Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Film and Electronic Arts
Project Advisor 1
This project first began two years ago, soon after I completed my moderation project. On a warm July day, I was struck by the mental image of a man permanently hard-wired into a starship that was traveling through deep space. Undoubtedly, this idea of a person integrated into a powerful machine has already received various treatments from many artists more talented than
myself. Yet my fascination with this idea persisted, mostly thanks to a lifetime attraction to this man-in-the-machine theme that I have pursued since my early years in grade school. I remember writing stories about astronauts, superheroes and cyborgs who were all simultaneously empowered and hampered by their mechanical enhancements. My fascination with these fantastical characters derived not from their comic-book abilities but from the psychological
struggles they faced. Their immense power invariably came at the cost of extreme isolation from the rest of the world.
I developed Sanctum partially because I wanted to understand better my own attraction to this theme. Why am I always drawn to such a fantastical idea? What does my fascination with the man-in-the-machine have to say about myself?
The film can certainly be read allegorically, but that is not why I made it. My
understanding of the metaphors in the story, and of the personal history that produced them, came almost a year after I first started writing the screenplay. I have always tried to investigate artistically the elements of the story that I do not fully understand, such as the machine-man or the repeated emphasis on the scraps of paper in the film. A playwriting class and a drawing class, though not directly related to the discipline of filmmaking, were instrumental in developing both my artistic sensibilities and the specific themes of the film. My hope is that the parts of the story that I introduced subconsciously or in frustration (such as the main character’s muteness) will serve to make the imaginative world of the film more whole, more richly textured, and more thought-provoking. My favorite films vary in taste and genre, but they all have a certain intriguing complexity that makes me want to watch them several times over, and it has been my hope that my art would gently challenge its audience to make that same type of fascinated
These have been my goals from the project’s beginning. The actual execution of the project developed a host of complications and problems, as art projects tend to do, and it remains to be seen whether the film attained these lofty goals. I also had to meet challenges that went beyond the typical nuts-and-bolts production problems that are to be expected from a film project. Despite my levels of care and calculation, while moving one of my set pieces on an evening in November, I collided with a fire sprinkler valve that quickly flooded the film building and damaged the ceilings and equipment in the rooms below my studio. A month later, despite years of prior experience, I was preparing my set for a day of filming when an accident with an electric drill put me in the emergency room with nineteen stitches in the palm of my hand. This delayed my project even further because it resulted in three weeks of physical therapy and several months of constrained movement in my dominant arm. Yet even with these fiascos in mind, I feel that the primary challenge to this project has been my own tendency to work
independently rather than asking others for help. The accidents could not have been avoided if I had other people helping me, but perhaps I would have been able to focus more on the artistic unity of the project rather than solving the various problems that cropped up along the way. Bringing this project to its completion has caused me to investigate, like the ever-present machine-man theme, why I prefer to work independently on my art.
I have other thoughts about the film regarding its content, execution, and metaphorical subtext, but as always I believe that the work should speak for itself. I have often learned more about my artistic process by observing my audience’s reaction to the final product than by writing or speaking about it at great length.
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Kegley, Justin Talbot, "Sanctum" (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 278.