The Camp Kuleshov Effect

AICE, the Association of Independent Creative Editors, is running Camp Kuleshov, a trailer-editing competition for assistant editors. Originally known as the Trailer Park, the contest has been renamed after the Kulsehov Effect, a study in the impact of film editing on viewers by Russian film maker Lev Kuleshov in the 1920s. While each chapter’s competition has its own creative brief and requirements, the common challenge calls for assistant editors to choose from a list of feature films and create a trailer that changes the genre or narrative of the film in an unexpected way.

Ivan Mozzhukhin in Kuleshov Effect experiment


The winner of the 2009 Camp Kuleshov New York competition was a trailer based on the warmhearted 1989 classic “Field of Dreams” (edited by Stacey Peterson), which instead advertised the picture as a brooding, introspective Bergman film.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)

The idea for a trailer editing competition for assistant editors originated with Kathryn Hempel and Steve Stein at Cutters, Chicago, working with Katy Maguire and Nadav Kurtz. Since spreading from Chicago to additional chapters over the past eight years, the event has produced trailers that have become viral sensations like Robert Ryang’s 2005 take on “The Shining,” which transformed the horror gem into an upbeat, family-fun romantic comedy.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)

The competition was originally known as Trailer Park. In response to a trademark infringement claim, the Trailer Park name was dropped and a variety of names emerged: Splice Capades, Filmspotting, The Winnebago Awards, Trailer Blazin’ and Trailer Wars. The New York chapter first adopted the Camp Kuleshov title in 2008.

The Kuleshov Effect

During the late 1910s and 1920s Lev Kuleshov edited together montages of Tsarist matinee idol Ivan Mozzhukhin with shots of a plate of soup, a woman and a girl in a coffin. Audience feedback showed that Mozzhukhin’s expression was believed to different each time he appeared, revealing hunger, desire or grief.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)

Entrants in the NY Chapter contest have the choice of two assignments: cutting a trailer for one of the following movies, promoting the film as a different genre, or selecting two films for a mashed up trailer as a picture of a third genre. The African Queen (1951), Poltergeist (1982), Moonstruck (1987), Freaky Friday (1976), Freaky Friday (2003), Top Hat (1935), Nanook of the North (1922), Mommie Dearest (1981), Planet of the Apes (1968), The Net (1995), White Heat (1949), Blacula (1972), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Batman & Robin (1997), Ocean’s 11 (1960 only, not 2001).

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