https://vimeo.com/80560620 My power artefact (password – Power)
https://vimeo.com/80560798 My spectacle artefact FOR SUBMISSION (password – Spectacle)
https://vimeo.com/80574412 My Memory artefact (password – Memory)
I had to create a new memory artefact after the original (my attempt at a study into human memory and recall ability) was lost due to technical difficulties in the editing process.
With time running out and needing to create a new piece without access to a location, equipment etc, I tried to create an artefact looking at another aspect of memory. My artefact was based on the idea that memory, especially when recalling extremely traumatic events or experiences, becomes suppressed (Herman, J L; Schatzow, E: 1987) so that they cannot be clearly recalled. My interpretation of this was that the events would be recalled just as single colours and key sounds from the environment of the event. The trauma this character is supposed to have experienced, is the terrorist attacks on London in July 2007.
To this extent, I feel my artefact is successful as it communicates the scenes the character is experiencing and retains the balance of normality (the eating breakfast, brushing teeth) to the extreme jarring trauma of the bomb exploding, the confusion of the sirens and then the heart monitor in the hospital.
There is a possible comparison to be drawn with Blue (Jarman, 1993) in the terms that the themes of death, trauma and colour replacing clear vision.
The audience of this piece would be British people over the age of 18. This specificity in culture and minimum age is because the meaning of my work is heavily relying on the audience approaching the film with an advanced knowledge of the 7/7 terror attacks and knowing about basic signifiers of London (the red buses, blue police and ambulance lights and the siren sounds). If a person in this demographic watched my video, they would be able to understand the intended meaning behind the video. However, as the actual event is six years old, anyone who was under a certain age at the time of the attack, they perhaps wouldn’t have as deeper understanding or their own personal memories of the day.
Herman, Judith L.; Schatzow, Emily. (1987). Recovery and verification of memories of childhood sexual trauma. Psychoanalytic Psychology. 4 (1), 1-14.
In some regards, I can’t honestly say that the themes of power, memory or spectacle in the form of social or media theory have been able to directly contribute towards my FMP film, I do think that themes such as how social collective memory is influenced by the media and how members of society are manipulated and controlled into performing certain types of behaviour by people in positions of authority (Milgram, 1963)
This idea of a minority being able to control the majority is something that I feel like I will be able to take forward, if not for my final project. I feel this can tie into my 364mc work in some respects because as I look forward for future script-writing projects, it is a theme or idea that I can carry forward. It is quite common for writers to find particular themes they often focus on and repeatedly visit in their work. In a similar vein, the idea I explored in my memory artefact, that of human memory being deeply flawed and our ability (or inability) to recall events even moments after they occur is a concept that interests me and is something I will look to build upon.
One of the key things that I have learnt in terms of my professional development has been the idea of pitching projects and making early drafts of scripts in order to receive feedback and move the concepts forward toward fully fleshed out stories.
The pitching process we went through at the start of the module benefitted me in two ways. Firstly, the nature of a pitch means you have to condense your film idea down into a few sentences or a few minutes and be able to articulate the ideas in your own mind into words so that other people can understand you. This forces you to reassess and to study your own ideas and concepts so that you gain a stronger understanding of them.
The second way that pitching to the seminar groups and the lecturers was that it started to give me a taste of the pressures of presenting to a group and of answering questions from other people about your own project. Feeding into things that I took from the Aesthetica talk with Alice Lowe (mentioned in earlier blog posts), I found the pitching process to be helpful as it gave me a chance to get early feedback on my ideas from my peers and to get lots of different opinions on my developing concepts.
Obviously the pitching process for this module hasn’t given me a “real” taste of going into a studio producers office and pitching my ideas but it has helped me develop my ability to pitch and articulate my ideas.
The module also helped me start to consider aspects of my script that sound good when written down but could be difficult bring into reality when it comes to the task of actually shooting and making the film. Because time and budgets for our projects will be tiny, it is important to try and get a good head-start and to try and think of ways around the obstacles before they become problems that could potentially wreck your project. I was able get ahead of such problems in a way that I may have missed without this module.
Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral Study of obedience. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 67 (4), 371-378.
