Whilst my strong initial reaction to Ariel Avissar’s text was to immediately reflect on my feelings about Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report (a film I had passively avoided for a number of years) the eventual form the video essay would take was much less obvious to me, and would remain that way for some time. I have reflected previously on my making process (nascent as it may be) and the fact that I will often spend a significant amount of time outside the video editing software, working through an idea in my head, rather than with the footage. In this particular case, and in search of inspiration, I took this process a step further by immersing myself in the physical archive of the film, seeking out some of the para-textual material which accompanied the film’s release. I sourced film magazine reviews (including my own online review, thanks to the Wayback Machine), marketing material, a CD-ROM press kit and (with no small amount of nostalgia) a Nokia 7650 mobile phone which featured the film on its promotional material and even came preloaded with the film’s trailer. Though none of this material was sourced with the intention of it feeding into the final video essay, it inevitably shaped the form of the work by simply being proximal to my thinking. Most usefully, the bold headings in the magazine reviews gave me an opportunity to physically engage with the prompt text, avoiding the need to re-voice it, which allowed both the prompt text and my voice-over to exist as separate entities, separate memories, bridged (somewhat) through the videographic process.
The final shape of the work was finally defined by the short clip of Victor Burgin which opens the video essay. During a lecture he gave in 2000 he mentions, somewhat in passing, the après-coup, which he defines as “...something that hits you hard, long after the event, something that didn’t mean very much at the time but later in retrospect becomes very influential, even traumatic” (2000). My video essay turned then on this short sentence, seeking to become something cathartic, something recuperative, which might respond to my après-coup, and have a positive impact on me and my memories of Minority Report, simply through the process of making.
This is most apparent in the closing of the video essay where, with the help of my son, we liberated Sean Anderton from the closed loop of the film’s narrative, and re-projected him into our own new experience of this cinematic moment. In truth then, for me, it is in the making of this moment, this short walk down a quiet lane with my son, which is both the challenge and reward of making this video essay. Beyond that I present the finished work effectively for an audience of one, for Ariel Avissar, and thank him for sharing his screen memory with me.
Burgin, Victor. 2000. ‘Nietzsche’s Paris/The Time of the Image,’ AA School of Architecture Lecture, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOOncf6fcxU.
Cormac Donnelly is a Senior Lecturer in Film at Liverpool John Moores University. His research interests include Film Sound, Film Craft History and Videographic Criticism. He has published video essays in NECSUS, The Cine-Files, [in]Transition, and Screenworks, and his work has appeared in the Sight and Sound ‘Best Video Essay’ polls in 2019, 2020 & 2021. He currently holds an associate editor position at [in]Transition and is researching a PhD at the University of Glasgow in videographic practice and film sound.