Lost in the Movies: I've made a movie

I've made a movie

Evening update: If you were having trouble viewing on Vimeo, please note that the embed has been changed to You Tube

Class of 2002 is subtitled "a photo-memoir" because it takes the form of a documentary fusing snapshots, home movies, found footage and voiceover to recall the tragic lives of five young people the narrator knew in high school. This is, of course, a work of fiction and through its anecdotes, illustrations, and asides I hope to tell an overarching story. The narrator focuses on his five classmates, whom we discover through his descriptions and recollections, but eventually we learn more about his own life, and how it connects to the people and places we've encountered.

You can view the short film, uninterrupted and in its entirety here:

(It's also on Vimeo; however, I had trouble viewing it on that platform, and switched to You Tube.)

I will return later with further details about the how & why of this film. For now, please watch it. I made it for you guys, as well as for me. Enjoy.


Mike said...

Really great stuff Joel. You should be proud of yourself for this. It's wonderfully edited, with all of the elements of film (photos, found footage, voice over) coming together remarkably to form one compelling narrative. I can tell just from the short time I’ve been a reader of this blog that you are interested in all of the different forms of cinema and how they clash together as well as the dynamics of certain generations, and you’ve done a commendable job of conveying your ideas here. I’m definitely interested in reading what you have to say about it.

It was pretty bleak though- I wasn’t expecting that!

Joel Bocko said...

Thanks, Mike - your praise really means a lot to me. It's great to hear back from viewers especially since (as I mentioned to STiNG) the number of viewers is a bit disappointing so far.

I mean, I get it; often when I've seen a video embedded in a post I've bookmarked it and planned to return later. It's something about the fact that when you're "reading" a blog you have control over the pace and everything, while when you're "viewing" a video you are assuming a more passive role. At least I think this is one of the factors going on, and I hope to figure out ways around it in the year/years to come, since the only avenue I see open to me as far as filmmaking goes is online, and the site could be a great platform for that if I could figure out how to take advantage of it better.

Anyway, as far as the film itself - I was wondering to what extent it bore out my interest in (other) movies and I think you've done a good job pinpointing the perhaps unconscious way it does so, by mixing formats and time periods and approaches in a way that reflects my own tastes in cinema (eclectic, to put it mildly).

Thematically, I think the cinematic/cultural influence is more negative than anything else - it's about what I've seen left out of contemporary cinema, particularly in its portrait of my generation, which tends to paint millennials as immature, hyper-ironic, and privileged which has not been the case with most people I've known (who tend to be married or raising families or struggling economically or serving in the military, or often all of the above - yet the media seems to think all millennials are perpetual adolescents living in hip urban enclaves, and it praises Lena Dunham as "the voice of a generation" /rant).

That said, I only realized after writing it how much Spike Lee's 25th Hour had unconsciously influenced that passage near the end, when the narrator voices his memories of living with Leah and his fantasy I've finding a humble home near her & the kids before she dies. It's not surprising in retrospect, since Lee's film is one I consider among the most important of its decade, as it was one of the few to capture and express the feeling of post-9/11 America. It had a major impact on me, and I guess this was the first time I was really able to relay that influence, however humbly.

Overall, the sensibility is definitely bleak - though I tend to think of it as "tragic." Tragedy is the storytelling mode I tend to drift toward - while I don't really cotton to happy endings, I don't like sour drabness either; tragedy allows for both the mythic/larger-than-life and the disappointments/regrets of everyday life, the transcendent and the mundane side by side.

Anyway, it's good to hear the video apparently "played well" for you - I meant that literally/technically - since I've been having trouble viewing it on my own computer, which is admittedly old as sin.

Sam Juliano said...

Just now viewed and was extremely impressed Joel! The editing was exceptional, and the subject has me immersed. Love the way it launched and segued into the city park, and then toured the interesting fraternity. I had some trouble with the sound after the opening sequences. But really terrific filmmaking!

Joel Bocko said...

Thanks, Sam. Sorry to hear about the sound - I wonder if it was a problem with your computer? For some reason the image has been giving me a lot of trouble when I try to watch it on my system, but sound has always been fine. Were you able to make out the narration or was there another issue?

Sachin said...

Congrats on completing such a fine film Joel. I started watching it without reading anything which is a good thing as Part 1 drew me into the character's lives which made the events that followed all the more gut-wrenching. Love the photo + found footage combination as that provided enough information to start identifying with the characters while providing moments to contemplate about their lives. I associate photos and narration in a film with Chris Marker and a few photos in part 1 made me think of him. Hope you continue to make more films.

Joel Bocko said...

Thanks, Sachin. Very glad that the simple style of Part 1 worked to invest you in the characters, which is certainly what I hoped for. I am not sure what or how yet, as even this modest endeavor involved many challenges, but I definitely plan to continue making films and sharing them here. Thanks for watching!

Stephen said...


Normally when I start to watch an amateur film I'm primed to judge it as an amateur work - if I left a comment it would be something like "this is great, MovieMan" and what that would normally mean is that it was great for a first effort. Well within a few seconds of Class of 2002 my mindset had flipped and I was watching it like I would any other (professional) film.

The cutting is generally very good. The flow and choice of images is pleasant and interesting. I was intrigued for the twenty plus minutes. You made the people feel alive.

Sometimes I'm not sure if the images of horses or old-time holidays at the beach work in terms of mood or meaning; a vagueness, a reach for significance or for context. I get the feeling now and again that you're using a textbook of film shorthand rather than being inspired directly by life.

The textures and feel of the various types of video or photo create a 360 degree sense of person and place which is impressive and quite captivating. The spell can break now and again (for example the bit when a man appears on a sofa talking to the camera is jarring to me). However, this can be said of most any 'collage' film I've seen do or try something similar (including Godard and Marker and Mekas etc.). The melding of so many images and modes of representation into one coherent whole is tough.

At first I didn't like the voiceover (I thought we were going down a minimalist road with the (very nice) shot of the man raking the leaves!) but it grew on me. The narrator (you?) sounds quite detached which is good in terms of allowing the emotion to build organically but I don't know if I was actually convinced that he was that character.

I was beginning to find the coincidental deaths of so many of your classmates amusing; it felt dishonest in a way which I can't really explain until it dawned on me that it worked as being about (from my point of view) tragedy itself, the loss of a generation, the power of luck and fate, and the terrorist attacks on September the 11th (occurring as they did at the beginning of the academic year 2002). I thought that by bringing all of it into one class you make those singular dots of people who die all the time visible by being in one clump. I liked that.

I also liked that the narrator's character isn't really sure or settled in his own feelings and decisions. He falls into marriage and fatherhood in the same manner in which the classmates pass from life to death.

Class of 2002 is a pretty good film by any standard and you've got proper talent as a storyteller. I saw that you wrote that it was made for 'the readers' as well as for yourself so thanks for posting it. I enjoyed it.

Joel Bocko said...

Stephen, thanks for the comment. Obviously we already exchanged emails on the topic, but I wanted to leave public appreciation here as well - I really valued both the praise and constructive criticism you offered. I hope as the weeks & months pass, others will come across the film as well. I view its online debut as only the beginning.

Meanwhile, whatever I do next will be quite different so it will be interesting to apply the lessons learned here...

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