What are Fred Camper's six characteristics that most experimental films share?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Camper's attempt to define the avant- garde or the realm of experimental film is based in the idea that one can pull out aspects of an operational definition within the genre.  For Camper, one such criteria is the idea that the is one person or a small group of people who produce and develop the film.  It is here where the idea of the "miniscule budget" comes into focus.  The filmmaker creates a film on the most shoestring of funds and does so either by themselves or with a small group of people in order to maintain creative control of the project.  Another characteristic is that the filmmaker is the "autere" of the work.  This means that they are the "everything" in the production.  Camper argues that this individual is usually the "producer, director, scriptwriter, director of photography, cameraperson, editor, sound recordist, and sound editor, or performs at least half of those functions."  In terms of creative content, Camper suggests that the avant- garde film does not folllow a linear path of narrative storytelling and usually does not contain a clear message or theme.  The experimental or avant- garde film is precisely that because it experiments with both message and medium.  Along these lines, there is a challenge to the conventional means of using film to tell the story.  Cinematic elements are often challenged and redefined in the experimental film precisely because its energy is experimentation, as opposed to replication of what is.  In these, Camper suggests that the essence of the experimental or avant- garde film lies.