TRUE OR FALSE

MIND AND EMOTION IN FILM EDITING. AT THE CROSSROAD OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION AND NEUROPSYCHOLOGY IN CINEMATIC STORYTELLING.

Lillehammer university college, the norwegian film school

Project manager: associate professor einar egeland

The research presented in this paper will largely be based on footage from a feature film which is to be shot and cut in 2015, and premiéred in 2016. The film will be edited by project manager Einar Egeland, and directed by Erik Poppe. The 5-6 months editing of the film will take place prior to the actual project, and will establish the basis for further research. The finished film, and the complete audiovisual raw-material, will be available for research purposes without limitations, including experiments carried out in lab-controlled environment.

The research project consists basically of two major parts, which will be tightly connected:

  • The editing of the actual feature film
  • Testing of the result under controlled conditions.

The film is titled “The King’s choice”, and takes place during the German invasion of Norway in April 1940. Norways king Haakon, and his son prince Olav, are in the middle of the drama unfolding. Together with the Government and Storting, they are forced to make choices which can have immense consequences both personally and for the country. The film tells the story of a king in a small country on the outskirts of Europe, who says no to settle an agreement put forward by the German representative. The answer is not obvious, there are other options. The film will describe these chaotic days, and at the center of the turmoil, a lonely king with huge decisions to make.

Film editor Einar Egeland and director Erik Poppe have previously worked together on two feature films, ‘”Hawaii Oslo” (2004), and “Troubled Water/De Usynlige” (2008). The film attached to this research project will offer another chance of going even further in our collaborative aim to push ourselves professionally when a film is to be shaped into a whole. An editors job is (among others), to create emotional truthfulness in the characters, come to life by their actions and reactions. This is valid in any film, regardless of story and style. In previous films we have tried to pinpoint the line where emotions are felt true to the audience, but not to cross this line. Such a balance is demanding, and wrong judgements along the way may destroy the expression of the film, and the perception of it. Our collaboration to find the thin line which divides what is perceived as a true expression from a false one, will continue in this film, and will also create a basis for the research project. During the editing, notes and reflections on the work being done will be made as a reference. The films progress will be available in various stages and in different versions for later use.

We know that fictional representations of emotions trigger human bodily responses. The film editing room can equal a laboratory where artistic expressions of human emotions are put under the magnifying glass. When the audiovisual is assembled in a specific order, the editor has an aim to predict the cognitive, emotional and bodily responses from an audience. The study will look for more substantial confirmation to what extent the decisions being made in the editing process, hit the target – or not.

The finished feature film will be a reference on its own. 3 major experiments will be performed to gather more knowledge about the correlation between artistic choices being made – and how it is actually perceived. While looking for the invisible line separating what we accept as true and what we reject as false, we will try to define it more precisely. We will test the limits of comprehension, and the ability to constitute meaning out of the fragmented and deconstructed, and search for what may distinguish a true emotion from a false, both in neurophysiological terms, and regarding artistic audiovisual expressions. The experiments will be carried out with material edited into sequences of various complexity and length, and subsequently exposed to subjects by means of a cognitive neuroscientific approach.

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