Screen Art and Film Workshop

‘How Do You Ask For A Date?’ by Brendan Nguyen

The creative project was made out of found/archived footage with a mixture of animation, exploring the importance of relationships and connection with others, something that hasn’t changed throughout generations. Throughout the studio, I researched the concept of Tragicomedy and how the duality of elements complement each other in film. Humour and tragedy ironically go hand in hand and work well together. When comedy is mixed with sadness, it can make the tragedy feel more harsh and stronger than without the element of humour but still allows the audience to laugh at the character or situation. It also mixes the story up a bit, without the humour, the audience expectations tend to be set that the story will be harsh. This concept is quite visual in nature which lead me to learning After Effect skills and 2D animation, especially due to the circumstances throughout the semester. Whilst learning these skills, I development my research with looking into the works of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and how their unique physical comedy is mixed with a ‘sad clown’ persona, helping to explore societal topics in their films. The process for Screen Project 2 was much more experimental than previous studios as I was learning new skills (specifically 2D animation) during isolation so it was a lot of back and forth between different topics and ideas. The one element that didn’t change was its connection to my research of tragicomedy developed throughout the studio. The animation started with creating a plan and story, then designing assets for the animation.

Those assets was then experimented with the puppet tool on After Effects but didn’t feel natural enough so I redesigned the assets to fit with character rigging which turned out really good but due to time constraints and hardware, I felt it wasn’t possible to finish the animation in time with rigging so I decided to use a mixture of animation and found footage to create a story and a more abstract take on the tragicomedy. Through the internet archive I was able to find suitable footage that played well with the animation made so far and was edited to be comedic integrated with tragedy and the feeling of rejection and isolation. It was fun to experiment and create something new and turned out better than expected but I do hope to continue learning animation and developing those skills in the future. I initially struggled with it as narrative was important to me but soon found out that for this type of archived footage project, it didn’t work as well so decided to take a step back and think about how the video can impact the audience and make them feel. The video started to explore themes of losing connection with others and becoming isolated and taking it for granted if it all went away, which is relevant with the current circumstances.

The tragicomedy fits well in this as the footage used can be quite comedic and the hopefully provides a feeling of loss and being alone by the end. The use of flashing images, sound and the overall tempo of the screen project helps to create a hypnotic sensation to the audience and make connections between the different footage. The close-up shots of faces help the symbolise the personal connection we have with others and the importance of them, using footage on a 50s instructional video on how to ask people on a date to highlight human nature to create connections with others. The silence mixed with shot of an explosion juxtaposes the footage of people together as a way to make the viewer feel empty and isolated when that relationships are lost and not appreciated. This concept came out of a tragicomedy about a salesman who attempts to ask out a woman but ultimately fails due to his social class but instead of a straightforward narrative, a hypnotic and experimental archived footage video was made, still keeping the elements of tragedy and comedy at times.

rmitmediastudent • June 2, 2020

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