Tag Archives: Trial of Terror

Cat Eats Noodles

Some may say I have an obsession with noodles. Others may say I have an obsession with cats.  I say it’s only a problem if it gets in my way.  This piece comes from my Sophomore year of College, before all hell broke loose, where the task was to take the feeling of a piece of stock music given to us and assemble together something using stock footage.  Besides the noodles I shot, I was able to mostly communicate everything through editing and color.  Well, maybe. Let’s take a look:

Cat Eats Noodles from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Yes. Yes I was able to capture the feeling of the stock music.  What strikes me most now looking back at this piece some five years after making it is how well this acts as a trailer for a movie that will never exist, nor should it as we already know exactly how the movie will go thanks to the music choice, editing, typography, color, in short thanks to everything.  We know there is a cat. The cat is suspicious. And somehow the cat stumbles into a world of murder and intrigue involving noodles.  Cat Eats Noodles: Coming to theaters July 2016.

Paint Mines 8-2-12

This is a new experiment I’m trying out.  I’ve acquired some bits of video from vacations that I take, not a whole lot mind you, but when I come across something breathtaking I simply need to capture it.  Unfortunately the internet is littered with these, and also unfortunately the  video will never truly capture the experience, so instead I’ve decided to delve into the world of data bending in order to make these videos into something new and interesting (in theory).  So here’s the first one: taken from the Indian Paint Mines outside of Colorado Springs.  Enjoy, let me know what you think of these.

Without the T’s: Escape from Tomorrow

The story of Escape from Tomorrow and how it was made precedes the film itself, to the point where many people may not actually recognize the itle: It’s the film tha was shot over a period of about three years inside of Disneyland without Disney’s permission.  Besides the accomplishment of the feat of actually shooting most of the film inside of the park without anyone noticing, there’s also the impressive fact hat Escape from Tomorrow is currently showing in theaers and Disney isn’t doing much to stop it.  As such, this film has garnered quite a lot of focus among guerrilla and independent filmmakers and my greates fear going into the film was hat the story of the making of this film would be beter than the film itself.

I’m happy to say tha fear is unfounded, and in acuality Escape from Tomorrow presents a surprisingly accurate depiction of a family vacation to Disneyland (and I am including the nightmarish ride through “I’s a Small World After All” and being kidnapped by Epcot scientiss).  The story largely follows a father, Jim, and his family as they spend one last day at Disneyland.  Jim’s son, Elliot, desperately wants to go on the Buzz Lighyear ride (and when the ride closes down the son gets into a fit of depression); Jim follows two young French girls through the park and fantasizes about them; He tries unsuccessfully to connec sexually with his wife, Emily; and he experiences a nightmarish fever dream where the park itself seems to be teeming with devil-beasts and mad scienists.  This last part, though, is mostly relegated to he second act and even then only in small doses.  Instead, the focus is on the absolute irritaion hat any family experiences not only at Disneyland, bu on any family trip.

Not every scene was shot on location in Disneyland, as I’m pretty sure a scene in a nurse’s office and a scene in the basement of Epco were both shot off site.  However much of the film was shot during regular Disney business hours, which makes the cinemaography highly impressive.  Mostly the film seems to rely on natural light (which I’m told Florida has lots of), however when non-natural light is used (and I’m not exactly sure how hey were able to bring lights into Disneyland and not raise suspicion) it’s for ableaus that bring everything back to it’s classical Disney roots as everything seems highly saturaed and staged in the most incredible of ways.  There are also plenty of great instances of framing and plenty of fun visual gags, the most memorable one being making an out-of-focus Mickey Balloon look like some sort of demonic monster looking over Jim’s shoulder.

The effects work is also very well done.  Again: this is a surprisingly accurae film, and so the effects work to bring in a feeling of having a nighmarish fever dream.  So we can see some of the strings and where mating and digital face replacement was used, but it’s not a bad thing.  Even in the case of simple distorion that happens on some sort of ride through Dia de los Muertos (I really have no idea what atracions there are in Disneyland), the sound and the simple visual of a large fisheyed screaming face was wonderfully disconcering.

