Finding inspiration in Empty Spaces

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Finding inspiration in Empty Spaces

Cinematographer Jiao Ouyang ’12 and writer/director Caitlin Hodson ’12 on location at the Newark Arcade.

As many may know, Denison is one of very few undergraduate liberal arts colleges in the country that has its own Cinema Department, which Denison formally established in 1998, thanks to the work of the late professor emeritus Elliott Stout, associate professor Dave Bussan ’81, and decades of other faculty and students. Each year, as students explore their own takes on the artform, new modes of technology continue to come into play—and older modes become more expensive and harder to replicate. As you’ll read in her artist’s statement below, Caitlin Hodson ’12 wanted to resist that trend and found the way with a grant from the Horizon Fund, an endowment established by the Class of 1959 to help fund student learning experiences.

“In my cinema workshop class, all of the other students opted to use digital video cameras, avoiding the high costs of processing film. For Empty Spaces, though, I wanted the better quality and more evocative texture that the use of real film brings to a movie. This was especially important to me because I wanted the look of Empty Spaces to reflect its nostalgic story. Thanks to the Horizon Fund grant, I was able to shoot on film and couldn’t be happier with the result.

Finding inspiration in Empty Spaces

Caitlin Hodson ’12

Through the process of making Empty Spaces, I grew as both a writer and director. I originally was going to use a completely different script, but when I went location-scouting, I found the Newark Arcade and felt it evoked a completely different story. I fell in love with the long echoey hallway and the interesting people who worked there, and so the story of Empty Spaces sprung from those initial impressions. As a director, I learned to really listen to my actors, as they brought new ideas to the characters that made them feel like real people. What struck me most about making this film is how much you leave to chance. Of course, we planned the best we could but often the most important thing is being adaptable enough to allow for the wonderful, random opportunities that come your way. After all, if I hadn’t been open to another story when I visited the Arcade, I wouldn’t have made Empty Spaces in the first place!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the Horizon Fund for making this film what it is. There are a lot of obstacles in between getting an idea in my head to becoming realized, and I owe the Horizon Fund for making that happen.”

For the time being, Hodson is sharing the entire length of Empty Spaces on Vimeo. At some point, however, she will have to take it down as she submits it for consideration in various film festivals. But TheDEN will continue to share the following clip:

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