The words “entered as evidence” appears on the VHS label of “Angela’s Home Movie.” I didn’t think anything of it until I popped the tape in the VCR and pressed play. I was greeted with a message indicating that the footage I was about to see was “originally created by Neal Sloane for his daughter Angela Parkes,” and that “due to the events surrounding the video’s production, it has been assembled as faithfully as possible by Lt. Michael D. Slocumb of the Costa Mesa Police Department.”
True to the “home-movie” aesthetic, the video begins with Sloane holding the camera, shooting himself, and repeating, “I just wanna make this so you can know me better.” It continues with his attempt to get a night-time shot of his neighborhood grocery store and hangout spot. The camera moves in a very dizzying fashion, persisting throughout the film. Sloane then tapes himself washing his hands and expressing to the camera how important it is to wash one’s hands.
He’s in the bathroom in the next scene, sharing his addiction to gambling.
The minute that Sloane communicates that he and Angela’s mother didn’t part ways amicably, you start brainstorming the possible explanations for why Sloane is just now getting around to becoming a part of his daughter’s four to five year-old life. Perhaps paternal identity was unknown at Angela’s “emergence.” Maybe paternal identity was known, but responsibility for certain parties’ actions were only recognized at a much later date. Another possibility, which Sloane hints at while recording the bathroom mirror, is that paternal identity was known, responsibility was taken, but things were too difficult and his gambling habits didn’t help much either. Sloane eventually verifies that it is this last scenario. He couldn’t hold down a regular job, Angela came into existence, and then Sloane split. In an effort to make things right between his daughter and her mother, Sloane decided to make this video as a “getting to know me” gesture.
“Angela’s Home Movie” lasts about seventy-minutes. About sixty-five of those minutes consist of Sloane talking directly into the camera and driving around with the camera on him. The message in the beginning of the tape points out that some crime took place and you become very curious about it. In fact, it’s pretty much your main concern as a viewer. Did someone get killed or abducted? The ending answers this question. When the tape is over, instead of a credit sequence, there’s another note stating, “as the contents of this video has been booked into police evidence under Bylaw 482 of the California Civil Code, Neal Sloane’s daughter Angela has yet to see it.” If you think something doesn’t smell right, you’re absolutely correct. The public shouldn’t have access to police evidence…unless it wasn’t really police evidence because no crime occurred and the people allegedly involved don’t exist.