Colour and B&W 16mm film, 8:33 min
Synopsis: A student film that deals with a young man’s struggle to understand the concept of God and religion.
The Cross was my third year film at OCAD. I think that of all my shorts from college this is the one that reeks the most of “student film”. I tried to tackle a big topic using ham-fisted visuals and overall I’m dissatisfied and somewhat embarrassed by the results.
The reaction of my classmates seemed to agree with this impression. When it was screened before the class, one woman said she felt is was an accurate depiction of a young person coming to grips with the concept of God and religion but she was in the minority. The consensus was that the film didn’t achieve it’s goal, was naive, that my character was too distinctly dressed and even my instructor Morris Wolfe, who generally enjoyed my work and was very encouraging said that the music was inappropriate and didn’t convey the proper mood.
Looking at it now I have to agree with the criticism. I present it here with the intention of creating an honest retrospective. The quality of the transfer from an old VHS tape is horrible and the narration is hard to make out at times ( I have a transcript of the dialogue here if you need it). I hope you’ll find it interesting in the context of the other films on this site.
The concept for the film sprang from a conversation I had with my mother about a christian minister who actually did lived across the street from us (in the house shown in the film). He’d moved out of the neighborhood and mailed an update that God had led his family to a great place in their new city. God had also helped them in other ways during their house hunting and my mother remarked something along the lines of “How does someone like that react to the death of their child?” Was it just “Oh well, it’s what God wanted.” or did it rock their faith? I didn’t know. So I, naively, decided to discuss my spiritual journey up until that time on film. My religious views have matured somewhat since that time but The Cross presents my then agnostic viewpoint and distaste for organized religion.
The Making Of:
Like The Ghost in the Machine before it, I shot The Cross using a Bolex camera and didn’t record any sound. This was the first time that I used color film and when the film was projected on the big screen the images of the cross burning looked great. We shot in the ravine down the street from my parent’s house and I’m surprised now that no one called the police. We dragged a twelve foot cross down the street, planted it in the woods and set it on fire with no incidents. To control the flames I used lighter fluid which burnt off quickly and did very little damage to the wood.
I’d say that The Cross was a necessary step toward my graduating film The Impostor. It familiarized me with editing on a steenbeck and the steps required to finish a film as a film (hiring a neg cutter and getting prints at a lab etc.). Buying the lumber and building the cross also made me confident that I could build my own set. So even though it’s a film that makes me wince in embarrassment at times, it’s existence made better films possible…
… and that’s why I’ve decided to post it here.