Last week we were put into groups for our Media 1 final assignment: Project Brief 4, and I must say my group is pretty damn good.
Within the first couple of days after being put into our group we had already decided what our assignments would focus on. Via Facebook chat Camilla linked us a video essay about representation of women in Disney princess films and it only took myself and Holly the five minutes it took to watch the video to realise that this was something we really like to delve into.
This has been especially helpful considering that next week our annotated bibliography is due. I know a lot of groups are using the annotated bibliography as an ‘exploration phase’ but having decided on our topic, this enables us to find really great articles, that are specific to our area of interest, that we hope to utilise within our video and audio essays.
Currently in the workshop we’re all working on finding great articles, we already have about 10 linked in our google drive, as well as a bunch of ‘cool resources’ that we deem relevant to our topic. I’m pretty excited to go forth and delve into the Disney princess franchise, from the articles I’ve read so far there’s a lot to discuss. I’m also someone that never grew up watching much Disney, especially the Disney princess films, I spent more time skateboarding with my twin brother and eating mud. So it’s interesting to read about and see the effect these films have had on the children, who grew up on a steady diet of Disney films and the way that has effected their understandings of gender.
Since there were no set readings for this week I get to talk about one of the readings from my annotated bibliography regarding Project Brief 4, which is pretty cool. For Project Brief 4 our group received the topic “Narratives & Texts” which is a pretty broad category but within a day we’d already chosen our intended topic: the representation of women in Disney princess films. Which to a lot of people sounds like a really lame topic, but was actually super interesting, especially for me since i’d never really watched many Disney films as a child.
Haseenah Ebrahim the writer of the article has a lot of experience with Disney films, and peoples interpretations of them, as she teaches an undergraduate course on the subject. Ebrahim explains in her article that many students would arrive at the lecture and expect character, plot and stylistic analysis and would often be ‘taken aback’ at the historical, sociological, and theoretical framing and analysis that Ebrahim taught.
She raises an interesting point in the article, stating that: ironically the texts which are the most influential to developing humans: childhood texts, are often considered to be the least important to analyse. Ebrahim found that a lot of her students scoffed at the idea of taking such films ‘seriously’, which only motivated her more to investigate the potential impact these texts are having.
Ultimately Ebrahim found that Disney texts often:
“inscribe middle age as a time of treachery, consumption and anger in the feminine life cycle (Ebrahim, 2014).”
Through their portrayal of characters such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Wicked Queen, Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent, Cinderella’s Lady Tre- maine, 101 Dalmatians’ Cruella de Vil, and The Little Mermaid’s Ursula. These older female characters are often portrayed as hideously ugly witches who are vain, selfish or competitive, and are often intent on killing or destroying the younger, prettier female character: the princess, purely out of spite or jealousy.
“since the ‘Classic’ Disney films of the 1940s and 1950s there has been an gains of the protagonists in children’s films while the age of the viewing audience has remained the same” therefore “children may be learning that the best things for them to do is to grow up as quickly as possible” (Ebrahim, 2014).
Recently this epidemic of young children acting, looking and dressing older has become more apparent. With the most horrifying element of this realisation being: that young children acting older is often prompted by the lifestyle being marketed and sold to them through large corporations that produce children’s media and texts.
The Disney Princess remains an outdated stereotype, that hasn’t changed dramatic until recently in films such as Brave or Rapunzel, which give the female characters less stereotypical roles.
However Ebrahim (2014) states that “(within Brave) the girl-heroine has been transformed into a boyish young woman who in many ways – although not entirely – embodies what Lissa Paul labels “hero[es] in drag” – that is, “female characters who take on traditionally male characteristics in an attempt to subvert the kinds of traditional female roles the first and second wave Disney princesses have taken on.”
This is troubling to realise, as one would hope that Disney could make a well rounded ‘strong’ female character, rather than simply turn the female character into a stereotypically male character and call that a ‘nod to the current times’.
Catch you later,
Louise Alice Wilson
Ebrahim, H. (2014). Are the “boys” at Pixar afraid of little girls? Journal of Film and Video, 66(3), 43-56.
“You better learn how to collaborate, if you want to work in the media industry.”
This point was underlined:
You better learn how to collaborate, if you want to work in the media industry.
It was put in bold:
You better learn how to collaborate, if you want to work in the media industry.
It was italicised:
You better learn how to collaborate, if you want to work in the media industry.
Well it wasn’t italicised but you get the gist.
