Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): My film Class of 2002 - 5th Anniversary

Sunday, January 14, 2018

My film Class of 2002 - 5th Anniversary


Five years ago today, I premiered the the final version of my short film Class of 2002. I'd spent the past month and a half producing it, after writing and casting over the summer and fall (I wrote in detail about the full process a couple days after uploading the video). The project was an unusual one - taking a narrated documentary form and relying on existing snapshots for its visual texture but nonetheless a work of fiction. Over time, I received several surprised responses from people who had thought it was all true. This was both flattering and unsettling - on the one hand, I was pleased they were convinced by my characterization, on the other hand, I didn't want the story to be a "gotcha" gimmick playing a trick on viewers. Indeed several seemed mildly disoriented by this realization (initially I presented the film in blog posts unambiguously marking it as fiction, but eventually people discovered it on YouTube on their own, with little to no context).

Class of 2002 reveals the lives of five characters, as well as a sixth character who knew them all and narrates their stories. It's fairly grim; I scripted some more humorous passages that fell by the wayside as its final form was consolidated - ultimately this needed to be a somber narrative. This bleakness plus its unusual form plus the lack of an eyecatching hook ensured that it would not really be among my most popular material...nonetheless, existing feedback has been fairly positive and I remain very proud of the work. To date, it's the only narrative work I've created in a decade of Lost in the Movies, that rare creation not reliant in any way (aside from general influence of course) on a pre-existing work...although of course almost everything onscreen was captured by other people, long before they came into play here! Additionally, the use of a single narrator's voice interacting with the visual material places it in the general vicinity of my video essay work, however different the context.

For me, the film now stands not just as a look back over the previous decade, but as a bit of a time capsule itself. I was in my late twenties, working two retail jobs less than a year after moving to California, and I was in a different place at the time (literally as well as figuratively). My engagement with audiences through video essays, my (ongoing) political awakening after years of disillusioned quasi-apathy, perhaps especially my illuminating immersion into Twin Peaks...all were still on the horizon, along with more immediate work and life experience that would have a strong effect on me. Above all, I don't think I would be as compelled to end a film in so quietly despairing a fashion as I did here, though that melancholy ambivalence does suit this particular story (and as I noted even at the time, the character's outlook was not necessarily my own).

There's some mature equanimity in this development, but also a sense of renewed energy. As Bob Dylan once chuckled, "Oh, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."



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