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Girls on Film

The Midnight Pen-pal is the title of film-maker Emmaalouise Smith's anticipated short film due to be screened as part of 2012's London Short Film Festival. The film, shot on a mix-medium palette includes moving image film, and photographic stills amongst an all-analogue production which tells the story of a girl and her best friend; her typewriter.

From practising an analogue lifestyle, not only in photography, film or the creative industries, but in everyday life, I became a fully sketch-booked being, where my daily occurances and work reflected outcomes merged into one. Years rolled by, and from experimenting heavily with moving image craft I can safely say one image will never suffice. I will always have to take multiple, reference numerable and blink from one frame to the next when drafting an idea; these were the rules to my short film ‘The Midnight Pen-pal’. I wrote a poem of the same name whilst living at a factory warehouse with like-minded recluses during the summer of 2008, and it took many a year to complete and compile what I wanted to ‘do’ with the story, which proves to be an endless compilation of London living since.

Initially shot on a variety of film stocks, including; 16mm, Super 8mm, PX instants and 35mm stills, the visuals collide and create an audio/visual experience alongside the analogue sound recordings, compiled many months after production entirely un-sync. I chose to discount any form of spoken narrative, leaving the imagery and sound-scape to tell the story of what I wanted. I used an almost ‘snap-happy’ form of film-making I’ve somehow come accustomed to when experimenting with my ideas, leaving the audience feeling involved in the scenarios as apposed to simply watching and being ‘told’ what to think.

‘The Midnight Pen-pal’ is a project which uses Lomographic ideals to delve inside the mind of a young girl, and gives anyone watching the sense of stepping out with a camera and waiting to find what they see. Anything can be interesting, and it’s the point of view of the observer that inevitably does the talking. Lomography is one of the few genres of imagery that not only works as a personal medium, but also as a collective interest; every person can enjoy their own holiday snaps as well as those longing and wishing to travel… I wrote, shot and edited the final film myself, although, I wanted to involve as many people as I could to reflect my time living closely amongst others in ‘The Factory’ during that summer which now seems so distant. The film was created using only girls living in and around East London; not in an overtly feminist way, but to explore the feeling of female interactions, and friendships in a way that is often missed.

Moving image films rarely include ‘stills’ in a way that can add to ‘telling the story’, but I always wanted to include the PX instants and hopefully generate a shutter-button response to the story as though the viewer is taking the pictures themselves, including the very recognisable ‘click’ of a Polaroid camera and the mechanic scream that follows once the image has disposed itself. Photographs can leave endless questions, and lead to unknowing paths of answers that sometimes never reach a conclusion, and ‘The Midnight Pen-pal’ intends to do just this…

The Midnight Pen-pal can be seen as part of New Shorts #8 Leftfield & Luscious at the ICA on Sunday 8th January. For more information on the film, the ’maker and the festival visit Emmaalouise and Short Films.

written by emmaalouise

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