Synopsis: Jack Cochran’s erasure poem, “Scary Places,” extracted from “The Geography of Nowhere” by James Howard Kunstler, combines with unexpectedly unsettling images of city freeways, urban traffic patterns, and highway construction, rendered extraordinary by using two different cameras, one of whose sensors has been modified for infrared photography, to concretize the current shape of the city. Focusing on Austin, TX as an exemplar, and making effective use of “Shapes & Sizes,” Regin Petersen’s 2011 new music composition (available under a creative commons license and performed by the Ensemble Kwartludium), Pam Falkenberg and Jack Cochran’s experimental music video/poem melds music, text, and moving pictures together in a beautiful but alienating critique of car culture, capitalism, and its disregard for the environment worthy of the late Jean Baudrillard, showing what happens when cities are planned less as social spaces for people than as traffic conduits for cars. Winner of Best Original Music at the 2020 Hombres Video Poetry Award (Italy) and Best Short Film Award at the 2020 Buzz Vicious Underground Film Festival (Brazil).
For over six years, Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran have been making personal films together again under the name Outlier Moving Pictures. They hope their work will prove worthy of the name: avoiding the usual patterns and approaching their subject matter from the margins (which sounds better than saying that as filmmakers they are oddballs and cranks). Pam and Jack met in graduate school and made films together when they were young. Jack went on to become a professional cinematographer working out of LA and London, while Pam stayed in the Midwest, where she was a college professor and independent filmmaker before dropping out to work in visual display.
Their first new film together, “The Cost of Living,” an essay film mash up based on some of Jack’s short poems, screened at several film festivals, including the Buffalo International Film Festival and the Cornwall Film Festival, was nominated for two awards at the 2019 Queens World Festival, and took the award for best experimental film at the 2016 WV FILMmakers Festival. Their most ambitious film, “Teddy Roosevelt and Fracking,” about environmental threats to the wild landscapes of North Dakota, premiered at the 2018 Queens World Film Festival, where it was nominated for three awards and took the award for Best Documentary Short, followed by awards at the Go West Film Festival, the Ozark Foothills Film Festival, and the American Presidents Film and Literary Festival at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum. “The Names of Trees,” their most celebrated film, accepted by more than thirty festivals in fifteen different countries and nominated for best visual poem and best experimental film several times, is a surprisingly uplifting, hauntingly beautiful, and deeply mysterious depiction of the bittersweet memories of a lost love, made in collaboration with acclaimed poet Lucy English. Their numerous other short poetry films, experimental films, and documentaries have screened all over the world, and their catalog of films and list of accolades continues to grow. “Legacy,” their newest film, made in collaboration with poet Fiona Tinwei Lam, about a marriage that founders on the rocks of cross cultural differences, just premiered in April 2021 at the Cadence Video Poetry Festival at the Northwest Film Forum (Seattle). They are currently at work on “Now and Then,” an experimental film based on a new collection of Jack’s poems, and also on their first feature together, an experimental road trip/documentary essay about the loneliest road in America, Highway 50 in Nevada.
Jack and Pam co-direct the films they make together, and they collaborate fully, even when they divide up the credits. Their poetry films usually start with a poem (often, but not always, one of Jack’s poems), which they think of as analogous to a script. However, when collaborating with Lucy English on “The Shadow,” “The Names of Trees,” and “I Want to Breathe Sweet Air,” the process was more dialectical: some images and sounds came first, then Lucy wrote the poems; the poems inspired more images, and eventually the edited film poems. For us, the exact process depends on the project and remains open to experiment, so our body of work is somewhat disparate and hard to categorize. Some of our eclectic interests include collage, found footage, and repurposing; the film essay and film poetry; image capturing and post-production techniques that reveal what cannot be seen with the eyes alone (e.g., high shutter speeds, moving cameras, infrared photography, green screen and digital layering); landscapes and the ways humans mark them; human rights/social justice; and postmodern melodrama.
Jack has written poetry all his life, but he never knew what to do with it until he shared his notebooks with Pam, who said, “You’re a filmmaker — shouldn’t your poems be films?” Pam and Jack both want to make lots of different kinds of films together, but Pam is especially proud to have been the one who suggested that Jack’s poems should come to life as films. They are both delighted that making films of Jack’s poems has led to interesting collaborations with other poets and filmmakers.
Pam is an independent filmmaker who received her PhD from the University of Iowa and taught at Northern Illinois University, St.Mary’s College, and the University of Notre Dame. She directed the largest student film society in the US while she was at the University of Iowa, and also ran films series for the Snite Museum of Art in South Bend, IN. Her experimental film with Dan Curry, “Open Territory,” received an individual filmmaker grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as grants from the Center for New Television and the Indiana Arts Council. OT screened at the Pacific Film Archives, as well at numerous film festivals, including the AFI Video Festival, and was nominated for a regional Emmy. Her other films include museum installations, scholarly/academic hybrid works shown at film conferences, and a documentary commissioned by the Peace Institute at the University of Notre Dame. She is an occasional contributor to Moving Poems Magazine (http://discussion.movingpoems.com/).
Jack is an independent filmmaker who has produced, directed, or shot a variety of experimental and personal projects. As a DP he has extensive experience shooting commercials, independent features, and documentaries. His varied commercial client list includes BMW, Ford, Nissan, Fujifilm, Iomega, Corum Watches, and Forte Hotels. His features and documentaries have shown at the Sundance, Raindance, Telluride, Tribeca, Edinburgh, Chicago, Houston, and Taos film Festivals, winning several honors. His commercials and documentaries have won Silver Lions from Cannes, a BAFTA (British Academy Award), Peabody Awards, and Cable Aces. Some notable credits: Director of Photography on Brian Griffin’s “Claustrofoamia,” Cinematography for Antony Thomas’ “Tank Man,” Director/Cinematographer of “Viento Nocturno,” and Cinematographer of Ramin Niami’s feature film “Paris.” Jack was trained at the University of Iowa Creative Writers Workshop as well as the University of Iowa film studies program.