‘The Brain is the Screen’ – On Heterarchies in Independent Film

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Image from: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReviews16/for_ever_mozart_dvd_review.htm

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The proposal of a horizontal structure in a film crew is perhaps a topic best avoided on a Monday morning : it’s an argument, a riot, and a guarantee you will be cursed and ridiculed.   Nonetheless, independent film needs heterarchy (I used to say anarchy, but I’m an year

The proposal of a horizontal structure in a film crew is perhaps a topic best avoided on a Monday morning : it’s an argument, a riot, and a guarantee you will be cursed and ridiculed.

 

Nonetheless, independent film needs heterarchy (I used to say anarchy, but I’m an year older now – less extreme, more fearful, old really.) If we look at film as a creature of split personality, both meaning and value, filtering reality into surreality, transgressing endlessly between dreams and meaning, a schizophrenic Nobody reflecting all the existing someones, it’s evident traditional crew hierarchies are failing. They encourage a pervasive attitude towards cinema, especially in terms of set hourly rates and percentage-based pay: crew members feel no ownership, no possession, no obsession with a project. Duties are delegated, carried out, and reported for: film turns into a flat management exercise.

 

A heterarchy, on the other hand, allows for open participation from day one: decompartmentalisation and equal contribution allow for everyone’s point of view on all aspects of the project to be heard at the same time, instantly enriching suggestions and spotting potential problems. It also creates an extreme environment: everyone’s point of view on the world, its people, politics and perversions mash in creating an over-populated monster, heavy with all the meaning it is meant to transform into story. Story, in its turn, has always been a multi-faced witch – true to no one but teasing all, she needs to be fed constantly by various spoons in order to grow into a myth. And myths are what cinema is all about: myths about dragons, powerful men, good women, poor children and homeless kings that all reflect their wider environment: time, society, culture. It is this greater discourse surrounding film that demands horizontal structures on creating cinematic art: its elements should not be constructed on top of an already existing frame (such as a script), they should be lived into film, by the whole crew in their different capacities. It is this shared lived experience that makes film the most captivating persuader, stirring it all up, making promises that will never be kept, inviting us endlessly to a life of dreamy nomadism away from our world yet deeper within it.