This isn’ a film for acting or for writing, as the actors (while cerainly not being bad) seem to have been more concerned with geting their performances done in a small number of takes instead of giving an ineresting performance.  Much of this also has to do with the material, as a father having marital problems in Disneyland isn’ necessarily new and the screenwriter certainly didn’t approach it differently. But this is a guerrilla film hat proves not only can these ypes of movies be made, they can be made well, they can look fantasic, and they can actually get wide disribution, even if you’re going up against the legal monsers of Disney.  For these reasons, and the reasons above, my arbirary grade for Escape from Omorrow is B+: It’s certainly worth seeing, a well done experiment, and a film where the most nighmarish thing isn’t a demon-possessed touris or a witch-seducress, but rather the ambiance of being surrounded by people in cartoon suits and children screaming with glee.

A "B+" Grade.

Cat Video

I suppose you all thought it was joke when I said I’d be sharing cat videos. It wasn’t.

Cat Video from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

There was a six month period where I was living with two very confusing cats, named Wembley and Esther.  During this same time I wanted to experiment with generating my own static, as well as further exploring and getting used to After Effects.  So I made this: A short piece that forms a good diad with last year’s “No!”, and although I feel like “No!” explored non-linear narratives a bit better and also had a more defined visual style, I still think the Cat Video works fine and I am interested that it ended up as a type of window into the mind of a sleeping cat (although my original idea was to have the video be about how cat’s only keep us around to eat us, and that the wide array of cat videos on the internet is only a way to keep us sedentary and fatten us. IT’S ALL A CAT PLAN. [and, no, this won’t be the last you hear about the cat-spiracy theory]).

No!

So, back to the films I made when the Henceblog was down, and we’re starting up again with “No!” a psychedelic trip through corgis and death.  Here’s the story:  I had been accumulating all kinds of footage for experimental pieces, some of them I was planning on using for the next installment of The Tape and fell to the wayside when The Tape never came, some were going to be ways to experiment with my new camera that eventually fell aside, and at least one was for a film that we had begun shooting but ran in to equipment failure that made it impossible to finish the project.  At any rate, right before I left Santa Fe I had about five film projects that were never going to be made.  Rather than leave them in this state, I decided instead to combine all of these films together into one film, and the result is below.

No! from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Despite the scattered approach to this film, I think it’s turned out surprisingly well.  Firstly, I’m glad that even though this was composed of a lot of more visual works there’s still a very coherent story to the piece.  Aside from this, I’m happy with what story came out, as it’s one about a dog that seems to be cast out of society only to become able to destroy both man and God with at least two victims.  I’m very happy with the psychedelic imagery the video feedback gave me, and I’m happy  with the effect that all of the sounds I got from driving through a dust storm gave me.  Overall, it’s an oddly atmospheric film, and I also think we can all agree that Taco God will be missed.

VATAS: 1dspEioe0

I wanted to do something special for Episode Number 10, and I also had been wanting to begin exploring new ways to put together a VATAS episode that broke the mold of what we had seen.  So I decided that this would be my experimental episode, and that I would use the previous ten episodes as a building block and experiment further with Final Cut to create something that could function both as an episode of VATAS and an experimental tribute to it (Also, despite the success of VATAS as a whole, these episodes did help me become more comfortable with editing and really forced me to understand and utilize the software I had).  This is also the last of the “Big Three” episodes of VATAS (which, for clarification, they’re named the “Big Three” because they’re not only some the most seen episodes, but I feel they also capture the series at its best), so let’s enjoy it, shall we?

1dspEio0 on YouTube

This isn’t my best experimental work.  In fact, I’d put it pretty low on the list.  But, I think we hit a nice fever pitch by the end of the episode, and it’s a nice way of looking back at VATAS.  But looking back at this episode now, I’d say that I didn’t go far enough.  The episode still follows the same formula as most of the episodes, and although that’s an interesting choice I feel like 10 could have benefited greatly from being complete visual chaos.  I feel like if I took more risks (like I did closer to the end of the episode with the frame-by-frame cuts and the overlaying of “Hello”) then this episode would have been a stellar installment in my experimental line, but as it stands it’s merely one of the better episodes of my unsuccessful video blog series.  Although, it’s also important to note that this was really my first venture into purely experimental territory, with the closest thing prior to this being “Hallway Is“, which is terrible and no one should watch it.

Without the T’s: The Man Who Fell to Earth

“Without the T’s” is my film review for both current theatrical releases and any release on home video that I may see.  I treat these as a way to discuss and understand a film for it’s merits and demerits, but unfortunately since it’s a review I hindered by two main points: A grade and a gimmick.  Therefore, the more I enjoy a film the more of the letter “T” will be included in the write-up of the film, with “lesser” film reviews becoming more and more incomprehensible.

