Western Deep

mcqueen_western_deep_02_l

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Before he started making features, like his new release 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen was a celebrated visual artist known primarily for film installations. His “short start” was 20 years ago with a 10-minute work called Bear, in which he and another black man wrestled in the nude. After that, he made the shorts Five Easy Pieces (1995), Just Above My Head (1996), Exodus (1997) and Deadpan (1997), the last of which involved a recreation of Buster Keaton’s famous falling house facade stunt from Steamboat Bill Jr. You can see an excerpt of that film, with McQueen pulling off the dangerous bit himself, here. While many of his shorts can be seen in the occasional museum exhibit, most are otherwise pretty rare. Meaning not available to be viewed online. There are, however, a few instances of incomplete cellphone captures of his films from their installation projections. You can see parts of Girls, Tricky (2001), the 9/11-inspired Illuminer (2002) and Static (2009), which was made following his feature debut, Hunger. Others, including Charlotte (2004), featuring just an enlargement of Charlotte Rampling‘s eye, and Caribs’ Leap (2002), are only to be seen in stills. Interestingly, the latter is typically screened as a companion to the only film found in full on the web, Western Deep.

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