The Hornhunter

Noël Loozen will present his graduation project in June 2014. In between shooting and editing, he informs us about his research.

"I was trained and educated as a photographer and I have the ambition to explore the realm of film. As a photographer, I was used to finding things out while creating images at the same time. Most often, I did so by myself or in direct collaboration with people in front of the lens. In my films before my arrival at the master’s programme I used the same approach: create a concept and throw myself in a situation with a camera in order to see what happens. I found out that I’d like to get more out of filmmaking. And that film radically questions my way of working.

One of the most intriguing differences between film and photography is sound. Sound is obviously absent in photography. The phenomenon confronted me with many questions. It basically triggered my investigations of time, memory and storytelling. I am fascinated by stories about the pursuit of memories and idealised experiences. People store things in their memory. These are ‘true stories’ but after a while, those memories will live a life of their own. People ‘colour’ their remembrance in their own story. Since filmmaking is teamwork, I am obliged to communicate very clearly and explicitly about what I want to do. Over the last year, I found that a story is an excellent way to communicate explicitly with a cast and crew. In a way, it’s indispensable.

My images are often quite light and colourful, lightly comic and sometimes a bit clumsy. My initial research question was: how can I translate photographic concepts into film without losing things? I started out with exploring and investigating sound. I took trumpet lessons, I did some modest scientific experiments, I investigated the behaviour of a brass band that had to overcome a horse obstacle course while playing, and I made a visual study of sound. All this will be shown in an installation in June. Another early project was the photo series 'Leaning or Bending'. Initially an effort to grasp time, almost like in a still life, I decided to collect the pictures in a book. If not a story, browsing the pages would constitute a sequence in the course of time. It would create a beginning, a middle and an end.

Doing the master’s programme has been a roller coaster to me. When I started thinking about my graduation project, I decided to focus on the investigation of sound and its connection to time. I knew that the overcoming of obstacles and the pursuit of an idealised experience would drive the story. I made a plan for two installations. One would consist of footage I had shot during the first year: a brass band, walking an obstacle track for horse races while playing music. For the other installation, I planned to edit a loop of footage of a highly peculiar phenomenon in the US and France: men who attach huge horns to their car, drive them to lonely places, protect their ears, and then blow their horn. Afterwards, some take off their ear protectors to listen to the echoes. They put a lot of effort in producing a sound they cannot hear. It’s a sound probably no one ever hears, since they are alone when they blow their horn. I was fascinated by these men. Their sounds made me think of birdcalls, addressed to females by male birds that are longing for love. I was hoping for footage of men listening to the echoes of their horn blowing and I intended to create a playful narrative in sound, which could give the impression that the men were communicating through their honking horns.

These men exchange their experiences through YouTube. I got in touch with a guy using the Youtube name The Hornhunter. My fascination kept growing stronger. The logical next step was the decision to build a horn myself. At some point in time, it became clear that making installations wouldn’t be the right thing to do. I should go a step further. I decided to make a film and create a story around my fascination for this particular sound. I continued my investigations, gradually entering the world of horn collectors. I subscribed to their magazines and I became an active forum visitor. When The Hornhunter no longer responded to my messages, I invented the story.

The film relates the adventures of a Dutch guy who sets out to meet The Hornhunter after a series of e-mail correspondences. During his voyage he builds his own horn, fascinated as he is by the sound of male birdcalls."

"It's only since September 2013 that I have discovered the rich potential of the research process during the making of a film. My first experiences are very inspiring. Over these two years, I have learned to define questions that help me explore the new medium, while simultaneously establishing my professional development. I had the time and the support to take steps that I could never have taken outside this programme. I can really recommend it."

April 2014


Noël Loozen