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Stefanie Schneider
Rendering Memories (The Girl behind the White Picket Fence) - Polaroid, Portrait

2013

About the Item

Rendering Memories (The Girl Behind the White Picket Fence) - 2013 40x48cm, Edition of 10, plus 2 Artist Proofs. Archival C-Print, based on the original Polaroid. Signature label and certificate. Artist Inventory #13338. Not mounted. Offered is a piece from the movie: The Girl Behind the White Picket Fence. Written and directed by Stefanie Schneider A tale told with blemished and expired Polaroid film about the hopes and dreams of a newly orphaned girl after losing her parents who lived in the Californian desert in an old travel trailer. -filmed with Polaroid film stock and Super-8 footage, overlaid with poetic voice-over monologue - this feature film creates a dynamic kaleidoscope of words and pictures, a dreamy tale that channels Terrence Malick, Gus Van Sant, and pages torn from a lonely girl's journal. (Palms Springs life magazine / Caroline Ryder) Stefanie Schneider By Caroline Ryder Travel up a bumpy dirt road in Morongo Valley, the trail strewn with rocks, and you’ll come upon a gigantic 1950s trailer in pristine condition, ringed by a white picket fence, with cottontail rabbits hopping among neat little rose bushes that bloom in spite of the broiling desert heat. Inside the trailer are period accents—a vintage radio, vintage fridge, little crocheted doilies, and dusty gilt-framed photographs. It’s a surreal home-sweet-home, an Americana fantasy as imagined by German artist and experimental filmmaker Stefanie Schneider whose work is so inspired by the desert landscape, she made it her home in 2005. “There’s a completely different light here than in Germany, a beautiful light,” says Schneider, whose property in Morongo is dotted with vintage trailers. They surround her midcentury home and serve as sets for her photoshoots or as guest lodgings for her friends from Hollywood and Berlin. “But what I really love about the desert is the desolation,” she continues. “The sense of hope for something that might or might not come. It’s easy to see our dreams projected in the desert.” Famed for shooting trailer park chic fine art photographs exclusively on vintage Polaroid film, Schneider recently completed her most ambitious project to date—a feature film made entirely of Polaroid stills (4000 images in total), the story set around her magnificent 1950s trailer. The film, called “The Girl Behind The White Picket Fence” tells the story of a broken-hearted girl who lives in the trailer. Her name is Heather, and she is played by model Heather Megan Christie, girlfriend of actor Joaquin Phoenix, and former partner of Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis, with whom she has a son. Heather stars opposite Kyle Larson (who plays ‘Hank’), a real-life gypsy fisherman who catches crab in Alaska when he’s not surfing in Southern California. Neither of the two had ever acted before, and never in the history of movie-making has a director shot a film entirely on Polaroid film. “There was great difficulty shooting a film this way,” says Schneider, who, with her long straight hair, wide innocent eyes, and thick-framed glasses, conjures an art-house Gretel. “If I had used a regular camera I would have had 36 exposures per minute, much faster and easier than using the old Polaroid camera which takes a long time to shoot one frame. Also, sometimes it doesn’t shoot at the exact moment you think it’s going to—but that’s really great because then you miss the perfect moment…and often those are the best shots.” Individually, the Polaroid photographs that comprise 29 PALMS, CA stand alone, but together and in sequence, filmed with super 8 and 16mm film stock and overlaid with poetic voice-over monologues, they create a dynamic kaleidoscope of words and pictures, a dreamy tale that channels Terrence Malick. Gus Van Sant, and pages torn from a lonely girl’s journal. The idea to shoot a movie in this way came about in 2004 when Schneider was working with leading German director Mark Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace) on his film Stay. She had met Forster at director Wim Wender’s birthday party in Hollywood. A few years later, Forster asked Schneider to shoot Polaroids of scenes from Stay as he filmed; he used those photographs for dream and memory sequences in the movie. For the first time, Schneider saw her Polaroids strung together in sequence, moving with rhythm like a flipbook, in the context of a story. When Forster urged her to consider making a feature film using that technique, the seed of 29 PALMS, CA was sown. She mentioned the idea to her good friend German actor Udo Kier, who also gave the idea a big thumbs up, and agreed to play the part of a mysterious shaman in the film. Thanks to her strong reputation in the art world and her Hollywood connections, getting talented people on board was the easy part (for a while, Charlotte Gainsbourg was pegged to play the starring role, although she pulled out two weeks before shooting commenced because she was pregnant and not fit to travel to the desert.) The hard part was finding the perfect trailer—and bringing it to the desert. “This trailer almost killed us,” says Schneider’s partner Lance Waterman, who lives and works with Schneider in Morongo Valley. After finding it on eBay, the couple drove to Utah to pick it up, the plan being to tow it all the way back to the high desert themselves. Bad idea. “We were driving down a hill with this enormous trailer behind us when we realized that if we wanted to stop, there would be no way to do so without the trailer crushing us,” says Waterman. Adds Schneider: “Lance was even giving me instructions on how to jump out of the truck if we needed to.” Thankfully the road leveled and as soon as they were able to slow down and pull over, they called a professional towing company, which transported the trailer the remaining distance to Morongo Valley. Filming took place in Spring 2011 and 2012. Schneider recently submitted the film to major film festivals in Europe and the US, and it will be broadcast in 2013 by leading German television channel, Arte. While Schneider may come from a long tradition of photographers-turned-filmmakers—Stanley Kubrick started out as a photographer, as did Ken Russell (Tommy, Women in Love) and Larry Clark, who was a controversial fine art photographer before directing smash hit Kids—she does not see her future in Hollywood, directing blockbusters. Not necessarily. “I don’t think I want to make more films,” she says. “The actors were saying they would love to work with me again, and were asking if I would like to make other movies. But being on movie sets is far too stressful, and at least with this, I was in complete power of what was going on creatively. That said, if this gets a lot of acclaims…we can always think again. One should never say never.” Film features original soundtrack with songs by Adam Weiss, Daisy McCrackin, Billy Harvey, Sophie Huber, Zoe Bicat, Max Sharam, Cheyenne Randall, Producer Caroline Haertel & Mirjana Momirovic, Produced by micafilm In coproduction with arte, Funded by Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg
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