By CARDELL PHILLIPS
Photographs by STANLEY CORIOLAN
During last week’s snowstorm, when most Chicagoans were either cocooning, digging their cars out of the snow, or carefully navigating their way across icy sidewalks, Quinn Georgic and Bryce Peppers, two university of Chicago students, were at Promontory Point attempting set a laptop on fire.
They had put the laptop in the middle of one of the Council Rings at the Point and squirted lighter fluid on it. My buddy, Stan, and I ran across them as they were attempting to light a cigarette to toss at the laptop. The project wasn’t going well because the blowing snow kept snuffing out their attempts to keep the matches lit.
I had to ask. “What are you guys up to?”
We’re making a film,” said of them.
I didn’t ask why they chose to make a film in the middle of a snowstorm. I just assumed they were two creative and adventurous souls who were out on a mission. After all, Stan and I were out there as well taking photographs of the lake, so I understood.
The both of us stood transfixed and watched as the wind laughed at Quinn’s and Bryce’s attempts to set the laptop ablaze. Their project appeared doomed. But, it just so happened that Stan had a piece of paper that was easier to light and that helped save the day. Some things you just have to chalk up to destiny. The four of us watched silently as the laptop burst into flame, began to crumple and melt, and blacken the snow around it.
We must have made a strange looking quartet, two black guys and two white guys staring at a burning laptop at the Point in the middle of a snow storm. At that moment, I felt we had crossed a bridge and forged an esprit de corps. It must have felt that way to the Avengers after they survived their first battle to save the world.
So, I felt comfortable in asking them the next obvious question. What their film was about?
“It’s a film about the dangers of mindlessly consuming mass media,” said Quinn.
Well, that’s interesting, I thought. So we made arrangements to talk later. Even we weren’t going to attempt to have a long conversation in the middle of a snowstorm. We weren’t that crazy.
Anyway, here’s what Quinn and Bryce had to say about their film.
What’s the film about?
Quinn: It’s about the dangers of mindlessly consuming mass media. The laptop represents this mass media. The film is also framed in a fashion that it refers to an avant garde film entitled Le Ballet Mecanique, from the 1920’s. Hence, my film’s title, Le Ballet Organique.
I’ll be using shots I took at the Point with several other shots from around Chicago and clips of actors I filmed in a studio. This film is more experimental, so while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I think it represents an important genre of film that’s almost been forgotten.
Why are you making the film?
Quinn: It’s for a student film competition that’s going to be held at FOTA (Festival of the Arts) in Logan Square on March 1st
How did you get started making films?
Bryce: I wanted to get involved with the filmmaking scene on campus. So when Quinn told me about his latest idea, I jumped on it.
Quinn: I first got involved with making films when I joined Fire Escape Films at the University of Chicago during my first quarter.
Is this your first film?
Quinn: This is my third film. I’ve worked on one and this is the second I’ve directed.
What do you like about filmmaking?
Bryce: I like the idea of creating a reality with the frame, then smashing those frames against each other to imply some sort of progression. Unlike words, images don’t really have an intrinsic meaning, so it’s up to the viewer to create the story around them.
Quinn: I love film making because it allows me to create a new and different world in every piece of work; a world where I can easily convey my emotions and beliefs to the audience.
What do you want people to take away from the film?
Bryce: I hope they learn (like I learned) that now is the time to be experimental, to do something weird and off-beat. I don’t know if the movie’s going to be good or whether FOTA will approve of it, but I had fun making it.
I’m working with Quinn for the sake of creation, not to win anything. Although, winning would be cool too.
When will the film be screened?
Quinn: The film will be screened at the Festival of the Arts at the Logan Center for the Arts at 5p.m. on March 1st. There will be several other films screened as well!
For more information about the event where Georgic and Peppers’ film will be screened, visit FOTA’s Facebook page.