As pointed out in our lecture today, employers are much more interested in a graduates ability to work in a team than they are in their tech skills, initiative, communication skills or enterprise. On the surface this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since the majority of our schooling lives tests our ability to succeed as an individual above others. But intuitively it makes a heap of sense: when you get a job you rarely work alone, a majority of the time you join a company with a number of pre-existing co-workers, this is especially the case in the media industry. In this situation your ability to bring out the best in others and to collaborate well in team environments is the difference between a harmonious workplace with great output and a hostile workplace with sub-par output.
I’m sure employers also factor in that it’s quite easy to teach someone how to use a camera, but it’s a a lot harder to teach them how to be a good collaborate. Collaboration skills can take years of self-work, self-censorship and practise and it’s easy to get set into dissonant ways of collaborating. So what steps should you take in adopting this vital ability?
Get in early and start now.
Learn how to be a good leader, share your opinions and make your voice heard.
Become a better listener and get interested in the viewpoints of others. If someone’s voice isn’t being heard ask yourself why and help them to feel enabled.
Become an even better negotiator, sometimes it’s not a) or b,) sometimes you gotta go with c).
Develop clever ways of dealing with disagreement, sharing opinion, giving criticism and making one’s voice heard.
Practise professional communication, gif’s aren’t the only way to deliver your opinions on a workmates thought.
Establish good peer relationships, after all this industry is a small one.
Develop your knowledge within your own discipline and bring that knowledge to the table. The purpose of a collaboration is to combine the skills, interests and knowledge of all the team members to create the best possible output, so make sure you can contribute.
Have fun, no one likes a stressful group project, am I right? And chances are it won’t be your best work if your not having some fun.
If you do your best at making this attitude a permanent state hopefully by the time you graduate it’ll be second nature. And if that didn’t rile you up enough here’s Vanilla Ice talking about collaborating:
This is a post all about feeeeedback, not musical feedback, which I do love, but video feedback, but not video feedback in the new wave art form sense, but literal feedback on peoples videos, well not videos, it is the 21st century, but feedback on their short films. We got there in the end.
Nicole Tsolakkis – Fatherhood
The first thing you notice about this creative portrait is the immediate impact it has; the close-up shot staring straight into the google eyes of the gorgeous Stella is a great starting point. It was a nice touch going from Stella’s happy eyes to the hard hitting story of Andy own’s childhood. This gives us great insight into his character as well as shows us the dedication he has to providing for Stella and making sure she’s happy. Andy says that the most important aspect of his parenting style is “just being there” and you can see that he really means it. As Andy talks about Stella’s interests we get to see shots of her ‘drumming’ and ‘playing tennis’ with an ironically, oversized tennis racket, it’s nice to see Andy bonding with Stella in this light hearted comical way. Andy then tells us of his family’s “Cypriot superstitions: when Stella crosses her legs it means she wants a sibling”, Andy then says “maybe one or two” then the piece finishes. All in all you really leave the piece feeling like you’ve got to know Andy and Stella which is ultimately what the piece set out to achieve.
Eve Gailey – Rennie: Conserving Our Natural Landscape
Eve’s portrait of Rennie takes after my own heart. Rennie is a young woman who grew up on a farm in the Northern Rivers of NSW. She speaks of her family farm and the days she spent playing down at the creek at the back of her place, suggesting to us that this is where her appreciation for the environment came from. My own mother grew up on a rural dairy farm in New Zealand and throughout my childhood had a passionate relationship with plants (being a horticulturist) and always attempted to protect the environment in anyway she could. Eve’s portrait does a great job of exploring the elements of Rennie’s childhood that helped shape her into the person she is today and makes it clear that what we are exposed to as children often impact our thoughts as adults. Eve uses found footage well to illustrate the beauty of the natural environment that Rennie talks about, showing us as viewers why Rennie is so passionate. After viewing Eve’s creative portrait you get a strong sense of Rennie’s character; she’s an intelligent, passionate, well rounded person who’s attempting to undo the wrongs of previous generations.
Rory Pogson –
Rory showed us what he had so far of his creative portrait, which was an entertaining conversation with his grandfather detailing his life story thus far. Rory’s grandfather is the kind of grandfather you wish was your own. Rory did well to edit down a 60 minute phone conversation into a 3 minute video and you really feel that you got to hear all the best points. Some of the highlights include Rory’s grandfather getting a job as a jockey, then asking for a raise, being refused one and telling them to screw off, this was cleverly matched with some footage of an old dude giving someone the finger. You can really see that Rory’s grandfathers sense of humour has been passed down.. Rory’s grandfather also states “2 weeks is a long time in between drinks” as he reminisces on a drinking tale that explains how he got to Sydney in a random man’s beat up car. I really would love to see Rory’s completed project as I think it had great spirit and energy and I think he’s done a really great job so far.
