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A Filmmaker’s Road Trip to U.F.O. Country: ‘Time Is the Real Enemy’

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A Filmmaker’s Road Trip to U.F.O. Country: ‘Time Is the Real Enemy’

March 12, 2024
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By Bill Brown

Mr. Brown is a filmmaker.

It was 1991. I listened to “Motorway to Roswell” by the Pixies a million times, but it’s not exactly where this movie came from. Partly it was the U.F.O. paperbacks I inhaled as a nerdy kid in Lubbock, Texas, and partly it was Lubbock itself. Growing up in West Texas, I learned that the real action is in the sky: dust storms, tornadoes and the occasional mystery light.

Then I took Robb Moss’s nonfiction filmmaking class at Harvard. Moss taught us that filmmaking could be a solitary pursuit, like writing a poem. That class set me adrift. I wandered through the 1990s with a camera in my hand looking for a place to stay near some friendly star, couch surfing my way through a clutch of short 16-millimeter films about being lost in space. This film was the first of the series.

Moss showed us Chris Marker’s “Sans Soleil” in class one day. In part, it’s about making movies so you can return to them later and try to recover something of the past from them. For Marker, movies don’t replace our memories, exactly, but they create a little memorial in the place where a memory used to be. So that’s what my movie is for me now, 30 years later: a memento.

Bill Brown is a nonfiction filmmaker from Lubbock, Texas. He is at home on the range.

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