In 1962 Ronald Chase was living and painting in Barrytown, NY in the Hudson Valley. One weekend, a Turkish actress , Channan Vafi, was left as a house guest, and accompanied by two friends, Chase took her to explor the neighboring sights across the river in Woodstock. One stop was at a bizarre landscape of mirrors placed outdoors against trees, inhabited by a hermit artist who had burrowed his home in a series of tunnels under the tree trunks. Chase spent time photographing the actress, with himself, and with each of his friends in mirrors. What emerged from these photos was a premise for his first film. One of the friends had a camera and film stock, the others served as actors; volunteers appeared for a weekend, and thus the "underground" film movement found an additional film maker.
Several bizarre incidents are included in the history of this film. It was shot around the premise of a woman and her three lovers, and her guilt --- as her husband shoots himself in jealousy or remorse. It was shot without a script. When the film was finished Chase asked a close friend, the southern writer Mary Lee Settle, to come up with one. Next, he heard of an actress at near-by Bard College who agreed to do the voice over. Her name was Blythe Danner, and she would come to rehearsals with her boyfriend, Chevy Chase. At the recording in Boston, one of the other actresses was head of the Boston Repertory Theater. She was so impressed with Danner's performance she offered her a job with the company, thus starting her stage and film career. When Chase brought the sound tapes for a mix to a Boston Sound Studio, he learned that he had constructed them so bizarrely it would inflate the budget enormously. The Boston company that had agreed to finance the post-production of the film was angry and confiscated it, the script and the sound. Chase was left with only a work print which he reconstructed a year later once he had arrived in San Francisco. Fragments was one of three films that were awarded a prize at the Ann Arbor film festival in 1969.
This debut film incorporates film ideas which will preoccupy Chase through much of his film career — a formal construction, mixing realism with dream imagery, using movement and intercutting to touch emotionally on a films themes, and an avoidance of the central action (in this case a suicide), instead focusing on the emotional and psychological damage. Imagery in this case becomes narrative.