Experimental & Personal Filmmaking
Type: Hybrid (practical + theoretical + screenings). Group and Individual work.
The six-day intensive ‘Experimental & Personal Filmmaking’ is an immersive program that exposes you to alternative film and video history, artist practice, and methods. In addition, it provides you with the knowledge to begin making your own experimental media.
Through viewings, lectures, discussion, and reading, students will survey how filmmakers and artists working in film, video, and digital media have experimented with the moving image to push the boundaries of the medium and their perception of the world around them. The course will consider how essential films and filmmakers explored film and video’s material and conceptual possibilities to reshape our notion of what film can be. In addition to looking closely at the images in these works, students will also listen closely to how sound design has frequently played a role in the impact of these creations. Analyzing these pieces concerning form, content, and context will help students understand how experimental filmmaking has produced lyrical, idiosyncratic, and aesthetically radical work and provide a stimulating foundation for creating their experimental work.
This course particularly concentrates and nurtures the new importance and relevance of personal experimental moving image in the pandemic/post-pandemic moment—moving image as a personalized ‘memory’ and ‘perception’ subject to ongoing reordering and updating.
Learning Outcomes: Taking as a central reference Rouzbeh Rashidi’s decade-long Homo Sapiens Project and the way that this initially idiosyncratic endeavour has acquired much wider resonance and relevance with the pandemic, a number of practical and theoretical outcomes will emerge from this course. Research into specific filmmaking practices and techniques will result in mentored individual and collective moving image works.
Artist’s Choice: For over two decades, Rouzbeh Rashidi has been developing a radical experimental moving image practice that explores personal vision, mutating the spaces and people that he encounters in his daily life into a phantasmal exploration of the transmuting capacity of cinema. These images become personalised ‘memories’ that curate the self and reality. The most consistent elaboration of this process has been the Homo Sapiens Project (HSP) which has been developing for over ten years. This very unusual ‘film diary’ that commenced as a ‘laboratory’ of cinematic forms has proven prophetically tied with concerns that have become prominent with the pandemic: the increased existential stakes of the personally generated moving image; the crucial role it plays in navigating isolation and reimagining space, memory and time; and, simply, how to pursue an effective filmmaking practice when the traditionally collective act of making a film with others is no longer possible. Over the pandemic, through the film but also through social media and online communication, the moving image has become nothing short of an essential tool for personal survival. Nevertheless, Rashidi and HSP have always treated filmmaking as such, and exploring and imparting this attitude will be at the centre of this course.
General Guideline: This course is for artists from all disciplines, filmmakers and creative individuals, and anyone else hoping to either achieve a new understanding and practical approach or build upon existing skills in the area of experimental cinema and artists’ moving image practices. All levels of experience are welcomed end encouraged. Sessions will not include instruction on how to operate a camera and editing skills but instead relies on the intuition of each participant and how they would employ their means of production. All students will need access to a device to shoot video, for example, a smartphone or other consumer goods. In addition, all students will require to use basic video editing software programs; for example, a smartphone editing app or such on laptops or PC would suffice. Participants who are comfortable working with more professional cameras and editing software and have access to more sophisticated pieces of equipment are also welcome to use them based on their needs.
Sessions: Rouzbeh Rashidi constituted these performative lectures and screenings/discussions over approximately seven years between 2015 and 2022. As will become apparent in teaching them, a spirit of exploration is at the heart of Rashidi’s filmmaking process. It is from an ongoing process of inextricably linked thinking and creating that its core ideas of cinema organically emerge. Therefore, these performative lectures should be taken as a snapshot of a work in progress rather than a conclusive statement. A work that is constantly gathering energy and momentum.
As he puts it, “I started making films in the year 2000. From the very first day, I thought of only one concept, which was the discovery of what cinema is in this new millennium. This question has continuously pushed me to experiment and investigate my filmmaking laboratory. I am not a teacher by definition; I am only a filmmaker and nothing else. But I teach my ideas and ways of filmmaking films to contextualise and support my work and others. In addition, I find it very constructive to create literature and teaching methods of ideas about what I do.”
Day One: Concepts of Cinema and Cinema Thoughts (performative lecture)
Day Two: The Experimental Film Society Statement (performative lecture)
Day Three: Screening, discussion and talk around the films of Rouzbeh Rashidi and EFS Filmmakers
“Exquisite Corpse Collaborative Film” is a collaborative film inspired by a poetry game, the roots of which can be traced to the Surrealist/Dadaist Movement. Since 2020, Rouzbeh Rashidi and his students have made one collaborative film in his workshops and courses, culminating at the end of the classes. He designed a particular set of rules, methodologies, and mannerisms by which the film must be made. Participants will contribute a section to the final film, which will be screened and discussed at the end of the course.
Day Four: Shooting of ‘Exquisite Corpse Collaborative Film’
Day Five: Sound Recording and Editing ‘Exquisite Corpse Collaborative Film’
Day Six: Editing and Screening of ‘Exquisite Corpse Collaborative Film’
Benefits, Methods and Topics of Teaching:
– Participants will develop their ability and methodical skills in expressing themselves in a sensory and audiovisual means of artistic approaches.
– Monitoring the students on a technical level in terms of capturing device equipment, optics, editing techniques, and lighting techniques.
– Reference materials (films, essays, books, web links) will be provided. Students will also have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns as creators collectively and open up discussions about their projects.
– Participants will become knowledgeable with many critical dialogues relating to the production and distribution of contemporary experimental cinema. They will also have the opportunity to incorporate these ideas in their own work through practical tasks, leading to development in their artistic practice.
– The course will also provide opportunities to exclusive access to materials to a series of internationally celebrated film artists currently working under the banner of the Experimental Film Society: experimentalfilmsociety.com
– Most importantly, each student will make and take with themselves a short film as an artistic souvenir of this course which will be proven very useful in their future creative audiovisual practice.
Rouzbeh Rashidi (born in Tehran, 1980) is an Iranian-Irish filmmaker. He has been making films since 2000, at which time he founded the Experimental Film Society in Tehran. Rashidi has always worked entirely away from mainstream conceptions of filmmaking, striving to escape conventional storytelling stereotypes. Instead, he roots his cinematic style in a poetic interaction of image and sound. He generally eschews scriptwriting, seeing the process of making moving images as exploration rather than illustration. His work is deeply engaged with film history, and primarily concerned with mysticism, philosophy, esotericism, cosmology, phenomenology, and hauntology. The films are wildly experimental and often surrealist, magical realist, and mysterious, and have been associated with the Remodernist movement. They are unified by his oneiric imagination, idiosyncratic working methods, and the dreamlike experience of watching them.