Short of the Week

Copy Shop

An Oscar-nominated film about a copy shop clerk who accidentally duplicates himself and sets off a chain reaction of unintended consequences—filmed from 18,000 photocopied frames.

In this 2001 Academy Award-nominated short film Copy Shop, Austrian filmmaker and new media artist Virgil Widrich tells the dialogue-free story of a copy shop clerk who mistakenly manages to duplicate himself many times over the course of the day. The clerk wanders through his own life obsessed with the banal routine of a world where each day is a copy of the last. The only other human being in his life, a woman who works at a flower store, eventually becomes another copy of himself. He becomes further disconnected from the social reality. A falling out with society, means falling inward, and for him, a total loss of identity.

The black and white aesthetic—reminding one of old silent era films with string quartet music—is enhanced by a kind of photocopy aesthetic, which Widrich achieved through a quite labourious process. He (and his team) first filmed the entire narrative with a digital camcorder, transferred the footage to a computer and edited the film. Afterwards, they printed out every single frame, photocopied each one, and then filmed the successive stills with a 35mm camera. Throughout this process Virgil also manipulated certain sections, crumpling or tearing the paper as if there’s something wrong with the film layers. The clever sound design enriches the Kafka-esque experience.

Georg Csarmann is a filmmaker, media academic and writer based in Vienna, Austria. Grounded in his own creative work as well as his experience as a curator and his enthusiasm for the moving image, Georg dedicated his main focus to the possibilities of expression for independent content creators.
  • MarBelle

    I first saw this on the European Cinema 16 collection and even though I still had most of the DVD to go, I instantly rewatched it 3 or 4 times before moving on. It still remains one of my favourite shorts of all time.