The original aim of my spectacle piece was to invert and re-address the concept that “all that was once directly lived has become mere representation” (Debord, 1967) and that media images have supplanted and replaced genuine human feelings and experiences. This involved taking a famous film where an everyday event became a great spectacle once it was presented in the form of media images and re-creating that film, with the expectation of it receiving a far more muted reaction from a modern day audience.
Overall, I feel that my spectacle artefact was successful in the sense that it does indeed receive a rather unspectacular reaction from modern audiences, in stark contrast to the contemporary audience from the original film (Gorky, 1896). While this was intended and was what I was hoping for from the piece, I am an unsure if this translates my meaning to the audience effectively. Audience members seem to feel somewhat nonplussed by the film rather than seeing that there is a clear message behind it. So while the artefact achieves what it set out to, what it sets out to do is perhaps not the clearest or most thought out of ideas.
One of the key lessons taken from this task was the idea looking back at classic films or other pieces of famous media, studying the contemporary reaction that those media texts received and thinking how I can use an updated interpretation of the content or filming techniques used by the original authors to explore how audiences from different historical periods might react differently to similar artefacts. This idea of how the same content can illicit vastly changed audience responses is something that I would possibly be interested in investigating and exploring in the future.
Although the sound of from the spectacle artefact was poor, I was aware of how the audio can be improved. However, I feel my camera skills have improved to a slight degree. While I do not feel I am a cinematographer or have developed to the level to call myself such, I do certainly feel that I have a higher level of awareness and understanding of the 5D mark II to a degree where I will feel comfortable planning my FMP to be shot on a 5D. I will probably need to bring in someone to work as Director of Photography or Cinematographer for my FMP.
Debord, G (1967). Society of the Spectacle . France: Zone Books . 1.
Gorky, M. (2003). Kingdom of Shadows. Available: http://www.seethink.com/stray_dir/kingdom_of_shadows.html. Last accessed 24th November 2013.
Perhaps the first and most obvious thing to say about my “experiment” would possibly be to analyse it from a strictly scientific point of view. The Oxford English Dictionary defines scientific method as “a method or procedure…consisting of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses” (Oxford English Dictionary: 2013).
While my artifact may seem rather “unscientific” due to the location and activity the test subject carried out, I personally feel that it does indeed followed the ideals of systematic observation and measurement. This is because the accuracy of the subject’s recall can be clearly and objectively measured and produced as a set of results. The experimenter (myself) asked the subject, for example, how many goals had been scored in the game he played. These were closed questions where the subject’s answers were either right or wrong, there was no other interpretation of how many goals had been scored, how many fouls had been committed, the balance of possession etc. These factors helped make the study reliable as any other person could look at my artefact and see that this subject got X number of questions correct and would draw similar results.
Before I conducted the study, I fully expected that the test subject would answer some questions incorrectly, remember fewer goals than there were in actuality, etc. However, I was surprised to find that the participant actually had confabulated certain details of the task (Fotopoulou, A, Conway, M. A, & Solms, M: 2007). That is to say, the participant reported false memory of the event, but without the intention of deceiving the experimenter. When asked on how many fouls had been committed in the game, the participant claimed that there had been seven fouls, five by Germany (controlled by the computer and two by England controlled by the participant). In actual fact, not a single foul had been committed in the whole game.
While my artifact is on a minute, seemingly insignificant scale, it demonstrates that false memory or confabulation can occur in the recollection of the most everyday tasks. If we can invent memories as simple as a foul on a football video game, there might be no limit to what else our minds can put in place of reality. This notion, coupled with the facts that a person’s confidence in their confabulated memories is strengthened when they are re-enforced, supported or simply not corrected by their peers (Hafstad, Memon, Logie: 2004) and that confabulation most often occurs when recalling autobiographical memories (Matthews, Paul, McClelland: 2010), means that there is possibly no way of telling how much or what details of our personal memories of our lives are correct or accurate, if we have never been told otherwise.
Fotopoulou, A., Conway, M. A., & Solms, M. (2007). Confabulation: Motivated reality monitoring. Neuropsychologia. 45 (10), 2180-2190.