 

What does it mean to be alien? This is the primary question focused on in many films of the sub-genre which I’ll refer to as “Visitor” pictures.  He Man Who Fell o Earh is one such film, and it certainly captures a bizarre alien feeling, puting the viewer directly into the head of its protagonis Thomas Jerome Newton (played by David Bowie).  There are moments where the viewer is thrown into complete visual chaos… no, scratch tha: There are small islands where the viewer is able to find their bearings in time/space/storyline, and then the res of the film is visual chaos.

This isn’t a bad thing, as stated before it helps unite he viewer with what this reptilian space monster must be going through.  Newton was able to get a feeling of what Earth was like through elevision, but watching is never the same as experiencing.  When you’re on Earth, you begin to see all of the mess and wonder hat is human life and tha (presumably) leads to one hell of a trip in sorting everything out (Like the difference between a Noh performance/sword fight and a sex scene) hat no amount of television can help you through.  Much like this, no amount of words can explain the experience of watching The Man Who Fell to Earth, but I hink these wo trailers (the original and he trailer for the 35h anniversary re-release) can help you understand:

The Original 1976 railer for The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell To Earth- Rialto Picures 35th Anniversary Trailer

Some digging into the hisory of the director of this film, Nicolas Roeg, led me to discover hat he began working with cinematography and editing.  Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death and Francois Truffau’s film version of Fahrenheit 451 are among Roeg’s crew work before he began direcing with Performance a film tha stars Mick Jagger and is described from Roeg’s IMdB page as “… multi-layered kaleidoscope of sex, violence, and questions of identiy…”.  I bring this up not to impress my seven readers with my incredibly limited research into the director, bu rather because I feel this gives us an accurate account into how and why something like He Man Who Fell o Earh was created.

This film has a lot of strokes of editorial genius, from the above mentioned cross-cuting of a Noh Performance and a strangely murderous sex scene, and in Newton’s abiliy o transcend the boundaries of time (which is never fully explained, and I for one am happy it isn’t).  The Man Who Fell to Earth doesn’t have a straightforward narrative, insead it focuses on details, flashes of a life: Cookies being flung into he air, the first few interacions Newton has with real-live humans, and the gradual death of Newton’s family on his home planet and exact details of the plot are left for the viewer to fill in. This is admirable, alhough it (along wih the fact hat Bowie’s character never ages) lead to some intense confusion and a need for just a few more islands of calm in the mids of this kaleidoscope especially once we get o the governmen (?) detainmen of Newton and the idea tha he becomes a prisoner and slave to alcoholism (which is a great idea hat doesn’ come across). In fact, scrach the idea that He Man Who Fell o Earh is a kaleidoscope, instead it’s like someone broke open the ‘scope and threw all the gliter into the sky and is now watching as the sparkling dust falls to the ground.

Another demerit to the film (at least in my view, which is by no means the only way of seeing a film) is the performance.  Candy Clark’s performance as Mary-Lou (The woman who Newton loves and who teaches Newton about life and sex and alcohol on Earh) strikes up a delicate but fascinating balance of being too rehearsed and absolutely life-like, and it’s difficult to say which way the scales ulimately fall with her.  However, and especially for being one of the largest selling points of the film even to this day, Bowie’s performance I found to be a bit lacking in dimension. He tries, mind you, and there are moments of the rue heartache and loneliness Newton must feel, but in the end I’m not sure if Bowie had the life experience to show this aspect of Newon’s persona (I feel like modern-day David Bowie could, though, especially given his surprisingly restrained performance as Nikola Tesla).

And so, for reasons of being just a touch too far into freeform erritory and having a lead performance tha seems a bit too rehearsed, my obligaory but arbitrary grade for The Man Who Fell to Earth is as follows:

 A "B+" Grade.

I feel like for all of its faults, this film still holds an imporant role for anyone interesed in the creation and release of not only Science Fiction Cinema, but Cinema and its history as such a bizarre and personalized vision hat unforunately cannot be made and released withou extreme difficulty anymore.  So, The Man Who Fell to Earth is nowhere near perfect and perhaps B+ is too high a grade, but it’s also a great tesamen to giving funding to have pet project released: It’s strange, it’s messy, it’s both beautiful and a touch pretenious, and I think it’s something hat is missing from many of the average film audience now. Which I choose to see as too bad.

