I just watched this fantastic feature-length film on You Tube called Four Eyed Monsters. It is essentially a true love story made by two artists who met over the internet and then decided to make a film about their lives. The film is partly real-life footage (one of them is a filmmaker and video documents his life) and partly animations of drawings (the other draws/paints and documents her life in this medium) as well as specially shot scenes.
It might sound like a narcissistic endeavour, but I think it captures the way all our lives are saturated with online activity and digital documentation, and so watching the film on You Tube seems to make sense. Although a video sharing website is an appropriate context, this film is not limited by or to the internet – it has been shown at film festivals and at screenings around the world, and I am tempted to buy a DVD of it in order to enjoy a richer, higher definition visual experience.
Shot mainly in New York, the film includes some beautiful shots of the city, time-lapse and also video collage – a few times, they present video clips of other people speaking about their love lives, framed in the little thumbnail profile boxes of a myspace page. It is all very familiar territory, but interestingly, they met in a pre-Myspace time, when online networking/dating wasn’t something you talked about – so the appeal of this film grew as they worked on it and the online social networking phenomena really took off.
I like the way the film ends – at some point it switches into pure documentary mode and you start to get a glimpse of how and where it was fabricated. But at the same time as you are wondering if it was all just a grand fiction, you see the same two characters again, documented ‘behind the scenes’ making the story we’ve just been watching. Turns out the drama of their relationship is no less intense or real, in fact it is intensified (and nearly ruined) by this self-reflexive film making process [no kidding!]. They even edited in scenes of them receiving the acceptance call for the Slamdance film festival, so those first viewers almost saw themselves on the screen.
And so their story continues…
Watch the video above (you’ll have to wait some time while it loads) or find out more here: www.foureyedmonsters.com