Supported by the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund, Kelly Sears’ experimental animation Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise uncovers a pervasive sickness spreading deep in to the hearts of 1970’s American high schoolers. It’s an unsettling tale, delivered solely through title cards which sign post the escalating ills leading the disaffected teens on their path to self destruction.
The film is delivered in Sear’s signature collage animation style—a means of working brought about by her personal love of the texture of film and a desire to develop a working method that would allow her self-sufficiency—
I ask myself, ‘what can I pull off by myself with a computer, and a scanner, and a pile of dusty books?’ (29-95)
In the case of Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise this led to the repurposing of old yearbook pictures to deliver Sears’ measured story of disquiet. The atmosphere is greatly served by the soundtrack fluctuating as it does from drone to white noise with occasional machine noise punctuation. As with Sears’ slight animation moves, it favours subtly to deliver a tone of mounting foreboding; a restrained approach not too dissimilar to that taken by Gus Van Sant in Elephant, but with the added benefit of events not playing out to a pre-determined cataclysmic event.
Sears garnered much praise for her earlier space mission gone wrong short The Drift and following its Rooftop Films’ premiere in May, Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise looks bound to reach the same heights.