I’ve been juggling three elements the last few weeks as this project comes more and more into focus: the making of a feature film, the making of an album and the cross-reappropriation that is required to strike a balance that feels the best between these two things.
An album of music and a feature length film (as we currently know them) are completely different. Albums can be disjointed and still work. A feature film cannot. Even films like Pulp Fiction, Memento and Citizen Kane have a sequential logic. The two are also consumed in different ways. Feature length films are typically meant to be seen in a theater, where the film is much bigger than you are and it’s unstoppable. Albums are, and have always been, stoppable, rewindable, fast-forwardable, skippable, repeatable and intimate.
Another huge difference: The average album of music is roughly 45 minutes. The average feature film is roughly double that, 90 minutes. We rarely see feature length films that are 45 minutes in length. Which brings up another point about what deems a feature length film. I go by the Academy’s definition:
All eligible motion pictures, unless otherwise noted (see Paragraph 9, below), must be:
feature length (defined as over 40 minutes)
Not everyone defines a feature film as a film over 40 minutes, though. This past year at the Emile Awards (Europe’s Animation Awards), a film called This Magnificent Cake! was nominated (and won) for Best Direction in an Animated Short Film. It’s 43 minutes long and travelled the world at film festival’s competing as a feature film. I can’t find anywhere in Emile’s Eligibility rules a time length that deems it to be considered a short film. Sundance says a feature length film is 50 minutes. SXSW says it’s 40 minutes. Cannes says it’s 60 minutes. As a matter of fact, Cannes doesn’t even accept films between 15 and 60 minutes long. So, as you can see, like most things in the film world, it’s a fuckin’ free-for-all.
Despite these haphazard definitions, I’m sticking with the universally accepted time-length of 45 minutes for an LP album. The Grammy’s defines an album as “no less than (5) five different tracks, and have a total playing time of no less than 15 minutes.” This easily puts me in “album range” and fits under the Academy’s eligibility rules for time length. I personally don’t care about the Oscars (or Sundance, honestly) but at least I have something concrete from an authority that can back up my thinking.
So in making an album of films I have to ask myself, will an audience treat the King of Spades like an album or like a film? Will they consider it to be rewindable like an album? Will they skip certain films to get to the one they like in the sequence? Will they go back and watch one of the short films twice or three times before moving onto the next? Or, will they force themselves through the whole thing searching for a “thread” or a “narrative”. Will they only be interested in one of the “singles” and disregard the rest of the album?
It’s a strange hybrid. It’s like Frankenstein. Or RoboCop. Or Robot Chicken, for that matter. Putting things together that don’t really belong with each other can be part of what makes art interesting. A quote attributed to Heraclitus goes, “A wonderful harmony arises from joining together the seemingly unconnected". I found this quote to be true while working on the Area 52 films. But will it work for this film? Will it work at all?
I suppose this is the nature of experimentation but most experiments fail.
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I’ve been a bit behind with this blog so here are some more album favorites I’ve been listening to the last few weeks. Click on any of the images below to listen to the album on Spotify:
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