By 1997 I’d stopped making Grey Matter Gravy — my public access TV show1 — and was doing a lot of freelance video. When someone had a big enough budget I’d rent an Avid (a $200/hr, video editing suite running on a top-of-the-line Mac). Editing on a computer was the dream. I could rearrange shots like paragraphs in a Word doc, add cross-dissolves, and use graphics created in PhotoShop. I had a free version of the Avid software at home but capturing full resolution analog video in real-time was out of the question on my lowly Performa 6320.

One day while scanning a photo it occurred to me that if my computer could handle that maybe it could handle making a film out of still images — like a Ken Burns documentary. I loved this idea! Instead of a compromise it might be really powerful. Cut to: me walking the isles at Blockbuster one night and a yellow and orange cover catches my eye in the foreign films section. I bent down to take a closer look and and saw the tag line: The film that inspired 12 MONKEYS. I loved 12 Monkeys so I grabbed it. 30 minutes later I hit play and La Jetée began. I didn’t go to film school and the internet as we know it was barely a thing so I had no idea what to expect. The first thing I noticed was that it was made of still images — “un photo-roman!2” My idea! Here it was realized, before I was even born.

Of course someone had that I idea before me. People had that idea before Chris Marker made La Jetée. The idea for this zine — turning La Jetée into a more literal photo novel — was done in 1992. So maybe it’s silly to have spent a month putting this together or to continue to dream of making a film out of photographs. What am I hoping to accomplish? I literally do not know. But I loved this film before I even knew about it. And now it feels like a reminder to pursue the things I find interesting (even 25 years later) and figure the rest out later. Not knowing the end allows for the possibility of magic. Let’s see what happens.

Michael Verdi - November 2022

1. See Grey Matter Gravy issue 1.
2. Literally a photo novel.