Cinema has always had a special interest in factory workers. In fact the first Lumière brothers film “Workers Leaving the Factory” from 1895 has often been credited as the first motion picture ever made. In the 20th century also many experimental filmmakers depicted the rat race of modern life in their own way. Such films include for example “Manhatta” (1921) by Paul Strand, “By Night with Torch and Spear” (1940s) by Joseph Cornell and “Necrology” (1969-1970) by Standish Lavender. “Smokestacks, Below” continues the same tradition.
The found footage-based film “Me at Work” depicts one average workday in the factory environment. The repetitive and dull nature of industrial work is underlined by speeding up the time code of the original material and by looping the material back and forth every now and then. When all natural movement is destroyed, the machines and the people working with them blend together and eventually become one. This way the factory itself becomes one living organism with various moving parts, some human, some not. By taking the form of one workday from morning till noon the film also hints that it could depict just any day, since in this kind of work all the days are more or less the same.
However, all this is done through humour and warm irony. All the techniques used are common clichés of postmodern audiovisual language and used widely in music videos among others. The industrial atmosphere is completed with the retro-synth flavoured audio track, which has been compiled from ready-made loops and samples and contains no actual “playing” in the traditional sense.
This film is also the first part of two-film series describing factory work. The two films of the series “Men at Work” (2010-2012) and “Smokestacks, Below” (2012) have been compiled from the same found footage material. When screened together they demonstrate aptly the vast possibilities of found footage filmmaking. However, the films can be screened individually as well.
No cast –this film is based on found footage material from an unknown source.
Panu Johansson: concept, direction, editing, music.
Year of Production: 2010-2012 (film originally compiled in 2010, new totally revised version finished in 2012) Running Time: 5min51s Found footage 16mm negative-film transferred to HD 1080p video. Genre: Experimental Screening Formats (in preferred order): Digital file (.mov), Bluray (PAL), MiniDV (PAL), DVD (PAL & NTSC)