Abinadi Meza studied art, creative writing, and architecture; he primarily makes experimental films, sound works, and installations. Meza's works seek to create "other spaces" for viewers or listeners to inhabit, with a focus on transformation, spatial politics, and poetics. Meza had his experimental abstract video Tlaloc selected for Experimental Brasil.
EB - What led you down the path of experimental filmmaking, and how do you perceive its role in the broader landscape of cinema?
I’ve been working in visual art for many years and this is the foundation for my experimental filmmaking. I think it’s a bit different than more “theatrical” filmmaking which can be very concerned with acting, sets, lighting, costumes, script, etc. Coming from visual art I am unafraid of “mute” images, partial images, or even non-images - errors, colors, voids. I think experimental film can be a renewing and restorative force within the broader landscape of cinema, refreshing visual, sonic, and semantic energies for us all.
EB - When crafting a film, what is your approach to storytelling and how do you balance it with experimentation?
When I create narrative films the story has a complicated relationship to the image because I like to amplify and problematize tensions between image/language, communication, truth/fiction, etc. Due to this interest I am in the zone of experimentation from the very beginning of the work. Again drawing from my experience as a visual artist, I embrace abstracted approaches to storytelling - like how a photograph or painting can tell a story even if it is a story of a single color, or a single body, in time.
EB - How do you view the relationship between your films and the audience, and what techniques do you use to create an immersive experience?
I realize that my films aren’t for everyone in terms of mass appeal, so I try to let them be as specific or strange as they need to be, and I think (hope) that in this way they can meet a true audience who genuinely appreciates the work, with more feeling or connection than if I attempted to make films that are more generally pleasing. This specificity is precisely what allows for immersion I think (or quick rejection); when you let something intensify or sublimate without pre-limiting it, you can reach states and phases that are immersive.
EB - Can you provide insight into your creative process, from the initial idea to the final product?
My creative process is multidirectional - sometimes it’s an image that desires a time-world around it, sometimes it’s sound that spills out the raw matter for a film-world, and sometimes it’s language or an idea that desires a film-body. It’s like architecture, you can start designing from the interior, the exterior, the highest point, the lowest point, a wide image or a small detail; from wherever you start you work toward the whole. This is how I get from the initial step to the final step. And it’s beautifully unlike architecture, since it’s non-linear and anti-gravitational...you can’t really start building a house from the roof down, but you can make the end of a film and then make the beginning.
EB - What obstacles have you encountered as a filmmaker, and how have you overcome them?
Funding! I have embraced poverty and poor art. It helps to be a pirate, thief, and liar.
EB - How do you balance the technical aspects of filmmaking with artistic expression in your films?
My films are more concerned with art expression rather than technically-virtuosic photography, lighting, scores, scripts, etc. They are more raw visually, sonically, semantically - which is a quality I love. Strangely, however - you do have to have a certain facility with your tools in order to let your films be liberated and raw in a productive way.
EB - What guidance would you offer to those seeking to enter the world of filmmaking?
I can’t offer traditional filmmaking advice or commercially-oriented guidance, but artistically I would say to aspiring filmmakers - share with us what fascinates you, and share with us why or how, and we might respond intensely, as you do.
EB - How do you define success in your films, and what metrics do you use to measure it?
I need to be happy with the film, which does not require the film to be “perfect.” If it does something interesting or unexpected...channels some magic (bright or dark), I am going to be happy. Like all filmmakers, the more the work is shown the more honored and excited I am, as it suggests others are seeing something interesting there too.
EB - What are some of the recurring themes or topics that you explore in your films, and what motivates you to delve into these subjects?
Some recurring topics and themes of my work are complex time, identity, memory...the construction of “other” spaces - worlds within worlds, and elemental images and sound. The overall artistic interests I’ve been trying to articulate here are what drive me into these exploratory zones.