Your credit in the film reads, "Realized by Lee Eubanks".
Inspired by a literal reading of the French term "realisateur". I am not the director of this film, I am not the writer- nobody is. The film contains numerous captured and documented occurrences, I cannot write or direct the natural actions as they occur. I can only steal the moments as they happen, to be later stitched together and formed into a realized investigation.
'Stillend' explores the delicate subject of suicide and, in doing so, asks difficult questions between opposing and advocating the choice. How did you decide on what the cinematic approach would be for exploring these concepts in a film?
Camus' philosophical essays were the starting point of inspiration, so I used the literary/visual essay format itself in establishing the general framework for the film from start to finish, presenting arguments and counterarguments in each scene. I also wanted the film to capture a building sense of unease, bewilderment, confusion, and frustration as the film goes on- feelings I generally encounter when contemplating these sorts of questions.
The film is comprised of two types of footage- documentary footage that is sepia toned and narrative footage that is black and white.
Sepia- muddy coffee, the colors of reality. Black and white- refined dreams, the colors of cinema.
Is this your first time capturing documentary footage?
I have used brief non-fictional sequences in previous short films and have always used them in tandem with fictional sequences. This is the first feature where I apply those practices and experiments into a longer form. I generally don't enjoy watching or creating documentaries.
So why then 'Stillend'?
As a filmmaker it was a means to challenge myself. I wanted to see what I could do with previously shot footage, documentary footage I was largely unsatisfied with for numerous reasons. I could choose to either discard the footage completely or try to shape the pieces into a new existence, in both atonement and defiance. In a way, it's yet another method of exploring the subject matter through creating the film itself. This documentary footage that I originally wanted nothing to do with ended up perfectly embodying vital thematic elements of what I wanted to convey in the film. As Cioran has stated, "Certain failures are sometimes fruitful."
I then continued to question and challenge myself with nearly every aspect of making this film. Could I take familiar documentary filmmaking techniques that I do not find pleasant, like expository narration and quick editing, and make scenes I would find pleasing? Could I take cinematography techniques that I do not find interesting, like "shaky-cam" footage, close framing, and shallow depth-of-field, and make sequences I would find interesting? Could I take sound design, with surround sound mixing that I regularly find boring when so frequently underutilized, and make a mix that fully takes advantage of all channels in an exciting way? Would I be able to utilize cinema to shape things I found ugly into a moment of beauty? That was the personal challenge with this film.
How long did this process take to fully realize the finished film?
Five years. The original documentary footage was captured in 2015, we shot the fictional sequences in the years after, continued recording narration and music tracks, then edited everything together in the last few years while also simultaneously pursuing and completing other cinematic projects. It's been a very difficult and lengthy experiment to conduct on every level.
Did you succeed?
Irrelevant. Again, "Certain failures are sometimes fruitful." The finished investigation and any subjective successes or failures I interpret are mine alone and worthless to anyone else, especially the viewing audience. Although the film began as a personal experiment, the finished film exists and is now the audience's problem. And I wouldn't dare dictate to anyone how to correctly view a film, my own interpretations be damned.
Copyright © Apothetae Society