An Interior Dam


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Date of Submission

Spring 2021

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts

Project Advisor 1

Ephraim Asili

Project Advisor 2

Eric Trudel

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Walker White

An Interior Dam: Artist Statement


For my senior project I set out to make a narrative short film of about twenty-five/thirty minutes in length. The script is a very loose adaptation of Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov, a novel about a member of the fading Russian gentry who raises idleness to an art form. Having retreated from bureaucratic society, he stays in bed for large stretches of the novel (particularly the first part) and receives his visitors in his room. He spends his days dreaming and daydreaming, all the while ignoring imperative and pressing practical matters regarding his estate and his lease. My story is set, rather, in 2019, and centers Toni, a recent college graduate. After her graduation, she asks her parents if she might stay on for another year in her apartment in a small town. It becomes clear that as the year goes on, rather than applying for jobs and internships, as her parents might have hoped, she has slipped into a state of deep lethargy and stagnation in which she scarcely leaves her room, shuns technology, and escapes into her books. Toni is an aspiring writer with a fiercely independent imagination that carries beneath it a stubbornness, and beneath that a sadness that mysteriously escapes any banal definition or prognosis one might have.

The bulk of the film was intended to take place in one day during February 2020, in which Toni receives three visitors: 1) her best friend from College, Iman, 2) Mary Grace, the Chaplain from her alma mater, and 3) her mother, Denise. Originally, I had intended for the visits to then restart and repeat in reverse order, with subtle and unsubtle variations in this second run through. In the process of filming and editing, I now have it so that about halfway through the film, we descend more so into dream logic than literal repetition (though some repetitive elements remain). My intent as the shooting went along—and especially in the editing room) became to convey Toni’s sense of time, which is stretched out and nonlinear. One day can feel like ten days, for she is submerged in her room, in the world of her subconscious, and does not follow the weekday schedule.

While the film is primarily concerned with language (spoken and textual—with all the differences inherent in these two modes of communication) and it’s failures, as well as with stasis, moments of music will provide the opportunity for a different sort of expression, as well as a certain kind of figurative movement. I am also concerned with the liminal space Toni exists in, between college graduation and a “career path”, and with her refusal to conform to societal expectations of productivity and purpose.

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