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The Spectators

The Spectators is an experimental short. For her birthday, a 1920s enthusiast receives an immersive silent film experience.

Nikita Liu is an American filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist. She began her career as a self-portrait artist and model. This allowed her to gain the experience of working with multiple aspects of image creation: photography, editing, set design, wardrobe, hair, and makeup. A desire to apply this experience to cinema led her to create her first short film, The Spectators, in 2022.

Director Statement

The Spectators is a visual translation of feeling trapped in one's thought patterns, from fantasies and delusions to fears and insecurities. Fear often blurs the lines between fantasy and reality in a way that causes one to become incapable of differentiating between an imminent threat and an irrational thought. When the panic has settled, has the threat of fear fully passed? Does it creep behind you, waiting for a light, so that it may become your shadow? Perhaps it lives in plain sight and manifests in every inch of your surroundings. Can you learn to coexist with it?

I wanted to highlight fears that relate to the ego. What would cause a person to lose their sense of self? Judgment, humiliation, or incessant ridicule? Unfamiliar company? The loss of the material things to which they attached their identity and importance? The film's design combines my love for the 1920s and my fascination with German Expressionism. I wanted to provide an experience similar to moviegoing in the 1920s.

This experience would have included a 4:3 aspect ratio, a rowdy audience (the movies were silent but the audience never was), and a live musician improvising to the plot, taking direction from the audience as it progresses. The original score was composed by Rory Laws and the characters were voiced by Zachary Brown and Katie Burke. All other production roles were fulfilled by me. Creating this film has allowed me to explore my relationship with fear. I hope that it inspires others to do so as well.


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