James Stanley Brakhage ( BRAK-ij; January 14, 1933 – March 9, 2003), better known as Stan Brakhage, was an American filmmaker. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th-century experimental film.Over the course of five decades, Brakhage created a large and diverse body of work, exploring a variety of formats, approaches and techniques that included handheld camerawork, painting directly onto celluloid, fast cutting, in-camera editing, scratching on film, collage film and the use of multiple exposures. Interested in mythology and inspired by music, poetry, and visual phenomena, Brakhage sought to reveal the universal, in particular exploring themes of birth, mortality, sexuality, and innocence. His films are for the most part silent.Brakhage's films are often noted for their expressiveness and lyricism. While they were for many years obscure and hard to find, many are now readily available on DVD as well as other media. Born Robert Sanders in Kansas City, Missouri on January 14, 1933, Brakhage was adopted and renamed three weeks after his birth by Ludwig and Clara Brakhage.As a child Brakhage was featured on radio as a boy soprano, and sang in church choirs and as a soloist at other events. He was raised in Denver, Colorado, where he attended South High School with the filmmakers Larry Jordan and Stan Phillips, and the composers Jim Tenney, and Ramiro Cortes. At South he and other friends (Larry Hackstaff, Walt Newcomb, Gordon Rosenblum, Tom O'Brien, Stan Phillips, and others) formed a social and intellectual group, calling themselves "the Gadflies", after Socrates.Brakhage briefly attended Dartmouth College on a scholarship before dropping out to make films. He completed his first film, Interim, at the age of 19; the music for the film was composed by his school friend James Tenney. In 1953, Brakhage moved to San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, then called the California School of Fine Arts. He found the atmosphere in San Francisco more rewarding, associating with poets Robert Duncan and Kenneth Rexroth, but did not complete his education, instead moving to New York City in 1954. There he met a number of notable artists, including Maya Deren (in whose apartment he briefly lived), Willard Maas, Jonas Mekas, Marie Menken, Joseph Cornell, and John Cage. Brakhage would collaborate with the latter two, making two films with Cornell (Gnir Rednow and Centuries of June) and using Cage's music for the soundtrack of his first color film, In Between. Brakhage is recorded to have said "If there is one single filmmaker that I owe the most to for the crucial development of my own film making it would be Marie Menken."Brakhage spent the next few years living in near poverty, depressed about what he saw as the failure of his work. He briefly considered suicide. While living in Denver, Brakhage met Mary Jane Collom (see Jane Wodening), whom he married in late 1957. Brakhage tried to make money on his films, but had to take a job making industrial shorts to support his family. In 1958, Jane gave birth to the first of the five children they would have together, a daughter called Myrrena, an event Brakhage recorded for his 1959 film Window Water Baby Moving.