Skinface Gets A Date is on the surface a tale about an ugly monster who manages to score a date with a hot piece of pony. But deep down, it is also a tale about an ugly monster who manages to score a date with a hot piece of pony. Of course, we are art majors, so it is other things, too.
With this assignment, I wanted to push myself to tell a narrative through cinematic language alone. This included first reducing the story to a single sentence, as seen above. From there followed a number of creative choices to ensure the viewer’s understanding.
I approached the film like a long sentence. Or a series of sentences. The same way that each word in a sentence relates, modifies, or gives context to another word, each still image (or shot) in a film is a word in a visual vocabulary.
The word sex alone is very powerful. But it is not a story. To convey a specific idea about sex, it must be accompanied by the proper wordsmithing.
The big ugly monster had sex with the pink pony.
(For clarity’s sake, the above sentence does not reference Skinface Gets A Date)
Now sex has a context from the words around it. Every word in that sentence was crucial to locking down the idea that needs to be conveyed. The same is true for shots.
In Skinface Gets A Date, to show that the monster was lusting for the pony, I used a shot of him (right justified), juxtaposed with a shot of the ponies (more left justified). His eye line corresponds to the idea of “gaze”. Then I use a different angle of the pony (without breaking the axis) to convey their relational distance, both physical and metaphorical, and to set up the sense of space. Seeing the monster gazing from the distance also gives him that “lonely” and “creeper” feeling. He looks voyeuristic.
His gaze turns crazed and lustful, and then (from the same angle we recognize as his gaze from before) we see the pony looking back as well. We see the monster looking, and then quickly look away. This is a reaction shot, and through juxtaposition the audience understands that when the monster has the pony’s attention, he gets nervous.
The hope is that all of this comes across without me explaining it. The point was for the images to speak for themselves.
The music helped a little bit, but the story works without it. This is a good test to make sure the images speak for themselves. Colors came into play to differentiate moods. Lighting to evoke feeling. Juxtaposition is very important in a project like this because there is no dialogue, and only still images, so each image has to “speak” to another. The meaning is not in the image itself, but in each image giving context to another. Just like the word sex is not very meaningful on its own, the juxtaposition of the words, “Consensual or not, sex happened between a monster and a pony” tells a story not in the words themselves, but in their context with each other.