By: David Schonauer
Publish Date: May 15, 2017, 8:30 a.m.
Welcome to the Twilight Zone. It’s called the nightly news.
Or, rather, it was once called the nightly news. Today the news comes to you 24/7, on screens large and small, wherever you are, filling your world with terror attacks, police shootings, cyber espionage, nuclear brinksmanship, and a chaotic political scene that seems to bring a new crisis every day.
The internet is like that fearful place of the imagination conceived by Rod Serling during the Cold War — “a middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition” — and what you find there often lies closer to the pit of man's fears than the summit of his knowledge.
Those fears are what inspired Eric Ogden’s new short film Nocturne. Ogden, who we Profiled last year, is celebrity photographer and filmmaker who was named a winner of the International Motion Art for The Call, a comic short starring actress Anna Kendrick as a loveably bored receptionist. His new film couldn’t be more different: It is a mysterious mediation on modern paranoia constructed from archival Cold War-era film footage and radio recordings that Ogden stumbled across in the public domain section of a stock image company:
“In a strange school house, brainwashed children outfitted with gas masks are run through drills, while suited men broadcast propaganda from a mysterious board room,” writes Ogden. “Events build to a climax as the masses are encouraged to choose war, at all costs. A true fiction created from actual footage. But are we witnessing our past, our present, or our future?” Today we feature the film and Ogden’s Director’s Statement.
In the spring of this year I became overwhelmed by the constant trauma the news was bringing in from around the world: the quick succession of terrorists attacks, and our increasingly circus-like presidential election (extreme even for a typically circus-like political process). I had to self-enforce a media blackout for a couple of weeks to get some perspective. Was the world really falling apart?
I felt disoriented watching the politics of Trump as he mobilized the hatred and fear of many Americans. After hearing the media make repeated references to McCarthyism I began reading about Joseph McCarthy and the Cold War and then, as history so often illuminates for us, began to see that everything old is new again. Around this same time I was researching archival footage for a video project and came across a vault of old public domain film and radio recordings from that era. Something told me to just start compiling this stuff, and over a weekend I edited together something that expressed what I wasn’t yet able to articulate. This became my short film Nocturne, a darkly comic and dystopian vision of where we have been, and where we could go once again.
In this "true fiction" created from actual footage, I want viewers to ask themselves: are we witnessing our past, our present, or our future?