Worst Case Scenario
by John Smith

image of people crossing at a crossing behind a tram


  • 1Video still from Worst Case Scanerio
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Video still from Worst Case Scenario


An exploration of the ambiguities of documentary photographs which develops ideas triggered by a German pun. Worst Case Scenario starts out as a series of still photographs depicting daily life on a Viennese street corner.

The film re-orders and manipulates a selection of these images, and as it progresses the static world slowly and subtly comes to life. As Sigmund Freud casts his long shadow across the city, an increasingly improbable chain of events and relationships starts to emerge.

"On a visit to Vienna in 1999 I stayed in a third floor hotel room overlooking a busy street corner. One of the reasons for the corner's popularity was a bustling bakery and sandwich shop which attracted a constant stream of customers. Illuminated signs outside the premises publicised its wares, including one which prominently displayed the two words 'WURST' and 'KASE'. I was struck by the chaotic activity of the corner and its elaborate road markings and confusing rights of way. Looking out of my hotel window, I witnessed numerous near collisions between pedestrians, trams, cars, lorries and cyclists. For this reason, the 'WURST-KASE' sign seemed to be an entirely appropriate label for the place - from my aerial vantage point I could imagine all kinds of potential disasters which might befall the oblivious passers-by below. The place looked like an accident waiting to happen - a 'worst case scenario'".
John Smith


Year 2003
Duration 18 minutes
Medium Video
Original format 35mm stills
Screening format BetaSP-DVD
Aspect ratio
Audio Yes
Colour/B&W Both
Screens 1


Produced with additional research and development funding from the Arts Council of England and production funding from Film London.

Screening history:

10 October - 22 November 2003
Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, UK

2003 London Film Festival

42nd Ann Arbor Film Festival


Gus Van Sant Award (best experimental film)

Griot Editorial Award (best editing)

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John Smith

Drawing on the raw material of everyday life, John Smith's meticulously crafted films rework and transform reality, playfully exploring and exposing