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Deciphering ‘All The Bulbous Accidents’

July 8, 2009

I’ve watched thousands of movies and written about a few of them. I’ve wondered, is there perhaps a link, a connection, between every film; no matter how long or short, expensive or bargain basement-priced, or high profile or below the radar they may be? Could this link be interpretation? Almost always, one film means something different to someone else. Everyone can see film differently.

Take All The Bulbous Accidents, a 3-minute animated poem written by my girlfriend,  Sarah Pearlstein, and animated by our friend Juliet Schneider (Ova). I’ve seen it a half dozen times, and each viewing brought new meaning.

I asked Sarah and Juliet what All The Bulbous Accidents really means. Still, you can draw your own conclusions Thursday, July 9th, at 7 PM at the Somerville Theater, when it screens before Rod Webber’s documentary A Man Among Giants.


BEANYWOOD: What was your inspiration for the poem?

SARAH PEARLSTEIN: It was motivated into being written by the process of waking up, basically. That space between being asleep and being awake; and being in this really tiny basement apartment with two little windows.

BEANYWOOD: As the animator, what do you believe is the visual message of “All The Bulbous Accidents”?

JULIET SCHNEIDER: A reflection of inner darkness and distortion of self, coupled with a sense of suffocating angst.  However, there is hope and beauty to counteract all of that.

BEANYWOOD: Obviously you both didn’t always agree on everything. What was your method of give-and-take in creating ATBA?

SCHNEIDER: Sarah allowed me ample freedom to work with her words and gave me the time and space I needed to get to know the piece. First, I shot some test footage of Sarah as Ingrid and used that as a base layer for other video and animated drawings.  I had Sarah highlight words in her poem that she most wanted to see illustrated.  We recorded audio of Sarah reading the poem. Then began a process of creating and reviewing rough cuts – adjusting images and audio until we were both satisfied with the results.

PEARLSTEIN: Juliet knew how to serve the animation in such a way that it felt right. She knew how to choreograph the images in a way that felt right. I felt like she was choreographing my thoughts by marrying animation to it. Now I can’t see the people without the animation at all. The poem felt unfinished. The movie allowed me to have a second chance at the poem and Juliet completed it. It was mostly based on the time we spent together in the studio. We’d discuss it and Juliet would go and freely animate it. From time to time we’d meet to discuss its progress. We used the poem as the structure. And we found that the poem divided itself into quatrains. Not neat quatrains, but four different elements. I didn’t re-write it at all. I just started to hear the poem differently after I read it to [Juliet] so many times.


BEANYWOOD: And what elements did you feel had to be changed?

PEARLSTEIN: The pacing. To me, the music was the thing that brought the piece together in the end  When we added the music, the music changed the pacing. The movie wasn’t based on a piece of music. But I felt like the poem contained the possibility of being lyrical but it needed the music to bring it out.

BEANYWOOD: The music, is it an original piece? How do you go about choosing it?

SCHNEIDER: The music is called “Sensitive Data” by Chris Korda.  Sarah suggested we use his music, and Chris generously gave us permission to use any of his compositions, so we chose an ethereal instrumental track which fit perfectly with the tone of Sarah’s words.

BEANYWOOD: Do you see ATBA film as the first in a series of animated poems?

SCHNEIDER: I hope so.  I really enjoyed this collaboration.  I’m looking forward to collaborating with other poets/writers, and musicians.


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