By: Caitlin Falco
Experimental filmmaking is far from a novelty in the film and media industry, and these “independent” films compose a relatively large part of the market. But some filmmakers, in addition to experimenting with content, have begun to develop innovative ways to shoot and present a film. Roger Beebe, an experimental filmmaker, will be coming to the Campus Theatre on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. to present his most recent work, “Films for One to Eight Projectors.”
“My form of experimental filmmaking is at least partially about finding a way of making films that it’s easy to embrace as a maker. My filmmaking is based in a DIY culture that values those things that society has deemed worthless, like the 16-millimeter projectors that I buy for $10 apiece–or like the thrift store clothes, couches, etc. that are a big part of the rest of my life,” Beebe said.
Transforming the theater into a multimedia landscape, Beebe will utilize several projectors to completely alter how the film is viewed. What’s the inspiration for this multi-projector project?
After being invited to do a show in a planetarium, “[I got] really got excited about the possibility of making giant compositions of different kinds of images interacting with each other,” Beebe said.
No longer bound by what he calls “the limitations of the frame,” Beebe believes that multiple projectors add tremendously to the presentation of the film.
“The quality of liveness is something we’re losing in society. Sure, you can stream lots of things through Netflix, but there’s a kind of indifference to that process that the multiple projections contests. It’s almost like watching a tightrope walker, complete with the thrills of the stumbles and near falls. But there’s also a rhythmic complexity that you can get with multiple projections that you can’t get with a single projector,” Beebe said.
Aside from experimenting with how his films are shown, he shares a unique perspective on how his films are made. While Hollywood and more mainstream filmmakers embrace the constant onslaught of new technology by releasing movies in 3D and Blu-ray, Beebe reinforces his belief of living modestly by shooting with more simple technology.
“Sure, everyone loves their iPhones or their new Canon 5Ds or whatever, but I shoot on a camera that was made in 1971, and other than an occasional repair, I basically don’t have to do anything to keep it looking great. With video or new media, the tools become outmoded incredibly quickly, so every few years you need new software, a new computer, a new camera, etc. You’ll blow thousands of dollars on these, and the old gear just goes in the landfill. So I’m standing there at the landfill trying to make treasure out of your trash. And it turns out that 16-millimeter especially is still a pretty incredible, and incredibly simple, technology.”
Although his newest film requires eight projectors, Beebe takes pride in the fact that everything he needs fits into the back of his Toyota Prius.
“I do like being able to transform almost any space into a microcinema. It makes me feel like cinema could happen anywhere, not just at the multiplex or arts house,” Beebe said.