Don't worry, it's only a movie serial...  



The NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER is a movie serial in 17 parts, made between December 2021 and October 2022. This is the trailer, slightly revised from its original version.

     And here's the advertising poster: 


or, if you'd prefer:


The trailer was made, naturally enough, after the serial had been completed. Like the serial itself, it was put together using shots from a variety of old movie serials—though not necessarily the same shots used in the serial. Like any advertisement, it is not identical to the thing it advertises. There are, for instance, more explosions in this brief trailer than in the whole of the serial.

     In view of the fact that The NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER is misrepresented by the trailer that advertises it, there follows a brief account of what the serial actually involves:


Individual chapters are mostly between five and ten minutes long. The visual material is largely derived from movie serials originating between 1931 and 1953. In one respect, however, this serial resembles the productions of an earlier period—in its use of intertitles. But whereas in the silent era intertitles played a supportive role, here they are relentless. Viewers are obliged to read, and to keep reading. Indeed, it’s doubtful whether much sense might be made of the visual material, if one doesn’t closely follow the text.

     It may be admitted that some viewers have found it impossible to make much sense of the serial. What can I say? The NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER was produced with four potential subsets of viewers in mind:


a) intelligent, discriminating viewers;


b) viewers familiar with the culture of independent and underground film-making in the mid-twentieth century—filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger, Christopher Maclaine, Bruce Conner;


c) people with an incidental and potentially obsessive predilection for following and developing theories of conspiracy;


d) die-hard nostalgics open to being charmed by the discovery that the much-loved movie serials of their long-vanished youth have been sympathetically reanimated by someone equally sympathetic to the hopeless resurrection of a moribund avant-garde sensibility.


Having said as much, however, I’ve no wish to pretend that The NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER is not, from beginning to end, entirely transparent and obvious. Yet there are reasons why some viewers have failed to recognize the fact:


1) Some part of every audience is comprised of imbeciles and blockheads. It’s an obstacle every artist must confront and learn to accept. Feeling only pity for this small and unfortunate body of viewers, I resisted re-titling the serial Perils Before Swine.


2) Some members of the potential audience are almost certainly habituated to a familiar diet of pre-digested pap. I say this without rancour. It's almost a condition of our existence, and I claim no exception. But the serial requires to be chewed.


3) Some people are easily distracted, or inattentive—it’s a busy world—even as the serial, by word and gesture, confronts them with the accusation: “You allow yourself too easily to be distracted. Your inattention will be the ruin of us all.”


4) Some viewers, presented with old footage, will reflexively assume it's employed only to elicit a cheap laugh—and, when laughs fail to come easily, waste little time in seeking amusement elsewhere.


In the hope that every obstacle between The NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER and potential viewers might be removed, footnotes such as this will accompany each chapter, serving as a clear and unambiguous guide to its meaning and purpose. Even those with no sympathy for its aims will be able to grasp what was attempted, and its historic importance.

     By way of offering potential viewers a foundation for the adventure on which they are about to embark:


I. The NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER is a work of para-political anti-propaganda. Para-political because its text is transparently concerned with one aspect of contemporary politics in the United States of America—and, more broadly, across the world. Anti-propaganda because its intention is ultimately aesthetic: the serial is not designed to promote any political ideology. If I was able to persuade anyone of anything, I might suggest the world would be a better place if we behaved well and were considerate of others—but this is an unrealistic ambition, because I know many people find the idea objectionable.


II. For ease of comprehension, The NEXT THRILLING CHAPTER might be considered not so much a motion picture serial, but as a sequence of comic strips, consisting of captions (the intertitles) illustrated by panels (short excerpts of film). Of course, it’s not quite that. Readers of a graphic narrative may set their own pace; here the rhythm is predetermined and imposing.


III. If you wonder whether old film footage was re-used because it allowed the serial to be made cheaply, I’ll concede there’s some truth in this. But it’s also a fact that securing access to this antiquated footage accounted for all of the serial’s tiny budget. Otherwise, every expense was spared. No one involved was paid for the least contribution to the serial, and no one expected to make any money from it. It is an entirely gratuitous work of art.


IV. Though there are elements of continuity, almost every chapter might be viewed as if the recaps were only a sly joke, and none of the other chapters actually existed. Needless to say, someone who watches only Chapter 14 will have a different impression from someone who watches Chapter 5, as well as from someone who watches every chapter, in or out of sequence.


V. Of course, the world of movie serials is now remote and alien to the larger part of today’s audience. The stupidities of cheap adventures are tailored to the stupidities of their timebut no one needs to return to days of old in order to discover how to be stupid, do they? So why make an old movie serial now? For the answer to this and other questions, don’t miss the next thrilling chapter...