My filmmaking is personal, visceral, and immediate. It serves as both a means to express my lived experiences and as a tool for deepening my understanding of these experiences. As such, I tend to experiment with all aspects of the filmmaking process - not just materials and media, but also the non-narrative conveyance of meaning through structure and composition. This experimentation truly forms the foundation of my art - an endlessly iterative process of exploration, expression, creation, and revision.

I especially appreciate the tactile properties of celluloid film, and often shoot with 16mm optical sound stock, which is designed to create soundtracks on release prints. When exposed in a film camera, it can produce spectacular results - high contrast with exceptionally fine grain images. It is, however, extremely unforgiving to work with. It has virtually no exposure latitude, and overexposing it can easily result in a completely clear or white image; conversely, underexposing can result in a black image. I return to this film stock every so often, in 165708, Light Study, and No5 Reversal.
The shifting, nebulous qualities of place often arrest me, beckoning me to tap into them and capture them. Sometimes these qualities form the basis of a film. Sometimes they combine with other inspirations and provide structure for those ideas. This was the case for my most recent film, 165708. Exploring the capacity of the medium to express various notions of time, the film begins with a woman looking out from the shoreline. This acts as a point of departure to disparate yet interconnected sequences which prompt the viewer to engage in a structurally unique mode of inquiry and experience.

I shot 165708 entirely in 16mm black and white film using single frame photography, employing in-camera techniques and chemical manipulation of processed film to produce an eidetic study of temporal elasticity. I incorporated techniques like stop motion, time-lapse, light painting, flicker, tinting and toning. These techniques, combined with cycles of alternating exposed frames, imbue the work with a rhythmic magnetism, apparent both in the tempo and the aesthetic of the images. I’m particularly happy with the dynamic original score, composed by the acclaimed Graham Stewart.

Filming one frame at a time is a trial of patience. One of the many challenging aspects of shooting this way is not knowing exactly how the images will turn out. Even with a clear vision of the structure and the rhythm, I cannot be sure of the results until the film is processed. The ambiguities of shooting stop motion, discovering the possibilities of texture, hue, and contrast within this process present me with both a stimulating and gratifying experience.

Another challenge is calculating the frame count for the alternating frame cycle technique. In order to calculate the sequence of frames, it’s important to know the length of the shot. Using a camera that allows single frame photography, such as a Bolex, I set the frame counter to zero. I then expose the first frame, write down the frame number, cover the lens, and advance the film one, two, or three frames (depending on the total number of images in my sequence). I then write down that frame number, remove the lens cap, and expose that frame, repeating the process until the first image sequence is complete. Finally, I repeating this entire process until all image sequences are complete.

Working this way can take hours to produce a few seconds of film – even more if you’re changing locations for the alternate image sequences. What I find interesting about this effect is that although the images appear superimposed, they have full density. When looking at the film in your hands, you can see unique images in the sequence. Many things can go wrong when using this technique, such as losing frame count. “Mistakes”, however, can be even more interesting that the intended idea. For instance, miscalculating a single frame will create a superimposed frame followed by a black frame - creating an (unintentional) flicker effect.

Presently I’m creating a new form of visual expression for my next film, or rather, a different way of conveying meaning. Working with diverse techniques and formats, I’ll be developing unique structures that suit the material. I’m excited about the process, anticipating the way the film will look, and wondering whether it will convey what I had intended. Results are often surprising. Trying new techniques, or the same techniques new ways, using different textures and different film stocks - such experimentation fuels my passion for exploring visual communication.

Nature is a great inspiration for my work, inspiring reflection on our relationships with other life beings. Personal perspectives often point towards nature, and look upon it with feelings of humility, reverence, and respect. Light Study speaks to this, infused with a plethora of waterfalls, lakes, and wetlands, a poetic examination of the ecosystems along the Bruce Trail.
The film opens with an ancient waterfall, and ends on a glass-like surface of a thriving marshland. Sparkling emerald waters, and sun bleached rock faces intersperse with animate life forms flickering across the screen. Here, nature presides over an ephemeral human element, its primordial essence both medium and agent of light's eternal change.

I believe my films have a poetic, impressionistic quality, often challenging the viewer with an eco-aesthetic viewing experience. No End was given its backbone through poetry and its supporting structure through nature. It was inspired by a poem I wrote over the course of six months. During this process, I contemplated various means of translating the original idea to another medium, some more open to interpretation than others. Ultimately I decided that I wanted some degree of explicitness, and chose to directly intersperse the text of the poem throughout the film. There was a concrete feeling behind the poem that I wanted to preserve, and making this concreteness visual proved satisfactory.
What developed was a lyrical journey exploring the interconnectivity of lived experience, with images dancing across vistas of ancient rock and waterfalls, old forests and spanning skies, speaking to me of time, evolution, and dissolution.

I work primarily with non-professional actors. Their innate qualities infuse with the films, imbuing them with rich personal qualities that I could not have emulated. Among the memorable performers that I’ve worked with are Jasmine June Dong (165708); Ariana Randall (No End); Margherita Jordan, Felix Werth (Light Study); Charlotte Disher, Dana Randall, Karen Stanley, Edie Steiner (Night Stream); Lorna Boschman, Roxanne Chee, Agitu Ruda, Bonnie Soon (Green Dream); Charlotte Disher, Dana Randall, Ruth Riemer, Benny Van Velsen (Interference); Lorna Boschman, Karen Stanley (No5 Reversal); and Marianne Kaplan, Karen Stanley (One Woman Waiting).

I’m grateful for the collaboration of composer Graham Stewart (165708; No End; Light Study; and Green Dream), and co-editor / sound editor Boyd Bonitzke (165708, No End, and Light Study); and for the awesome cast and crew for 165708: performer, Jasmine June Dong; script consultant Felix Werth; camera assistants Daniel Randall and Alex Sobolewski; Final Cut support – Camilla Givens and Edie Steiner; and graphic designer Claire Ridge. And of course, for the support of the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, who makes it possible to continue working with 16mm film, and Niagara Custom Lab for continuing to process it.