“I thrive on rules. They make infinite possibilities more accessible. By limiting myself to the real materials and shunning CGI, I am forced to solve problems that play within reality.”
Evan Mann sits down with us to talk inspiration behind short film “Voyage of the Galactic Space Dangler” among other things…
Honey Wagon Confidential: How does your background in sculpture and painting affect your work?
Evan Mann: I am grounded in material. The physical world has so much to offer, and making a sculpture or a prop with my hands: shaping, gluing, texturizing, manipulating, painting, really having the opportunity to transform matter from a disparate list of materials into a cohesive object (prop) or interior installation (set design), is essential to my process. Placing these props in front of the camera allows their context to further change. Familiar materials are pushed into a space that questions their reality, especially in a digital age of CGI. This forces me to use traditional, practical effects, like masking techniques and stop-motion, to achieve what digital imagery could easily overcome. What remains is a tactical world. Real, yet unreal. This is painting. Pigments combined to create the illusion of something so far beyond themselves, not only visually, but also metaphorically. When we look at a painting, we are seeing pigments on a surface. But in most cases, the initial observation sees the illusion of a larger image. Trompe l’oeil. The pigments join together to point towards something greater. Physical becoming metaphysical. This is transfiguration.
HWC: What were some inspirations behind this film?
EM: I wanted the first human to encounter the last human. To pull humanity, and all of our achievements into one time and space. A simple interaction between two people. I have little faith in the “progression” of humanity. We make one thing better and another gets worse. Cause and effect. The idea of the pioneer really came forward. I watched Ken Burns documentary The West around the time I was editing Voyage of the Galactic Space Dangler (VOTGSP) and this was so obvious to me. I also live in Northern Colorado with oil and fracking. Big drills assembled upon the landscape. Big money. Big consequences to the little communities who surround them. Other inspirations: 2001 a Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Christian Mysticism, portals, space, time, light, sound, paradoxical situations, and I wanted to make something more narrative. Loosely narrative. I wanted it to be funny and weird still.
EM: Most of my projects seem to take years to make. The Samsung 4K challenge only gave me two weeks, and coming out on top among 500+ submissions was a huge surprise. I think my experience making wedding films should get the credit for winning. Weddings were the bread and butter when I first started my company, Otherworldly Productions. Filming a wedding is really a non-sexual form of voyeurism. Honing in on intimacy and vulnerable moments and making them beautiful. for the Samsung film, I turned the camera inwards. My own life and intimacies were exposed. I let strangers in. People appreciate the sincere rawness of being vulnerable.
HWC: You play around with different mediums and forms (i.e stop-motion, using everyday objects to build your sets). What sort of freedom do you think this gives you artistically and why do you choose to pursue it?
EM: Absolute freedom is found within boundaries. I thrive on rules. They make infinite possibilities more accessible. By limiting myself to the real materials and shunning CGI (not because I am against it, I just choose not to employ it), I am forced to solve problems that play within reality. I prefer to use what is accessible to me, what is economical, thrown away. To repurpose, re-contextulize. This adds a touch of humor to my work, but it also makes my worlds more accessible, believable.
Behind the Scenes
HWC: How long did the stop-motion in this film take to complete? How did you keep perspective on the film throughout this process?
EM: This film was not heavy with stop-motion, so it was not terribly time consuming. The proboscis poking the planet, the arm going down the rabbit hole, and the shaving cream rings. Less than three days. Building the props took way longer. Keeping perspective for two and half years was not possible. I would say perspective was discovered along the way. My wife, Deborah, and I had two children and bought our fist home, which I extensively remodeled. We also grew our production company and allowed life to happen. I could not pause life for this project. I was created in little increments. Build props for two months, film day, build more props for three months, film a sequence. Patience.
HWC: What stylistic choices did you make to isolate the themes of the film, such as pioneering or technology in our global culture?
EM: Lots of portals. A proboscis. Juxtaposition of cave man and space man. Old and new. Analog versus digital. The interior of the space ship is created from mostly analog music players. But please know this was not my intention to make a film “about” these themes. They are what emerged through the process. For example, in building the interior of the spaceship, I had access to old electronic components for cheap. As I assembled the cockpit, the record player, piano and tape deck all become components to control the spaceship. The obsolesce of these objects were subverted when placed in the context of a spacecraft. Meaning was formed through process.
For more on Evan, head over to his site!