I am currently in the [slow] process of unpacking everything that I own and settling into my room in Memorial Hall. In doing so, I have come across two flash-drives, ancient but still functional relics of my high school and very-early college writings, academic work, and even, lo, film-making efforts.
Like anyone, I find it rather surreal to be re-reading things that I penned (or typed) so many years ago, watching bits of film I crafted or perusing half-finished screenplays I abandoned. It’s like meeting yourself from the past all over again, cringing at the ferocity of your tweenage angst or the frequency with which you referenced Catcher in the Rye in all of your poems, remembering that you were quite the rap-writing enthusiast back in the day, and re-discovering how you tried to sell yourself in prose to the college you are now attending. Most of the things I have encountered this afternoon are probably of little interest to anyone but me, but I’d like to share a couple of them here.
When you apply to Carleton (or at least when I did, so many falls ago), you are asked to answer several supplementary questions in addition to submitting your Common App essay. This was one of the questions.
Do you have a tentative (or firm) career plan (or dream)? Please describe it.
In my heart of hearts, I would like to make films. I want to capture human relationships and emotions and mix them together in just the right way so as to make people stop and think and perhaps behave a little more humanely to one another. This is definitely more of a tentative dream than a firm career plan, but nonetheless, film is a powerful and glamorous medium, and I am drawn to it.
I think that somewhere between leaving home and arriving at Carleton and beginning to discover that theory exists, the person who said this got a little lost. I’m rather thrilled to find this proof of my own passion, almost objective in its feeling of having been written not by the me of today, but about the me that will always be in love with the cinematic. And to have my 17-year-old self quietly and boldly remind my 21-year-old self that we must be humane, and that art can humanize us, and that is within my power — that strikes me.
For one of the later questions, I had also written two responses and labeled one as “Director’s Cut” and the other as “For Release in Theatres”. This amuses me immensely, but even more, it echoes this sense of a historical inclination to film that I am encountering in my digging through my own past.
I also found something that I have been looking for since the beginning of this summer, the first little experimental film that I made during Fall Term of my sophomore year, as a part of the illustrious Profesore John Schott’s Avant-Garde Film and Video course.
It is based, roughly on the e.e. cummings poem “a total stranger one black day”:
a total stranger one black day
knocked living the hell out of me
who found forgiveness hard because
my (as it happened) self he was
but now that fiend and i are such
immortal friends the other’s each
I don’t claim to be proud of it, but I find it interesting in its first-ness: a rather sketchy imitation of Brakhage and shades of Deren, an overly dramatic banter with the ability of Final Cut Pro to overlay many many layers of video of varying opacity, but an earnest attempt to create a sort of cinepoem, to strive for what Deren suggests is the greatest form of the film, the vertical communication that defies narrative and allows the interplay of image and suggestion and light to create a psychological space. The imagistic relationship between the poem and the film continues to intrigue me.
And so, the artist that the me of today is becoming has communed with the person that the artistically-inclined me of the past was intending to be; how very different and yet the same our conceptions may have been and are.