Film by Prof. Eric Weeks wins at film and screenplay festival

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Friday, August 11th, 2023

The Great Basin! Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Desert, a film by Photography & Video Chair Eric Weeks, was the winner of the Best Nature Film award at the recent Environmental Film & Screenplay Festival 2023.

The full project is a film, book, and print endeavor that addresses climate change, the severe drought in the Western United States, gun culture, the military’s use of the basin and range of Nevada for atomic testing, cultural stereotypes, Weeks’ personal history, and his experiences in this mostly remote area. The 15-minute short film includes complex collages of Weeks’ still and motion captures made in Nevada with appropriated short clips from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, recent weather footage, The Lone Ranger, historic films with John Wayne and others, cartoons, and other cultural artifacts. They all combine to speak to the place and its significance.

Bruce Conner‘s short films are very much informing my current work,” Weeks says. “Starting with his first film, A Movie (1958), Conner appropriated found footage and montaged disparate imagery in order to speak about current culture and events, including the Cold War.

Dara Birnbaum‘s Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (1978), a re-edit of television’s Wonder Woman footage, and Christian Marclay‘s The Clock (2010), which consists of over 12,000 appropriated clips from the history of cinema, are also inspirations.” And, he adds, “Stanley Kubrick’s work is, of course, an important reference and influence.”

The book component of The Great Basin! Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Desert project references Pocket Western pulp fiction books from the 1940s and 1950s, appropriating their design. The inside pages collage stills and text are derived from the film’s audio. The book also includes the short story, And You Come Across the Basin Alone, that Weeks wrote under an assumed pen name. 

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View The Great Basin trailer here