Hypnic Jerk

Hooked by the mention of Rousseau’s jungle in the first line of Alan Peat’s evocative and mysterious Haibun, “Hypnic Jerk,” we wondered if we could create a wholly imaginary world cut from the cloth of Rousseau’s fantastical paintings and the dream illogic of Peat’s brilliantly fragmented, hypnic poetic strategy. We had previously tried something with a similar kind of logic, when making a film based on Wallace Stevens’ out of copyright “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” another anything goes kind of videopoetry project. We think both results are true to the poems in their own crazy ways, though both are probably nothing like what either poet would ever have imagined … but we hope both would enjoy our divergent results, as well as whatever audiences may come our way.

Biography of poet Alan Peat:

Alan Peat is a UK-based poet and author. His work has featured in Frogpond, Mayfly, Heliosparrow, The Heron’s Nest, Presence, Hedgerow, and Blithe Spirit, among others. In 2021 he placed third in the International Golden Triangle Haiku contest and second in the New Zealand International Haiku contest.

Text of the poem:

Hypnic Jerk
by Alan Peat

I am running through Rousseau’s jungle; through three storey flowers; through symmetrical foliage; through imagined birds of paradise. A tiger stops me briefly with his rictus grin. He tells me he has no choice but to stay that way; he fears if he stops, he’ll be nothing but a blur in an art journal photograph.
There’s a clarinettist playing somewhere among the Lotus flowers. I pay him scant attention though the snakes are clearly charmed. Leaves cut my skin as the greenery thickens; biting insects come and go in swarms.
Suddenly, a naked lady surprises me. She’s comfortably recumbent on a buttoned divan. I suspect she’s about to light a cigarette or start a symposium. I’m in the mood for neither so I rush off once more through a chorus of exotic birdsong.
The jungle is so lush, so dense, that I fail to see the cliff till I’m falling.

croissant moon —
a sugar in my tea
shakes the stars

  • Alan Peat
  • Pamela Falkenberg
  • Jack Cochran
  • Pamela Falkenberg
  • Jack Cochran
    Editing and sound design
  • Pamela Falkenberg
    Production design
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Short, Other
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 7, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    4K and 2K digital video
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • HNA Haibun Film Festival
    Cincinatti, OH
    United States
    June 28, 2023
    World premiere
    Official selection
  • Midwest Video Poetry Fest
    Madison & Milwaukeen, WI
    United States
    October 14, 2023
    Midwesst premiere
    Official selection
  • Kansas City Underground Film Festival
    Kansas City, MO
    United States
    September 7, 2023
    West of the Mississippi premiere
    Official selection
  • Cinephiles Choice Awards
    Canhotinho, PernambucoF
    August 10, 2023
    First Brazilian selection
    Official selection
Director Biography - Pamela Falkenberg, Jack Cochran

Pam is an independent filmmaker who received her PhD from the University of Iowa and taught at Northern Illinois University, St.Mary's College, and the University of Notre Dame. She directed the largest student film society in the US while she was at the University of Iowa, and also ran films series for the Snite Museum of Art in South Bend, IN. Her experimental film with Dan Curry, Open Territory, received an individual filmmaker grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as grants from the Center for New Television and the Indiana Arts Council. OT screened at the Pacific Film Archives, as well at numerous film festivals, including the AFI Video Festival, and was nominated for a regional Emmy. Her other films include museum installations, scholarly/academic hybrid works shown at film conferences, and a documentary commissioned by the Peace Institute at the University of Notre Dame. She is an occasional contributor to Moving Poems Magazine (http://discussion.movingpoems.com/) and Liberated Words (http://liberatedwords.com/).

Jack is an independent filmmaker who has produced, directed, or shot a variety of experimental and personal projects. As a DP he has extensive experience shooting commercials, independent features, and documentaries. His varied commercial client list includes BMW, Ford, Nissan, Fujifilm, Iomega, Corum Watches, and Forte Hotels. His features and documentaries have shown at the Sundance, Raindance, Telluride, Tribeca, Edinburgh, Chicago, Houston, and Taos film Festivals, winning several honors. His commercials and documentaries have won Silver Lions from Cannes, a BAFTA (British Academy Award), Peabody Awards, and Cable Aces. Some notable credits: Director of Photography on Brian Griffin's Claustrofoamia, Cinematography for Antony Thomas’ Tank Man, Director/Cinematographer of Viento Nocturno, and Cinematographer of Ramin Niami’s feature film Paris. Jack was trained at the University of Iowa Creative Writers Workshop as well as the University of Iowa film studies program.

