I always find the films showing the work behind the magic fascinating. That’s because seeing the work makes the magic accessible and possible and human. Otherwise, one can only wonder.
In Gregory Crewdson’s case, the magic takes a lot of time, people and a lot of money. But most of all, it takes his vision and his talent to spot something in the back of his mind and make it reality. ‘The whole process of making art is an act of faith in a way’ he says in the beginning of the film.
Behind the scenes
Brief Encounters, directed by Ben Shapiro, follows Gregory Crewdson for almost a decade. It is a film not only about the mind and the personality of this artist but also about the ‘behind the scenes’ process of making many of his iconic images. And that’s a very curious thing to see.
Some of his photos’ costs of production are comparable to an independent feature film. He has a whole team behind him. And the people he photographs are not actors, many of them have never been on a set.
Gregory Crewdson’s voice and stories in voice-over accompany many of the scenes. We see him being interviewed as well and we see him at work. He tells about the process of ‘finding’ the photos, but also about his past, his views and his call for photography. There are also many people interviewed, people who know him well or know his work well.
The photographer and his team worked in the same group of towns in Massachusetts for over 20 years. Gregory Crewdson’s carefully staged photos are a surreal interpretation of small town American life. In the film, he says he doesn’t know what drives me towards this scenery, but as one gets to know more about him through the film, one gets a certain feel of those places and a certain personal insight into this photographer’s mind and view.