So many great filmmakers got their start directing short films: Martin Scorsese made several well-received shorts while at NYU, David Lynch's shorts contain the same unsettling DNA as his features, and Paul Thomas Anderson's pre-Boogie Nights Dirk Diggler first existed in short film form. Jane Campion is no different. Her shorts demonstrate the dark humor and visual style, especially the ones she made while studying at the Australian Film and Television School in the 1980s -- 3 of which Cinephilia and Beyond has compiled and shared. Continue on to check out these noteworthy shorts.
Jane Campion rose to fame with her first feature-length film Sweetie, which explores the dysfunction of a family through the relationship of two very different sisters. However, her romantic drama set in the mid-19th century, The Piano, garnered 3 Academy Awards, one of which went to Campion for Best Screenplay.
She followed the path many filmmakers before her (and after her) have followed -- gaining experience in shorts before moving on to features. In fact, her first short film Peel, also known as An Exercise in Discipline, was used in a screenwriting class I took in college that operated under that same concept of cutting your teeth on shorts before trying your hand at features.
Check out her shorts, Peel, A Girl’s Own Story, and Passionless Moments below:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/50606084
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8dF2fmb5rY
Cinephilia and Beyond's article mentions several possible influences on Campion's early work: David Lynch, Maya Deren, and even German Expressionism. The worlds to which she transports her viewers are quite dark, strange and highly stylized, so, in my opinion, it's not hard to make those connections. Check out the trailer for Sweetie below and see if you agree.
The interesting thing about seeing Campion's early work is that her visual style was present early on. The peculiar storytelling of Peel is there in Sweetie. The seedy and at times darkly comical style of A Girl’s Own Story and Passionless Moments is there in In the Cut and An Angel at my Table. Though she grew and evolved as a filmmaker over the years, she was still able to rely on her early cinematic sensibilities.
What do you think of Jane Campion's early work? How do her shorts compare to her features? Let us know what you think in the comments.
[via Cinephilia and Beyond]