For all you music geeks out there I hope you picked up on my Sound on Sound reference, for everyone else Sound on Sound is also the name of a great music recording magazine, that I quite love.
“Sound on Sound is a creative portrait that explores one Melbourne musicians lifelong obsession with sound. From past to present this documentary touches on themes of obsession, dedication and a love for ethnomusicology that extends to exploring sounds very roots.”
The successful aspects of my piece were the creation of various visual montages that add rhythm and pace to the piece as well as the utilisation of interesting stock footage to visually display audio topics that keep the audience engaged. I think the piece was also successful in overall pacing and flow that provide attention grabbing interest at the start, mellow reflection in the middle and an inspirational ending that leave audiences on a high note at the end of the piece. The section in the middle of the piece (focusing on the instruments Chris plays and his recording space) features a simplistic piece of music; him strumming on his bass. This quiet, emotional piece, performed in his studio, underscores the fact that we have been let in to his life to see these private moments. I believe this creates has a strong emotional resonance with the audience as they get to see Chris as most people don’t get to see him. It’s also quite an informative piece that has the potential introduce topics like Jazz and Ethio-Jazz to audiences that would otherwise never engage with such a topic.
The problematic aspects of my piece are potentially that there’s too much going on visually, which could disrupt audiences from ‘truly bonding’ or understanding the central character, but I think we see enough of Chris to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Another problematic aspect is the poor quality of the stock footage that often appears grainy, but I think in a way this can add to overall charm as well as evident the fact that it is indeed vintage footage.
Key learning discoveries I made about creative portraits are that they are one of those mediums where you must define your through line, in order to know what questions to ask, shots to get, stock footage to find, music to add and edits to make. Creative portraits challenge you to be creative, if you don’t, they often end up dry and boring, however if you are creative you can create a truly beautiful and highly engaging piece. Creative portraits allow you to use abstract footage to illustrate aspects of a persons character or story that create a stronger representation of the idea than any real footage could, thus they have an ability to stir resonances within people that other forms of objective documentary making can’t. Creative portraits also allow you to focus in on a particular aspect of a person or their life, that they may not consider defining or that they may hide from most people they know. You can present this aspect in any way you see fit which adds interesting new layers to that persons define character.
More broadly I brushed up on my filming, editing, interviewing, typography and sourcing skills. I also learnt how to find the needle in the haystack and how to focus my ideas into one whole and complete image in order to make the best possible media that I can.
This week we’ve been covering documentary, so I thought that for my initiative post it’s only fair that I pay homage to Werner Herzog, one of the greatest documentary filmmakers of all time. In 1999, Herzog wrote out his ‘Minnesota Declaration’, an article attempting to explain his approach to filmmaking and his ideas regarding ‘the truth’ and ‘purity’ of the image. The piece is written regarding his 1992 film Lessons of Darkness and is in opposition to the cinematic movement known as Cinema Verité. The piece of Herzog gold is key to understanding his approach to filmmaking as well us allowing the reader to grasp the notion of ‘truth’ in the cinematic image.
The Minnesota Declaration: in relation to Lessons of Darkness.
By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.
One well-known representative of Cinema Verité declared publicly that truth can be easily found by taking a camera and trying to be honest. He resembles the night watchman at the Supreme Court who resents the amount of written law and legal procedures. “For me,” he says, “there should be only one single law; the bad guys should go to jail.” Unfortunately, he is part right, for most of the many, much of the time.
Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.
Fact creates norms, and truth illumination.
There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.
Filmmakers of Cinema Verité resemble tourists who take pictures of ancient ruins of facts.
Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.
Each year at springtime scores of people on snowmobiles crash through the melting ice on the lakes of Minnesota and drown. Pressure is mounting on the new governor to pass a protective law. He, the former wrestler and bodyguard, has the only sage answer to this: “You can’t legislate stupidity.”
The gauntlet is herby thrown down.
The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn’t call, doesn’t speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don’t you listen to the Song of Life.
We ought to be grateful that the Universe out there knows no smile.
Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of hell that during evolution some species—including man—crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.
W. Herzog (1999). Minnesota Declaration: Truth and Fact in Documentary Cinema. Walker Magazine.
We all know what Documentaries are right? We might not have a pre-prepared google definition, but we could probably list off a bunch of things that we associate with documentaries. Such as: truthful, real-life, handheld, based on, in camera zoom, science, etc, etc.
