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  • Ben Tobin

Inbetween Light

It's been a long time since I made my last short film–two years in fact. I spent a good portion fo the pandemic sick in bed, and another several months recovering. Given all of the restrictions and inability to be indoors with very many people, I decided to embrace the challenges and my limited arsenal of gear and just make something. I normally need a longer planning process and storyboards, but in this case I just wanted to make something. I chose a music video format and chose to extend the production time over the course of a year to cover different seasons. The premise was simple enough, a man who goes from boy to youth to old age and then turns to dust. I new my limitations and I knew generally what I could and couldn't accomplish.





The production ended up involving a costume designer and four actors as well as a visual effects artist from the Philippines. Instead of going in with a truly set plan, beyond a few images I knew I wanted, I just decided to explore the spaces with the camera and the actors. Not having a set shot list was new for me, and just having the time to collect images and assemble the story later is very much the antithesis of how I usually work and so it felt odd and incongruous at first, but then oddly freeing. I tend to feel that if I don't have those usual guardrails in place that I'm not being serious or being unprofessional, which I know isn't necessarily true. Plenty of filmmakers use experimentation and exploration and camera tests to figure things out. I think the fact I've resisted just making something for the sake of making something is now a regret of mine. I like for there to be a reason to make what I'm making, a very clear cut purpose–a clear objective. I had an objective, to make a music video, but it was more just a basic guideline than anything locked in stone.





The music came from a composer who's work I really love. Mathias Rehfeldt did the music for my thesis film, and during the pandemic he composed a series of pieces in lockdown. This piece really spoke to me when I first heard it, and he was kind enough to let me use it for this project. I had a million different images in mind, and a large collection of images, so the edit took many different shapes. I edited whole scenes and then intercut them and undid that and started a new scene. I wove things together that seemed to fit and then didn't. I conceivably could've edited a very long piece from all that I had. It wouldn't have been what I would call a music video though. I admittedly am not someone who watches many music videos so I just went in with how I thought it should be constructed.


The confluence of the pandemic and the structure I chose and the music and overarching story led to the video being really about time and regret. The pandemic, for all the harm it has caused, did provide the space to think more and reflect and that really influenced what the final piece emerged as. The process felt somewhat like making a documentary because there was no narrative laid out. I think really all of my half-baked plans went out the window once the edit started. There's definitely something exciting about this thing emerging from the ether. I can't say if I would want to work this way again...at least not entirely. I do plan to continue making things for the sake of making things, but maybe finding more of a balance along the way.






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