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On this page - The Daydreaker's Notebook:
BOAT 14 | CONS | THE CYPHER AND THE BOAR | EUPHORIA | IDOL
NIGHTCRAWLER | ON THE MAKING OF THE CYPHER AND THE BOAR | SUBTERRANIA
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last update 26.Aug.17
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The Daydreamer's Notebook The Daydreamer’s Notebook
Filmmaker Michael J Saul calls this a "collection of memories, recollections and daydreams". It features eight experimental shorts made over nearly 40 years, and in an introduction he speaks about his compulsive need since childhood to escape and create. All of them are strikingly visual, shot in the woods as sunlight filters through. They're nostalgic and rather indulgent, but they also have surprising edges to them.
dir-scr-prd Michael J Saul • release US 29.Aug.17 • 17/US 1h15       PG themes, violence, sexuality • 17.Aug.17
Nightcrawler   4/5  
with Austin Jolly
11/US 3m
Nightcrawler
This three-minute silent odyssey is lit only by a torch, featuring handwritten text on the screen that expresses the horror a boy (Jolly) feels as he prepares for a fishing trip by hunting the night before for worms to use as bait. The film unfolds as a nightmare from this boy's perspective, imagining worms crawling over his body and consuming him. Elegantly shot, it's creepy and evocative.
Euphoria   3.5/5  
with Rob Westin, Lindsay Marquino, Vince Perez
14/US 8m
Euphoria
A music video collaboration with composer Frederick Bayani Mabalot, this artful clip depicts love, jealousy and sex as three dancers interact in a forest. It opens with black and white cinematography of trees creating a canopy above, obliterating the sky. Then we see a young woman (Marquino) and two men (Westin and Perez) as they wade in a stream, run through the woods and artfully make love. At one point they float up through the branches as if they're the gates of heaven. It's all rather pretentious, but it's eye-catching and provocative, drawing us in with its understated themes and music that shifts from melodic to atonal and back.
Cons   3/5  
04/US 4m
Cons
This brief, dreamy short features densely coloured and manipulated footage crosscut with home movies and eerie music. It's shot from a tight perspective, filming his own feet walking a log in the woods. But there's also another boy there, and we also glimpse him shaving in his bathroom, confronting an arcade fortune teller, hanging out, walking away. It feels like an ode to a close childhood friend who has moved away, so there's a strong sense of yearning and loss.
Idol   3/5  
with David Allan Payne
04/US 4m
Idol

This playfully experimental short opens with a teen (Payne) standing in a meadow holding a mirror that reveals the filmmaker and his camera. In the long take, we can see both of these young blond mopheads making faces at each other. Then it cuts to other artful shots, angles and emotions. Through all of this, the film looks over-exposed or damaged, accompanied by ambient woodland sounds. It's both playful and plaintive.
Boat 14   3.5/5  
with Jeff Payne
04/US 3m Boat 14

In the deep woods, two young teen boys are lounging in a rowboat, swimming in the lake, splashing each other and then hiking in the woods. The footage is coloured, with subtle sound effects added to silent footage. Are they best friends or brothers? Either way, the film feels like asnippets of memory of a carefree summer with someone very close.
Subterrania   2/5  
17/US 9m
Subterrania
This is a memorial video to composer Steven M Miller, who collaborated with Saul for 30 years. Accompanied by his music, the film hinges on the history of their friendship in postcards, letters and photographs, which spiral out into epic forests, misty mountains and vast canyons. All of this is overlaid with odd digital effects, as bubbles or rock-like things float in the air. There are also mirrored or overlapped images. It all feels a little indulgent, as if Saul was experimenting with new effects software. But if it's somewhat forced, it's also strikingly visual. Still, it requires Saul's introduction explaining their correspondence to make any sense at all.
The Cipher and the Boar   4/5"  
with David Allan Payne, Gabriel Paal, Jeffrey Payne, David Irwin, Brian Payne
81/US 31m The Cipher and the Boar
Saul shot this ambitious horror movie using black and white film in his 16mm camera. And it's pretty full-on, opening with ominous narration before diving into the story of David (Payne), who discovers his younger brother James (Paal) alone at home and their parents dead. They head off across the fields to a nearby house where a taxidermist (Irwin) lives, and things get increasingly bonkers from there. The film is a little mopey and ponderous, but it's also properly terrifying, cleverly playing on David's fear of wild boars in the woods while imaginatively deploying various horror movie cliches. It looks terrific, and is genuinely nasty.
On the Making of The Cipher and the Boar   3.5/5  
with Michael J Saul
17/US 8m
On the Making of The Cipher and the Boar
The filmmaker talks through his first big movie project, accompanied by clips from the film, outtakes and lots of snapshots. It's fascinating to hear his story of returning home to Ohio after trying to live in the Bay Area, then deciding to make a gothic horror movie with local kids. He spent six months making the film, then held a premiere at the local cinema, synching the sound on a separate reel-to-reel tape deck. Even this making-of short is awash with nostalgia, as Saul relives this magical period from his youth as the film revives long lost memories.

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