Contemporary Case Studies - an unromantic comedy, which merges fiction, experimental
and documentary forms.
The visual style of Contemporary Case Studies is a further development of my past work, utilising graphic, stylised design and cinematography to construct darkly comedic tableaux. In this short film I am experimenting with a colourful, split screen layout which references the'duotone' graphic design found in instructional films and interior design product catalogues from the 1960s. My team constructed an artificial, showroom environment (a 'showroom of emotions') in which a diverse range of scenes are played out by non-professional social actors. The film aims to combine an experimental visual treatment with performance, breaking with the naturalism found in many Australian films.
This script twists and inverts the 'romantic comedy' model, investigating the complex struggles arising from sexual tensions, media pressures, threat of disease and competitiveness between men and women, which now add increasing strains to relationships in the nineties, and into the new century. Interestingly enough, in the 1890s, many of these issues were also being debated, as the first reforms for women were being promoted.
The live action footage was shot on b/w 16mm by director of photography Jackie Farkas. After editing the film on a digital system, I then returned to the original 16mm black and white material, and, using the Oxberry rostrum camera, refilmed the material onto 35mm, adding colour filters, split screen, freeze frame and graphic effects. My experience in animation and motion graphics/titles design equipped me with the expertise to achieve the graphic qualities found in Contemporary Case Studies.
The majority of the cast was non-professional, the performances imbued with a quality often found in documentary films. This counters the more stylised visual construction of the work. The script itself displays a deadpan, dry sense of humour. In several other of my short films/videos, I have explored the use of editing and contradictory action/context to create humour through film form, rather than using devices such as jokes or comedic performance styles.
The sound design features music by several Sydney sound artists. Digital tracks by Alice, Droszkhi and Minit complement the minimalist style of the film, and lend a bittersweet quality to many of the scenes.
Janet Merewether (Writer/Director)
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