The Thoughtful Filmmaker – Pace News | Episode Movies

Julian Clark ’25 has long been fascinated by religion and the role it plays in the lives of both individuals and groups. Raised in the Methodist and Baptist churches, Julian began to think deeply about the endless source of increasingly complex issues surrounding religion. Eventually he combined that curiosity with another strong interest of his – film – and directed a film with the title as a student The hour in between, which Julian describes as “an alternative look at the concept of purgatory and the self-expressing presumption of the ego”. The film premiered in July 2021 and grossed $500 for Mental Health America.

Arriving at Pace a few months later, Julian planned to pursue his interest in film even further, specializing in film and screen studies while planning to use New York City as the ultimate filmmaking backdrop. Nonetheless, the appeal of religious studies remained strong. In his freshman semester, Julian took a course called Introduction to the Study of Religion, taught by Philosophy and Religious Studies Assistant Professor Daniel Barber, PhD. In class, Julian was able to further explore ideas about how to approach religious studies. He was also interested in the concept of religious education centered around material goods and the way religions evolve over time to meet the needs of the present moment.

“Religions are and will continue to be made and corrected based on the needs of the current era,” says Julian. “Christianity has evolved dramatically from what it was in the past – reflecting the lives of people today. I wanted to explore the origins of belief, how these practices meet the needs of the present, to understand how they were adapted in the past to meet the needs of the past.”

I wanted to explore the origins of belief, how these practices meet the needs of the present, to understand how they were adapted in the past to meet the needs of the past.”

Julian’s appetite for further exploration of these subjects naturally coincided with his interest in film. After discussing his ideas with Barber – who helped him solidify his focus and provided further research recommendations – Julian developed a research proposal and was successfully accepted into the Provost’s summer 2022 undergraduate faculty research program.

his project Religion and Non-Fiction Filmmaking: The Fallacy of “Accurate Representation”, examines the relationship between faith and films. As Julian found – both through filming in New York City and through intensive study by religious and film scholars from Trinh Minh-Ha to Jean-Luc Godard to Talal Asad – this relationship is bound to be strained, as faith is an unattainable task for filmmakers to fully capture them. Julian likened it to an unspoken violation of a moral code.

“I began to realize that there was no real way to document a participant’s experience without violating a moral code. This idiosyncratic connection is something you, as a foreigner, will never really be able to grasp the truth of a person’s relationship to these beliefs – especially with something like religion, which is so incredibly personal and so complex with one so common social context is connected. that in the end it leads to those who are looking for it diligently making films.”

Julian’s experiences culminated in an academic research project in which he examines this relationship in great detail – and the ways in which religious connectedness can and cannot be captured on film. As well as potentially submitting the work for scholarly publication, the experience has redefined his approach to filmmaking as well as his pace experience for the future – fittingly, Julian now has a dual degree in Film and Film Studies and Philosophy and Religious Studies.

As he pursues both his college and filmmaking careers, he hopes to use what he has learned from his experiences and research to push and explore boundaries in the unique space where filmmaking and religious studies coexist.

“The research really inspired me to dig deeper and not just look at the emergence of religion, but to think about belief as a unique social experience,” Julian said. It changed the way I will film in the future.”

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