Bernard Curran’s article titled ‘Documentary Storytelling for Film and Videomakers’ provides insight as to the considerations of planning of producing a documentary. Curran told how it is important to take a step back and to consider whether the documentary’s story is something that audiences would actually want to view (27). Interestingly, Curran told that a documentary that transports viewers into experiences beyond their own means or presents observations outside of their attainment is more likely to be well received (31). Additionally, Curran spoke of the importance of building relationships and gaining trust with your subjects. This reminded me of the strong and sometimes obscure bonds that the filmmaker, Louis Theroux forms with his subjects – as below.
The student documentary titled End of the Line, also known as ‘the Broken Hill film’ features long-term locals expressing their passion and life-long loyalty for the rural town. In doing this, the film presents some striking views of small town mentality. Particular from an elderly woman who obsessively voiced her desire for death as well as connecting her supposed near death with the town whilst conveying a sense of religious harmony.
I’m unsure if the filmmakers achieved what they originally intended to do. I’d like to think that no documentary filmmakers could presuppose precisely the type of film their going to end up with as it often dependent on the subjects or often things are discovered in the process of making the film. I do perceive that the filmmakers remained in line with their original concept however the subjects and the brutality of the town itself perhaps revealed certain views as well as a sense of reality to the filmmakers.
Perception of Social Media
The documentary, ‘Generation Like’ by 4 Corners, gave me perspective as to how social media platforms are largely utilised by consumer-based corporations as a market research tool and ultimately, are a commodity. Additionally, the documentary gave light as to the significance of ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ etc… and spoke of them as a type of new world currency. Before viewing the documentary, I was unaware that Google owned YouTube, however it isn’t surprising considering Google is the biggest online player in the world.
Generation Like and the role of a Social Media Producer?
The documentary spoke about self-promotion and in this instance, for upcoming teenage artists and adolescent online celebrities. The teen celebs were primarily promoting themselves through posting videos on YouTube in order to gain exposure and popularity. I’d envision that the role of social media producer would also create videos as promotional tool, depending on the client they are representing. What prevails most though, is the dependency and importance of a lot of likes and viewers – to an unspecified magnitude. After all who ever has enough likes and views, right?
Participatory engagement and our upcoming event?
The event idea is very much still in the research and idea-generating stages. However, the documentary showed how online videos assist in engaging an audience, getting exposure and developing an audience. However, it is notable that gaining a large audience from a platform such as YouTube is an ongoing process and one that grows overtime. Due to the time restrictions with the event our group will be putting on, it will be important to use online platforms as early on as possible and to keep consistent engagement.
Brian Hill’s documentary, ‘Drinking for England’ concocts drinking scenarios where characters with alcoholic attributes portray scenes of alcohol abuse in their every day lives. As a viewer, I find that a documentary that is acted out doesn’t uphold the same veracity as if a filmmaker where to document real life footage. Additionally, I also felt that the poetry aspect of the film also took some integrity away from the documentary’s form. Furthermore, it was hard to decipher if all of the interviews conducted in the documentary were from actual characters or if the roles were scripted. I tend to think that a documentary that is scripted could be somewhat rhetoric, however in this instance, there is undoubtedly truth within the subject matter of alcoholism as well as an alcohol culture within England.
With documentary films being a passion and great interest of mine, I hope to become educated in the processes and practices of documentary filmmaking. In doing so, I will hopefully be able to further explore the avenues of producing documentary films outside of this subject. Additionally, I hope to gain knowledge on the creative approaches of documentary filmmaking, particularly on controversial subjects that may be hard to approach. I would also like to think that at the end of this subject, I would have ideas of how to incorporate filmmaking with other aspects of my course such as interactive online media.
The film focuses on Bordwell’s concept – “It is possible to organise an entire film around colours, shapes, sizes and movements within the images”.
(Bordwell, Thompson. 2013, p11)
Here is our critical statement for our film, which is our final major essay for the specialisation subject. The piece is written by Simon Topin with contributions from myself, Ed Goldsmith and Daina Anderson.
The Korsakow project entitled ‘I, Object’, attempts to take non-linear, non-narrative based theories to their logical conclusions. To this end, we deliberately avoided trying to tell any kind of story and used six household objects; chairs, mugs, fascinators, textas, clothes and lamps, presenting each object in ten different colours across the spectrum; red, yellow, pink, green, purple, orange, blue, white, black and grey. The film is a list within a list, where everything is neatly categorised and understood. Everything is only what it seems and the disparity between the objects and the rigid order of the colour system attempts to subvert any emergent narrative or subtext within the work. This attempt at authorial invisibility speaks of “infinite possibilities in combining and making connections across a networked field of elements”, (Frankham. 2013, p138) where the seeming randomness of the objects in the list, and their adherence to a colour code means that they are in themselves meaningless – literally any object of an appropriate colour could be substituted to replace them.
