinema as the art of reality” (4). Bazin and gray argue that the art of film making was meant to imitate reality as much as possible. Similarly, it dealt with ideas that the audience could easily identify with, which also made it possible for people to relate to them. The distinguishing mark of the film as an imitation of reality has largely been ignored by the independent filmmakers, leading to forms that do not mirror any aspects of reality. The newfound freedom has enabled the filmmakers to be creative and innovative in the structure of the storylines, which has made it possible for artists to deal with abstract concepts. The two films are an illustration of the possibilities available to filmmakers in a changing world.
Experimental films such as Wavelength and Serene Velocity intentionally aimed at breaking the traditional prescription. Wavelength deals with the abstract idea of aliens, which is a topic that only a few people can identify with. In this case, the film seems to be a pioneer in creating its own world and fantastic reality as opposed to the traditional method of imitating world reality. Similarly, by exploring such remote ideals, the experimental films defy the traditional film making traditions that prescribe that movies should follow certain culturally acceptable standards of production. For example, the use of horror and silence in the films had previously been limited, but Wavelength uses it. In addition, Serene Velocity utilizes limited settings, making it a unique structural work. Therefore, the experimental film opened the way for much innovation in the film making art because it made it known to the Artists that there was a limitless ability to think outside the box in deciding the style and content of the films to make.
The experimental films led to the development of independent cinema. ‘independence’ is mostly seen in the artists’ freedom to decide what aspects they want to explore in their movies. Previously, the strict adherence to the conservative laws and traditions of film making meant that there was little room to decide the content and style of a film. Therefore, the voice that each film sought to propagate was that of the industry. There was an implicit attempt of censorship on both style and content, which hindered creativity. The rules of what can be screened and what cannot meant that filmmakers had to keep checking their scripts to ensure they conform to the rules and traditions. Such an environment interferes with originality and the flow of thought. The experimental school of thought was the initial attempt to break free from the traditional restriction. Therefore, the experimental film was responsible for the major strides made in the quality and quantity of films produced in modern times.
The experimental and independent movie industry was the initial attempt to seek freedom of thought. By seeking to break away from the expected prescriptions, the independent filmmakers established a platform on which the voice in the film became that of the individual artists and not that of the industry. In fact, Gray has effectively wrestled independence from the industry prescriptions by using aliens that are new and have not been seen on earth before. If Gray had followed the traditional human characters, each would have been expected to behave in a certain way. For example, if he chose a teacher or preacher, these individuals would have been expected to maintain their professions. Instead, aliens have no known character or expectations and he was free to give them the presentation he wanted. Therefore, he establishes full freedom to create his story. Thus, the experimental film was the first true claim for independence in the movie industry.
The uniqueness can also be noted in the style and editing strategies used. Experimental filmmakers tried optical optimization and alternative rhythms, which differs from the traditionally prescribed patterns of screening. For example, the Serene Velocity is just 23 minutes but is silent and only communicates by powerful imaging. The film affirmed that new generation artists were daring enough to introduce new presentation and screening styles. The silence helps to focus the entire message on the visual aspects only. The lighting in Serene Velocity was dark and bluish and was maintained throughout the film. In addition, in Wavelength, there was dim lighting that was non-standard in the traditional filming styles. Nonetheless, the supposedly poor lighting styles contribute to certain moods in the films and help in presenting the message to the poem. Therefore, traditional laws and prescriptions may have hindered some forms of creativity and message delivery to the audience. Later, technological advancements increased creativity and reduced time and costs. Therefore, the experimental film movement has contributed to more options in style and editing systems of films.
The American independent film movement of the 1960s and 1970s was notable for exploring new ways of filming. The organization led to the development of deconstructive text that places more emphasis on the relationship between text and meaning interpretation. Rajyavardhan and Shikha define deconstruction as a literary criticism that does not emphasize textual sources and debates between competing points of view (21). The idea can be applied to film production to describe any means of production and storytelling that do not adhere to set patterns. For example, the use of silent filming in Serene Velocity and the exploration of aliens Wavelength establish new links between the text and visuals in the films and the meanings attached to it. The filmmakers reduced the dependence of the audience and included aspects such as lighting and unique visual power to communicate. It is clear that the films produced at the time were different from books in delivering the messaging.
In Serene Velocity, there is only one stationary camera used but the director creates a feeling of motion that makes the filming style unique. In fact, a false feeling of motion is established when the viewer focuses on different objects along the hallway. The simple photographic way used is an example of minimalist cinema making. The audience is made to use his imagination in understanding the storylines, as opposed to traditional filming where the filmmakers simplified everything to the audience. Therefore, the changes brought about by the experimental style allowed audience to participate in the film by imagining the intentions of the creator.
The films fit into the realm of postmodernism in the way they deal with the prescriptive laws. The school of thought rejects the previous conventions of linguistic and philosophical speculation (Rajyavardhan and Shikha 22). Therefore, the experimental film crafted a totally new way of screening, which is responsible for increased creativity in the movie industry today. Currently, there is almost no limit to the kind of content and style that filmmakers can use. Therefore, postmodernism has conferred total freedom to filmmakers as they can use any style and content they wish, which increases the quality of films.
The invention of new ways of writing and filming started in the 1920s. Previously, film making stuck to the traditional prescriptions that determined the style and content that could be explored, which limited freedom and creativity. The 1970 Serene Velocity and 1983 Wavelength films deviated from the traditional standards methods through new experimental strategies. The changes led to new methods of production that allowed creators to explore the themes they wanted. Consequently, there were styles for filmmakers to use in their work. Additionally, the modern technological inventions have allowed artists to reduce the time taken as well as the cost of production. Therefore, the experimental films paved the way for breaking free from the limiting forces of the rules. The result has been a positive development of new filming methods. Therefore, the experimental film age was a positive development that has allowed better and creative motion pictures.
Bazin, Andre, and Hugh Gray. The Ontology of the Photographic Image. Film Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 4 (1960). pp. 4 – 9.
Rajyavardhan, Kumar, and Shikha Sharma. Deconstruction as a Method of Film
Criticism. The Researcher- International Journal of Management Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 2, no. 2, (2007), pp. 21-27
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