An art film expressing the mind’s eye of an exile who is haunted by his own inner demons. The clash between miniature terrain and expansive vistas, fleeting motion against stillness, and digital clarity versus aged film all stir together with an unnerving score for this hypnotic inward exploration.

  • John Charter
  • Paul Kaiser
    Producer / Production Designer / Composer
  • Clara Lidström
    Title Designer
  • Project Type:
    Short, Other
  • Genres:
    Experimental, Art, Avant-garde
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 30, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    ML RAW Digital, Super 8mm Film
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - John Charter

John Charter grew up working on his family’s rice and almond farm in Northern California. The sweeping landscapes and eccentric rural characters continue to inspire his storytelling. Early on he developed his eye with surreal drawings and impressionist painting, which naturally lead to motion pictures. His directing style has a visually potent and often lyrical feel with innovative storytelling techniques. Themes like duality, satire, and isolation are at the core of his work.

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Director Statement

EXILE came about when Artist Paul Kaiser asked me if I wanted to make a companion film for his Chocolate Polaroid photography series. I’m a fan so it wasn’t a tough sell to get me on board. For the concept I chose to experiment with how the use of motion could bring a different perspective on the themes in his photography and with a reimagined use of some of his art props.

The idea was to stir up this unsettling feeling from the mind’s eye of an exile through starkly contrasting visuals. For example, the varied desert grounds were meant to appear as natural miniature sets that the camera flies over in a way to feel even more expansive than real vistas. This led to similar clashes between color and sepia, motion and stillness, as well as murky 8mm film and uncompressed digital clarity. Internally this represents a meditative grappling with dark forces. Externally we explore this new foreign world while being stalked by inescapable demons of the past.

We shot the film in and around the Trona Pinnacles in the California desert. Leading up to the shoot I had this pent up creative energy from slogging through a series of less interesting “for the money” projects. Once there I felt like a kid discovering every detail of this desert planet for the first time. Every moment felt hyperreal to the point that our one day felt like weeks. This mindset brought out an improvised style.