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OIL: Behind The Scenes

Creating an experimental short film using only live practical effects featuring music by Son Lux.

The fourth in a series a short visual experiments, OIL explores the organic and cellular shapes created by different liquids and surface tension. The resulting film reflects on the often dramatic creation and death of cellular structures. 

Inspired by mixing paint colours for another project, the self set brief remained the same as the previous films in the series; create beautifully unrecognisable imagery. The film was created by experimenting with different levels of surface tensions created by different liquids, inks and paint. 

First, we suspended a fish tank on it’s side so that we had a clean glass surface to film through. The camera was placed beneath the glass shooting straight up through the tank with a background fixed to the opposite outer layer of glass. A small box of duct tape marked the view of the camera. Liquids were then poured into the square, utilising surface tension to keep them in place before eventually spilling out as more liquid was added, creating a natural ‘spilling’ movement once the camera was rolling.

Vegetable oil, gin, water & white spirit were among some of the many different fluids used during the experiment, all producing varying results and having very different effects on the ink, paint and milk added after it. The white clouds seen at the beginning of the film were the result of white paint flowing through a thin layer on gin surrounded by oil, creating what looks like a cell wall.

The climax of the film sees the colours reversed, showing much more dramatic and full imagery. ‘Stolen’ by Son Lux provides the perfect sound track to the film, building throughout to several big hits as the colours reverse. 

“Stolen” by Son Lux was licence for its use in OIL by Domino Publishing, Ghost Town and Meru.