Hafstad, G S; Memon, A; Logie, R. (2004). Post-identification feedback, confidence and recollections of witnessing conditions in child witnesses.Applied Cognitive Psychology . 18 (7), 901–912
As the basis of my Spectacle task is to invert the original spectacle of audience reaction to the Lumiere’s screening of L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (Lumiere & Lumiere, 1896) then it stands to reason that I have to research what the reaction was at the original screenings of the film. Even though the subject of both the original film and of my “homage” are of a rather everyday event, the audience of the Lumiere’s film considered it “a fantastic experience” (Sontag, 1996).
Emmanuelle Toulet said of the film “The amazement at seeing windswept trees and stormy seas is followed by naked horror when the train approaching the station of La Ciotat appears to move toward them” (Toulet, 1995). Admittedly, this quote was from roughly 100 years from after the production and original screenings of L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat. Because of this it is possible that Toulet is victim of what has been referred to by Loiperdinger as “Cinema’s founding myth”. That is, that the supposed panic and excitement over the first showings of the film has been much exaggerated.
However, Loipedinger is also not a contemporary of the film, where as Maxim Gorky recalled “It is terrifying to see, but it is the movement of shadows, only of shadows … Suddenly something clicks, everything vanishes and a train appears on the screen. It speeds straight at you—watch out! It seems as though it will plunge into the darkness in which you sit, turning you into a ripped sack full of lacerated flesh and splintered bones, and crushing into dust and into broken fragments this hall and this building, so full of women, wine, music and vice. But this, too, is but a train of shadows.” (Gorky, Kingdom of Shadows, 1896)
Overall, I think it is fair for me to be working on the basis that the original audience members of the Lumiere’s 50 second film were shocked and amazed, and indeed the screenings where in of themselves spectacle that I can seek to invert and study with my work.
However, it has also become clear to me that perhaps the greater spectacle surrounding L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat is not the original reaction of audience members, but the debate between modern film historians over what the contemporary reaction was. The truth surrounding how 19th century viewers reacted has become clouded and the spectacle is now the argument and debate of what did or did not happen.
Having sent a first draft of my script to Clifton, I have received some feedback and it’s been brought to my attention that some parts of my film are potentially…ambitious for a student production…
In particular is the scene involving a chase between a tractor and a flatbed van. The obvious things here would be the insurance and the drivers. As far as I am aware it is not possible to hire any vehicle if you are under the age of 21 and do not have at least 2 or 3 years on your license. At the time of shooting I will be over the age of 21 but will not have the license requirements. This might possibly mean I will have to try and get the vehicles hired out in someone else’s name. The specifics of this will need a lot more looking into.
Although there are stunts in my film, I don’t feel like I would require specially trained stunt drivers. I would require actors with current, valid British driving licenses, however. I think they would then be able to do the stunts that are in the script as there’s nothing too extreme such as a car flipping over and exploding or anything so “hollywood”. As far as the vehicles are concerned, I would simply need the tractor to be able to pull up close to the flat-bed van.
Another stand out moment, from a legal point of view is the use of firearms and weapons in the film. Quite famously, gun laws in the United Kingdom are very strict. I found this document online from the Health and Safety Executive dealing with firearms and weaponry in film.
Perhaps most obviously, there is the question of where I get the sheep from…there are companies such as www.a-zanimals.co.uk that will provide trained animals and their supervisors for film and adverts. This would obviously cost money, probably quite a lot of money. I feel like this is an unavoidable cost that I will have to budget for. While Doris the Sheep would probably have to be sourced from a company, it is possible that the larger flock used at the start of the film could be volunteered by a real sheep farmer. That will need looking into.
I am fully aware that my project is looking to be rather ambitious and potentially difficult. However, I do not feel like any part of it is actually impossible. Some areas might need lots of hard work to do, to do well and to do cost effectively but that’s what 3rd year of university is all about, I suppose.
Last friday, I attended a script-writing master-class the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in york, taken by actress and writer Alice Lowe.
As script-writing and specifically comedy writing is the area I am hoping to enter professionally, it was very useful to hear a young emerging British feature film writer talk about her career experiences in the industry scene I will be hoping to enter and I think I definitely came away with a slight boost in morale and motivation.
One of the major things that I took from the talk was the importance of showing your work to other people. This is something that I have heard said before and Lowe’s comments really helped to push it home for me. It’s important not to be “too precious” about your scripts and your work, and that it is beneficially to you as a writer and to the quality of the particular script to show other people your work and to receive criticism and advise. Likewise, if you are willing to show people your work and are able to get people (specifically, the right people) to read your scripts, you have more chance of generating interest, in yourself and your work and are more likely to get your scripts made and even more importantly, get paid.
