Threshold: A Work in Progress

Threshold – noun

1. A strip of wood or stone forming the bottom of a doorway and crossed in entering a house or room.

2. The magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.

I’ve entered into a process of working with duration in film – in the way that I make films, with structure that is random and dense, and also highly composed and personal. I no longer follow a strict linear production and post production working methodology in filmmaking; I tend to collect images on an ongoing basis, regardless of whether I’m making a film in the moment or not. Collecting images helps me focus on what I am looking at in the present, as much internally as externally.

My current work as an experimental filmmaker is heavily framed by a methodology of “finding a film” – or, essentially, that the film I need to make at any given moment will reveal itself to me through the filmmaking process. Much of this process is, however, affected by how I perceive structure, which is greatly influenced by my formal script writing education. As a result, while my films often have a sense of randomness to them, they also have a sense of being strongly constructed. The static camera, the uninterrupted image and a reverence for materiality are not my approach. Entering into a process of working with duration in film, to develop an approach for a longer form work that is in keeping with my artistic practice, requires me to – essentially – enter into a meditation on structure.

My residency at LIFT has been framed around the idea of finding a way to “start.” Given that I am constantly collecting moving images, “starting” for me is not about production, but rather commencing the development of structure; often times in starting, I realize I have already created or found the necessary images for my new work at some point in the past. I never know when I will find structure, though, and it is not a process I can artificially induce. Sometimes it comes quickly, and other times it takes years to mould a few minutes of film.

When I landed in Toronto to start my residency, I started reflecting on how many times I’d landed here before, and how many times I’d lived here. The first time I landed in Toronto was when I crossed a threshold from being Chilean to Canadian. It was at a time when I did not understand a word of English and when everything that might happen in the future was a complete unknown.

While in Toronto now, I spent much of my time in Parkdale, fascinated by an environment that would likely have been home to my family if we had arrived today. In such a dense newcomer environment, I also started contemplating on the technology of language and how it transmits our ancestors and our sense of identity through us, in spite of not belonging to our biology.

Toronto, then, becomes to me a place of flight and where you find landing, and also a place where everything is in constant motion. And in contemplating Toronto this way – about how I perceive the city and my connection to it – I realized that I have equally meaningful connections with several other places in this world. Through this contemplation of place, language and identity, I have started to rough-out the structure of my new long-form experimental film, Threshold.

I can’t say how long it will take me to finish this film, but I can now say I’ve started.

I acknowledge the support of LIFT: Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto through the Roberto Ariganello National Residency in enabling me to commence my new work in progress, Threshold.