2. Documentary is something that has always appealed to me, it has always been a genre where my film-making strengths lie. This semester I want to really immerse myself into the subject (unlike I have done in previous semesters) and make a documentary that I am genuinely proud of to prove to myself how far I’ve come and the skills that I now possess. I want to create something meaningful and visually pleasing that I can happily include into my portfolio/show-reel for future work, rather than just seeing the main project as ‘mandatory uni work’ and scraping the bottom of the barrel and throwing something together just to get it done and pass. From the ideas being thrown around in my class (particularly with the specific peers I intend on working with) I know that there are some really strong concepts (including, perhaps, my own idea) that can produce some really great documentaries. If I choose to use my own idea (a burlesque documentary) I will use it as an experiment for a longer form documentary that I want to make on my own some time in the future. I think that if I approach this subject with a sense of passion and pride I will get a lot more out of it than I did film tv 1 (I don’t particularly enjoy making narrative short films, so perhaps this is why I didn’t completely immerse myself in the process last semester). I also want to improve my cinematography and camera operating skills because these are still sub-par – despite the fact that I want a career where I fulfil mainly producorial roles, I still need to have some general knowledge of how to use the equipment to give myself a competitive edge.
4. I’ve heard this radio documentary before in a previous course and actually studied it, so it was interesting to revisit it years later with a fresh set of ears. The first thing about “the idea of north” that struck me again was the woman’s accent in the opening. It immediately forces you to consider context, cultural setting and consider the director’s choice to open with her testimony. I found it hard to engage with one interview when several voices were introduced, overlapping each other and swelling around one and other. This opening – while interesting – gave me the impression that the words and testimonies were not meaningful, just noise, and while I chose and pulled out certain words to focus on here and there, it was difficult to focus on an overriding concept that these voices were sharing. When you eventually do manage to focus on one voice for a little while, it is interesting to see the different subject matter and images evoked. When the original female’s voice returns without the clutter of the overlapping male’s voices there is a very strong image evoked of the ducks on the water – I quite enjoyed being transported to this place and could clearly imagine what she was describing. It was serene and peaceful. This foregrounds the overriding narration which gives the impression of a David Attenborough style of nature documentary in a very bland, matter of fact, almost clinical Canadian accent. Once again, soundscape is evoked through foley and field recordings to give a sense of distance through the sounds of train tracks and the streets and also to elude to the theme of ‘travelling’ somewhere distant. The narration that follows this goes onto discuss the types of people who might be boarding this train to the north, and gives the documentary an abstract air. This second narrator displaced me greatly and through his tangent about the train trip I lost all interest, despite his inquisition to the types of characters that he sees on the train and his observations. His questions of where are they going, why are they going there, who are they, did not provoke my interest as intended, but rather made me get the sense of someone fluffing on about nothing. You can tell immediately from the onset of the documentary (and once again reiterated through this testimony about the figures on the train) that it is to be an abstracted account of different people’s experiences of the North.
5. While I was not present in the tute when we did this exercise, I listened to some of my peers’ exercises in order to get a sense of what the task was. Things that struck me from certain recordings were associations with the sounds and the images they evoke, along with indexical correlations between an object’s “sound” and the object itself. For example, there were sounds that were obvious to place (like the sound of the lift announcing “level four”) and were difficult to abstract. I could instantly tell what the source of the sound was and it immediately lost its whimsical quality – it became a literal auditory representation of an object, much like foley. It was easy to see how these sound recordings could be extended to literally represented a greater picture of a certain object or place. Being that most of the recordings were done around the university I attend, I continually heard familiar sounds and found myself constantly trying to figure out what their source was and transport myself to that place. I wonder if somebody who did not attend RMIT would have the same experience, had the sounds not been so familiar to them from hearing them on a daily basis.
Other sounds, however, were far more abstracted and I found myself stop trying to ‘figure out’ what the source of the sound was, rather listen to the sound for the qualities and texture of the noise itself. For example, there was one clip which was (as I discovered later after listening to it several times) the sound of a photocopier. The sound itself had a highly electronic quality and was almost musical in the rhythmic repetition and cycle that certain tones and textures occurred. It is interesting to see how sound can be displaced from its original source and re-imagined or contextualised to being something completely different.