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Question Mark: In Retrospect

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Making videos using a videophone is not something new or unbelievably exciting. At some point, we’ve all whipped out our pocket-sized gadgets during a party to film a friend in an embarrassing or entertaining moment. A few clicks later at our computers, the little snippet’s uploaded and available to anyone who has an Internet connection.

But most of these videos, together with other random shots of scenery and documented travels on public transport, eventually just sit in a folder in our computers marked “Videos”. So what happens next? What good, really, are these mobi-films?

We set out to answer this question and more, with Question Mark®, our recent project that won the top prize at the Nokia Handheld Cinema (part of RESFEST 10).

Asking all the questions
Question Mark® is a short mobi-film about human beings’ innate propensity to question yet the lack of questioning in our lives. Through the film, we propose that the cause and effect of mysteries and unexplained phenomena is the crafted result of questioning and the lack of it.

Set against the soundscapes of”Chromatik Fantastik”by Muon and Chrome Vanadium (appearing courtesy of Wallwork Records), the film aimed to extend a balanced entity of questioning to the viewer through the Socratic Method, a dialectic method of inquiry.

Question Mark® ultimately poses questions which are more of a statement, to provoke an individual’s dormant spirit into reflecting on the need to understand questions, to answer them, and the overwhelming ability to keep asking and answering but not doing anything about it.

In this piece, apathy was both the protagonist and antagonist.

So what was the conclusion? The question or the process? Maybe it was the ability to interpret the questions.

Then how do you explain each question used? Or maybe I should call them statements.

Answers are not the answers. The questions are not our questions. The process was merely a reaction to the theme.

A large portion of coming up with a reaction (concept) to interpret mysteries and unexplained phenomena was dealing with issues such as fallibilism. Instead of presenting a film that literally reacted to the theme, the approach had to be relevant, engaging yet non-subversive since theoretically speaking, anyone’s answer to a question differs due to his/her personal experience of the subject.

Hence we set out to develop a list of questions, both routine and metaphysical, to be used as a superimposed typographic on the visuals filmed. This hopefully allows the viewers to feel and engage themselves within the dialogue, going in search of answers to their own definitions of the questions.

Question Mark® as a mobi-film
The great thing about mobile phones’ video capabilities and the increasingly improved quality is that your next big idea doesn’t have to be reliant on or shelved due to budgetary factors. Independent film-makers now, more than ever, have tools available (at low cost or even free) to plan, shoot, edit, promote and distribute a film for their intended audiences.

And of course, since the device is primarily a mobile phone, the secondary ability to document increasingly high-quality videos of interesting events when you least expect it does sound rather appealing. As any individual in the creative industry would say, the best of ideas hit you when you least expect it.

But mobile filmmaking isn’t all fuss-free. With a lack of accurate filters, colour correction abilities, proper audio recording and focusing, more time and effort has to be spent in post-production to get things to look exactly as you’d like.

Nonetheless, with the accessibility of the web and mobile filmmaking technology, it’s no longer difficult to execute your own low-budget project and have it viewed worldwide. YouTube and MySpace are just the tip of the iceberg.

Mobile filmmaking’s just getting off the ground. The question is: what can we expect next?

SILNT will be producing more short mobile films, in 2007 and distributing them via YouTube.

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