Hey guys, you must have already know that I once made a short film during the semester break of 2003. At that time I feel a sense of pride in watching it 😀 hey! It’s my first film! But watching it again these days made me feel like I’ve made a very crappy film after all. You can watch it on YouTube or here:

I’m thinking about giving a subtitle to some dialogue inside (it’s not many but it’s a plot point anyway).

It happened some time on June 2003, when I walked in front of the Basketball field when my buddies Aji and Afrie called me from the other end of the field and asked me to participate in some kind of a short film project which will be screened. The deadline is due in two weeks. They asked whether I have some cool ideas that are also feasible to be imaged with a very limited budget.

My original idea involved only the final part where the guy (played by my buddy Aji) deals with a difficult problem and compares it with a Kung Fu fight. So the whole ten or so minutes deals only with solving the problem, drawing a parallel between solving a problem with martial art fighting, kinda cool, eh? 😀 But the other guys suggest another thing and since this is a collaboration, I have to give way to another idea. They like the parallel idea, but they want to widen the events involved into a variety of activities that are usually dealt by students.

Hence the idea. They also want me to direct the film. It turns out that, due to limited resources, I have to do pretty much anything else, from holding the lamp (while somebody hold the camera) to editing the materials. We work mostly without script, just some (very) rough storyboard on how things progress. It took us a whole day to create this, and 4 of 5 day of shooting, and another whole day to transfer the tape into digital. It then took us a whole night for me and Yasir to figure out how Vegas Video 3.0 works (at that time it is surprisingly easier and it also did a quicker rendering than Adobe Premiere) and two or three more nights until we get want we want: A final version! We show it to our friends and they like it very much (otherwise they aren’t our friend :D). And then comes the big day when Campus Screening is on. Most of the audiences like our film, I tell it by the amount of ovation we receive.

I tried to elaborate the idea further by thinking about a material for second short film where a twin couple wakes up one day with different agenda for the day: one is going for an exam an another one is participating in a martial-art tournament. There will be lots of intercutting between the two events that parallels with each other. Hmmmm…it’s totally derivative so I discard the idea although it’s kinda interesting.

Rene DescartesI also try to elaborate the idea of reality vs. imagination by developing an elaborate fighting scene (yes, I like the idea of a fighting scene very much) which in the end of the film is revealed to be a virtual reality machine that gives a stimulus to the brain. Hmmm….it’s very The Matrix eh? It’s actually from Rene DescartesMeditations which questions the nature of reality. The questions of the nature of reality is also a longstanding question posed by the ancient Greeks, like Plato for example. These questions about reality has become a recurring themes in philosophy that repeatedly answered with different approaches.

Jean BaudrillardSpeaking of reality, the title of the film itself, Simulacrum, is a term coined by Jean Baudrillard, a french philosopher. Baudrillard argues that how societies are organized based on symbols and signs. Reality is then overtaken by these images, symbols, and signs, called simulacra, that perceived as more real than the banal reality itself. Hence, a simulacrum, which is actually a copy of reality, has replace reality and is perceived as the reality.

Do I look sophisticated by speaking about Descartes and Baudrillard in the last two paragraphs? Or have I just reach a new level of honesty that borders on stupidity? Heck, anyhow I’m not sure whether I’m going to make any film in the future.

Written by Tri L. Astraatmadja

After living for 10 years in Europe as a Master's student, PhD researcher, and a postdoc, in 2016 Tri L. Astraatmadja moved on to the United States for a second postdoctoral appointment at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington DC. He is now in his third postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD.

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