Like the medieval perception of time, ‘I, Object’, runs on an infinite loop. By embracing the list form totally, the film aims to reduce itself to “sequential notations of temporal events with no meta-historical, narrative prefiguration. So, we get a glimpse of a way of processing cultural experience that does not need stories”. (Ernst. 2003, p42) However, in a 20th century obsessed with stories and comprised of individual, marketing assisted narratives, this glimpse must remain fleeting.
“Associational formal systems suggest ideas and expressive qualities by grouping images that may not have any immediate logical connection. But the very fact that the images and sounds are juxtaposed prods us to look for some connection – as association that binds them together”. (Bordwell and Thompson. 2008, p363)
The tension of list vs narrative is expressed, again literally, through the choice of soundtrack. The industrial and largely atonal electronic soundscape is intentionally aggressive and challenging, contrasting the domesticity of the objects in the film.
The grinding progression of the music accompanied by the infinite loop and eventual ‘living death’ that takes hold of the film prompts the viewer to try and forget themselves, to become one with the never-ending progression of objects, to be absorbed self-consciously into an “institutional matrix represented in time”. (Frankham. 2013, p139)
The pattern moves through a sequential progression of colours. Starting as a solid block, six different objects sit next to the previously selected object of their triggering colour.
A gradual decay in the lifespan of the individual films comprising ‘I, Object’, alters the Korsakow viewing space until the form becomes repeating and static. By observing this, it would be easy to infer metaphors about the de-humanising narratives of consumer capitalism, planned obsolescence and the commodification of spaces, but this was not an intention of the film. Closer to the mark, the film is a kind of parody, expressing doubts about what Bogost calls, “the jarring staccato of real being”, (Bogost. 2012) that assumes “real being”, whatever it is, has no organising principle and therefore narrative. In other words, we dispute that any notion of story is itself a false and ‘human’ construction. Were humans to suddenly evaporate from the planet, cause and effect would still occur, whether we are there to observe it or not, so to this end, this film is a self-conscious attempt at falsehood, acknowledging the inevitable attempts of the viewer to create meaning, while disavowing any interpretation that goes beyond the colours of the banal objects. This is highlighted through the close up shots that “isolate the objects from their everyday context in such a way that their abstract qualities come forward”. (Bordwell and Thompson. 2013, p12)
There is a limited amount to be said about the Korsakow interface that hasn’t been somehow addressed in the ‘Pattern’ and ‘Content’ sections. An initial test suggested that users are encouraged to follow each separate object through its ten different colour iterations. Thematically, this is encouraging and supports Frankham’s claim that, relationships are formed through “conceptual alignment, emotional impact, visual similarities and territories of gesture”. (Frankham. 2013, p138)
We selected the decay rate of the videos based on what we judged to be their aesthetic value. Pens and fascinators, being the most interesting, are infinite, lamps have two lives and mugs, chairs and clothes have one life each. This will create a degree of controlled randomisation in the way that the interface is expressed. Unless the viewer follows exact paths, the interface layouts will be inconsistent – in line with our intentions. One potential drawback of the film is its replay value, and may not prompt the participant to explore the work to its end, yet this in itself may not be a problem, as the film can be started or finished at essentially any point.
Our film is very high concept and deliberately conforms to the machine-logic of modern media studies. That is, the logic of fetishized transhumanism that eschews narrative and expects that in a computerised age, humans must by necessity now resemble machines internally – as silicon based Monads – impersonal, democratised nodes of existence. ‘I, Object’ attempts to convey the aggravating nihilism of this approach, while simultaneously acknowledging the beauty in pure aesthetics.
However, ‘I, Object’, remains aware of the impossibility of removing completely either the viewer or the author from the equation, and expresses this through the juxtaposition of harsh electronic noise and boring household items. ‘I, Object’s’ passive rigidity goes against both notions of randomness and narrative, (a story in itself?) yet retains the potential to tell whatever story the viewer desires. Our cataloguing of images “help to describe part of external reality”, (Bogust. 2012, p42) although what reality this is exactly, remains unspecified.
Ultimately, in spite of our attempts to subvert narrative and meaning, “if the film’s formal organisation has been created with care, the similarities and differences will not be random. There will be some underlying principle that runs through the film”. (Bordwell and Thompson. 2013, p12)
Bogost, Ian. (2012) ‘Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing’. Minneapolis: University Press of Minnesota. Print.
Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson.(2013)‘Film Art: An Introduction’. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill.
Ernst, Wolfgang ;Méchoulan, Éric (Editor) ; Cisneros, James (Guesteditor) ; Garneau, Michèle (Guesteditor) (2003) ‘Telling versus Counting? A Media-Archaelogical Point of View’, Intermédialités, pp.31-44
Frankham, Bettina Louise. (2013) ‘Complexity, Flux and Webs of Connection. A Poetic Approach to Documentary : Discomfort of Form, Rhetorical Strategies and Aesthetic Experience’. PhD Dissertation, University of Technology Sydney.