Thursday, May 28

Flux screening series promotes creativity by straying from traditional video art

Flux filmmaker Calmatic directed the music video for “FUN!” by rapper Vince Staples. Shot from the perspective of Google Maps. Calmatic said the video is meant to comment on the way fans may view African Americans’ lives from the outside, but never truly experience it. (Courtesy of Calmatic)

Flux screening

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Hammer Museum


The Flux screening series has been the source of creative collaborations and romantic relationships alike.

Flux, an organization that curates film and art festivals, conferences and museum exhibitions, partnered with the Hammer Museum 12 years ago to create the Flux screening series. The event has been the source of collaborations between filmmakers and even brought together a couple who later married. The screening series aims to highlight filmmakers from various cultural backgrounds whom co-curators Jonathan Wells and Meg Grey Wells thought utilized innovative cinematic techniques. The upcoming winter screening on Wednesday will include short films from Kim Gehrig, Renee Mao and more, as well as music videos from artists such as Mitski, LANY and Vince Staples. Flux brings filmmakers together in order to spur inspiration and welcome a collaborative creative environment at the event’s courtyard after-party, Wells said.

“My partner and I decided that we wanted to do something a little bit nontraditional when we started the series,” Wells said. “I think that with the types of work that we show there’s an element of surprise or something unique in how it was made that’s different than maybe what you would see in a regular short film or music video.”

The projects included in the Flux screening series employ distinctive direction to transcend traditional music videos and short films, Wells said. The co-curators try to choose music videos that are more reminiscent of short films than traditional performance-based music videos, Wells said. For example, Flux will screen the music video for “A Pearl” by Mitski which was created by first printing out 3D animations from director Saad Moosajee. The video’s co-director Danaé Gosset then applied hand-drawn animation on top of the still images to add dimension. The stills were then scanned and uploaded back into the computer in order to finish edits, resulting in the final product. Thus, the animation of “A Pearl” is more cinematically inclined and represents the artist without physically seeing them, Wells said. Both Gosset and Moosajee will be in attendance Wednesday night to present their work.

“We took a risk and it played in our favor in the end. We really were experimenting at heart and just keeping a childlike mentality towards it,” Gosset said. “I think that people can look at it and be inspired to just play around more and try to do things creatively.”

[Related: Dance film symposium to showcase intersection of choreography, cinematography]

Returning Flux filmmaker Isaac Ravishankara directed the music video for “Thick and Thin” by indie pop band LANY which also will be screened. Though most videos are filmed in multiple shots, “Thick and Thin” was created in a single, uninterrupted take. The video’s fluid camera movement is intended to create a connection to its subjects and elicit a personal, emotional response from the audience, Ravishankara said.

“People are watching (music videos) on iPhones, iPads, laptops and maybe a television sometimes. So the goal of the video is to use the gimmick of not cutting to just put you in (the) moment and take you on a journey without the artifice of the edits and of the filmmaking,” Ravishankara said. “I’m really excited to see it in the theater on a big screen and see how that affects the experience of watching it.”

First-time Flux filmmaker CALMATIC also explored new forms of the film medium while directing the music video for “FUN!” by rapper Vince Staples. The video is shot from the perspective of Google Maps and virtually, instead of physically, follows a day in the life of Staples within his neighborhood of Long Beach, California, CALMATIC said. The video’s visuals aim to create meta-commentary on white audiences viewing African-American performers, CALMATIC added, saying audiences may try to fit in with the rapper’s lifestyle but will never truly know what it’s like.

“What’s entertainment to most people is our reality. So while other people are able to just be entertained by (African-American performers), … this is our everyday life and this is the way we live,” CALMATIC said. “It just shows you how connected, yet disconnected we are from each other.”

The music videos are among the 14 projects screening at Flux on Wednesday evening. In addition, filmmakers in attendance are given five minutes between screenings to give a presentation that represents the creative spirit of their project. The performances can be anything from a song to a magic trick or even an interactive game show. These presentations stray from the typical film screening Q&A, Wells said, and allows the filmmakers to express their creativity onstage, in person.

“We all kind of live in our bubbles,” Wells said. “I think that’s one of the things that’s special about the event is having a communal experience of seeing these films in a beautiful cinema. Then, also being able to discuss the works afterwards in our reception … hopefully, it inspires people.”

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