Sunday, March 29, 2009

'Kingdom of Moderate Sunshine' on No fat clips!!!

DeK at No fat clips!!! has posted my latest film, Kingdom of Moderate Sunshine! I'm very proud of that because I think DeK runs the best cinema site on the internet. DeK finds films, understands them, finds excellent quotes to go along with them, and posts them in all sorts of formats for viewers to enjoy.

I go to No fat clips!!! all the time to see what filmmakers are up to around the world. This is the first time I've been included in the list of films there. Thank you to DeK at No fat clips!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Film: Kingdom of Moderate Sunshine

You should make sure to press the 'HD' button to get the best image in the player if your connection can support the large file size.

I wanted to make the kind of film that might play on Winston Smith's telescreen in his Oceana home from George Orwell's novel, 'Nineteen Eighty-Four.' This thought was not in my mind at the start of making my film, but as I worked on it I began rereading the Orwell novel and realized that my instincts were following right along the lines of his thinking. The concepts of 'doublethink' and 'newspeak' came naturally to me as I began to assemble my film. I'm interested in the techniques and mind-control efforts of fascism. The use of expressions that are at once meaningless and obvious fascinates me. Orwell uses phrases like 'Ignorance is Strength' for his language of the Party. Once you start thinking along fascist lines and trying to create according to fascist mythology and will to power, it's pretty easy to come up with strange phrases like, 'True History Refurbishment.' That's one of mine from the film. The combining of this kind of language with images that play against each other in the same way creates an almost frighteningly fascist work.

Here's something interesting: a Daily Mail article about the rise of fascism in Austria and Europe today. Look at the images in the article and compare with images from my film. Amazing huh?

I had originally set out to make a film that criticized the use of fascist art techniques for political purposes in the U.S. The primary example of this currently is the famous picture of Barack Obama by artist Shepard Fairey. The poster is powerful but strikes me as bizarrely fascist in its technique and focus on the hero personality gazing upward toward some grand future above all our heads. Pretty damned terrifying if you ask me. But I'm obsessed with the whole idea of it and what drives people to start using this kind of imagery. So I had wanted to make a short film that objected to this kind of thing. But as I worked, I realized that I had made a weak choice. Far better to make an actual fascist film from some mythological totalitarian state that had mastered all the methods of population and mind-control through sound and image. So that's what I did.

The dense layering of images that I used to create new compositions and emotions incorporates many different elements. I used original HD footage that I shot recently, artwork I created in Photoshop, computer-generated voices, machinima footage that I shot directly off of a plasma television screen while manipulating the game characters with an Xbox 360 controller, public domain government films, documentary footage, corporate films, images of graffiti, training films, porno films and old western films. I found that the wealth of footage freely available from was my most valuable asset. It required many hours of searching and scanning for just the right shots for the impressions and meanings that I was interested in for my film.

So, yes, I have created a truly despicable bit of fascist totalitarian social training that tries very hard to convince the viewer to be a good working member of the 'Collective.' But the great thing about working this way is that the humor and unwitting self-criticism leaks out through every shot of the film. It's almost as if the repressive state trying so hard to convince everyone of its strength and noble cause, just can't help but make fun of itself without knowing it.

Since the film uses text so closely related to the images I've classified this as both a film and a cinegram.

Sita Sings the Blues: Nina Paley's Feature Online

Above is part 1 of the film. Go to the YouTube playlist for the other nine parts.

Sita Sings the Blues is a feature animation by Nina Paley. It is based in part on the ancient Indian Ramayana, but combines this with stories from the animator's life. The film incorporates some 80-year old jazz music by Annette Hanshaw. Those recordings are public domain but the compositions are not and the owners will not allow Ms. Paley to sell the movie containing the copyrighted compositions. So public television, which operates under unique rules concerning copyright, broadcast the movie and offered it in full on their web site. Now, the animator has offered the film for free with a Creative Commons license in many formats, including HD.

It's a wonderful film that is bursting with color, enthusiasm and sheer raving talent. Enjoy it.