Missing

All I want is the truth. That’s how “Missing” begins, and it greatly lives up to that hope: It’s one of the most honest and personal films I think Andrew has ever made, and I greatly appreciate that.

Let’s back up, then, because it’s been around three and a half years since the Tape was last sent.  In those years, I spent plenty of time thinking about how I’d next reply. I even had footage shot and ready (Fun Fact: Most of these failed ideas were later compiled into “No!”).  As the years dragged on (and this isn’t fair, but it happened) it would be harder and harder for Andrew to come up with a decent enough reply. And so what was I looking for?

  1. The next installment had to explain why I had waited for so long.
  2. It had to be worth the wait.

Despite not being a very long list, it was a tall order to live up on Andrew’s part. And “Missing” wholly delivers.  There is only one part of the film that directly references “Powerful Magics” (and, by extension, the rest of the Tape‘s complicated web) and that’s when we see Andrew’s reflected face in the television (and, yes, the part where his face syncs up to his face was a nice touch).  Besides this, “Missing” doesn’t go along the lines of other Tape replies.  It throws any cheeky meta-references to YouTube out the window, it doesn’t attempt to counterpoint or ape anything from the previous installment, instead “Missing” simply IS. And that’s something that, during these past few years, I haven’t been expecting.

There are plenty of ways that I can talk about how this film still fits into the ongoing narrative of the tape and how its a microcosm for the internet, and I could probably pick it apart bit-by-bit and tell you how it actually does mirror everything else in the tape, but I think that would only destroy part of “Missing”‘s power (also, I don’t I would actually be able to do that last part).

Now that it’s my turn again, I have much the same feeling as Andrew did after watching “Powerful Magics”: I’m not quite sure what to do or how to reply. One thing’s for sure, all of the thinking I was doing and all the digging into internet memes is now void.  “Missing” is too good to get a reply similar to anything I’ve sent before, and so it’s time for a new strategy.

So now the old tape is dead, and with it comes an end.  “Missing” signifies a new letter, still between the same two people, but the game has been changed and I think that’s for best.

Powerful Magics

Blood had been shed. Cardboard had been eaten. A War had started. A War for…

A COMPLICATED WEB OF PAPERS AND LIES.

 

Happy Birthday Murderer” was cruel. I understand that it was a joke, and I’m not saying it was anything too awful, but it was cruel. My reply wouldn’t be another try at aping style. Oh no, HE ATE MY PACKAGE AND NOW HE HAD TO PAY.  And so, for both this reason and because after murder we go into resurrection, I decided to delve into magic for the next installment of the Tape.  I got to work right away, researching alchemy and the famed philosophers stone, said to have such magical properties as giving eternal life.  I would craft a package that would be the philosophers stone, a package that would give the Tape life through the sacrifice of others through Fire, Water, and Wind.  This may not make much sense now, but once you see this taped unpacking perhaps it will:

And what of the contents of the tape?  How do you reply to such a personal attack?  Should I incorporate the theme of Magic? Should I bring back the internet/tape favorite topic of cats?  The answer to all of these questions was “Yes”.  Going off of the four components of the philosopher’s stone, I created four different replies to the tape, each using a separate segment that had been established by tape standards: One would be a direct reply/recreation of Andrew’s cooking of my package with a cooking show with shared friend Ethan Holbrook; another would be a montage/poop of YouTube videos and footage from “16 Heads and Counting”, one of Andrew’s earlier works; the third segment would be all footage that I would shoot for this specific film; the fourth and final component was sound and title work.

But was this enough?  As I said before, simply copying the format and structure of the previous installment of the tape wasn’t going to work.  The flame war had begun, and it was my move.  WHAT WAS THE BEST WAY TO DRAW BLOOD?  Simple: The thing that Andrew destroyed of mine (my work) I would destroy of his. I would pick apart and criticize and do my best to obliterate everything Andrew created.  No, wait… this was too big. Too big, and it would only cycle something as pointless as a comment battle in a chat room. Instead: I would destroy the components of the tape itself. I would turn a critical eye to “Happy Birthday Murderer” and destroy him that way.

Powerful Magics from Andrew Gingerich on Vimeo.

