“Roy Camera” is a narrative film made by combining internet sourced HD footage with a voice over narrated by an actor. The film uses appropriation and collage to construct a narrative about deception, deconstruction and despair. The film explores the deceptive qualities of digital filmmaking and investigates how easy it is in the era of digital manipulation to create new artificial identities and how easy it is for these constructed identities to fall apart. In the film we follow a maker of moving images, a cinematographer.
Roy af Hasselblad is a 39 year old Baltic cinematographer who has recently relocated to America, where he is teaching a class in “New Cinematography” at the prestigious Beaver College, located in upstate New York. Roy present himself as Eastern European aristocrat, who was forced to flee his native country of Northland because of a Russia backed military coup. But things gets more complicated when we learn that Roy is a pathological liar, who tells fantastic tales about sexual adventures and unjust persecution to distract from his criminal behavior. Roy is not only a narcissistic and unreliable narrator, but also completely unfit to teach about cinema: His colossal ignorance about the technology of filmmaking is not helping him and neither is his inappropriate behavior in class. It becomes clear that Roy is a a man marked by destructive desires, hi-tech paranoia and an unhealthy obsession with the “death of cinema.”
If fiction can ever state a “fact”, then these are the facts: Roy is a monstrous megalomaniac who is disliked by both students and teachers. Only 2 people at the school shows signs of sympathy towards him: The wealthy, kleptomaniac film student Fanny West and his neighbor, the award winning film director Martin Spiegel. Via these 2 character we accumulate insight into Roy’s true identity: His obsessive sexuality and deeply conservative and bizarre ideas about cinema. Roy insist that he is “not a filmmaker but simply a cinematographer” but when Fanny rejects him he is propelled to tell his own story and uses his own footage to create an elaborate film about how he escaped from Northland. Roy’s film - which he convinces his new friend Martin Spiegel to distribute - becomes a document which unlocks Roy's mysterious past. Roy believes that the film will be a cinematic celebration of his life, but it soon becomes clear that the film materializes itself as an incriminating filmic document, which could land Roy in jail.
As Roy narrates his own fantastic story, a series of questions arise:
Why did Roy leave his native Northland? How can Roy be a professional cinematographer if he doesn’t understand the difference between deep and shallow focus? Is Roy the celebrated cinematographer he claims to be or is he a rather a criminal pornographer? In Roy's paranoid world nothing is like it seems to be: If Martin really is Roy’s friend, then why is he filming Roy with a set of secretly installed surveillance cameras? Is Fanny in fact a manipulative drug addict, who knows a whole lot more about cinema than both Roy and Martin? As the past catch up with Roy, he spirals into paranoia and is convinced that the escaped convict Bob Blank in fact is Boris Blankov, a Russian assassin assigned to kill him. Roy’s life now becomes a race against time, to finish his film before he is assassinated.
Beyond the fear, paranoia and obsessions described in the film, the film explores a prime source of evil: The evil of nostalgia. The conceptual framework of the film is to look at this evil, not from without, but from within.