Believable Fictions and the Politics of Intensity

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Believable Fictions and the Politics of Intensity


A thematic project by Derek Brunen (October-November 2011) 4 ECTS

Critiquing the regime of narrative cinema, artists working with film and video have been dissecting narrative structure since the late-sixties. Forty years after the height of structuralist filmmaking, we still find ourselves surrounded by moving image artworks that continue to experiment with Brechtian reflexivity, perpetually revealing their process of production. In our current post-conceptual climate do we still need to be continually reminded that we are watching a construction?

This project will assume a hands-on approach, while aiming to provide a compressed overview of theoretical and practical concerns related to the production of film and video. Culminating in a 48-hour production period, participating students will work intensively together to script, direct, shoot and edit their own films, with an emphasis on finding creative solutions to limitations. A week of film screenings, readings, discussions and technical workshops will prepare students in the week preceding this production period, and a public screening of the finished films will wrap up the project.

With the recent release of films such as The Arbor and Self Made by artists Clio Barnard and Gillian Wearing respectively, we are witnessing a growing interest in the complex role of dramatic or narrative structure in artistic production. Over the course of the project, we will examine basic narrative structure as well as structuralist film strategies. We will also look at a range of artists and filmmakers exploring dramatic structure while also employing degrees of reflexivity.

Interested students should read the Maria Walsh text, Believable Fictions, in preparation for the first class.


Derek Brunen is a Canadian artist based in Rotterdam. He obtained his Bachelor degree at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver and his Master degree at Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. His work draws from philosophy, psychoanalysis, the history of art and cinema, as well as from his own experience, to investigate models of subjectivity. Of particular interest are subjective constitutions, relationships to the world, that produce the potential for transformative experience. Across a range of media, related questions of duration, memory and representation are also frequently reflected in his work. Brunen’s current work is engaged with the aesthetics of disappearance. He is a recent graduate of the Piet Zwart Institute.

Recent projects and exhibitions include Rapid Waking, ZINGERpresents (Amsterdam, 2011) and Don’t Come if You Care, Sils Project Space (Rotterdam, 2011), If You Say Something, See Something, Tent (Rotterdam, 2010), Derek Brunen, Martijn int’ Veld, David Stamp, L.P. Hendriks (Rotterdam, 2009), Plot (Tombstone), Mountain View Cemetery (Vancouver, 2007), Blind, Contemporary Art Gallery and Plot, Or Gallery (both Vancouver, 2007).


Project schedule:

Day 1: Oct. 24 -Introduction to the project, screening of examples -Break -Discussion and assignment of readings

Day 2: Oct. 25 -Reading assignments, discussion of narrative structure and structural film -Break -Screening and discussion

Day 3: Oct. 26 -Reading assignments, discussion of filmic techniques -Break -Discussion of editing techniques and technical workshop

Day 4: Oct. 27 -Reading assignments, shooting exercise -Break -Screening and discussion

Day 5: Nov. 1 -Pick up of inspiration package, production period begins

Day 6: Nov. 2 -Production period

Day 7: Nov. 3 -Production period ends, finished films due

Day 8: Nov. 4 -Follow-up discussion and public screening

Reading List:

Bresson, Robert. 1950-1958, Notes on Cinematography

Camus, Albert. Create Dangerously

Deleuze, Gilles. Having an Idea in Cinema, Deleuze and Guattari

Field, Syd. What is a Screenplay? Screenplay

Gidal, Peter. Theory and Definition of Structuralist/Materialist Film, Structural Film Anthology

Murch, Walter. It’s Only a Movie, In the Blink of an Eye

Walsh, Maria. Believable Fictions, Art Monthly, Dec.-Jan. 10-11 No. 342


Screening List:

Anderson, Lindsay. O’ Lucky Man, 1973

Barnard, Clio. The Arbor, 2010

Ben Hur, Guy. Stealing Beauty, 2008

Bresson, Robert, Au Hasard Balthazar, 1966

Brunen, Derek. It Wouldn’t Be Easy, 2001

Cytter, Keren. Continuity, 2005

Douglas, Stan. Monodramas, 1987-1991

Douglas, Stan. Win, Place or Show, 1998

Fernandes, Priscila. Product of Play, 2011

Fisher, Morgan. Production Stills, 1970

Fry, Robin and Jay Isaac. Swamp Beasts, 2004

Gilligan, Melanie. Popular Unrest, 2010

Graham, Rodney. Halcion Sleep, 1994

Graham, Rodney. How I Became a Ramblin’ Man, 1997

Intermission. Owl in Daylight, 2001

Jonze, Spike. Adaptation, 2003

Leigh, Mike. A Sense of History, 1992

Lester, Gabriel. The Last Smoking Flight, 2010

Lewis, Mark. The Pitch, 1998

Lewis, Mark. Two Impossible Films, 1995

Lumet, Sidney. Network, 1976

McQueen, Steve. Hunger, 2008

Steyerl, Hito. November, 2004

Straub-Huillet. The Chronicle of Anna Magdelena Bach, 1968

Trecartin, Ryan. Yo a Romantic Comedy, 2002

Wearing, Gillian. Self Made, 2010