Morgan Fisher
USA 1984
35 min

The ultimate subject of Standard Gauge is how a single continuous take can be a complex event. Standard Gauge raises the question in an acute way because the film consists of only one shot. But the film isn't just one continuous take, it's a static shot, and an extreme close-up. In their modest ways, these are extremes, and together they emphasize the radicality, if I can call it that, of the continuous take that is the foundation of the film.
Standard Gauge amalgamates the two great modes of film syntax, it also brings together narrative and non-narrative filmmaking. By examining the shards of the industry frame by frame, it discovers some of the means and themes of experimental film living, so to speak, in Hollywood. And at the same time, the film engulfs and usurps the material of the commercial motion picture industry, turning it into its subject. Thus Standard Gauge proposes a kind of mutuality or interdependence between two kinds of filmmaking that by conventional standards are thought to be divided by an unbridgeable chasm. By means of a mutual interrogation between 35mm, the gauge of the industry, and 16mm, the gauge of the independent and amateur, Standard Gauge proposes to unify film of every kind.
Standard Gauge is a kind of collage or found-footage film. But instead of being spliced together and projected, and so brought to life, the pieces of film in Standard Gauge remain separate, and are presented one after the other for inspection by the audience as inert pieces of film, translucent objects made of celluloid. They are thus experienced by the viewer of the film as they would be by someone, such as an editor or a negative cutter, who handles and organizes film as material. So it also shows you some varieties of what occurs in another margin, the margin of the leaders at the head and tail of a film print. Standard Gauge is an autobiographical account of a few years in the film career of its maker. Such, at least, is its ostensible form and purpose.

This film is screened together with <filmlink id=\"2827\">Detour</filmlink>.
1945, Edgar G. Ulmer

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