FREEZE FRAME

November 23, 2017

 

1) In the spirit of Thanksgiving, 1LDK is now available to watch on our site! Check out it's page for a festive dose of stalking, bathtub omelettes, and the best a man has ever looked in a bath robe. 

 

2) Principal photography on Snailman is nearly complete! We have now just to film the last segment of the film, which will be shot in a studio, somewhere in North London...

 

To this week's theme: freeze frames in movies. Not the Guy Ritchie "this is Bubbles" kind, or the schmaltzy Hollywood "this is the moment my whole life changed" cliche -- I'm talking about still frames in movies. Everything's moving along nicely and then wham! Everything halts, and you're suddenly staring at - or perhaps listening to - a photograph. The impact and implications fascinate me - some audiences instantly feel uncomfortable, others haunted, maybe frustrated... why?

 

In a way, the freeze frame or 'inserted photograph' is antithetical to film. Movies are called as such because they portray movement. The cinema is not supposed to be a gallery, though of course, it's really a hyper-gallery, streaming 24 photos into our brains every second and demanding that we keep up. It's kind of an insane way of consuming visual art. Cinema attacks the principle of photography that, in any given interaction, there is some essential, precious moment of time that speaks to the greater whole.

 

Imagine it this way: it's your birthday party. You'd be having a great time, but your best friend keeps taking photos of you. Every second. For five whole minutes. Why are they taking so many photos?? Well, they say, we don't want to miss anything! Your best friend is cinema. It abuses photography's principle by saying that EVERY moment is a key moment in order to understand the scene being presented. Film is present; photography is eternal. Still frames in films destroy cinema's present tense, and cast the movie into the past; they acknowledge the artifice of a film, that it is constructed, a fake version of reality; and perhaps they even mock the viewer's knowledge, by demonstrating a power over time that the audience does not have. Still frames sometimes feel like forensic evidence, clues to a broader story you have been denied from. Other times they feel like memories, haunting in their stillness, elusive in their context. Somehow, they can even detach us from our character identification, casting us out into an objective continuum that usually only the camera is privileged to... 

 

We are only scraping the surface of such ontological ruminations here... But the point is, I think more filmmakers should play with the technique. It is just another tool in the director's kit to achieve their primary task of sculpting time. As Mr. Freeze would advise, maybe it's time for your story to chill out...

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