All in all, Brakhage’s article was extremely comprehensive in my opinion. He explained in detail the different kinds of film and all of the features of the projector as well. However, I honestly think had Prof. Silva not actually shown me how to load a projector with film, Brakhage’s article would have gone right over my head. Thankfully of course, he did, so I understood most of it. In the process of learning how to load the film, I saw where the sprocket wheels were as well as the film gate and things like that. I also spliced film as well. Don’t get me wrong I think the article was informative but I just don’t think you can really attain a full understanding of the majority of the material without seeing it and doing it yourself. The more film classes I take the more I realize the value of actually coming to class and having your professors explain material to you. This becomes especially important with a subject matter like film studies that is extremely hands on. It’s like Professor Silva says on the syllabus, “you must be present to win,” I really believe this to be true.
I think if I hadn’t taken a class that discussed things like the shutter or f-stops or things such as that, this article would have been too dense to understand. While I think it is a little too dense at times, I did enjoy Brakhage’s enthusiasm. I think that is what is missing when it comes to a lot of film theorists and writers. Enthusiasm and the willingness to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty instead of sipping Earl Grey tea and sitting in front of a typewriter trying to meet the publisher’s deadline. Not to say that Brakhage is an accomplished film theorist nor is he necessarily a writer (obviously he is a filmmaker) but he does care solely about one thing, and that is making movies. I think that is important; it is one thing to write about films and analyze narrative structure and shot composition and all that jazz, but it is a whole different ball game when it comes to actually getting behind the camera and making a film. So for me, knowing that Brakhage spent the majority of his life slaving endlessly, inking and scratching frame after frame of film, makes it easier for me to read his articles because I have a certain level of respect for him. And in a way, I think he has a certain respect for me as well or rather, budding filmmakers and student filmmakers around the world. For instance, I really appreciated the way he engaged his readers and several times even encouraged the reader to stop reading and go try the technique he had just written about.
I was a little hesitant to sign up for this 6x1 course at first. I didn’t know what to expect really and knew next to nothing about scratching and inking on film. But, I knew that I was always intrigued when I watched avant-garde and experimental films. I also vowed that before I graduated from the UNCW film studies program, I would enroll in at least one experimental film class. After we did magazine transfers, I was so glad that I did. I am very excited about studying this more creative facet of film. And if it weren’t filmmakers like Stan Brakhage, I probably wouldn’t even be studying it – “Bless him.”