Center for Visual Music


Excerpts from "Experimental Filmmaking: The FilmArt of Jordan Belson"

(Interview by Larry Sturhahn)


(Belson) "My films are more like looking at a painting than looking at a Cinemascope screen. That my origins are in painting has brought a painting consciousness to filmmaking, and that's a different kind of picture than long-shots and panoramic views and things like that. One looks at a painting and doesn't question the focus. If the artist chooses to be soft, heavily textured, smeary, or whatever, it's accepted, not held up against a standard of whether it's in focus and how much detail shows."....


"My camera is an inner camera which doesn't do very well when it points out at external reality. I'm trying to focus on something, bring it back alive from the uncharted areas of the inner image, inner space."


The hallucinatory aspect of imagery is certainly inherent in my work and in the ideas relevant to my work. Then I design into them pacing and tempo, a willingness to leave the picture entirely for a moment. There's need for a space to catch your breath, time to handle a climactic experience. There's modulation in the work, almost like a composer - a Debussy - would use.

These are ideas that can be used in any form of filmmaking. I want to cause the viewer to travel with the artist, even go through areas that are, in a sense, non-material places, although the sense of moving through them is very real. It can be a gigantic visual experience rather than a tepid or ordinary one. In a regular film, when do you see the screen light up, turn all golden, and then break down into shimmering particles? These are total images....

But I get there more through symphonic music than through picture. At this moment I would say my work is more influenced by ideas that derive from the worlds of painting, graphics, and music than from the world of motion pictures. I feel more like a composer and a painter than a film producer.



Originally published in Filmmakers Newsletter 8, No 7, May 1975.


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