Senior English major Leah Cordova turns everyday life into video art. Even though her field of study is mainly composed of writing, Cordova is interested in film and has had the opportunity of weaving her writing skills into storytelling techniques for video art.
Her short video “Look At Me” presents a simple idea. Inspired by Christian Marclay’s work, Cordova decided to focus on one thing within a frame. That thing became a mirror, or the act of looking in a mirror.
For other sources of inspiration, Cordova often looked at her favorite photographers or filmmakers as well as “pretty mundane things like doing laundry, eating cereal, brushing teeth, stuff like that,” Cordova said.
“There’s a funny beauty to the way daily life is portrayed in photography or on film and I wanted to explore how that was done,” Cordova said.
“Look at Me” mainly focuses on a simple prop, in this case a mirror. How someone interacts with a mirror on a daily basis sheds light onto their character and personality. Cordova hopes this video encourages movie lovers to think about layers of looking, and all of its implications, not just within a film’s world, but within our experience as viewers too.
As a film minor, Cordova has learned about many filmmakers and how their work can impact society or simply start a conversation about a often overlooked topic.
“Some of my favorite filmmakers are Richard Linklater, Noah Baumbach, Sofia Coppola, the Coen Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, and Wes Anderson. Illustrators and animators like Jean Jullien and Liana Finck are also sources of inspiration,” Cordova said.
Her first step to create the “Look At Me” project was scanning through lots of movies she had previously watched, mainly via Netflix and Amazon Prime, but sometimes on YouTube.
“I used iShowU HD to record footage I wanted before uploading it to Final Cut Pro. During editing, making lists was really helpful. I categorized scenes by the mood I wanted them to portray, how a subject was positioned within the frame, and whether or not I wanted to keep its original sound,” Leah said.
Even though the video was just short of three minutes long, Cordova spend several hours acquiring footage, narrowing down her original idea, organizing her vision for the video and finally editing the piece.
For this video particularly, she turned to filmmakers of the French New Wave for inspiration. But the creative process not only entails becoming extremely inspired without first encountering any setbacks.
“I definitely worried about this video being boring or too long. After scanning through possible films, I ended up with more than 25 possible scenes. Too much footage. And every scene seemed essential,” Cordova said.
One of her main obstacles was cutting unnecessary bits. She ended up spending the majority of her time doing this. Another challenge for her was finding notable scenes with female protagonists or kids.
For Cordova, this is only her first video art project, yet she found the creative independence to transition and idea into a final piece that speaks beautifully and results in questioning ourselves about such a mundane and daily action in our lives like looking at a mirror.