Filmmaker Focus: Libbey White

The AAFF is committed to championing bold, pioneering, artistically-inspired filmmakers and connecting them with audiences. For this edition of Filmmaker Focus we hear about a new project in development from Libbey White, whose memorable found footage film Evilution! screened at the 46th AAFF.

As a kid, I used to worry that at bedtime I'd accidentally start thinking about thinking, and would be unable to fall asleep. That bottomless iteration was so beguiling it would sometimes take me an hour to let it go. Now that I've grown up I can manage thinking about thinking a little better. My new film project will represent my current take on it-- it's a meditative short film on fractals and how much they have in common with our states of mind and personalities. My intention is not to give a neuroscience or math lesson, but to illustrate the patterns in detail and let the associations speak for themselves.  

The research I've been doing for this project is fascinating -- I love reading books that contain figure captions like these: "Oscillations of a hosepipe," "The pace of the camel and the bound of the long-tailed Siberian souslik," and "Various states of the catastrophe machine." I'm not making these up! But I really find it to be very inspiring and profound content to sift through. In both fractal geometry and our daily lives, there are these dramatic points of instability, where a system's behavior becomes unpredictable in the details while remaining part of a consistent pattern overall. These bifurcation points are extremely sensitive to tiny fluctuations in the environment, and what happens at them is partly determined by a system's history.

Every decision we make, from choosing a yellow windbreaker or a black one, choosing to shake hands or just nod, to eat French toast or an omelette, to move halfway across the world or to stay put--  I think these bear more than just a passing resemblance to bifurcation points. My goal is to explore and reveal that relationship, along with a few others, in the film. I can't resist holding these precise, mathematically-defined axioms and systems up to our messy and deeply personal experience of consciousness.

There are several challenging aspects to this project-- limiting my scope, first of all! And also striking the right balance between character-driven scenes and fractal scenes,  creating an aesthetic style that pulls both sides together and makes the whole thing feel cohesive, and deciding how explicit I want to try to make the connections. The next step for me right now is to narrow down the list of emotional states, decisions, and/or thought processes I want to portray, and figure out what I want them to look like in 2D or stop motion animation.

I hope one of my current projects lands me back at the Ann Arbor Film Festival-- I had a wonderful time there, met so many inspiring people, saw amazing films, and felt recharged and energized when I left. Keep up the great work!

Posted on December 07th, 2008