The curious thing about documentary though, is that the more you learn about documentary films, the more your realise that what you understand to be it’s defining aspects, aren’t necessarily the case. For example, documentaries aren’t necessarily any more ‘truthful’ than standard films and the pure process of filming something, creates a filtered version of the ‘real world’ (if there is such a thing).
But rather than waste 3000 words BLOWING YOUR MIND, lets just bring it back to grad school (shh, I’m pretending to be American) and talk about types of form in documentary film.
Types of Form in Documentary Films
Categorical Form: These are documentaries that focus on a specific category of things (often loosely based) such as ‘butterflies’, in order to convey information about the world.
Common aspects of categorical form:
Begins by identifying it’s subject.
Simplistic patterns of development (small > large, local > national).
Overall thematic goal.
Due to the simplistic developmental patterns of categorical form, it is vital that filmmakers introduce variations to adjust viewer expectations. Or rather choose a category that is obscure or exciting in order to maintain viewer interest, e.g. Les Blank’s ‘Gap-Toothed Women‘.
Another brill way to engage viewers is to add abstract visual interest through the use of patterned filmic techniques by exploring the colour, shape and form of the thing being presented. Les Blank does this well through his various close-ups of gap teethed mouths, each with their own individualistic shape, colour, complexity, obscurity and feeling.
Categorical films can also explore other types of form, such as narrative form, or rhetorical form, adding in small scale narratives or including an ideological point. In Gap-Toothed Women Les Blank makes a statement about beauty, suggesting that society’s acceptance or disgust regarding aesthetics, merely reflects societal bias. Thus, you can imagine how combining multiple forms of documentary can create a much more engaging and well rounded documentary film.
Les Blank – Gap Toothed Women (1987)
Rhetorical Form: In these documentaries the filmmaker is attempting to present a cohesive argument. Attempts to persuade the audience to adopt an opinion about the subject matter and possibly convince them to act upon that opinion.
Common aspects of rhetorical form:
Addresses the viewer openly, trying to persuade them of their opinion.
The films subject is not an issue of scientific proof, but rather an opinion.
Since the conclusion can often not be proved beyond question, the filmmaker will often appeal to emotion, rather than present scientific evidence.
Often attempts to persuade the viewer to make a choice that will change their everyday life.
An example of rhetorical form in documentary is Lorentz’ The River, released in 1938. This documentary sought to convince its audience to support President Roosevelt’s policies regarding the Tennessee Valley Authority through it’s use of the rhetoric form. The TVA was a government owned corporation aiming to provide solutions to the country’s flooding, electricity and agricultural problems within Tennessee Valley during the Great Depression.
Pare Lorentz – The River (1938)
Catch you later,
Louise Alice Wilson
D. Bordwell & K. Thompson., (1993). Film Art: An Introduction. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993.
I wonder if words that are only defined by their opposites feel sad about that.
Hi i’m non-Louise, I’m essentially the opposite of what Louise is.
But who are you?
Non-narrative is much the same. It’s often defined by it’s opposition to narrative, thus we should start with: What is narrative?
“Typically a narrative begins with one situation; a series of changes occur according to a pattern of cause and effect; finally, a new situation arises that brings about the end of the narrative” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2010)
Non-Narrative is often utilised in experimental films, these films often rejects mainstream conventions and standards, often choosing to explore the medium itself instead. Such films sometimes test the limits of the medium, by manipulating audiovisual elements in obscure and interesting ways such as Stan Brakhage’s Dog Star Man.
Stan Brakhage – Dog Star Man (1962)
Experimental films often utilise two main types of form:
Abstract: Filmmakers often utilise visual attributes such as colour, shape, size and movement within the images, to convey a perspective on a certain topic. Such abstract form can be utilised in other types of films, but the abstract imagery often becomes subordinate to the rhetoric purposes.
An example of abstract form in film: Stan Brakhage – Mothlight (1963)
Associational: Within associational form, material is juxtaposed to suggest concepts, expressive qualities, similarities, contrasts and emotional associations between the various imagery. Associational films often group images together in layered sets, using repeated motifs and/or content that encourages constant interpretations, such as Koyaanisqatsi’s Life Out of Balance.
An example of association form in film: Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance (1982)
All this talk about collaborating had me confident in my ability to work well in a group, but having been put into three groups, for three separate units, for three separate assignments is definitely challenging my Vanilla Ice ability.
So far I am in a group of three for my Media 1 assignment, a group of five for my Pop Culture assignment and another group of three for my Cinema Studies assignment. For the Media 1 assignment we have to complete a video essay and an audio essay, for Pop Culture it’s a 25 minute speech on superheroes and for Cinema studies its a 40 minute presentation on A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.
