The Shadow

Three line summary:
The use of video technology to reveal poetic aspects of the landscape that cannot be seen with the eyes alone (high and low shutter speeds, time dilation and compression, focal length extremes, all these combined at times with a moving camera), fractured reflections on ice ice and water, and shadow traces permanently left by the photographer on the landscape only in the recorded images combine with an unsettling soundscape to provide a visceral representation of the psychological experience of depression and recovery in Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran’s film poem of The Shadow by Lucy English, for her Book of Hours project, http://thebookofhours.org/.

Synopsis:
Filmmakers Jack Cochran and Pamela Falkenberg collaborate with Lucy English on her poem "The Shadow," the February afternoon film for her "Book of Hours Project," http://thebookofhours.org/, a modern and secular re-imagining of a Medieval Book of Hours. What was a meticulously handcrafted book of texts and images following the religious calendar and meant to be read on a daily basis is transformed by Lucy into an online site hosting filmpoems for every month and time of day, created in collaboration with a variety of international filmmakers, and which can be viewed on a personal computer or mobile device as time permits, creating a contemporary space for contemplation, reflection, and meditation still relevant today. Our collaboration with Lucy began with a reel of landscape images showing techniques and themes for the February afternoon selection that sparked a dialogue: the beautiful low angle light and long winter shadows, the use of video technology to reveal poetic aspects of the landscape that cannot be seen with the eyes alone (high and low shutter speeds, time dilation and compression, focal length extremes, all these combined at times with a moving camera), reflections on ice and water, and shadow traces permanently left by the photographer on the landscape only in the recorded images. The dialogue resulted in two poems, both brilliant, but we were (perhaps as expected) struck most strongly by the one most directly inspired by the images we had shared: "The Shadow." In writing the poem, Lucy says she was struck by the "differences between the American concept of landscape and the English one, where here landscape is contained, intimate, and accessible," that she "imagined an English person living in America" "feeling unable to connect to the landscape" but eventually adapting, and "also about recovery from depression." Given the title of her poem, it's no wonder that she "loved the image of the shadow of the car against the landscape." All of this really inspired us. We shot new images and created a soundscape inspired by the poem; through a delightful collaborative process a final cut emerged: depression overpowered by the serendipitous beauty of the landscape.

Text of the poem by Lucy English:

THE SHADOW

I said to Rich, ‘I do not understand this country.
These freeways lined with motel signs.
These great empty sweeps of land and sky.
I feel so unimportant. So unconnected.

In my cottage I used to walk beyond my garden
and straight into the woodland. That was my refuge,
my consolation. I stood there under the arms of oak and birch,
my feet sunk into the layers of leaves. And I was held, Rich,
I was held.’

I was crying then. He walked across the room and took my hand.
‘Come with me,’ he whispered. I trusted him and so I did.
We drove for four hours. Way beyond any town.
Way beyond the freeway and right into that landscape
that left me blank with wonder and artic cold.

‘Can’t you feel it?’ he said, and I said, ‘I feel nothing.’
And he said, ‘Look.’ I looked. At the sky. The snow
on the distant mountain range. He said, ‘No. At us.’

The shadow of our little car against the land
touched the winter grass but did not bend it.
‘That’s the only mark we should make on earth,’ he said.

He wound the window down and the air blasted in.
The smell of nearly Winter and the song of distant birds.

  • Pamela Falkenberg
    Director
  • Jack Cochran
    Director
  • Lucy English
    Writer
  • Pamela Falkenberg
    Producer
  • Pamela Falkenberg
    Cinematography
  • Jack Cochran
    Editing, sound design
  • Pamela Falkenberg
    Production design
  • Film Type:
    Experimental, Short, Other
  • Runtime:
    4 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 30, 2018
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Film Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    4K video
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Ò Bhéal Poetry Film Festival
    Cork
    Ireland
    October 14, 2018
    International Premiere
    Competition Shortlist
  • Athens International Video Poetry Festival #6
    Athens
    Greece
    December 8, 2018
    European Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Independent Talents International Film Festival
    Bloomington, IN
    United States
    January 31, 2019
    Official selection and finalist nominated for best experimental idea film under 5 min.
  • Lisbon Film Rendezvous
    Lisbon
    Portugal
    March 8, 2019
    Portugese premiere
    Semi-finalist and finalist, Official Selection
  • REELpoetry Film Festival
    Houston,TX
    United States
    March 23, 2019
    Texas Premiere
    Official selection
  • DEA Film Festival
    Tirana
    Albania
    May 7, 2019
    Albanian Premiere
    Official selection
  • Carmarthen Bay Film Festival
    Llanelli, Carmarthenshire (Wales)
    United Kingdom
    May 29, 2019
    UK premiere
    Official selection and finalist, best poetic film
  • Anderson Island Film Festival
    Anderson Island, WA
    United States
    September 13, 2019
    Washington premiere
    Official selection
  • Near Nazareth Film Festival
    Afula
    Israel
    June 3, 2019
    Israeli premiere
    Finalist and Award winner, Best Silent Film
  • Snowtown Film Festival
    Watertown, NY
    United States
    January 24, 2020
    Official selection, Finalist
Director Biography - Pamela Falkenberg, Jack Cochran

Pam's bio:

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 was screened 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 wants to make lots of different kinds of films with Jack, but she is especially proud to have been the one who suggested that Jack's poems should be made into films.

Jack's bio:

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. He 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?"

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

About Outlier Moving Pictures:

Jack Cochran and Pam Falkenberg are making personal films together again under the name Outlier Moving Pictures. They hope their new films will be 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, and took the award for best experimental film at the WV FILMmakers Festival in 2016. Other short poetry films have screened at the Ò Bhéal Poetry Film Festival (2016), the Juteback Poetry Film Festival (2017), the Festival Silencio (2017) , the Filmpoem Festival (2017), the 6th CYCLOP Videopoetry Festival (2017), and the 6th International Video Poetry Festival (Athens Greece, 2018). Just completed is a new film about the North Dakota landscape and Teddy Roosevelt, "Teddy Roosevelt and Fracking," which showed out-of-competition as a work-in-progress at the WV FILMmakers Fest in 2017 and will premiere at the Queens World International Film Festival in March 2018 . Along with that, a series of shorts about photo opportunities and roadside attractions in Texas (the first installment of which, "Prada Marfa," will premiere in the True Texas Travel category at the Thin Line Festival in April 2018), and some brief experimental romantic comedies based on Craigslist's Missed Connections. Their most recent poetry film is a collaboration with Lucy English, "The Shadow," for her Book of Hours project (February afternoon, http://thebookofhours.org/). Then, who knows?