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Director Statement

For over seven years, Jack Cochran and Pamela Falkenberg have been making personal films together again under the name Outlier Moving Pictures. They hope their work will prove worthy of the name: avoiding the usual patterns and approaching their subject matter from the margins (which sounds better than saying that as filmmakers they're oddballs and cranks). Pam and Jack met in graduate school and made films together when they were young. Jack went on to become a professional cinematographer working out of LA and London, while Pam stayed in the Midwest, where she was a college professor and independent filmmaker before dropping out to work in visual display.

Their first film together, "The Cost of Living," based on some of Jack's short poems, screened at several film festivals, including the Buffalo International Film Festival and the Cornwall Film Festival, was nominated for two awards at the 2019 Queens World Festival, and took the award for best experimental film at the 2016 WV FILMmakers Festival. Other short poetry films have screened at the Ò Bhéal Poetry Film Festival (2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021), the Juteback Poetry Film Festival (2017, 2018), the Festival Silencio (2017), the Filmpoem Festival (2017), the 6th CYCLOP Videopoetry Festival (2017), the 6th, 7th, and 8th International Video Poetry Festival (Athens Greece), the Hombres Videopoetry Competitition (2019 2020), and the Zebra Poetry Film Festival (2020, 2021). Their most ambitious film, "Teddy Roosevelt and Fracking," about environmental threats to the wild landscapes of North Dakota, premiered at the 2018 Queens World Film Festival, where it was nominated for three awards and took the award for Best Documentary Short, followed by awards at the Go West Film Festival, the Ozark Foothills Film Festival, and the American Presidents Film and Literary Festival at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum. Their most acclaimed film, "The Names of Trees," in collaboration with Lucy English for her Book of Hours project, has screened in more than 40 film festivals in more than 15 countries, has been nominated for awards many times, named a finalist for best poetic film and best short film several times, and won the Lois Weber Pioneer Award at the 2020 Queens World Film Festival, for their complete body of work. Two of their more recent poetry films, "In West Virginia," and "Flag Country," based on poems by Dave Bonta, have screened at the Buffalo International Film Festival, the Small Axe Radical Film Festival, the Newlyn Film Festival, and the North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival, among others. Pam and Jack recently completed a new triptych with poet Lucy English on climate change, "I Want to Breathe Sweet Air,” which has already received recognition in the US and Internationally. They are currently at work on "Now and Then," an experimental film based on a new collection of Jack's poems; “The Loneliest Road in America” (their first feature together), an experimental road trip/documentary essay about transportation and travel in the American West; and another collaboration with poet Lucy English, about Louisiana’s “Cancer Corridor” and environmental injustice.

.Jack and Pam co-direct the films they make together, and they collaborate fully, even when they divide up the credits. Their poetry films usually start with a poem (often, but not always, one of Jack’s poems), which they think of as analogous to a script. However, when collaborating with Lucy English on “The Shadow” and “The Names of Trees,” the process was more dialectical: some images and sounds came first, then Lucy wrote the poems; the poems inspired more images, and eventually the edited film poems. For us, the exact process depends on the project and remains open to experiment, so our body of work is somewhat disparate and hard to categorize. Some of our eclectic interests include collage, found footage, and repurposing; the film essay and film poetry; image capturing and post-production techniques that reveal what cannot be seen with the eyes alone (e.g., high shutter speeds, moving cameras, infrared photography, green screen and digital layering); the environment, landscapes, and the ways humans mark them; human rights/social justice; and postmodern melodrama.

Jack has written poetry all his life, but he never knew what to do with it until he shared his notebooks with Pam, who said, “You’re a filmmaker -- shouldn’t your poems be films?” Pam and Jack both want to make lots of different kinds of films together, but Pam is especially proud to have been the one who suggested that Jack’s poems should come to life as films. They are both delighted that making films of Jack's poems has led to interesting collaborations with other poets and filmmakers.