After the extremely entertaining and informative lecture this week about “narrative” given by Dan, it has prompted me to reflect on what is better – having a narrative or not? It was a topic that everyone had their own formed opinion on this week, whether or not the like having a narrative to follow. I think that when it comes down to it, it is down to personal preference. Not needing a narrative is similar to going into an art gallery and being comfortable and seeking solace in interpreting one piece of work in whichever way you want – creating a narrative for it. However, some do not need a narrative, individuals who would prefer to have an explicit meaning behind something, with a structure to follow, especially when watching a film. I think that it is so interesting to think about the variety of ways someone can interpret something, and how some individuals dislike not having a narrative to follow, which is understandable as some prefer to watch a sequence of events that progresses with a climax at the end and a resolution. Narrative is such a tricky topic, there are various thematic concerns that need to be present in order to classify something as a narrative, but I also believe that an individual’s own take on a piece of work can assist in declaring something a narrative or not.
In today’s tutorial we got into it and started to properly discuss our ideas for Project Brief 4. Assigned with the topic “institutions”, to begin with we were somewhat stumped. It seemed to be the hardest thing to hone in on, with too many possibilities imaginable. However, after creating a great mind map and after much discussion, we opened our ideas up vastly and had a much greater understanding on which direction we wanted to head in. After deciding to focus on film festivals and their importance and influence within cinema culture, we started researching. As a group, we found some really interesting starting point from which we can really begin our annotated bibliography due next week. I’m really happy with the progress we made today, along with the sense of comfort that comes with understanding the topic and the ideas of my other group members.
When asked what his inspiration was for the idea of his short film We Have Decided Not To Die, Daniel Askill’s response was: “I think it was actually a single image of this guy floating outside this 50th story window and the idea of him not dying. Just that single image.” This strangely unusual eleven minute short film is a “modern day allegorical triptych”, that visually (and ambiguously) represents the three rituals of birth, between and rebirth.
In this weeks reading; “The Substance of Story”, the key elements of a narrative are discussed. Points mentioned are that protagonist is crucial, there needs to be a bond between the audience and the film and there are various levels of conflict.The film as a whole does not have one line of dialogue, any sort of character development or a sense of resolution – all elements that seem important in a narrative piece. Although these things are lacking and there are levels of conflict, perhaps a bond between audience and screen, it still appears to somewhat present a narrative to audiences, it has these characters who are obvious representations of stages of life, they represent a struggle and presence even though the audience is unaware of any explicit details. The original idea of an individual avoiding death has evolved into this larger film that is by all means open to eternal interpretation, presenting the power of ritual as an action.
Although the film may be difficult to interpret or simply uninteresting, the actual product is one that has been beautifully and skilfully crafted. With what could be taken as a beginning, middle and end, it links together, each character left hovering in this state of the unknown, as perhaps nobody truly knows the answers when speaking of spirituality, life and death.
“You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”
Although the project briefs of representing a person have now come to an end, I thought it would be good to see how the professionals do it. Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” is the epitome of a portrait. Filmed over the course of 12 years, Linklater delves into the adolescence of Mason Evans Jr (portrayed by Ellar Coltrane) as he matures between the ages of 2002 – 2013 growing up in Texas. Experiencing the ups and downs of divorce, drug use and graduation, audiences literally see Mason growing up in front of their very eyes. With a soundtrack true to its era, it really is a nostalgic journey for anyone watching. It is truly amazing to see such a work of art that has been created over such a vast period of time by individuals with such an obvious investment in the project. It is simply extraordinary to experience the film first handedly, as a representation of a specific individual and their triumphs and downfalls.
Nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards and rated 8.1 on IMDB, this film is one of beautiful moments, with concept rich with emotion and naturalism, as Linklater uses its duration to remind everyone that life is about the little moments.
