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Afterwords is the latest short film I have made with my friend, Brian Baker. A poetic dystopian narrative fragment, it is a sequel of sorts to the short film University: a New Way of Life, and will be the fourth film in a projected series.  Afterwords is set at some point in the near future, when a scarcity of oil has led to social collapse. It follows a young woman scavenging for survival and navigating her way across this deserted landscape following the obsolete and meaningless infrastructure of pylons and power lines. Half-remembered images from infancy blend with dream images and the intermittent recollection of her mother’s voice, to guide her on her journey.

The film is saturated with references to a diverse body of apocalyptic science-fiction film and literature that includes Octavia Butler’s Parables of the Sower, John Christopher’s The Death of Grass, Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Like the previous film, it is a meditation upon landscape, engaged with the project of reframing the geography around us, viewing familiar spaces through an alienating lens. Principal reference points included the films of Andrew Kotting, Chris Marker, and, most importantly, Derek Jarman, whose cinematic landscapes are imbued with symbolic meaning, historical resonance, folk mysticism and intense, oscillating emotion.

The film was shot on Super8 film, using a Braun Nizo 561 (as used by Jarman) and a Soviet-era clockwork camera. The premise was that the visually degraded image that resulted – scratched and unstable, with variable image quality from one reel to the next – effectively conveyed the sense of social and cultural collapse that the film hints at. Indeed, the film was shot with a technology that would have been available within the post-electricity diegesis of the film: photochemical film stock and hand-wound camera. The score, which blends acoustic and electric instruments, field recordings, and voices, was intended to parallel the visual textures of the film with an aural aesthetic that is similarly characterised by distortion, glitches and scratches.

Brian has written a short commentary on the film for his own blog here.

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