Okay, so not everything was about avenging a cardboard collage.  At the time of crafting “Powerful Magics” I also felt that there wasn’t as much thought in terms of structuring and treating this traveling tape like a letter in “Happy Birthday, Murderer” as I had put into the previous installment of “In Fridge” (I now recognize that this doesn’t matter in the least bit).  But through the discussions and critiques that I included in this video, the focus shifted away from specific parts and more towards the whole concept of The Tape itself: Why were we doing this? What was the point? Is it viewable by anyone else, or does it exist as a mere amusement between myself and Andrew (This comes into great play with the Ghost Critique). I became the jerk who links to scholarly articles in the midst of a comment battle just to prove to everyone that my petty point of view is right and everyone else is wrong SO THERE.

In retrospect, the ideas for making “Powerful Magics” are a bit petty and unfounded, but the video itself is still pretty strong and certainly a great chapter in my work as a whole and my more freeform film making (This was also the video that made me notice that I had a pretty good understanding of Final Cut and editing).  Andrew thought something similar (You can read his exact thoughts HERE), and the film was such a shock that the Tape has been out of circulation for about three and a half years now.  For the longest time I was putting off freeform projects, in hopes that the Tape would come and I’d include everything in the next installment.  But, as the years dragged on until present day, I’ve decided that it’s best to move on.

Perhaps some day the Tape will return, and when it does we will again get entwined in this web… this

COMPLICATED WEB OF PAPERS AND LIES.

Happy Birthday, Murderer!

When I transferred “In Fridge” to the tape, I made a mistake.  I transferred over the taped version of I Got the Poops, effectively deleting it.

It was the first casualty for the next twist in… THE COMPLICATED WEB OF PAPERS AND LIES.

VAT15-2

It was December, 2009. I had finished my semester at CU Boulder and I was looking forward to starting again at the newly re-opened CSF and building it back up to be the school I knew it could be.  I wasn’t looking for this, though.  “Boxco: Perfectly Ordinary Boxes for Perfectly Ordinary Human Beings” said the package I received, but a glance at who sent me this package told me that the contents of this box weren’t going to be ordinary. No, because this box was going to have The Tape somewhere inside.  Fortunately, I taped the unpackaging process and we can view it below:

VATAS: Epostode 15 from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

One Onion, a few custom T-Shirts (which didn’t last that long, they faded after one wash), some accusations of me being a murderer, and a video tape.  All inside of a large box (The onion stain came off, by the way). I was excited at the fact that the tape itself was beginning to get altered, and I was also excited because this marked the first (and perhaps only) time I would be able to watch the next installment on the tape itself.  So I popped it into the VCR, and what I saw forever altered how this correspondence would continue.  Let’s watch, shall we?

Happy Birthday, Murderer! from Andrew Gingerich on Vimeo.

Yikes. I had called Andrew to inform him that “I Got the Poops” was gone directly after I deleted it, and I apologized for it, and made sure he had a digital copy so it wouldn’t be lost forever; but that wasn’t enough.  I had destroyed something he worked hard on, and so he had to do the same to me.  I was particularly fond of my infringement collage from the “In Fridge” package, and I thought it came out as a wonderful bit of ad-vomit.  Well, Andrew had to make sure it would become real vomit. At the time of first watching this, I was upset.  Not only at the package, but at how incredibly personal things had gotten: It seemed as though every bit of this video was meant to cut into my very being. Even now that I understand that something like this had to happen, I still feel like it’s a bit of overkill the depths at which this installment goes to make sure I knew I did something wrong and I would be punished for it.

Don't Go To Art School
We’ll Never Forgive You.

So, if we are continuing to think about the journey of the tape in terms of the internet, I suppose we’ve now entered into the trenches of the internet: Comment sections.  Not developed critical analysis, mind you (although I have a feeling we’re getting to that), but the rather inane, often irrelevant comments found on most YouTube videos. “Kirby scares about Scarecrows”, for example.  We see this with the dual voices talking about the same thing but never connecting in regards to the multiple heads, the continuing wishing and forgetting about Great Uncle Wilbur (or is it Webber?), and of course in the scathing blow that is the soup sequence.  Also worthy of note, is that we have finally entered into Poop territory with the “All The President’s Men” sequence (A “Poop” referring to the YouTube phenomenon wherein people take and re-edit various footage from cartoons and films, often in hope to create something much more humorous or frightening).  It’s true that Poops have been referenced in the Tape before, but this marks the first time we actually made one.

If you’d like to hear Andrew’s thoughts on this part of the Tape, click here.  Otherwise, stay tuned because the flame war is just beginning and soon it will consume this…

COMPLICATED WEB OF PAPERS AND LIES.