“I’ll know it when I see it.” Often this is what we say when we really aren’t sure about what we’re looking for, something that we believe we understand but is hard to explain. Something like textual analysis. A text in this case being a visual representation of how someone else makes sense of the world, a “vehicle for the production of cultural meaning”. We use textual analysis to describe, compare, contrast, evaluate, assess and to understand. Humans analyse everything in daily life, like meaning behind a text message or why Miranda Kerr is the model currently advertising Swarovski. But to look deeper into the complexity of the text is the key to analysis.
This is where semiotics come into motion. The world of the sign, signifier and signified, connotations and denotations, codes and ideology, as discussed in this weeks reading; “Approaching Media Texts”. Discussing an advertisement as a media text, each component has been thoroughly developed to create an overall image with implicit and explicit messages. The class activity – the analysis of a Brooks Brothers advertisement in a magazine explored this in action. The overall message was that Brooks Brothers clothing is liveable and enjoyable to own, clothing you can feel is well produced, as audiences see a grown man joyously watching a young boy jump into a swimming pool. This represents the factors of comfortability along with luxury, as the duo are surrounded by a somewhat lavish holiday location, making it the perfect place for relaxation. Thus, looking at an advertisement at face value is simply not enough if you are wanting to analyse it. The construction of said advertisement is crucial in communicating a specific intended message. Analysis as a whole allows an individual to truly explore and delve into the intended messages communicated via a text itself.
Overall, I enjoyed Emily’s portrayal of her older sister Maddison. Aesthetically, it was pleasing on the eye and easy to watch, fitting in with her general relaxed nature and the location – the Gold Coast. The found footage that Emily used of Betty Boop worked well, tying in with the narration of Maddison and not appearing out of place whatsoever. The on screen text shown twice throughout the film offered some diversity, visually contrasting with the footage, it remained relevant and related to the overall concept and aimed aesthetic. One thing I suggest to think about are the shots of the face. They were effective in showing the audience of the physical presence that is Maddison, however having shots of her talking accompanied by the still shots of her facial features may have created a bit more contrast and diversity in that small sequence.
CHRYSTALLA ANASTASI Chrys also used her found footage in an extremely effective manner as it mirrored the spoken narration along with what seemed to be the desired overall aesthetic. The shots in which the film’s subject Maria is speaking to the camera is personal and intimate, the setting being in a bedroom, which reinforces the concept of intimacy and sexuality that is being explored throughout the course of the film. Although it is a slight contradiction, perhaps a range of different angles may have provided more diversity in the interviewing of Maria, this may have made it appear more posed, however small angle differences maybe slightly to each side from a higher angle would maintain the intimacy that was successfully achieved. Also, rather than only shots of Maria speaking to the camera, pensive, calm shots accompanied only by a voice over may have given audiences a chance to reflect on the dialogue more in depth. Overall it was a great representation of Maria and her ideals.
The creative process of project brief 3 was both a challenging and interesting one. Personally I am happy with how the product turned out overall, with the edits being mostly quick, sharp cuts to create a clean and polished finish. I enjoyed syncing voiceovers with footage, as I feel like it is effective in communicating the dialogue through another visual means, rather than only concentrating on images of the subject for the film’s entirety. Although I am pleased with these aspects, I am not as satisfied with the diversity of the portrait. This comes down to the footage I shot myself, which as a whole did not provide enough to work with, causing challenges with cutting and editing. However, if I had accumulated more footage, I feel as though I would have had much more breathing space in which I could have more comfortably cut as I pleased without the restrictions of inadequate content.
Creating a portrait of another individual is a task that needs to be thoroughly prepared. It was tough to pinpoint one specific topic to ask about, then to draw up questions or starting sentences to stimulate answers. Although you may have envisioned the product you wish to create, you need to realise that the individual you are interviewing may not necessarily be in your mind space, and therefore may not follow the script you have imagined. This is where I have learnt that it is crucial to simply go where the conversation takes you, which may lead to candid and rich footage that you did not anticipate prior to shooting.
