Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada


For my final project, I would like to use the Ladybug Camera to make a film inspired by Ernie Gehr’s Side/Walk/Shufflei tentatively titled Back/Ward/Hustle. In Side/Walk/Shuffle, Gehr uses a 16mm Bolex in order to create what artist and film enthusiast Fred Camper describes as “an expansive vision of the relationship between architecture, city streets and the movement on them, the medium of cinema, and patterns of thought.”ii By shooting at odd angles, Gehr creates a unique filmic/architectural space in which buildings – turned upside down and sideways – float slowly past the camera. Camper further describes Gehr’s process as follows:

Gehr made the entire film in an outdoor glass elevator at the Fairmont Hotel that shuttles people to and from a ritzy rooftop restaurant. He couldn’t get a permit to film there, so he sneaked in his 16-millimeter hand-held Bolex under his coat. Escorted out several times, he spent almost a year shooting.iii

Gehr’s process naturally lends itself to the Ladybug Camera’s ability to shoot a 360° panorama. As described by Scott MacDonald, “[i]n Side/Walk/Shuffle, Ernie Gehr uses the simplest cinematic means, and his remarkable visual imagination, to create a panorama [emphasis added] of San Francisco that turns our usual sense of the film frame on its head.”iv In addition, as observed by MacDonald, Side/Walk/Shuffle also calls into question one of the most basic filmic conventions, “that within the frame, the top is up and the bottom, down.v Due to the angles that Gehr shot at, MacDonald describes the filmic space as “disorienting – down is no longer down, and gravity seems to have lost control.”vi Similarly, the Ladybug camera breaks conventions about the frame by expanding the conventional frame, in essence, creating a destabilized space.vii

For my project, I intend to shoot a short film using the Ladybug camera in the glass elevator at the Hilton. Like Gehr, before shooting I intend to ride the elevator multiple times – at different times of the day – in order to observe and document when the buildings are properly lit and to find angles that avoid reflections. I am hoping the final film will be five to ten minutes in length.

One of the artistic and intellectual aims of this project is to create and explore an entirely new filmic/architectural space. Conceptually this raises many questions, most importantly, what types of spaces will be obtained when an omnidirectional camera is applied to Gehr’s template and what type of effect will these spaces create? In order to answer these and many other questions, I look forward to experimenting with the Ladybug camera.

i Ernie Gehr, Side/Walk/Shuffle, 1991, colour, sound, 41 minutes.
ii Fred Camper, “Edge City: Review of Side/Walk/Shuttle,” Chicago Reader, February, 1995.
iii Ibid.
iv Scott MacDonald, A Critical Cinema 5: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers (California: University of California Press, 2006), 9.
v Ibid, 359.
vi MacDonald, A Critical Cinema 5, 397.
vii In Contiguity, Continuity and Panoramas in Cross-cultural Representation Roderick Coover argues that the “digital panorama points to an excess that it also destabilizes.” Although Coover is describing digital panoramas that are stitched together from multiple photographs taken at different times creating a “temporally destabilized space,” the Ladybug camera can be seen as destabilizing traditional filmic space by presenting an omnidirectional view.

Wed, February 29 2012 » futurecinema2_2012

One Response

  1. taravat March 13 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    i just watched Ernie Gehr’s Side/Walk/Shuffle and it’s pretty awesome! can’t wait to see your version!