Collage is a demonstration of the many becoming one, hence the idea was to film various fragments and string them together with an underlying common theme. In our film, the topic we decided on was “love”. Building on that topic, we have asked our subjects to answer a total of two questions. The first question required an explanation of what love is to them, and the second question necessitated subjects to recount five things or people that they love. We initially meant to focus only on the definition aspect of love, but after receiving constructive feedback and discussing it through, we decided to incorporate both definition and the list, in hopes that it would bring about more diversity.
Owing to the open-ended nature of the questions asked, the answers to these questions varied, leaving us with no “right” or definite conclusion. Also, in the film, we have edited our footage such that the camera operator’s voice or presence will not be audible to the viewer, leaving only the answers provided by the subjects. The viewer is expected then to find meaning and piece the puzzle together on his or her own. With the absence of a linear plot, or headings and captions that would spell out or hint to the viewer precisely what the project is about, the meaning of the film is to be created by the viewer. Even though the viewers are the ones who partake in the quest for meaning, we, as creators, are ultimately the ones who guide them to it. Additionally, the absence of a narrative, headings and captions, together with the pauses in between different clips allow viewers to ponder about possibly; to insert themselves into the ongoing discussion – what love is to them or the things they love.
Next, “plots are for dead people.” (Shields, 2011, p.2) We completely agree with this statement on the basis that fragments are far more interesting. Fragments stimulate one’s consciousness by evoking a search; a search for meaning instead of having it spelt out neatly and in doing so, destroying all predictability, swelling curiosity and most importantly, allowing for an experience. “The novel is dead, long live the anti-novel, built from scraps.” (Shields, 2011, p.2)
Subsequently, “all definitions of montage have a common denominator” (Shields, 2011, p.3); they all imply that meaning is created by the juxtaposition of shots. Using our project as an example, all the fragments, or videos, of our film, when viewed as a whole communicate one constant underlying message and the answers may well vary from subject to subject, but these differences are the examples of the constant theme; that love is universal. Love is and can be experienced regardless of race or religion; it knows no language barriers or age gaps and subscribes to no exclusivity.
In terms of arrangement, we initially toyed with the idea of sorting our videos according to interest, but because many of the subjects had interconnected or overlapping points, that left us with not many distinctive differences in that regard. To illustrate my point, subject A responded by saying he loves his family, his friends, his girlfriend, dog and music, while subject B stated he loved his friends, family, girlfriend, work and music, and subject C, his family, friends, girlfriend, work and music. That being said, responses varied between subjects but the differences are negligible. However, by playing around further and distinguishing the difference in ages, we found that the contrast of age in subjects provided difference but maintained a unified theme. As such, we decided to go with this arrangement: by category
, and by age groups (children, young adults, adults and elders).
The rationale behind this arrangement was to provide some form of “structure” amongst the fragments; to create a categorized assortment. The arrangement according to category lends the film a sort of reoccurring position by demonstrating consistency. The arrangement according to age group reflects the differing ideas or opinions on love evidenced through age difference; for example, a younger person’s interpretation is comparably more candid and simple, perhaps even naïve, of love being a happy feeling; as to that of an elderly persons’ more deep, knowledgeable and “practical” view of love being a commitment or the ability to accept differences.
With regards to the composition of the individual clips, we have various reasons. As such, in the clips where our subjects answered the question of “What is love to you”, the videos were scaled down to the various body parts such as the eyes, mouth and hands for the purpose of aesthetic variety. As for the clips that answered the second question – “list five things you love”, we decided to have them remain solely as headshots. Having the subject somewhat concealed in the “what is love to you” clips creates some room for mystery and wonder that would be later fulfilled when the identities are eventually revealed once the viewer watches the “list five things you love” clips of the respective subjects. This covert play with mise-en-scene also renders the capability of interactivity between the viewer and the film. In the process of listening to the answers and attempting to create meaning, having this “matching game” encourages participation, which in return, makes it a more interactive experience for the viewer.
Also, in the first clip, what the viewer will see in our film is a collection of words and phrases used by our subjects to describe love. By emphasizing the kind of emotions present, emotions such as joy, shyness, uncertainty, or pride, our intent was to establish the general feel and vibe of this project. Another thing we did was to attempt to keep the lighting constant so as to limit possibly distractions. In terms of audio, we kept the audio recording as its primitive state. Meaning to say, we did not use a separate microphone to record the sound, so as to further emphasize the fact that we did not want a scripted, professional, or “studio-like” effect, and deliberately left it as candid and as natural as possible to help preserve the authenticity of the piece.
