Theories of Personal Experimental Filmmaking

Course Title: Theories of Personal Experimental Filmmaking

Organiser: EFS Film School

Tutor: Rouzbeh Rashidi

Duration: Six weeks

Date: To be announced (TBA)

Time: The event is set to take place from 4:00 PM (16:00) to 6:00 PM (18:00), observing Central European Time (CET), the time zone that synchronizes with Berlin, Germany's local time.

Location: Online

City: Internet

Course Introduction:

'Theories of Personal Experimental Filmmaking' is a six-week course conducted over six consecutive sessions (one per week) via Zoom conference calls.

This entirely theoretical and philosophical course offers a profound exploration into the rich history of alternative film and video, a diverse range of artist practices, and deeply personalised methodologies. Moreover, it equips you with the crucial mental and poetic knowledge required to embark on your subjective journey towards establishing a distinct experimental film practice.

The program is designed as a harmonious blend of film viewings, thought-provoking lectures steeped in lyrical and philosophical, engaging discussions, and insightful readings. Students will understand how certain filmmakers and artists have harnessed film, video, and digital media to experiment with moving images, thereby pushing the medium's boundaries and their perception of the world surrounding them. The course aims to explore how seminal films and their creators have explored film and video's material and conceptual possibilities, reshaping our comprehension of what the medium of alternative Cinema can truly embody.

This course highlights the growing importance and relevance of personal and poetic experimental moving image-making and its practices in today's world. It addresses the paradox of the often-overlooked presence of moving images in modern life against the backdrop of the unsettling sociopolitical audio-visual landscape of the 21st century. The course underscores the moving image as a personalised 'memory' and 'perception', subject to constant reconfiguration and updating, thereby fostering a deeper comprehension of its profound significance.

Learning Outcomes:

The course originates from and is profoundly influenced by Rouzbeh Rashidi's Homo Sapiens Project. This ongoing initiative represents a bold plunge into filmic experimentation, acting as a breeding ground for imaginative Cinema. Since its inception in 2000, this unconventional endeavour has navigated numerous radical metamorphoses, fluctuating between systematic progression and simultaneous regression.

Initially serving as a unique experimental platform, it has gradually expanded its reach and significance. This transition is due to its profound and discerning scrutiny of the individual's existential human condition and its intricate interplay with societal limitations. As a result, the course aims to produce various tangible and theoretical results.

The course will necessitate rigorous research into unique filmmaking practices and techniques, culminating in the production of singular and collective moving image works under specialised guidance. This exploration will not only enhance the comprehension of experimental filmmaking but also provide hands-on experience in creating such pieces. Therefore, it prepares students with the imaginative skills and knowledge for their future pursuits in this evolving field.

Artist's Choice:

Since the advent of the new millennium in 2000, Rouzbeh Rashidi has assiduously sculpted a radical approach in the sphere of experimental moving images. His work plunges into a deeply personal vision, transmuting everyday spaces and individuals he encounters into a surreal odyssey that expands the constraints of Cinema's transformative prowess. These images mature into personalised 'memories', serving as custodians for both self-identity and perceived reality.

The Homo Sapiens Project (HSP), a perpetually evolving initiative, epitomises the most steadfast manifestation of this process. This unique 'film diary', which originated as a 'laboratory' of cinematic forms, has exhibited an uncanny correlation to issues that have ascended to prominence with the current influx in moving images and film production. It accentuates the escalated existential implications of personally-generated moving images, their irreplaceable role in circumnavigating isolation, alienation, and identity crisis, and their capacity to reshape perceptions of space, memory, and time.

This project also poses a captivating question: how can one sustain a productive filmmaking practice when the traditionally industrial and conventional methodologies of filmmaking fall short in eliciting poetic and transcendental sensory experiences? The course aspires to magnify and draw out such qualities, concentrating on the lyrical, ethereal, and sensory potentials of experimental filmmaking.

Rashidi and HSP have consistently perceived filmmaking in this light, regarding it as a critical tool for personal exploration. This viewpoint, coupled with the exploration and impartation of this ethos, will establish the bedrock of this course.

General Guidelines:

This course is meticulously structured to accommodate diverse participants, including artists from various disciplines, filmmakers, creative spirits, and anyone yearning to acquire an innovative comprehension and poetical methodology or enhance their existing ability in experimental Cinema and artists' moving image practices. We warmly welcome and encourage participation from individuals of all experience levels.

It's pivotal to highlight that this course significantly deviates from traditional filmmaking classes. This course delves profoundly into poetics, philosophy, and intuitive mental strategies, fostering a lifelong journey of living and creating within experimental film practice. The overarching goal of this course is to cultivate a deeply personal environment conducive to crafting poetic Cinema.

Please note that the sessions will not encompass instructions on camera operation or editing skills. Instead, we place our confidence in each participant's intuition and creative ingenuity in utilising their unique means of production.

