Erik Patrick's surreal animated short film Retrocognition will get its New Jersey premiere at the New Jersey Film Festival this Saturday, January 26, 2013 at Rutgers University. Here is an interview I did with Eric about his unique film.
Nigrin: Your surreal animated short film Retrocognition collages together photographs and audio fragments from WWII-era radio dramas. Tells us a bit more about your film and why you decided to make it this way.
Patrick: There's always this question we live with in contemporary American society: "What went wrong?" Part of that question presupposes an idyllic post war past of suburbs, car culture and a nostalgia for the "traditional" nuclear family (which historically isn't traditional at all). In listening to those old radio dramas, I always felt that there was a trauma embedded in the timbre of the voices... As if "what went wrong" was always in the pieces, though we just needed to rearrange them to see the picture. The isolation inherent in that lifestyle clearly enabled all sorts of pathologies, though the media tropes tried to be reassuring that this was something we should strive for. The film was just my attempt at re-animating that zombie corpse of the US suburban family to trace its origins and reveal the manipulation we've been victim to through media artifacts.
Nigrin: It seems like your film deconstructs the classic depiction of the American nuclear family. Is this critique valid?
Patrick: Yes, correct... Deconstructing (or perhaps reconstructing) the televised depiction of family in an allegorical form. Suburban culture has a structural enforcement of homogeneity, ultimately killing that which doesn't fit in or is perceived as "other." But the critique is as much one of media representation as one of family or suburban culture. This leads to the racial stereotypes entombed and playing poker with one another- each trying to come on top with a better hand, but all are finally slaves of the game. I suppose it's a somewhat obvious metaphor of our current situation, where the racial politics become a zero sum game for many.
Nigrin: What was the budget for this film and who are some of the people that helped you realize it.
Patrick: The hard budget was probably around $1k, as so much of the project was dependent on computer, photography and lighting equipment along with labor (lots and lots of labor). Much of that equipment base I either already had or had access to through my job as a university professor. I was very fortunate to get a Guggenheim fellowship for the project, which got me a new computer and really helped with day to day expenses (wardrobe, drives, etc), along with a few post production expenses (color correction). I also was given a grant from Northwestern University to hire a few students for some limited work on the project. Still, I probably did 95+% of the work. I had a former student named Jed Feder do sound with me. He's doing a lot of theatre in Chicago currently. Also former students Evan Twohy (who is currently active in NYC theatre), Stephen Wilson (also in NYC doing TV production), and Katy Wittmer (in Austin, TX involved in media education). My sister Michelle Krueger was also very helpful. Since her background is in Engineering, she was able to help me with several processes so I didn't get bogged down in cutting out images for years at a time.
Three other great films will be playing in addition to Retrocognition. Here is more info about them and general info on this screening:
A House, A Home - Daniel Fickle and Mark Smith (Portland, Oregon)
A touching music video focusing on James C. Hawthorne, a doctor and humanist who cared for the mentally ill. 2012; 6 min.
Treeman - Claire Ying-chin Wang (Syracuse, New York)
In this surreal short, a failed actor begins to metamorphosize into a tree. 2012; 15 min.
Retrocognition - Eric Patrick (Evanston, Illinois)
A terrific animated film that collages together photographs and audio fragments from WWII-era radio dramas to critique the classic depiction of the American nuclear family. 2012; 18 min.
Set for Life - Sam Newman and Susan Sipprelle (Englewood, New Jersey)
In this timely documentary feature, three middle-aged Americans, who believed they were set for life, struggle to recover from the devastating impact of losing their jobs during the Great Recession. Now older than 50, they strive to hang onto their homes, health insurance and hope. Skillfully and empathetically setting their individual stories into a broader national context, Set for Life tracks the ways in which all seek a way to cope with a newly uncertain future, and with their loss of confidence in the American Dream. 2012; 66 min. With an introduction and Q+A session by directors Sam Newman and Susan Sipprelle!
Saturday-January 26, 2013
Voorhees Hall #105, Rutgers University,
71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey
$10=General; $9=Students+Seniors; $8=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends
Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick will be providing free sandwiches prior to this screening!
More info is available at www.njfilmfest.com or 848-932-8482!