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EXPOSED: "A Naked Screening of a Work in Progress" 

AFCOOP Filmmaker in Residence shares her unfinished film

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As some of you who follow this blog will know, I’ve been working this winter on my latest experimental film project POSE. It’s about Dave Cullen, a local storyboard artist who has taken up nude modeling and the comparisons and contrasts lying therein. Part of the duties of the filmmaker in residency program at AFCOOP (gracious funders of the film) include presenting talks and workshops detailing the film’s progress. So, in mid-February I screened a selection of the raw footage to an audience down at the Khyber, something that took me to a whole new frontier in my filmmaking career.

Now, I’ve always been a bit of a “best foot forward" person, and I’ve only ever shown my work publicly when it was best called finished. In this case, it was a very nerve-wracking affair to stand back while they watched and I waited for the comments.

I asked myself: How in the hell was this ever going to work? Most “film-type” people have a hard time watching a rough cut, let alone raw footage. Add to that, I was shooting experimental footage with Super 8 cartridges on a 35-year-old film camera mixed in with video from a state-of-the-art high definition camera. Unedited and without structure, I thought I would be opening myself up to a lot of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

I was expecting the worst. It occurred to me I possibly should get drunk before arriving. This made it all the sweeter when the following Q&A became not only interesting but inspirational. Despite a lack of context, the audience saw many of the same things that I see in the project---that the subject Dave Cullen is quite a fascinating and compelling character. That the grainy and gritty Super 8 footage is actually quite beautiful and poetic, and the contrast I was looking for between Dave the introvert and Dave the extrovert is a subject that captured their attention as it did mine.

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Don’t get me wrong here, it wasn’t a love fest. The audience had critique as well as praise. Some people wondered aloud how I could ever merge the two distinct image formats of Dave in his studio on video an Dave posing as a nude model in Super 8. They do look very different and the discourse of each piece is unique. Did I make two separate films when I should have only made one? Some people preferred the abstract nature of the imagery of modeling while others were more drawn in by the charming discussions about life with Dave in studio. We had a contentious group discussion about nudity and whether I should include it or not. What would either of the messages mean to the final audience? There was no final consensus. Although I didn’t agree with every comment I did leave with something very valuable. A sense that there was genuine interest and engagement with what was on the screen and it was worthy of a real discussion. I’ve now returned to the edit suite with a renewed sense of energy, enthusiasm and belief that I might be onto something.

Next up as the AFCOOP filmmaker in residency I’m hosting a workshop on Thursday March 15th at 7pm. Here I’ll be discussing sound design and in particular for experimental film with some discussion directly back to POSE. If you have an interest in sound design or experimental film, or in relation to a specific project your working on, come on down to AFCOOP (5663 Cornwallis Street) and join the fun.


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