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The work of local filmmakers Marnie Parrell and John Kneller is part of the trend by many younger filmmakers towards working in smaller formats to escape the high film production costs. Unlike work done in a ‘rough and ready’ style that attempts to undermine traditional avant-garde aesthetics, the films of Parrell and Kneller take a different approach. Neither entirely rough and instinctual nor formal, their films arise from the intersection of these two approaches. Carefully constructed, their films simultaneously display a grounding in structural film yet escape the heavy-handedness of theoretical filmmaking. Rather than a liability, the ‘low-brow’ formats of regular 8, super 8 and Fisher Price Video are used to their advantage to create complex yet playful works.
Marnie Parrell’s work is less ‘accessible’ than most, not because of the form or content, but because of the format. Parrell works both in regular 8mm film and Fisher Price Video. The former is an almost obsolete film gauge and the latter an explicitly ‘toy’ medium. For Parrell regular 8’s capacity for multi-layering through superimposition and split screen become vital in the construction of the work. Each film is pre-structured by a formal technique and executed in-camera. “In Beachsplit a matte creates a rough split screen. In Dinner, superimposition juxtaposes three layer of imagery. E Clips presents two window-like frames of action at the top and bottom of the screen which cut into an otherwise abstract field of refractions.” (M. Zryd, The Independent Eye)
Beachsplit 4 min, 1988.
Dinner 4 min, 1989.
E Clips 4 min, 1989.
Carol 4 min, 1990.
Hit Me/Hitler and Me/My Hitler Film 4 min, 1990.
(All of the above are regular 8mm)
Memory Lane Fisher Price Video, 5 min, 1989.
John Kneller’s films are born out of the intersection of what he calls “random accidents and instinctive ideas.” Like Parrell, his work takes advantage of the largely untapped ability to create superimpositions in-camera with 8mm formats. Like many younger filmmakers he rejects the solely formal film to embrace the instinctual elements of the filmmaking process. “The starting point of the filmic progression is the random accident. I am interested here in images found or made that are shaped more by chance or accident, than by the discerning eye of the filmmaker. I feel strongly that in some cases these images can be as complex and challenging as the highly structured image.”
Picture Start 5 min, 1985-90.
8mm Notebook 3 min, 1990.
16mm Notebook 5 min, 1991.
Spring 6 min, 1991.
Holiday Tattoo 6 min, 1991.
Traces Fragments 5 min, 1991.
Evil Twin 3 min, 1991.