“CAMERA TEST SUBJECT”
Facing the Camera and Himself
In director Sean Meehan’s “Camera Test Subject, in less than three minutes, we take a look at a short existential film that says more than movies fifty times as long. An actor (Timothy Cox) questions why he has shown up for a camera shoot on the New York streets. He knows that he is being watched as he walks yet he knows that he is good at what he does and really has no reason why he is coming for the shoot. He does not need to say a word since we see how he feels through his facial expressions and the way he moves and Cox is, as usual, brilliant at portraying his character. Cox is an “everyman” reflecting the way an actor feels when he is being tested by the camera.
We see the actor through the lens of the cameraman who is never seen but is obviously quite present. As the actor is before the camera, he not only acknowledges it but also stares, acknowledging that he is present. The camera follows him and films him in a shop and then follows him home, refusing to stop shooting. The camera operator is really in control and when we are being controlled by someone else, we act differently. I could not decide if the film was about the actor or the cameraman and it is stunning to see how much we have in such a short time.
What is with the actor who does not fully grasp when he has been chosen to the be the camera’s subject and neither do we. He becomes quite frustrated when he s told to do this or that. It does not take long for him to wonder if he has everything together and even questions the presence of the camera. Could he be losing “it”?
Filmed with crisp cinematography with a hand-held camera, we see a fascinating New York that is atmospherically filmed late at night and into early dawn. What seems to be a simple idea—“A peek inside the mind of an actor in the throes of something truly terrible: a camera test” becomes an intense viewing experience. Watching the actors “thoughts” gives us something of a look inside ourselves when we know we are being watched.
Cox is the narrator of the film and he shares what he is thinking to a degree but it is what we see that really makes this such a cinematic experience.