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Alien (short film)

7 minutes


I worked as a cinematographer for this student short. 

Artist Statement

“Alien” explores the peculiar relationship between social outsiders and insiders, asking if they may be more similar than first meets the eye. 


Mirrors, and the concept of mirroring, play a central role in our film. First, the leader and the “alien” – a pair of morally gray characters – mirror each other in their desire for inclusion. The leader takes the “alien” under her wing for selfish reasons, though her fear of loneliness is perhaps deserving of empathy. As an audience, we long to side with the underdog – though we inevitably wonder if the “alien’s” sidelining of the leader is justified. This conundrum is further complicated by an unreliable narration: is the leader ever really left out, or are these configurations of reality – seen through her memory – merely a product of deep-rooted insecurities? 


Additionally, the alien’s learning of social cues can be framed as a sort of imitation game. From the leader’s perspective, this mirroring starts as benign – perhaps even feeding her ego – but evolves to be malicious. At the start of the film, these themes are introduced with symmetrical shot compositions, as well as the “alien’s” awkward mimicry of the leader’s posture. During the montage scenes, the pair wear nearly identical outfits. 


The turning point of the film occurs while the three girls are folding origami. As the camera pans across the table, it becomes clear that “alien” is folding many cranes – a process that parallels her iterative replication of the leader’s mannerisms. 


The final two scenes – that of the leader and the “alien” encountering the large bathroom mirror – are mirrors of each other. As the “alien” enters the bathroom, the leader’s red scribbles appear etched into her skin, representing the conflation of her character with what the leader imagines her to be. The film closes on an act of word play, a punchy ending that encapsulates its themes about perspective-bending, muddied realities, and morally ambiguous characters. 


Furthermore, the final scene’s provocative use of language – and, in particular, the term “alien” – calls to mind the disturbing discourse around immigrants that has plagued our country. The leader spins a narrative of anxiety around the “alien,” paralleling the actions of xenophobic government officials that fearmonger about “thieving” immigrants “stealing jobs.” Moreover, just as certain mimicries are seen as “good” until they prove threatening to the leader’s social control, assimilation by immigrants is generally lauded – until it disrupts presumed social orders.

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