According to Shields, there are two kinds of filmmaking – that of Hitchcock’s and that of Cappola’s. Firstly, as a director, Hitchcock works with a clear picture and/or direction constantly in mind and views any variation from the complete internal idea as a defect, while Cappola, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Cappola’s filmmaking style thrives on the process itself, where random elements that present themselves during the process are collected and implemented.
Our film is very much based on this principle as well. In going with the flow of things, and being receptive to possible changes or hiccups, allowed us to work with the unexpected and instead of viewing it as a “defect”, use it to our advantage. For instance, having approached random people to do the clips instead of having actors reading off a script, allowed for spontaneous and varied and most importantly, original responses that added some “colour” to our work.
Also, before we filmed them, we merely explained that we were students from RMIT filming a school project and if they were happy to help by answering some questions. In doing this, upon hearing the “What is love” question, people’s initial reactions (shock, a sigh, a confused look, a giggle) were candid and that allowed for the demonstration of the weight of the question as well as captured the candid and natural effect we were aiming to achieve.
This utilizing of Cappola’s style is not to say that we started out without any clear aim or goal. We simply accepted that there could be more than one way to achieve that goal, and that if a path led to a different destination altogether, it was not necessarily bad or wrong.
Another trait of collages and montages is that it has no conclusive ending. “Nothing is going to happen in this book.” (Shields, 2011, p.7) That is precisely the point in our film. Being able to match a pair of hands to its head does not bring the viewer to any form of conclusion. Like how Holden Caulfield does not eventually bring his reader to some grand happy ending in the final pages of “The Catcher in the Rye”, the reader is left with only the experience of journeying with him through the ostracization and angst that typically package teenage years. There is no ending in our film, and no clear beginning for that matter. The end of each clip only leads to the beginning of the next clip; it is about the experience. For example, we don’t pay $20 for a movie ticket solely to find out if Superman saves the day or not, or if Leonidas leads Sparta to her victory (we often already know the ending); we take in the experience of everything else that encompasses the entire experience of movie-going; from munching on popcorn, to Dolby digital surround sound, to the enjoyment of being graphically stimulated, all demonstrate the experience of the journey, not about the ending. That is what this film and other Korsakow films allow for; the emphasis on the experience instead of the ending. “Art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stoney.”(Shields, 2011, p.7)
With directed story telling, the underlying linearity is apparent, meaning to say that, “resolution and conclusion are inherent in a plot-driven narrative.” (Shields, 2011, p.1) However, with a collage of fragments, the association between the images is what tells the story, in other words, what is not being said says everything. Instead of showing a clip of someone actively tipping over a glass of water, leaving a puddle on the table to exhibit spillage, a collage could use only one image of a glass of water on a table, and the next image of the puddle on the table with the glass on its side. The same incident is told in different ways; one where it’s blatantly explained, and the other, the gap between the two images explains the scenario by creating association between the two images.
Korsakow films enables one to exercise this method of saying more with less. With the absence of linearity, the empty spaces in between the images transform into a playground for imagination where associations are made and meanings are formed. “The task is not primarily to have a story, but to penetrate the story, to discard the elements of it that are merely shell, or husk, that give apparent form to the story, but actually obscure the essence. In other words, the problem is to transcend the givens of a narrative.” (Shields, 2011, p.5)
As in our film, having no subtitles or captions to narrate what is going on, we allow the viewer to access directly into the “essence” of it all. As with Korsakow films in general, its cycled nature forces the filmmaker to focus on the essence of the story, and how to tell that story without actively telling it. It at first seems like the easier option, because of its’ borderless nature. However, after trying it out, one realizes that even though it is not limited to traditional borders, it does not make it borderless. It does in fact have its’ own form of borders, like not blatantly spelling everything out, or piecing differing fragments to create a whole picture. This was at first a challenge, but with the constant focus on the theme, we were able to keep that in check and have tweaked what was needed accordingly.
Shields, David. “L: Collage”. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. Vintage, 2011. ebook.
Click here for the k-film