Moving Pictures
Mar 01, 2024, 06:29AM

The Sequence Cut

A progress report on SATUR-19.

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Open on white, 30 seconds of anxious sound, soundtrack erupts in airplane engine roar over the title card, in black sans-serif font, TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE (an epigraph). Proceed with opening titles, consisting solely of participants names, without distinction of role or any line between cast and crew. Flashes of color erupt over the names MADISON KRCHNAVY and JULIA CELTNIEKS in time with the soundtrack, blurring into synthesizer strains that remind this hen of Radiohead (whoa, put down the bong, Monica…) These flashes of color are to be replaced later with panel frames of textured tiles painted by Melissa Smith. Over the card JORDAN ROMERO, a hint of blue sky peeks out of the bottom right corner, but this is something only some will see, a moment I only see one out of seven times. The credits continue, so many of them, all names, all without credit until the film’s second epigraph, a quote from Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell. And finally, a recurrence of the film’s title, SATUR-19, and BY NICKY OTIS SMITH.


A woman (played by Julia Celtnieks), wanders distressed through the night through various dislocated locations in close-ups and wide-shots, almost all of them underexposed (until I met them), filmed from January 2023 through March 2023. It’s a song sequence, essentially a music video, one I could’ve sold to MTV on the side 30 years ago, with a bottom left chyron displaying the artist (Nicky Otis Smith), the song title (“Whenever I Died I Died a Thousand Times”), the album title (SATUR-19), the label name (NARC Film), and the director (Nicky Otis Smith). Obviously these credits are redundant and unnecessary. Various other NARC Film actors appear in the segment (Jeanette Johnson, Madison Krchnavy), and I’m given free reign to sculpt the material by Da Boss. I thought I did a good job but Da Boss was bowled over, terrified himself of what he had shot and what I had come up with. He thanked me on his knees.


Shots of lights and a bed. Free reign within limits: nine shots, 30 seconds, nothing else to work with. Only room tone for sound, only furniture for actors. 30 seconds. I make it. He asked me what to call it. “Bed.” Well, Da Boss said he thought of that already—and that’s the title he had all along.


The breakdown section. When the movie implodes, collapsing in on itself and talking about itself. This sequence has yet to be rendered anywhere other than the mind of, ya guessed it, Da Boss. Pictures, colors, collages, sounds, title cards, deleted scenes, repurposed scenes, stock footage, manipulated footage, projected footage, every kind of transition used at a fraction of a second, the soundtrack a panicked action marimba, isolated but persistent and anxious, a riff that has to be looped and re-looped until we get to suddenly the point when it’s March and we’re late and we’re on Day 30 of 29.

Follow Monica Quibbits on Twitter: @MonicaQuibbits


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