1080i HD video with audio
Harvest is a contemporary tale of survival told as an observation of place. It is a story about a small American town in economic transition and the metaphorical stake in the sand that every individual must claim in their search to find home.
My formal strategy is to intersect footage captured from three distinct locations: a demolition derby in Long Island, NY, a farm nestled in the prairies of Eastern Kansas and the oil fields of Western North Dakota. I position each setting as an extension of the other two in order to synthesize a naturalistic portrait of a hybrid American experience unfolding as continuous space.
Central to this interwoven narrative system is a choreography of cars that involves a tension between a driver’s need to collide with another, yet escape demobilization at all cost. This dialectic polarity is the unifying motif in Harvest’s rhythmic composition. The cars are actors in a dramatic structure. The arc is their drive toward repetition and decay. The racetrack is a coliseum of burnt rubber and gas where violent tendencies materialize as benign expressions of predatory gamesmanship. It is a place where individualism and civilization dance.
Harvest is a record of a specific time and place. Through shot duration and repetition, I establish a visual hierarchy, in which the cars occupy a central place in the story, replacing the traditional actor/subject. Using the lean parameters of the short story form, my method is to not oversee events in an omniscient way, from above, beautifully detached, but rather, to tell a contemporary tale with the immediacy of an itinerant lens capturing the nuance and complexity of this specific place through fragmentary, seemingly incidental situations.
In this sense, Harvest is not a search for a universal truth, but instead, my framing of a circumstantial truth. I prioritize looking at the distinct qualities of a condition, the characteristics of an event, unraveling over time. I emphasize the poetics of minor circumstances to initiate a conversation about the universal tensions between search and enclosure, territory and flight, the desire to aspire and a need to find home.
The story of twentieth century American migration as told in John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, correlates with the contemporary reality of an otherwise unremarkable American town transformed into a beacon of short-term prosperity through the hi-tech extraction of oil. The temporary encampments situated outside the petroleum plant symbolize an unapologetic wish for a new beginning. Just as the little farmhouse that stands against the apocalyptic Kansas winds and the thunder of the cars punctuate a game of survival. This is the collected tableau in which Harvest resides. These are the scenarios that function together as an open system, like expanded photographs, oblique records of a place and time.
My formal approach is mobile and my technical considerations transparent. I have no crew. I use only available light and the readily available video technology that is the vernacular of our time. These limitations are important to my process so that I keep my budget low and logistically speaking, tread lightly and respond immediately.
The title, Harvest is an acknowledgement of my observational method. It is shorthand for these collected fragments of recorded time. Arranged in relationship, these same fragments generate an allegorical juncture between conditions of migration and territory, chance and control through specific details and tangible events. Harvest is a short film that engages the senses and simply asks, “Where are we going and what are we going to do when we get there?”
©2013# vimeo.com/93361267 Uploaded 25 Plays 0 Likes 0 Comments
16mm silent film shot in collaboration with Nadirah Zakariya.
© 2011Uploaded 236 Plays 3 Likes 0 Comments
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Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival and featured in the Journeys Across Cultural Landscapes program, comprising experimental films that “invoke diverse cultural landscapes, suggesting a collective struggle of humanity between apocalyptic visions of the past, present, and future, and the redemptive power of the human spirit.”
The Valley examines an instability between wild and domestic space. It plays on the tension between search and enclosure, territory and flight, the desire to aspire, and a need to find home.
Jon 'Mac' Cole
Jon Simon A.K.A. toiletooth
©coydogsfilmgroup 2014Uploaded 235 Plays 2 Likes 0 Comments