The Paper Masters — Ish Klein


I work in the digital film medium. Classic film looks great but it takes a lot more energy and/or money to do. Video gives you so many editing options: you can take a simple series of pictures and through editing with filters and masks load them with new color, pace and meaning. I think it’s more forgiving in that you can try something, keep it or reject it and start again without consequences to the source material. With film, my impression is that you have to be careful with the cutting or after a while everything will be occluded by scotch tape. Unless you transfer a copy of the film to digital for editing purposes.

Anyway, when Greg and I first got to Amherst I made some little marionette figures. I found I could not achieve fluid movement with the marionettes; I thought it would not be a good movie and so I moved on.

Last year my friend Lydia Wilson asked if I would make a movie for the release party of the Cambridge Literary Review. I said ‘yes.’ My first idea was to make a melodrama. I wanted to show moments where old circling waves of feeling get entangled in language or something. I had seen a video by George Kuchar, which was a sort of horror story at a dinner table where he keeps passing a head on a platter to his mother for her to take a piece of it and she keeps pushing it away; it is unclear if she knows she is being videoed.

To make this video I dug out the figures and decided to make their lack of mobility one of their frustrations. I asked Greg Purcell (my partner who is also a writer) and Jedediah Berry (one of our best friends who is also a writer) to participate. It is significant to me that we are all writers because we’re trying to get more out of life through language. I wrote the script quickly and without too much analysis. I shot it in a tent that I made by putting a table on top of a table and draping it with black felt. It was a little like a sweat lodge.

We read the script in the sweat lodge and I recorded it. After that I used the lodge to film the figures and Greg who is the face of Wiseman. After that it was just putting the pieces together in imovie and then dropboxing it. I am grateful to have another chance to share it with people through Masque and Spectacle.


Ish Klein is the author of UNION!, Moving Day and Consolation and Mirth, all published by Canarium Books. She is a founding member of the Connecticut River Valley Poets Theater (CRVPT) wherein she writes plays including: The Orchids, Drummer 41 and the Faust Remake: In A Word, Faust. A DVD compilation of her videos, Success Window, was released by Poor Claudia. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with her partner: writer Greg C. Purcell.