Underground Film Journal

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Short Film: Saul Levine’s On The Spot

By Mike Everleth ⋅ November 1, 2013

Saul Levine‘s On the Spot is a terrific example of the state of the experimental film in the early 1970s. Made in 1973, it is a structuralist piece reflecting on the filmmaker’s environment using the then popular single frame shooting technique.

The film’s listing in the Film-makers’ Cooperative catalog describes its production:

Shot on a farm in Friends Ville Penn. Where Saul lived in a trailer with Dan Barnett shot from the same spot over the course of several Fall weeks a single frame study of the movements of poeple and live stock (horses,cows, sheep, etc)clouds sun and moon constructs of stasis and change.

Possibly owing to the laid back farming environment in which Levine shot the film, the piece feels both laconic and incredibly fast paced, through the single frame technique, simultaneously. And although the film is shot from the “same spot,” Levine appears to be shooting at a full 360 degress, or at least close enough to be able to take in the full width and breadth of farm life.

An old barn in a field

The fun aspect of watching the film comes in two parts: From imagining the totality of the full environment through the quick takes, and from the interesting new visuals that arise from jumping from one shot to the next so quickly that they become one piece of visual information. The optical illusion of the two barn roofs creating one V-shaped valley image that Levine repeatedly returns to is particularly interesting to watch.