Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scarcenna A Short Film by Brandon J. Hall

Poster for the film Scarcenna
One Tuesday last April (2013) I headed over to the local Barnes and Noble to pick up the Criterion release of Naked Lunch on blu-ray. I started chatting with the bookseller there about the film and a quick connection between us formed. Fast forward now almost a year later and Brandon J. Hall and I have become friends with more then a few things in common—a strong love of the cinema, paramount amongst them.

The traditional view of film directors I grew up with was that of a person high up the Hollywood food chain.  While that may still be the case for many mainstream directors, today technology has made it possible for anyone with the drive to make films to turn inspiration into the reality of a completed film. Cheap high quality video cameras and non-linear editing on home computers grants abilities to us mere mortals that was a near impossibility back when I was in college in the early 90s. I remember friends who majored in film having to schedule 4am time slots to get onto the nonlinear editing machine at school. Thankfully today that is behind us.

In thinking about the way the playing field of creation, in general, has been changed recently by technology, I thought back to when I was lucky enough to see Francis Ford Coppola speak live in NYC for an episode of Inside the Actors Studio. Here is a quote of his I found.

To me, the great hope is that now these little 8mm video recorders and stuff have come out, and some... just people who normally wouldn't make movies are going to be making them. And you know, suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart, you know, and make a beautiful film with her little father's camera recorder. And for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever. And it will really become an art form. That's my opinion—Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola's sentiment, in one way or another, is what I see happening with films each and every day. Cinema as art is beginning to bleed out from many directions, not just from the top down. As Brandon himself put it, "a democratization is happening with film now." I agree. I remember as a kid after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark with my childhood friend Jesse Feigelman, another filmmaker, and us both wishing we had a video camera to record something, anything, and make a video story. Back then it took years before we even had access to a video camera. Today for those like Brandon with the drive to create film as art — the sky's the limit.

Brandon's current film, Scarcenna, a wonderful short film he recently completed, is the result of that inner inexplicable drive to create, coupled with today's technology granting almost anyone the ability to acquire easily-obtainable equipment to make ideas a reality. Talent comes into the mix too, and Brandon clearly is in no short supply of it.

A frame from the film Scarcenna.
When I asked Brandon about the meaning of the film's title, Scarcenna, he said, "There is none. I wanted something with no meaning so people couldn't be influenced by it."

I know Brandon has ideas about what Scarcenna means to him, but I also know that he wants you, the viewer, to bring your ideas to it too. What you derive from his film is as important as what he intended. His intentions are for your ideas to manifest into something more than just what he had in mind. Now this is a new way of thinking about how films are made and how they are intended to communicate. It reminds me of what the blogger mstrmnd said on the commentary of the film Room 237 of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of it was that Kubrick was possibly attempting to create a new film language that would spur disparate meanings from one film.

Check out Scarcenna below. Dim the lights, turn up the sound a bit, set the quality up high, and expand the film to full screen to get the maximum out of your viewing. If you can watch on a widescreen TV, I recommend it.

I found the film hauntingly beautiful. The music, editing, photography, and acting, all coming from one mind, one vision, yet open-ended enough to allow for our interpretation. Rather than give my thoughts and influence your thinking, I'll allow you to see it as intended, unbiased and fresh.

I enjoyed it a great deal and am happy to be friends with the creative mind behind this short film.