For my first practical film project I decided to focus on the act of mimicry as not just an act of straight repetition, but also as an act of distortion of meanings. In the act of mimicking a person does not simply replicate an event, but rather constructs a whole new line of meaning which might be different from the one of the event that is being mimicked. I decided to present this view by filming shadows cast on graffiti wall which attempt to mimic and interact with the drawings. I used shadows to represent the fragile, shadow-like, nature of mimicry. The graffiti wall on the other hand (which is covered with pieces from dozens of artists, which sometimes cover one another or intersect), is used to represent the multi-layered meanings that are produced and how, even if not intentionally, they relate. Homi Bhaba defines several aspects as central in relation to mimicry, which relate to our film. He calls mimicry ‘a complex strategy of reform, regulation and discipline, which 'appropriates' the Other as it visualizes power’. In the process of filming, through disciplined movement and pre-planned positioning, we created shadow images which mimicked the graffiti on the wall, yet used a medium different than paint. Paint was made secondary to shadow; its meanings were obscured and used as a foil against which the new images could stand out. As colonial discourse creates a shadow over the discourses of subjugated peoples, so my film presents the wall through a manipulated perspective in which our work interacts and dominates over the work of the graffiti artists.
As for the production, I needed a team of 4 people to assist me with the actual filming and acting. I wanted to use a graffiti covered wall to cast the shadows on, so I started looking for appropriate place. It turned out it is not so easy to find such a place in the United Kingdom, as most of the graffiti are considered vandalism, not art, and are washed up swiftly by the authorities. However, with the help of the internet and some maps I found a legal graffiti wall located right next to the ‘Transition Xtreme’ shop near Aberdeen beach, which seemed to match my criteria. After few meetings with my team in which we experimented with different shadows, lights and angles as well as few raw practice sessions of camera positioning in home environment we decided that we are finally ready to have our go on the actual planned location. I needed the place to be as dark as it can get for the purposes of my film, so me and my team headed there at around 11:00 PM, as I knew (again from the internet) that the street lights around are turned off half an hour before that time.
For the filming I used a GoPro camera with fisheye lens, which I chose because of the wider frame it provided. A toy, a broken mirror, a cup, a glass and two empty cans of spray paint which I found lying around were used as props. The titles were carved out of a shoe box and tied to strings, all which prepared in advance. A smart phone flashlight is used as the main lighting, as I was not able to find any better source of the white light I needed. For one of the shots the light from a second smart phone flashlight is reflected out of a broken mirror. As I wanted the shots to be separated with a brief second of black screen and I was not permitted to do editing for this assignment, I asked the camera operator to physically cover the lens of the camera with a glove for a second at the beginning and the end of every shot (technique inspired by a David Lynch film I viewed for my film course in previous years). I thought that the sound of an empty spray can would be fitting motif to have in my film, so I asked one of my team members to every now and then shake one of the empty cans I found on the location. As one of the requirements of the assignment was not to spend more than 15 minutes on the actual filming location, me and my team aimed to shoot no more than 2 takes on a scene. We had no trouble with executing most of the shots in one go, as we have practiced before the day of filming. The only shots that were difficult to film were the titles, as the late night Scottish wind was not on my crew’s side.