Great use of a sound installation.
SIGNS - a short film by Patrick Hughes
The story line is simple and heart warming. It is told from the point of view of Jason, the main character. Jason works in a city, and although people surround him most of the day he lives a lonely life. He is in search for a companion and everyone he meets brings false hope. The turning point comes when he spots Stacey through his office window. She works in the office building next door. She notices him too and they begin to communicate via hand written signs. The story develops as Jason becomes happier and they grow closer through signs. The film ends with their first face-to-face meeting at an intersection. Although the story line is so simple the film is interesting because it displays an unusual chance encounter that is suspenseful, and unsuspecting.
The first element that is introduced to this film is sound. The steady beeping of an alarm clock grows louder and is joined by music when a mid shot of Jason lying in bed is revealed. His entire bed takes up the frame and he is lying on his back in the middle of two pillows proving that he is alone. As he sits up in his bed it cuts to a wide shot that shows Jason looking out of the window onto the beginning of his day. Through a series of close ups and mid range shots Jason gets dressed, eats breakfast, and makes the commute to work. We follow him to his office job and after work he does his morning routine backwards, he commutes back home, eats, and undresses, sits up in bed gazing out of the window, lies down and sleeps. To emphasis this monotonous cycle the same framing techniques are used. The alarm clock beeps and his day starts all over again. The music is slow, steady, and melancholy; it mirrors Jason’s mundane daily routine.
Jason and Stacey remained mute throughout the film, except for one moment where Jason bursts out in hysterics at Stacey’s actions; he is quickly shushed and reminded of reality. All of the sounds in Jason’s world, the alarm clock, photocopier, traffic etc. were heard over the music. The music along with the sounds of his day to day routine allows the audience to connect with Jason’s internal and external world.
When he meets Stacey his daily cycle initially remains the same but his mood changes. Jason’s change of mood is noted in all elements of the film. In the beginning, his aloneness is exemplified by the use of color, light, and sound. The film is shot in very bright light but the color is de-saturated, and there are hardly any blacks, just grays, and whites for the first part of the film. When Jason first spots Stacey the color yellow is introduced. She is seen in her office framed between two yellow columns. For the moments that follow, yellow is seen in every frame. When Jason is walking to work the next day, yellow is overwhelmingly present in the frame. Also, after the initial interaction between Jason and Stacey, there is a change in the music; it becomes happier and more hopeful. The use of yellow and the change in the music both signify that something is changing for the better in Jason’s life. The music becomes quicker, more energetic as their relationship grows and the color green appears, then red, etc, until all colors are present.
As Jason becomes more excited and energetic to take on his day, music, sound, and color are not the only elements to reflect that change. His days seem to pass by quicker and the shots become shorter he breaks the cycle at the moment of the anticlimax. The music changes into an upbeat but suspicious tempo. It gives the feeling that something great and disastrous is about to happen. He rushes to work with the purpose of showing Stacey his “do you want to meet?” sign. He is so excited that he runs in and out of the frames only to be disappointed, when he notices that Stacey is no longer in her office, and has been replace by a new worker. Although Jason is disappointed all the color remains in the shots that follow and the music remains upbeat, therefore we get the sense that hope remains.
Stacey signals him from another office and he is given the chance to show the “do you want to meet” sign. This is the climax and the same framing techniques as the anticlimax are used. He breaks out of his cycle once again when he rushes out of the office to meet Stacey face-to face. Again he is so excited that even the frames cannot keep up with him.
All of these elements build up into the climax’s final moment, the meeting at the intersection. The frame catches up with Jason as he waits to cross the intersection. Mid close ups of both Stacey and Jason reveal their anticipation. The scene cuts to a shot of the light changing from don’t walk to walk. As they walk towards each other, the shots are alternating between Jason and Stacey. As they get closer, the cinematography changes and includes both of them in every frame until the end. The movie ends with a wide shot of Jason and Stacey standing in the middle of the intersection staring at each other. Including both Jason and Stacey in the frame proves that Jason is no longer alone, and signifies the end of his mundane daily routine and the beginning of something new.
Two other sounds I created. How do they make you feel? Or what do they make you think of?
This is amazing!!! I love how she transfers sound onto different mediums so that different senses can experience it. I don’t understand why the video had so much sound though, watching it on mute makes so much more sense and you can see and feel her intent.