Benefits, Methods and Topics of Teaching:

Participants will refine their capacity and methodological, lyrical, and intuitive talents in articulating themselves through sensory and audio-visual artistic modalities.

The tutor will guide students on a profoundly personal and unconventional level, providing insights on how to forge an individual and distinct experimental film practice through a series of lived experiences and lectures. Our student body represents a diverse amalgamation of backgrounds and experiences. While some are seasoned filmmakers with many films to their credit, others may be venturing into Cinema and filmmaking for the first time. Irrespective of their initial proficiency, all students will learn how to reinvent and reimagine themselves and their working methodologies, embarking on a journey towards cultivating an intensely poetic vision.

As invaluable tools for learning and inspiration, a wealth of reference materials will be provided, including films, essays, books, and web links. Furthermore, students can collectively share their thoughts and concerns as creators, fostering open dialogues about their projects, themes, and concepts.

Participants will gain profound insights into numerous critical dialogues pertinent to the production and distribution of contemporary experimental Cinema. They will learn to weave these ideas into their work through practical tasks, enriching their artistic repertoire. Additionally, the course offers exclusive access to materials from a series of internationally acclaimed film artists affiliated with the Experimental Film Society.

Programme (theory and poetics): 'Lectures, Viewings, Discussions and Readings'

Rouzbeh Rashidi has meticulously curated an array of performative lectures and interactive screenings/discussions, drawing upon his extensive years of experience in both the practical and theoretical aspects of filmmaking. Rashidi's dedicated passion for exploration and experimentation becomes strikingly evident through his dynamic teaching approach in these sessions. These lectures provide an insightful window into a continuous and interwoven process of ideation and creation, from which the core principles of Cinema organically unravel. Rather than offering a conclusive statement, they act as a momentary capture of an ever-evolving body of work that progressively gathers momentum and intensity over time.

As Rashidi articulates, "My journey in experimental filmmaking embarked in the landmark year of 2000. From the outset, I was trapped by a singular yet profound notion - the pursuit to decipher the intrinsic essence and relevance of Cinema in this nascent millennium. This unyielding exploration has persistently ignited my aspiration to innovate, experiment, and delve deep into the recesses of my unique filmmaking laboratory. I do not categorise myself as a traditional educator; my identity is profoundly intertwined with being a filmmaker, first and foremost. Nonetheless, I disseminate my distinct viewpoints and methodologies about filmmaking, thereby providing context and augmenting both my creative pursuits and those of others. Furthermore, I derive tremendous satisfaction from crafting complex, poetic, and philosophical dialogues among fellow artists, filmmakers, and myself. Consequently, I am passionately formulating pedagogical strategies that are harmonious with my work and the manner in which I convey my thoughts through the medium of Cinema."

Film viewing constitutes an integral component of the theoretical segment of this program. A significant part of the course will be dedicated to viewing carefully handpicked examples from the rich history of Cinema and works produced by artists affiliated with the Experimental Film Society and Rouzbeh Rashidi. Engaging with film viewing is crucial to attaining a comprehensive understanding of the course content and facilitating a beneficial learning experience. Hence, the importance of screening a broad spectrum of titles is emphatically underscored.

Course Content:

Week 1: We kick off the course with the engrossing performative lecture titled "A Few Thoughts on the Moving Image". This will be followed by a curated list of recommended viewings and readings to be explored before our next meeting. These resources will form the basis for an in-depth discussion during the subsequent week.

Week 2: The second week's spotlight is on the illuminating performative lecture, "Concepts of Cinema". As with the previous week, a selection of must-see films and essential readings will be suggested for you to delve into, paving the way for a rich and insightful discussion in our following session.

Week 3: This week features two thought-provoking performative lectures, namely "Cinema Thoughts Part One" and "Ghosts and Methodologies". A fresh set of recommended viewings and readings will be provided, setting the stage for another exciting round of discussion next week.

Week 4: In this week's performative lecture, we will explore "The Films That Only You Can Make". As always, a new array of recommended viewings and readings will be shared, inviting you to deepen your understanding and prepare for the upcoming discussion.

Week 5: We present two compelling performative lectures: "For A Personal Cinema" and "When You Have Got Nothing You Have Got Nothing To Lose". Afterwards, you will be given a list of carefully selected viewings and readings that will further enrich your knowledge and provoke thoughtful discourse in the following week.

Week 6: The final week involves a comprehensive presentation and dissection of Rouzbeh Rashidi's Homo Sapiens Project. This will serve as a tangible model and case study, inspiring students to embark on the creation and initiation of their own filmmaking experimentation laboratory.


The duration of the course is six weeks.

Classes are scheduled every Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Central European Time (CET Time Zone).

All classes will be held via Zoom conference calls.

Age Requirement: Enrolment in this course requires a minimum age of 18 years.

Language: The medium of instruction for this course is English. Language Code: EN-GB.

Tuition Fee: The total cost for the course is €400, payable in a one-time payment only.