Underground Film Journal

Posted In » Online Cinema

Short Film: A Movie By Jen Proctor

By Mike Everleth ⋅ June 26, 2013

There aren’t many remakes in the underground film world. Remixes, cut-ups, homages: Sure! However, filmmaker Jen Proctor boldly has gone ahead and remade Bruce Conner‘s seminal 1958 collage film A Movie by updating it for the modern world with selections pulled from online digital video sources for A Movie By Jen Proctor.

Proctor, for the most part, follows Conner’s structure. First, she teases out with a little sex with ladies rolling down their stockings, then the film cuts together various video leader countdowns, found chase sequences and man-made disasters. The footage choices that Proctor has chosen, though, provides a whole new context of how our society gathers and presents moving images, which has become more intimate and emotionally effecting.

Woman wearing a dress pulls a stocking over her thigh

For example, Conner’s stockinged lady appears to be from an impersonal stag film, while Proctor’s trio of women are from homemade, perhaps personally filmed video. While Proctor’s ladies are skimpily, but fully, clothed and Connor’s woman is topless, Proctor’s selections seem more illicit, somewhat giving the impression that these are videos that were produced for private not public consumption, but have, for however these things work out, wound their way into mass viewing. Whether that’s true or not given the videos’ context that Proctor has placed them into is irrelevant as the effecting result is the same.

Also, Conner’s selection of disaster footage have a similar impersonal feel. Conner selected what, for the time, was probably the most horrifying conceit of man-made carnage — a nuclear bomb explosion. Yet, while these mushroom clouds inspire the imagination of the devastation they would cause if detonated in populated areas, those are still just emotionally distant ideas.

For her disaster footage, Proctor has chosen a much more recent event, which she cuts to several times later in the film: The plane hitting the World Trade Center on 9/11. This national tragedy is still seared into our collective social conscience and we are still, as a society, coming to grips with the fallout, most recently evidenced in the NSA spying scandal. But, for those directly or semi-directly impacted by the event, watching this footage still carries intense, personal weight. (For the record, I was living in NYC on 9/11 and working not so far from the tragedy, so watching the plane flying into the building repeatedly still highly disturbs me.)

For another take on the emotional impact of 9/11 footage, please watch Jef Taylor’s short fictional film Coverage.