About two years ago, before this blog was launched, an online publication presented without any introduction a short film that I could not stop watching. It was an insomniac night and I no longer remember the name of the publication that made the insomnia worthwhile. (Buzzfeed, perhaps?) I think the only thing the publication said about it was that it was “narrated by Siri,” the iPhone voice, and that it was weird.
The film was called “Oympic and Western,” and after several dozen viewings, I have begun to comprehend not so much the film itself but why I keep watching it, two-plus years later. It is dense, it is intricate, it is carefully constructed, it is hilarious, and it follows an illogical logic to its extreme end with a breathtaking speed.
I soon learned that the filmmaker, Evan Mather, has several dozen other short films on his website, his Vimeo page, and his YouTube page. Music videos, tongue-in-cheek (and riotously funny) animations featuring “Star Wars” figurines, and a couple documentaries. All share the work ethic and aesthetic represented in his production company’s name: Hand Crafted Films. Each one is intricate (that word again) and wastes not a pixel of screen space. A music video for Aimee Mann’s song “Pavlov’s Bell,” made in 2003, is colorful, detailed, sometimes hilarious (a passenger handout explaining the stages of a crash), and bouncier than the song itself. Enjoy:
Almost all of Mather’s films feature maps: animated, beautiful maps. Hand crafted maps. In “Pavlov’s Bell,” there is a map of fly-over country, an upside-down Idaho and Ohio; in “Olympic and Western,” he animates Los Angeles’ street maps, the interstate highway system, the L.A. skyline.
For the last several years, Mather has been pursuing a sort of live animation map project; he calls them “land-lapse” films because they utilize the technique of time-lapse to present a moving landscape. He mounted a camera, an iPhone, to the dashboard of a car and started driving, first from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, then from the East Coast back to the West Coast via the Interstate Highway System. That last project, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” yielded a one-hour-forty-seven-minute-long film that traverses the continent, is incredibly watchable, and features ambient electronic music by composer Juuso Auvinen. Watch:
“From Sea to Shining Sea” was made possible in part through a capital fundraising project on Kickstarter. Seventy-six people got to be co-producers of a documentary that has been shown at film festivals and received a great deal of positive attention for its unique presentation of our unique country.
Evan Mather needs co-producers for his next film project, a highway circumnavigation of one of the most picturesque landscapes on Earth: Iceland. He is raising funds through Kickstarter again and even though the campaign was started only last week, there are only four days left to pledge funds to make this next film a reality. Here is his video explaining the project:
Pledges of $50 and more earn a name in the film’s credits. He has more details on the project’s Kickstarter page, here: The Icelandic Land-Lapse Project. (He promises that the current name is a place-holder and will be replaced with something catchier.)
Disclaimer: I have no connection with the project, and I have not spoken with Evan Mather about anything, ever. A fan of his work for two-plus years now, I was amazed one day to find he had posted a positive comment on a column I wrote recently about Elvis Costello.
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Two fellow WordPress bloggers nominated this blog for awards in recent weeks and I thank them. Thank you, Inspiring Max, for the Premio Dardos award. Thank you, A Word Adventure, for including me among your Liebster awards winners. This is the first Premio Dardos this web site has received and the third Liebster, and I think this is the first time I have spelled “Liebster” correctly. I published a column two weeks ago in which I named and linked to some blogs I admire; it is called “Everyone Wins, and here is the link: Everyone Wins.
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The WordPress Daily Prompt for March 24 asks, “Draft a post with three parts, each unrelated to the other, but create a common thread between them by including the same item — an object, a symbol, a place — in each part.” Two awards plus a film plug equal three things.