Another thing that Lowe mentioned had been crucial to her development and progress as a writer, was collaborating with other writers and coming together to work on projects. Personally, I find it very helpful to have people to bounce ideas off and to discuss my work, at least because it allows me to vocalise my thoughts and, as mentioned above, get feedback on them. One of Lowe’s main points was that, if you are able to find a collaborator(s) who has similar creative interests, in her example that meant finding someone who had a similar sense of humour to herself. Working with another writer, if you connect with them well, can allow you to build some momentum thorough the writing process as you discuss ideas and are able to feed off of each other.
One possible problem that Lowe suggested can occur when writing as a duo or a group, is that it can be difficult to get your name recognised as an individual. In particular she spoke of how she has, at times, had to deal with accusations that she wasn’t “funny” in her own right and was free-loading off her partner in some respects. From the way Lowe spoke during the lecture, it seemed that she had experienced this because of her gender and prejudice against female writers in comedy.
Obviously, I’m unlikely to face that specific problem, but the wider point is that it’s important to strike a balance between harvesting the benefits of a partnership but also being able to strike out and create your own individual reputation, even if that means breaking away from collaboration work for a period.
Although in reality, almost no project is ever truly a “one-(wo)man-show”.
Finally, Lowe fielded some questions from the audience and, when asked about the best way to deal with the dreaded “writer’s block” she stressed the importance of not cutting off or shutting out possible sources of inspiration. She spoke of how she likes to find particular music that might fit or link to her work that she might listen to in order to find a rhythm to her work. This is something I have heard before and found to be true, that trying to keep your mind as open as possible. I have personally found that music can be a good source of inspiration and can ignite ideas.
While I found Alice Lowe’s lecture very insightful and I feel it gave me a slightly clearer idea of the life and process of a British comedy script-writer, one thing that has stuck in my mind as a possible problem is the fact that she came to writing from comic acting. I am not an actor and don’t want to be one, so that might possibly present a problem for me in terms of having a “way in” and also from being able to produce my scripts myself. I have a small amount of acting experience, so I could do test shoots or run throughs but realistically I don’t have the acting ability to go through the same method as Lowe did.
I don’t see that this would be a terrible obstacle to over-come and but rather that I might have to look to other writer’s who have gone through a pathway more similar to how I envision mine.
The main theme or idea I am most interested in for the Spectacle task is the idea of spectacle changing through time to become the norm or “the truth”. In some ways, I suppose what I am trying to convey is a direct challenge to Guy Debord’s idea that “All that was once directly lived has become representation” and say that things that were once spectacle or spectacular at certain stages of human history, are now so mundane and everyday that they have actually become part of our lives and are the “truth” of modern life.
To achieve this, I will attempt to recreate or represent some of the most iconic and spectacular moments of human history in modern versions. One such spectacle is the famous L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat which, when first screened to members of the public, reportedly created ”had a particularly lasting impact; yes, it caused fear, terror, even panic.” (H. Karasek, Der Spiegel). However, if I was to film something similar, even with a larger, faster modern train and filmed in HD colour, it would not be expected to have anywhere near the same effect on the viewing audience.
Another example I have thought of was the idea that, since the first inception of the moving assembly line by Henry Ford in 1913 how the automotive industry has gone on to become a multi-billion pound industry, not just in this country but around the world. My point here being how the original Ford mass-production line was a spectacular and revolutionary method of production. One interesting factor about this example is that the industrial advancement had negative and positive effects. While on the surface it made automative production much quicker and more efficient and thus more of the general public were able to access own personal long distance transport.
While large corporations such as Ford are often criticised for exploiting workers, it can be seen that the average number of hours in a working week declined from 1890 to 1937 (Wolman, Hours of Work in American Industry, 1938) and thus released the workers from the clutches of their employers greedy claws.
While I am aware that historically artists have used cinema to inspire a reaction from their audience, it is exactly the lack of shock or fear or amazement that I am using to try and explain my wider point. That spectacle changes and evolves throughout human advancement. For better or for worse, what was once considered amazing or “spectacular” is eventually normalised, absorbed and taken as society’s “truth”.