I have come to see the advantages and disadvantages of the constraint of including “found footage” within the project. If suitable footage is found, it is an excellent way of adding something that you didn’t realise you needed, which can definitely enhance the overall product. This said, it was difficult for me to find relevant footage that had the potential to tie in with the nature of the portrait. As a media practitioner, it is beneficial in having sources that allow you to use footage provided by others, along with allowing you to be exposed to others’ works that could influence you own.
After spending my Friday night babysitting, I realised many things, like how annoying children can be, how cute children can be and how hard it can be to put them to bed when all they want to do is make chit chat. As soon as I walked through the door, I was greeted by a 10 year old blonde girl tugging at my bag asking me where I bought it from, along with an 8 year old even cuter blonde asking me if I had dyed my hair since the last time I saw her. I was then asked by the 10 year old how I applied my makeup that morning because the girls in the tutorials she had been watching on YouTube use both sponges and brushes to apply their foundation. At this, I literally sat there shocked for at least a minute – momentarily wondering what I was doing when I was 10 years old – making those scoobie things and putting them on my school bag? I then went into a 20 minute discussion about my makeup routine, which was briefly interrupted every so often by the distraction of the television.
I thought back on this conversation after I had put them to bed – half an hour after their bedtime because I love chatting with them, its refreshing, (something I would never tell their mum). These girls at such a young age are already being enticed by the world of makeup and beauty. I can’t believe that it’s already grabbed them at such a young age, leading to statements such as “of course I need makeup, so and so wears it. I’m just not pretty without it…” You need to be aware as you read this that this 10 year old is one of the most beautiful little girls you will ever see. What is happening with girls’ self esteem?? If body image issues really are becoming an issue at the age of 8 and 10, how young will it become in the coming years and who do we have to blame for it? This is such a huge topic that really needs to be somehow fixed, because I will not sit and watch 10 year olds criticising their own appearances. Is the media really to blame? Celebrities in magazines? The barriers that restrain gender appearance need to be broken, we really won’t get anywhere unless they are.
In todays tutorial we were given the opportunity to use sound recorders and went out into Bowen Street to try and find something worth recording. There are a lot of things happening out on that street. There’s a constant throng of trucks moving and bleeping, plenty of people and plenty of small talk. After attempting to get some sort of sounds together, and recording some mediocre snippets, it really became apparent that it was difficult to get a clean sound when there was so much going on. This was perfect for background noise, you could literally go out and record a hours worth of background noise for a project, but it wasn’t ideal for close conversations or anything of the sort. The sound was too loud because the device was too close and it just wasn’t really suited in such a loud environment. If you wanted to record any intimate conversations, I would recommend going to a street where there weren’t any powertools in action or vehicles reversing.
I have not had the most amazing experiences with collaboration throughout school. I think that some people just may not be cut out for it. I am all for working with others to create even better ideas, but as I said, some individuals really shouldn’t be doing it full stop. Those people are the worst kind of people. The people who do no work at all, expect you to do everything for them, then receive the same grade as you when everyone this side of the equator knows fine well that they shouldn’t have even passed in the first place. I can’t deal with this type of people, yet usually i’m forced to mutually share a group with someone who encourages this flurry of anger within you as you watch them slack off, confront them about it and then continue to watch them to slack off further. The only difference then being that they have a smug look across their face because they are now acutely aware that you can’t bear to share the credit for your hard work, or even look at them at all.
Don’t get me wrong, there are instances where teamwork and collaboration can be great. That is if you have a great group of people who are interested and will work hard. It’s rewarding to bounce ideas off one another and see other approaches to different matters, it just seems to me that is an extreme rarity. Unfortunately I have had more negative than positive experiences with collaboration and this is where i’m supposed to write that I intend to upon up my mindset and approach things in a different way, and I do. I do intend on embracing collaboration, I just think that if it weren’t for some people that have plagued the concept for me initially, I wouldn’t have to adjust my attitude. All you have to do is put in some effort and do a bit of work, just try. Please, just do anything, it’s better than nothing.