9-27-01 : I set up a video gauntlet for october 2000 that asked participants to create a scary movie cliche halloween short. You had to follow a shot list of:
1) Establish dark and stormy night
2) Victim runs scared
3) Victim comes to door of mansion/building
4) Victim struggles with the door, as the sound of something approaches
5) Victim gets inside, and must confront whatever is making the noise
... and everyone was supposed to finish it from there, in their own creative style. (the finished result is on display in the viewing room, by the way)
Well, i wrote a script for wanna-be-actor friend Andy Kim to play an angry boyfriend deciding to kill his girlfriend, who was to be played by Carrie, the cool looking punk/goth secretary from work. And of course i planned to shoot it where i lived at the time, namely the basement of a some [religion?]'s house behind a big ol' frat house (with Bravado Entertainment cameo artists Shawn Waldow and Mike Vial).
My script called for Andy to spit out a bunch of misogynist lines about a variety of girls i knew at the time, criticising them for liking cutesey animals, dolls, retarded disney cartoons, and shunning the world of sexuality like it was something evil. I suppose the big inspiration being that i wasn't dating at the time and was frustrated by most of the ladies i knew. So i went ahead and took the complaints over the top to make the boyfriend into a badguy instead of trying for some ridiculous misogynist hero shit. You can read that rant/script here.
I set up a run through with Andy and Carrie one night. Then, after they failed to hit the high notes, I decided not to use them. To their credit they hadn't really studied the script (despite my urgings. grumble grumble), and were probably nervous about yelling at each other without a camera running. Also i realized my image for the final shot (slapping someone to death) was pretty much impossible to pull off without people much more limber (often a problem: people don't bend as much as i want them to).
I pondered doing it with puppets, which lead to me using the mannequin. I still intended to keep a story of mannequin girl running to house, but I didn't want the audience to realize she was a mannequin till she closed the door. (Jenn and Erin agreed to help me shoot the outside stuff, i believe. but i never got around to actually putting either one out there in the freezing cold wearing next to nothing, trying to imitate a running mannequin. besides they were both being used in other people's skits).
When i started editing the piece I decided the narrative was pointless and i should just go for an abstract collage of kooky creepiness.
Started it off with a shot from the 4th of july. Corvallis gets insane on the 4th, and ... well, we missed it. but i did hang my camera out the window to grab some of the police activity as we drove through the aftermath. (I don't remember the details very well, and apparently i was drunk and buying dinner for strangers in diners). I had intended to use this footage in my sci-fi script "the 4th independence" (which ends at a fireworks display). but. bleh. only this shot seemed keen and mysterious. in its own way it establishes the "dark and stormy" atmosphere that night.
In retrospect, maybe dangerous and chaotic are better words.
The crackling electric hum and whispers ambience came from nin's Quake soundtrack. Great stuff.
All the green stuff is NightShot footage of a house i briefly lived in on Kings and Harrison. Most of the houses i live in, I end up late one night with the camera just wandering around trying to capture key elements. All these green shots are me invading the neighbors plastic curtained window, our driveway, and shots of the "Kings street expansion" that was fucking up our driveway. The whole steet ripped up and cordoned off with yellow tape... It just seemed to continue the theme of police presence without police, and dark and stormy night interpretation.
The beat played here came from one of my favorite songs, Murder of Crows, off Trust Obey's "Fear and Bullets" soundtrack to the crow comic book. The re-released one (1997), not the original (1996?).
Then I cut in some shots of street freaks setting off firecrackers at the base of the clock tower, with single frames of the house i lived at with the junk squad (Alan, Jenn, and Kshawn), shot from our garage in lowlight & slow shutter speed. Punctuated with one of the only sky fireworks i managed to tape on the 4th of July, fading into a bare lightbulb inside the king's street house. I'd forgotton how fast this goes by...
I believe all this lightbulb, fishtank, fan, rat cage, etc. footage was from the king's street house. I was trying to move the pseudo narrative from the outside to the inside. Still think the long slow lightbulb push was the only creepy piece of footage I actually had. I'm fascinated by any shot that i don't want to immediately cut away from. Thought it built a great kind of tension. Just shot with exposure cranked way down. Really loved the goldfish shot with everything dissappearing except the goldfish as it drops vertical, as i turn the exposure down. Hate how that shot looks on overbright tvs, just wanted the fish to be like a drop of blood turning and falling slowly.
Most of these strings are sampled from the Requiem for a Dream and Rising Sun soundtracks. The horrible wails curtesy of coil. It's all really mixed up and repeated. hmm.
Then some flashes of a bulb with more shots of King's street intersection work. Though the work isn't visible anymore. The building shots show the lighted windows of the house on 26th behind the frat, where the finale we shot. The next place i lived. This was just meant to be a brief reminder of the outside, before moving into the last act.
Then into the basement footage. Spent a lot of time with the top half of the mannequin on a chair and an umbrella hooked to a string hooked to the outside doorknob, trying to pull the door closed as i turned the mannequin on the chair. I should note that while i never got around to shooting the mannequin outside descending the stairs, alan did immortalize the stairs in his drug deal scene from the first episode of "Delusions of Grandeur: the next generation" (ep51?), and the jay and silent bob tribute short that Jack and I did for the Wookies 2000.
The sounds in the basement are pretty much all samples from the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack, mixed with noises straight outta the footage.
Then we've got a lot of shots mannequin arms reaching for things inside the house. Stroking a mirror. That's my foot in some women's shoes i found stepping in front of a red water filled jar that Mike kept around (probably accidentally). Then a shot of me dressed in leather pants and jacker, with a knife and the bad black wig from karate pate. Put the same wig on a blue eyed head i borrowed from Eye Control Technologies and shot under a flickering flourescent one night during dinner. didn't look as cool in closeup as the room did at the time.
After I moved out of this house, i went back into the cleaned out basement and shot some more action of the mannequin standing in the doorway, looking in on single television sets spouting static. messed around a lot with turning off the sets remotely, via remote and power cord yank. TV sets, static, david lynch, love.
The idea for the pseudo story here was that the plastic fake girl had entered and caught a glimpse of her psycho boyfriend in the kitchen, but was finding more frightening things in doors of the hallway between them. Both of them ending up lost in the guts of the house. I like to discover a new arc while editing, and if nobody follows it i giggle. Had a lot of fun editing sound into each shot.
I don't think it really pulled off "creepy".
but i like it alot.
As for the title, CutUp. This short video was mostly an experience in editing (it's crammed with single frames that are mostly lost on the file you see here). Soooo, I liked the idea of two words cut apart and put back together, like editing... Plus the bad guy holds a knife, and the heroine is films in parts...
Alan threw the title onto the end of the sequence in a cool distorted letters. But i chopped that off the clip here online, to save a paltry amount of space and present it without a normal satisfying end. I think the video should end with all the single frames of lightbulbs and tree branches and screaming. I'm frustrated that audiences need the names of authors to know the art is over.