To keep you informed, my dear reader, about my life (which I know you find endlessly interesting) here’s a list of the problems I’ve encountered so far:
Balancing everyones schedule: Trying to balance my schedule with 2 other people is hard. Trying to balance my schedule with 8 other people is extremely difficult. One person can’t do one day, another person can’t do another, this group is only available at this time on this day, which is exactly the same time as the other group is available, it’s pretty intense.
Dealing with different vibes: Everyone has a different way of working, everyone has a different aesthetic and everyone has something else they want to bring to the table. Balancing this is difficult, sometimes peoples ideas completely clash, sometimes people feel an idea very strongly, but find it hard to explain said idea and sometimes people just straight up don’t like an idea.
Editing someones work: This has been and I think always will be somewhat awkward. Someone writes something out, you change it up, they liked it better before, the other three of you like it better now, you know what I’m talking bout right?
Broken commitments: You spend 3 hours organising your schedule with all your groups, you finally agree on a time to do something, and someone just doesn’t rock up. DAMN THAT SUCKS, but you deal, ya know.
I think I’ll be able to give you an update on how we progress, but it’s not all negative ya know. Maybe my next post can be all about ‘the good vibes of group collab’, what do you think?
I didn’t really think about following generic narrative structure within my creative portrait until we began to cover it in class, but I guess I would have accidentally attempted to do it anyway. Narrative seems to be one of those things that you become blind to because you see it too much, so it’s important to have guides like the one below that help you make sure your narrative is on point.
What is the ‘controlling idea’ (Robert McKee) of your portrait?
My interviewee has been a musician since a young age. This passion for music has essentially consumed the majority of their life, thus leading to an obsession with music in general. My interviewee now plays in various bands that have completed world tours and has a strong passion for Ethnomusicology and more specifically Ethiopian music.
How is your portrait film structured?
My film is structured as a past to present piece. We begin with the earliest aspects of information, then move to what the subject is doing currently. This builds somewhat in momentum and excitement as we get to more interesting parts of the narrative. There’s an overall realization or summation sentence at the end of the piece, that leaves audiences on a high note.
What do you want your audience to make of your interviewee?
I want my audience to understand them as a person and most importantly possibly respect or admire their dedication. My interviewee is a kind of ‘old soul’ or an image of man that no longer exists, or at least doesn’t exist in the same scale that it used to: a musician completely dedicated to their craft rather than a person who happens to play music.
How is your portrait being narrated?
My portrait is not narrated at all, there’s actually no other voice in the piece a part from Chris’s. I think this works to add to idea of ‘obsession’ or ‘dedication’. As audience members all we hear is “I’ve been playing music since..”, “I love jazz because.”, “I play a lot of instruments”, this constant information about music being supplied to us purely by Chris makes the audience think “oh I can see that he is definitely into this music stuff..”. If the questions, or if narration had been supplied I think it would undercut the idea of obsession, it would add almost too much structure to the piece, that could make it seem as if what we’re talking about is controlled by the interviewee or narrator rather than by Chris purely saying or choosing what he says on his own accord.
What role will the ‘found footage’ play in your portrait?
Found footage will reinforce the points that Chris is making visually, adding clarity to statements as well as compound the visual and auditory message that ‘this guy is all about music’.
Does your portrait have a dramatic turning point?
Overall there might not be one main dramatic turning point, but rather multiple, less dramatic moments of emotional intensity or revelation. First we hear about Chris’s life very generally at the beginning. Then second we turn to images of him in more intimate moments (like softly playing bass in his studio or reflecting on his love for various musical instruments). Then thirdly we go loudly headfirst into his love for Ethiopian music. Then finally end on a high note, where Chris talks about what continues to inspire him and his happiness with the state of the global music scene.
When does this turning point occur in your portrait and why?
Overall we have about three dramatic turning points or points of emotional intensity, that occur roughly ¼, ½, ¾ of the way through the piece.
How does your portrait gather and maintain momentum?
As discussed above I think the flow of topics discussed adds momentum to the piece. The piece also builds up momentum by revealing exciting details such as Chris’s tour of Africa, his inherent passion for Ethiopian music and his excitement regarding interchange within the global music scene.
Where will your portrait’s dramatic tension come from?
I think the dramatic tension in the piece comes from the gradual exploration of an overall topic.
Does the portrait have a climax and/or resolution? Outline them.
The portraits climax is halfway through the piece when we learn about BJX and Chris’s tour of Africa and the resolution comes right at the end of the piece where Chris talks about his excitement regarding the current state of the global music scene.