|Directed by||Zarel Smith|
|Produced by||Zarel Smith|
|Written by||Zarel Smith|
|Music by||Fish Lord Silvers|
|Edited by||Zarel Smith|
|22 May 2020|
Insaniam (Latin for "Insane"), is a New Eiffelic surreal fantasy thriller film produced, written and directed in 2020 by Zarel Smith, and distributed by Z&jProductions. It is Smith's sixth independent film.[a][b] The film concerns a teenager, named Gregory Hutts, who sees hallucinations of his water bottle alternating from appearing full to empty, before he delves into insanity. The featured song, "05_14_2020_B" is a harsh noise wall song that was composed by experimental noise artist Fish Lord Silvers.
It was filmed in New Leeds; principal photography lasted a single day – 22 May 2020 – after initial delays. The project had previously began production in early May, after Smith found a profound interest in surrealist cinema as opposed to his previous films which had been termed art and "avant-garde". As Smith had high hopes for the film, he opted for a Z&jProductions distribution, rather than releasing it independently as usual. Smith edited the footage in black and white and silenced the audio (though music was added over it), and the film was released on the same day - 22 May 2020.
It was met with generally positive reviews upon its release in May 2020, though some critics were opposed to its self-proclaimed artistic merit; others praised its cinematography, editing, music and Smith's performance as Hutts. The film received three nominations at the 2020 ZSR Awards in the erstwhile New Eiffel. Smith regards the film as his personal magnum opus, favouring it above his previous favourite Being Born Twelve Times (2019). As of March 2021, the film has accumulated over sixty views online, making it one of the most seen New Eiffelic films outside of the micronation.
The film depicts Gregory Hutts' dive into insanity – Hutts wakes up and attempts to drink from his water bottle by his bedside; initially half-full, Hutts puts it to his mouth only for it to abruptly appear empty. Hutts believes he is tired and so thinks little of it. He gets up and walks to the bathroom in order to refill the bottle, but as he puts it under the tap the bottle is suddenly filled with water again; he freaks out, and drops the bottle onto the ground, with no water pouring out of it. He begins hyperventilating, and suddenly appears back in his bedroom. Hutts, now shocked and confused, takes a deep breath and lies back in his bed. Suddenly, surreal imagery starts displaying, accompanied with harsh noise wall music. Hutts wakes up violently, and jumps off of his bed; he is clearly disturbed. Hutts looks to his left to see his counter is now empty with nothing on it aside from the bottle. He proceeds to look to his right to a similar image; his coats are gone and the bottle is hanging on the coat hanger. Hutts faints, and falls back onto his bed. The film ends with a view of the bottle.
Zarel Smith, an artistic filmmaker, conceived the idea for a surrealist film depicting insanity in early May 2020. His vision was for a film to end on what he called "crazy surreal imagery". He took inspiration from one of his previous works Layers (2018). Originally, an early draft for the film told that the "crazy surreal imagery" was meant to be achieved via a character accidentally consuming an apple that was rotten. Smith later opted to film the entire film unscripted and fully improvised to maximise creative freedom. After initial delays, filming finally took place in New Leeds on 22 May 2020; the film was edited and released on the same day. It was shot on an iPhone 7 Plus at 30 frames-per-second (with the "insanity scene" shot at 240 fps), and the black and white filter was added to the film in post-production.
Smith had high hopes for the film, and to make it more accessible to a wider audience he opted for a distribution by Z&jProductions – a film studio which Smith co-founded alongside his younger brother – rather than releasing it independently as he did the majority of his previous independent films. The song used to represent Hutts' insanity, "05_14_2020_B" is a harsh noise wall song created by Fish Lord Silvers – an experimental music artist – on 14 May 2020, coincidentally a few days before the film's release. "05_14_2020_B" was remixed from an audio clip from the video game Team Fortress 2 (2007) of characters conversing with each other. Smith enquired Silvers for permission to use the song, as he thought the fast pace and violence of the song would be fitting to represent Hutts' final dive into insanity. Silvers gave permission.
Release and reception
The film was initially screened twice in May, the first being on the 22nd. It was distributed by Z&jProductions, a film studio Smith co-founded alongside his brother. The film was met with generally positive reviews upon its release, though some critics were opposed to its self-proclaimed artistic merit; others praised its cinematography, editing, music and Smith's performance as Hutts. Smith regards the film as his personal magnum opus, favouring it above his previous favourite Being Born Twelve Times (2019). The film was uploaded onto the Internet Archive on the same day as its release, and later onto YouTube on 12 June; it arrived to StreamEiffel in early August. As of March 2021, the film has accumulated over sixty views online, making it one of the most seen New Eiffelic films outside of the micronation.
The film received three nominations at the 2020 ZSR Awards in the erstwhile New Eiffel; Best Acting for Zarel Smith's performance as Hutts, Best Story and Best Cinematography, though lost to Smith himself as the eponymous superhero in India Man!, and the latter two to Star Warz: The Stranded Sith.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|ZSR Awards||7 January 2021|
|Best Acting||Zarel Smith||Nominated|||
Z&jProductions holds distribution rights over the film in New Eiffel. The film is available under the Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0), indicating that a person may copy, download and redistribute the material in any medium or format (as well as remix, transform or build upon the material), so long as they do not use the material for commercial purposes and give credit to Smith.
- Although it was distributed by Z&jProductions, it is still regarded as an independent film as Z&jProductions had no further involvement in production.
- Seventh if one includes The Doll (2017), which is regarded as a Z&jProductions production.
- Smith, Zarel (12 June 2020) "Insaniam" | 2020 surrealist short film - Zarel Smith – on YouTube. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Keywords. IMDb. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Filmography of Zarel Smith doc. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
- Insaniam at IMDb
- ZSR Awards 2020, 7 January 2021. Press release, 13 March 2021. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Technical specs. IMDb. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
- Soundtrack. IMDb. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Trivia. IMDb. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Insaniam at the Internet Archive. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- Insaniam at IMDb
- Insaniam on YouTube
- Insaniam is available for free download at the Internet Archive