Alan Resnick is a filmmaker whose work has fascinated me for years. While he leans more towards comedy than most of the works we’ve explored in class, Resnick’s work is not only narratively and stylistically inventive but also thematically rich. He is most famous for his equally hilarious and disturbing Adult Swim short films, but arguably his most unique project is Alantutorial. AlanTutorial is a Youtube channel created by Resnick in 2011 that elevates the potential for the video-sharing medium and filmmaking in general. Released sporadically over the span of four years, these strange how-to videos at first seem innocuous but soon mold into a much darker story as we learn more about the dark life of the seemingly real character releasing the videos. While I won’t reveal the many twists and turns of the series, Resnick was able to tackle complex ideas such as Youtube’s (and our capitalistic system’s) exploitation of creatives for monetary gain and the dangers of losing one’s identity in chasing conventional notions of success. What is most fascinating to me is that the channel existed for years before people realized it was a work of fiction. By uploading the videos without any credits, flashy editing, or external context, Resnick was able to blur the line between reality and fiction. While not incredibly similar to How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File (Steyerl, 2013), it is interesting that both projects parody the how-to format to explore complex thematic material.
In the mid-2010s, Resnick began creating short films for Adult Swim that, like Alantutorial, were simultaneously hilarious, terrifying, weird as hell, and dense with social commentary. Upon rewatching one of my favorites, Unedited Footage of a Bear, I was reminded of a few of the films we’ve seen in class. When the woman in the commercial encounters the alternate version of herself, I thought of Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (Deren, 1943). Both the visual style of this sequence and the thematic ideas of the destruction of the self seemed to be influenced by Deren’s masterpiece. When considering Resnick’s Adult Swim projects, I am again reminded of Hito Steyerl’s How Not to Be Seen. The equally comedic and eerie tone and absurd narrative tangents of his films seem to take inspiration from the German filmmaker’s work.
Overall, Alan Resnick is a contemporary filmmaker whose projects reflect many of the topics we’ve discussed in class. Refusing to sacrifice his distinct creative vision, opposing the stylistic characteristics and values of mass media, and offering thematically rich yet malleable messages that encourage active viewer engagement, Resnick exemplifies numerous principles of experimental filmmaking.