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The Futility of Watching Water Boil

The Futility of Watching Water Boil is an experimental and personal film by Gemma Scott that combines visual symbols and dry wit to explore the challenges of waiting under pressure. It was made in the final weeks of Gemma's second pregnancy, when humor and cupcakes were all she had left to hold onto.

  • Gemma Scott
  • Gemma Scott
  • Gemma Scott
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Experimental, Personal
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 24 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 20, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Gemma Scott

Gemma Scott is a graduate of Emerson College and the Selznick School of Film Preservation. She works with media in a variety of artistic ways as an educator, academic, archivist and filmmaker. She is a mother of 2 little girls, and wife to a feminist husband, all currently residing in Belfast, Maine.

Gemma’s career began during a pivotal time in the transition from analog to digital workflows. Her work as a film archivist began as an intern at the Harvard Film Archive and later as Director of Technical Services and Collections Manager at Northeast Historic Film for 6 years. She is currently employed as a Graduate Assistant and Technology Integrator at the University of Maine in the College of Education and Human Development where she conducts research and supports faculty and staff to develop new skills in digital and media literacy. Gemma also worked as Co-Director of the Maine Student Film and Video Festival, as well as projectionist and cinema manager at the Three Penny Cinema in Chicago, and the Majestic 10 in Williston, VT.

Since graduating from Emerson in 2002 Gemma has produced several short, personal and experimental films that she shares with her local arts communities in rural parts of Northern New England. “The Futility of Watching Water Boil” will be the first film in 19 years she has submitted to festival. The last one, a short documentary about Clowns, won first place in the 1996 New England Student Film and Video Festival, awarded by The Boston Film and Video Foundation.

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Director Statement

The Futility of Watching Water Boil is a personal film shot in my home in Belfast, Maine during the final weeks of my second pregnancy in the winter of 2015. This simple little film focuses on a pot of water coming to boil as I speak to it, encouraging it, expressing fear and concern, reading to it, leading it through guided meditation, and generally sharing my thoughts and feelings about waiting for the water to boil.

The water is symbolic of all the things we silly humans have anxiety about producing. For me, in this moment of my life, it was about waiting for my baby Rita to be born, and all the external and internal pressures that had been weighing on me for months. Baby Rita was, eventually, born at home, in water, 3 weeks after her “due date.” One of the most important things I learned from that pregnancy was that the only things anyone should ever say to a pregnant woman is, “can I get you a glass of water?” And “here is a cupcake.”

The subtext of this film is the challenge, in the digital age, to sit and watch - with all our senses - a screen that does not cut away, or move, until the moment is ripe. The payoff is worth it, I think, for in this practice the viewer is rewarded with a humorous, self-reflective story, universal enough for any digital viewer to find their own meaning in. And, it turns out, it can actually be quite fascinating to watch water boil.

As a filmmaker I seek to combine professional, amateur and experimental film aesthetics with feminist themes, humor, humanity and a little taste of spirituality. The only thing I ever wanted to be was a filmmaker, and, although I believe I have many wonderful messages and methods to teach the world, and desires to make expressions that touch all our senses, I am humbly called to the great moral of Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius - to “live by the sea, go to faraway places and make the world a more beautiful place.” My films are never perfect, and always authentic.