My Roles: Story Script, Stop Motion, Cinematography, Photography, Video Editing
The narrative is inspired from the 1963 Italian film 8½ , which was directed by Federico Fellini. It revolves around the life of a famous Italian film director Guido Anselmi who is suffering from “director’s block”. As he struggles to find the ‘original’ concept for his upcoming film, he also finds himself grappling with conflicting self images. To make matters worse, his mistress, wife and ‘devil’ are all pressurizing him about one thing or the other. Through all these difficulties, Guido moves back and forth through his dreams, reality and fantasies.
Plot: The film remediates the plot of an already existing film. The difference here is that this film is much shorter in duration (approximately 3 mins). Hence, the visual imagery has been kept more abstract to convey a similar plot structure.
Narrative: The narrative of the original film moves back and forth from dreams to reality to fantasy. The narrative in ‘Fragments’ is similar in that aspect as it flip-flops between various spaces in time and ‘in mind’.
Animation: In terms of the formal characteristics the qualities of Animation as a medium has been remediated. The frame is more 2-dimensional in its representation and the characters move parallel to the frame. Effects of perspective (where present) have been minimized. The movements sometimes seem to defy the laws of physics and move in ways that are not expected from a ‘real’ person.
Shadow Play: The aesthetic characteristics of the medium have been borrowed from the ancient shadow puppetry form of storytelling and entertainment. A feature that has been borrowed from this medium is that the characters are mobile while the background is relatively static. The motions in shadow puppetry were not smooth and the character movements were restricted (to just a few degrees of freedom). The constricted movements of the mannequins reflect the same. The ‘jerky’ motions of the characters are embedded in the visual style of this medium too. In shadow play, the dimensions of the shadow change with respect to the position of the light source. This characteristic appears in the film too. In terms of narrative style, a traditional puppet performance used various tricks (like magic, humor and satire) to engage the collective. The unrealistic movements in the film attempt to convey a similar visual presentation.
Surrealistic Art Movement: Surrealism was a visual movement which created imagery that was beyond ordinary formal organization, in order to evoke empathy from the viewer. It had a ‘dream-like’ feel to it. The imagery in the film with the (severed) Hand, its interactions with other characters and the cigarette smoke evoke a ‘surreal’ response.
The layering of shadows (of the same character) is the effect that was achieved through the property of the digital medium. First the shadow was captured through the digital camera, and this image was re-projected as the background for the same character. The background images were changed by clicking on them while the character performed in the foreground. This process was again captured through the camera. The entire process was repeated once again (this time two shadows formed the background). Thus, the nature of the medium (and its production processes) is manifested in the representation.
The use of real characters alongside the mannequins brings in a tension between the movements of a mannequin vis-à-vis ‘real’ person. This contrast in visual style brings in hyper-mediation by sensitizing the viewer to this difference (the difference between shadow puppetry and shadows formed through a digital projector)
A ‘stop-motion’ kind of effect has been deliberately incorporated at various places and the movements are not fluid. This effect makes the viewer aware of the animation techniques that have been used in the process of film-making.
The background color changes frequently and the shades chosen for the same make it conducive to be viewed on the computer screen. The colors chosen make the viewer aware of the ‘digitallity’ of the medium and the process of production.
The frame of the image itself is non-static making the medium (of digital projection) more visible.
The visual language is ‘dream-like’ and dreams for the viewer reflect her unconscious. She steps into this fantasy world as she starts relating to the shadows, the reflections and the dreamy sequences. This leads to a transformative experience for her as she is now removed from the role of the viewer. The medium becomes transparent and she feels an absence of mediation. This brings in Immediacy for her making the experience authentic.
The unrealistic visual presentation makes the viewer aware of the medium, its properties and its processes. For her, this creates a tension between ‘looking at’ and ‘looking through’. The hypermediacy in the visual representation tries to create an excess of media which then becomes an authentic experience as it refers to itself, making it a pure experience.
The interactivity is built in into the film through its abstract representation both in its imagery and in the non-linear narrative structure. The meaning associated with the film lies as much with the viewer as it is in the film. This gives her the autonomy and the freedom to relate the images to her experiences.
The film evokes various emotional responses in her, ranging from awe to wonder and maybe even disgust. This keeps her engaged with the narrative and the plot. The plot though is created by her through her interpretations and cognitive processes.
As the medium switches back and forth between immediacy and hypermediacy, the viewer sees herself steeping-in and stepping-out of the narrative.
The making of the film adopted a process that was non-linear, organic and iterative. The team first visualized the presentation style that inspired all of them. The idea of shadows and reflections appealed to them and they decided to explore this as a medium of representation.
This led to exploring forms of older media which have used shadows in their visual representation. The medium of shadow puppetry was explored and some of its characteristics were similar to the modern day animation techniques. This further led to exploring the properties of animation as a medium.
The next stage was to set up the projection and record images and videos to get the desired visual effects. The team then started exploring with various kinds of movements which refashioned shadow play and animation. The imagery now gave a surrealistic experience and the team members felt exported to a wonderland. This led to development of the plot and the narrative. The team thought that they should remediate the narrative of an already existing film which represents dreams, reality, conflicts and aspirations. The movie that they zeroed in was Federico Fellini’s 8½.
Now they started shooting all over again with the theme in mind. The characters were conceptualized and introduced in the frame. Some parts of the narrative were improvised on the sets itself. The actors too were excited to see themselves in their shadows and against them. This motivated them to experiment with their poses and movements. The process of compilation, selection and editing followed and sound was added to the video. Thus, the first version of the movie took shape in the form of ‘Fragments’.
Amey Sawant as Guido Anselmi, the film director,
Ashish Gogte as Pace, the devil,
Khushboo Sinha as Carla, Guido’s mistress,
Female Mannequin as Luisa, Guido’s wife,
Male Mannequin as Guido,
Hand as the Director that Guido aspires to be.