“I Saw the Benefits of Technology” | Amanda Kim, Nam June Paik: Moon Is the Oldest TV
Every production faces unexpected obstructions that require creative solutions and conceptual rethinking. What was an unforeseen obstacle, crisis, or simply unpredictable event you had to respond to, and how did this event impact or cause you to rethink your film?
I’m sure many productions experienced this unforeseen obstacle, but no one expected a pandemic in early 2020. And at the height of it when the world was shutting down, our production was scheduled to begin.
I wasn’t sure when and how we were going to continue production. But during the quiet of the first couple of months in lockdown and when human connection relied on Zoom/FaceTime, the world that Nam June had predicted was staring me in the face. And I saw the benefits of technology. At its best, it could be used to improve connection and communication.
This obstacle forced me to come up with new ways of filming. I decided to start interviewing people on Zoom and recording them as an alternative solution to filming in person. I also began to look into remote camera setups. Many of my film subjects were older, so I was extremely cautious about COVID-19. Building such a contraption felt very Nam June, who would find any means necessary and who even created his own technological gadgets, to achieve his artistic goals. Nothing could stop him!
And ultimately, rethinking the way I approached traditional interviews ended up being more true to the subject and fitting for the film. The mix of Zooms, black magic interview setups and iPhone footage worked well to compliment the multi-format, multi-textured, chaotic nature of the archives. The accidents and obstacles ultimately led to the right place, which is something Nam June practiced in his artwork, inspired by John Cage’s philosophy of chance operation. Nam June would always say, “If too perfect, God will be angry” and I tried to channel this ethos through every obstacle.
See all responses to our annual Sundance Question here.