A filmmaker who strives for both academic and artistic excellence
Local filmgoers have had a chance to see Amalya's work at venues like Periwinkle Cinema at Artists' Television Access and San Francisco Cinematheque's Crossroads Festival. The latter's 2013 incarnation is where I caught Amalya's Gold Moon, Sharp Arrow, a 12-minute exploration of social psychologist Stanley Milgram's 1963 obedience experiment; it interweaves a re-creation of the experiment (in which participants, asked to administer electric shocks to subjects who faltered in a word game, followed instructions all too well) with shots of nature and decay — a bee's nest, a chicken coop, smashed windows, an abandoned house. The film was created with Max Garnet, a performance artist and makeup artist Amalya shared a house with in Seattle.
"Max had the idea of working with the Milgram experiment. So I started reading up on it. On YouTube, you can watch the original footage," he says. "We were interested in the power relationships that were played out in this experiment, and we were talking a lot about the different power engagements in our queer community in Seattle, and in the greater culture. What really captivated me was the word pairings they used in the original experiment and how seemingly arbitrary they were, but how loaded they were as far as gender norms and cultural expectations."
Though Amalya enjoys working with others, "A lot of my filmmaking practice is me with a camera exploring different places," he says. "My process of writing scripts, setting up shots, and editing feels very internal, and at times almost private."
The theories of another experimental artist — musician Michel Chion — have provided further inspiration. "In his book, Audio Vision, Chion argues that sound never replicates an image, but rather adds a another dimension to the picture. [His notion of] 'added value' has become a mantra of sorts while I'm working. In my films, I work against illustration, as well as music videos and didactic polemics. Rather, I strive for movement, light, dialogue, and text to ricochet off each other, forging new and unforeseen connections." *