Peep Show

Atom Egoyan (Canada, 1981, 7 min.)

In this early short film, Egoyan tells the story of a man, a woman, a personal ad, and a photo booth with a little something extra going on. A young man (John Ball) receives a personal ad from a young woman in a mall, and goes to a photo booth to take some pictures of himself in order to be able to respond to the ad. He doesn't seem to be happy with his first set of photos, and returns to the booth to take another set, this time turning his head so the images come out a little differently. Again, he's unsatisfied, and when he goes back for another set, a mysterious female presence shows up in the photos. He goes back for another set, but by this point, the machine's red light is on, prohibiting any more photos, which enrages the young man. He attacks the photo booth, and is escorted away by a mall security guard.

The film is silent with a musical soundtrack, is shot in black and white, and features a remarkable technique of animated color gels that tint parts of each shot. The color highlights and changes each scene, and its dynamic and surprising effects are difficult to explain or even capture in images. The film can be found on the first disc of Egoyan's "Family Viewing/Next of Kin" dvd, available on Netflix.

Contributed by Brian

A close-up of the photo booth, showing the red and green filters that tint different sections of the shot.
The man (John Ball) approaches the photo booth.
In go the first seventy-five cents.
As he smooths his hair, the three colored filters are apparent.
A shot from the first attempt.
The photos arrive and the machine is ready again, as ever in super-cinema-photo booth time, which is instantaneous.
The fourth shot of the strip looks a little different with a green filter over it.
Back for more.
This time, he goes for some variety, looking in a different direction with each shot.
The filter makes a strong impression in this shot, showing the color and cut of a woman's shirt that mysteriously appears behind him.
This time, he turns around to see what's going on behind him.
Note the filter that moves as the curtain is open; it's particularly effective in motion.
This is not what was going on when he took the pictures.
A confused young man looks at the third strip of photos.
When the booth shows a red light and doesn't allow him to take any more photos, he starts to bang on the outside wall, and the entire scene goes red.
A guard (Randy Milks) grabs the man and takes him away.