on implication

Two theory-and-filmmakers whose pieces shook me, made me think deeply about the content they present, are Emma Charles (“Fragment on Machines”) and Josh Fox —(“Gasland”). Although both of their films are jarring, captivating and—if defined as nothing else—documentary, the techniques used to produce each effect a change in style, in affect; watching one will be unlike the other.

On the one hand, there is the loquacious and friendly Josh, known by interviewees and onscreen characters on a first name basis, as a pal to them, as a pal to the audience. On the other hand is the enigmatic Emma Charles, silent. She has a narrator perform the narrative she wants you to hear, the story told by a subject whose language many do not speak. Meanwhile, Charles speaks only with her camera, letting the screens peak; lets her eyes be your eyes as you—or, so it feels, we—roam the halls of the supremely clean carrier hotel.

This effect of Charles’s camerawork, this lending of her point of view—seeing something that deserves to be looked at the way someone else sees it—is an expanded documentary technique that can be used visually, linguistically, powerfully. Charles, using this inclusive technique visually, does what is known as breaking the fourth wall. In other words, for a moment, the borders of the screen fade. The viewer should feel included, referenced, much as they do in Gaslands when Josh Fox includes a video clip of a, literally, laughable conference on fracking between individuals with seemingly large stakes in the practice. The judge, mediating, is thanked by the presenter, and thanks him bank, sparking laughter on screen and, likely, a smirk on the other side of your screen. Breaking the fourth wall is an often discussed but rarely executed technique. If possible to do it well, I would like to use Emma Charles’s route, that is, by letting my camerawork speak. A meta reference, tacit joke or ominous story are not always told. They are performed.

-nick

~ by maybenick on November 1, 2016.