I am interested in investigating black screens. More specifically, transitions to black, whether that be a fade to black or a straight, abrupt cut to black. I want to gain a perspective on what a black screen can mean, whether it can be the end of a movie, the end of a character or even just a transition. My interest came from watching a movie, “Code Unknown”, where it was essentially a bunch of separate story lines, all done in single takes that were separated by an abrupt cut to black. It was a really interesting concept as it completely changed how you would view the scenes compared to if they were just edited conventionally.
The cuts to black were usually placed right in the middle of the action, often at the emotional height of the scene, and it felt so much more impactful than if it had happened once the intensity of the scene had died down and it had used a fade instead. It also seemed to accentuate the beginning and ending of each scene, it gave it a sense of finiteness and life. That every new scene you were watching had a time limit, it had a distinct sense of beginning and end, and after watching the movie for a while, the expectation that came along with knowing that a scene was going to cut to black changed how you perceived what was coming next. The surprise factor of the concept faded away and you began to concentrate on these very self-contained moments, bookended by cuts to black.
So what I was thinking of doing was to follow the same concept, to film a bunch of seemingly disconnected scenes, and to see how a separation by a cut to black would change how the scenes are viewed, as well as their relation to each other. They may not even have a story to it, there won’t be any driving motivation to launch a narrative, but instead scenes that have been distilled into moments.
For subject matter I have decided to, instead of having a straight story, to instead pick a theme, and to have every scene fit into that theme. The theme I have chosen is family. The shots can be anything that will capture the feel of family, or home. This can be my mother cooking, a family gathering, or even my parents sitting around watching TV.
Although I am taking the concept from ‘Code Unknown’, I want the tone to be completely different. The subject matter will be very warm, and comforting, which is in large contrast to the very bleak and depressing subject matter in Haneke’s films. I think that despite how the black screen seemed to deliberately distance the character’s lives from one another in ‘Code Unknown’, the unavoidable distance also felt like a way to really make you pay attention to the relation of one scene to the next – and this strangely felt like some sort of unifier. It seemed to fit into the theme of family well, as it is a very large and universal idea, something so big that you needed something like a cut to black to really pay attention to the small moments.