What is Experimental Filmmaking?
Experimental or avant-garde filmmaking is difficult to fully define, not because it’s surrealist, abstract or esoteric but because there are no set of rules or guidelines.
It defies the conventions of mainstream cinema and tends to look at alternate methods of creation. It’s all about the feeling and emotion that is evoked rather than any obvious story or structure.
This leads to work than can be interpreted in a many ways.
Exploring Non-narrative Film
Experimental film tends to explore the non-narrative and its mode of expression. It is an aesthetic and aural art form.
It can be an extremely powerful and freeing experience to throw away all perceived filmmaking conventions and just create.
It’s all about the process. It can be both cathartic and productive on a personal level.
The experimental filmmaker can not be sure how the film will turn out in the end. It’s about embracing randomness, change and chance.
This is the antithesis to usual practice in a commercial setting where time is money and everyone needs to keep to a tight schedule to get the required shots.
Challenging Conventional Filmmaking
In conventional filmmaking the narrative tends to be spoon-fed to the viewer. The path of least resistance is usually chosen by Hollywood, while films that overtly challenge political, religious, sexual, philosophical or social norms are often shunned.
Living in an increasingly monocultural society leads to most films being extremely similar to each other in their structure, aesthetic, and storytelling.
The dominant role that cinema (and increasingly Netflix and Amazon Prime), plays in our social, cultural, and political lives should not be underestimated.
We learn the rules of its language in early childhood and generally accept the prevailing values, ethics, and morality that it promotes as well as the methods it uses to connect with the viewer.
Anything outside of this box, such as non-conventional filming techniques, tend to lead to the work not feeling like a 'proper film', or in us perceiving it as pretentious.
When we go beyond our preconceptions, there is a wealth of experimental films from around the globe for us to discover, experience and be moved by.
Stop-motion on Glastonbury Tor
Lost in the Woods
Glastonbury Grove is, in part, an ode to David Lynch's Twin Peaks.
Our film expands on the esoteric themes adhered to in the cult series, particularly the events in Glastonbury Grove - a circular stand of 12 trees in the nearby Ghostwood National Forest.
It makes me uncomfortable to talk about meanings and things. It's better not to know so much about what things mean. Because the meaning, it's a very personal thing, and the meaning for me is different than the meaning for somebody else.
― David Lynch
The shoot took place in woodland near to Glastonbury, Somerset, utilising reverse on-screen motion technique.
Natasha carried out her movements backwards. The footage was then reversed in post to give the impression of forward motion.
The film also features some striking light painting from Kim von Coels.
The Thought Dancer
The Thought Dancer is a twisted and surreal journey through our darkest thoughts, brought to life through unique interpretations of well-known fairy tales.
In making this film, we experimented extensively with stop motion technique which became an integral part of the project.
Nataraj is a film we produced for local band King Artisan. It was co-directed by Alex Diaz and Kim von Coels. It features a range of light painting techniques and CGI.
Light painting employs taking a long exposure photograph of a moving light.
In a dark space, a light or multiple light sources are used to illuminate an actor, object, or to paint imagery into a scene. Sometimes more complex images are created with devices like the Pixelstick.
Light is generally controlled by the hand. Multiple passes or more light in specific areas will create different exposure levels in different parts of the frame.
In order to create moving images, each frame is shot individually, much like stop motion animation.
Kim has created all our light painting shots. We then animate, colour grade and composite the images with other elements in post.