While plot, character development, and narrative structure are primary elements in most filmmaking, there is an important segment of the form in which the traditional plot recedes in favor of the use of still and motion photography, graphics, music, and sound effects to convey a message, feeling, or idea. Using various abstract techniques both in-camera and in post-production, students experiment with non-narrative, impressionistic, or poetic approaches to construct films that challenge the boundaries of the traditional viewing experience. Films such as Baraka, Koyaanisqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi are viewed and deconstructed to shed light on the variety of possibilities of this form.
Jonathan Schwartz makes short films that circulate primarily in an experimental film context. He continues to work in 16mm film, producing films that are in conversation with travel, history, poetry, and sound.
Recent completed works include Between Gold and A Preface to Red - portraits of dividing lines, gesture, rhythm, and light via riding boats back and forth on the Bosphorus, as well as an on-going series of short works that comprise an album of films entitled, the 33 1/3 series. His films have screened in the US and abroad in venues that include the New York Film Festival, London Film Festival, Intl Film Festival Rotterdam, Toronto Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Wexner Center for the Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art -Boston, Museo Nacional Centro de Art Reina Sofia, Harvard Film Archive, Pacific Film Archive, and others.
Two of his films are in the permanent collection at the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna. Since 2009 Jonathan Schwartz has been an assistant professor at Keene State College, coming from Boston where he taught at the School of Museum of Fine Arts and Massachusetts College of Art previously. Additionally, he has worked in freelance post-production with John Rubin Productions and others, and was employed by Emerson College as their film post-production manager. He holds a Masters of Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art + Design.