Going viral during the pandemic

One gratifying effect of the immense effort going on to build up online teaching resources for the next academic year in the Department of Film and Creative Writing is the ‘going viral’ of one such innovation. 

Before the End’ is a video essay - one of many being made by staff and students in the Department to bolster its resilience in the face of the pandemic. Running just two minutes and twenty seconds, this particular video essay struck a chord on Tuesday morning and via re-tweets and online sharing quickly went global.

The video essay simulates a video chat during lockdown between the characters of Jesse and Céline played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, 1995; Before Sunset, 2004; Before Midnight, 2013) that functions as a kind of sequel, while considering the impact of the pandemic on filmmaking, films, fans and characters too. 

Made by Professor Rob Stone, the work is primarily an experiment with updating the Kuleshov effect for social media. That is, showing how the juxtaposition of unrelated images will be read by a cinema audience as narrative, even though the projection of emotional connections between the images is, as here, entirely the construct of the audience.

It incorporates footage from the Q&As that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy did with Cameron Bailey for TIFF Originals on 30 April and 12 May 2020 respectively and was intended for study purposes only, but viewers worldwide have clearly responded to the emotional impact of seeing much-loved characters from the cult trilogy in quarantine and struggling to connect over video chat too. 

 

Rapidly approaching 100,000 views, the phenomena was reported on film sites and magazines as well as newspapers in Spain, Belgium, France, Russia, The Philippines and elsewhere, culminating in a glowing feature article on Indiewire, the world-renowned American film news website, which set the views soaring again. 

And a small selection of the global film press and media: 

As ever and as across the university, the Department of Film and Creative Writing is embracing new screen technologies to enhance its teaching and its research culture, while demonstrating that its expertise can also teach the world how it can be done.