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Watch: David Cronenberg’s 16mm 1966 Short Film Debut ‘Transfer’

Watch: David Cronenberg's 16mm 1966 Short Film Debut 'Transfer'

Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. You don’t make your first masterpiece overnight, and before he made the likes of “Scanners,” “Videodrome,” “The Fly,” “Naked Lunch,” and “A History of Violence,” David Cronenberg was just a 23-year-old University of Toronto student with a English Literature and Language degree on the horizon and a dream in his eye. And that’s where he was in life when he made his first six-minute short film, 1966’s “Transfer,” which Cronenberg wrote, directed, co-produced and co-edited. And those most familiar with his work may not exactly see the genius on hand, but they can most certainly notice the creative juices were flowing out of him even from an early age.

The 16mm short, uncovered by Dangerous Minds, is, as one would expect, quite odd. From the first minute onward — featuring a man in the middle of barren, snow-glazed backcountry field of grassland brushing his teeth while dipping his toothbrush in grape soda — it’s evident this is a filmmaker who has a peculiar distinction to his vision and would only expand upon his eccentric interests and weird fixations. But nobody hits a home-run on their first run up on the mat: the sound is often low and out-of-sync, the camera work is a little out-of-focus and relies too heavily on zoom-ins, the cutting is rough around the edges and the acting is fairly amateurish on the whole. But there’s no denying its charm and droll wit. And Cronenberg’s psychological roots are prominently on display in this backwoods short, almost quite literally.

There’s something positively alluring about this early, forgotten work, and it gives us a quick, premature look into the perverse mind we’d come to recognize, and start loving down the line. Above all else, it’s an inspired little piece of work, so check it out below, and dig deep into the early mind of one of our most beloved, individual auteurs.

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