Stunning images courtesy of Paul Clipson. Paul was introduced to me by Daniel Kasman of MUBI’s The Notebook. Paul was coming to Edinburgh to visit his mum and Daniel thought we’d get along. I ended up arranging for Paul to show his films at Edinburgh College of Art and a good crowd of students showed up to get their eyes drunk on his dazzling visuals.


Paul is a projectionist in San Francisco and with his spare cash he’s an experimental filmmaker, buying up Super-8 while it’s still out there and compiling elegantly layered movies of light and colour and movement.

Paul explained that much of his aesthetic is informed by what his camera can and can’t do. It allows him to wind the film back to do double, or triple, or infinituple exposures. But it only allows him to wind back a short way. Also, the films are edited entirely with film splicing, the traditional way, so there’s no opportunity to add longer dissolves or correct anything in post. All Paul does is select, prune, arrange.


The films are shown at longer events with live music played alongside the movies but without regard to their content — the musicians typically look at their keyboards so the ways in which the films interact with the “soundtrack” are entirely coincidental, but often startling. For our show, Paul had shorter versions of his films with pre-prepared accompaniment played out of his laptop.


The film’s are visually intoxicating — by crash-zooming on city lights and multi-layering via many exposures, Paul has created his own Stargate sequence a la 2001. He’s also got an effect going I’ve never seen anywhere else — by having various layers of foreground action passing between us and our nominal subject (for instance, a girl running in a forest with trees at different distances between us and her, momentarily occluding our view) and double exposing and cutting FAST, Paul can get a sequence to the point where our grasp of film language disintegrates — we can no longer tell if, at any moment, we are seeing a single image, a double exposure, a continuous shot, or a series of edits. It’s not that it all becomes a blur — each frame seems super-bright and clear, firing into our brains like a bullet — instead, the mass fragmentation results in a higher unity (a Höheren Einheit, if you will), where all the shots and layers fuse together in one.


Afterwards, the conversation briefly turned to Theodore Roszak’s cinematic conspiracy novel Flicker, and it only struck me later that if anybody ever manages to film that tome (and many, including Gilliam, have tried), Paul is the one person who could adequately visualize the occult film techniques employed within its pages…

3 Responses to “Collide-o-scope”

  1. I loved his style. ‘Absteigend’ was my favourite of the films he showed at the college. A bit like a Super 8 ‘Metropolis’.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, bits of Metropolis, Blade Runner, 2001… with all the people and stories cleared away.

  3. […] and intuition figure prominently in Clipson’s repertoire as an experimental filmmaker. It’s safe to say that a rather different side of him comes out in REEL, published by Land and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: