A LETTER FROM THE 8TH FLOOR (2017)

Official Selection and recipient of Audience Choice Award at Born in Baltimore festival

A Letter From the 8th Floor is an experimental project that began as a fiction narrative –attached below– conveying emotion through inanimate objects. I initially planned to adapt it into an animation due to its conceptual nature; However due to a time constraint, it became a found footage piece. Because this story is set in the 1960's, I use footage solely from the 1950's and 1960's national public archives. 

 

The most difficult part about claiming this as experimental work was considering if the original narrative audio would outweigh the visuals. I used an elderly woman’s voice to set the tone as a wise and credible narrator. However, without the narration, I feel the audience can be more visually engaged and create their own story. In William Wees’ article on montage he says, “found footage films open the door to a critical examination of the methods and motives underlying the media’s use of images.” Because I spent more time creating interesting montages and transitions than finding footage, I wanted to make sure the audience would not be distracted by a voice over. In the end, I decided my position as a storyteller is a necessary aspect of my work. The interaction of images complements the story being told, but I would still do more to personalize the found footage.

To make this piece my own, I chose a color scheme to help balance the tone. With the narration, I arranged the footage to correspond with the story. Without the narration, I arranged the footage to make the most fun patterns and colors within the color palette. Similar to Bruce Conner using “bits of old documentaries and educational reels from mass-cultural snips and snails and recycled movie tales,” my 50's and 60's footage was primarily drawn from 30-minute documentaries and McGraw Hill educational behavior films. In my research, I focused on city life –New York City, specifically– and social interactions. While sifting through hours of footage, I realized a lot of these people are probably dead and that was the most interesting moment during this process.