Developing Research and Practice and End of Year Review

Before joining the FdA Film and Photography, I was previously on a Level Three in Creative Media so I joined this degree with a least some prior knowledge of the two main subjects, because of this I don’t feel that I might have improved as much as some of my peers may themselves be able to reflect upon, although I have indeed improved in various different areas in the time that I have been on the first year of this course.

Most of the shorter term goals I set for myself in the personal development plan span two years, as I would section it that way based on the stages in which I would become a journalist or a writer. Start with the Foundation Degree, then an Hons and finally a Masters.

Certain goals that I set for myself I believe I have achieved as I continue to learn the subjects, via various means including theoretical and practical work. My major goal for the year was to improve upon my writing skills in regards to essays. I feel I have in most ways met this personal goal, the work I have handed in for evaluation over the year has improved over the last by having a more comprehensive and wider subject range as well as overall better literal writing. Although it may seem a small improvement as I want to work more in the theory based side of media, it is essential.

I also stated in my PDP that I wanted to learn more about the theory in film and photography, once again I believed I have achieved this through out the year by taking studies into the theorists of the subjects for use in year modules.

On the practical side of the degree I also think I have improved in areas that I desired, I set a task in the PDP to gain a better understanding of the technology used in film and photography. I believe I done this by working on my own projects. I have become much more proficant with certain softwares such as the Adobe programs, Photoshop and Premier Pro.

Overall I believe the year to have been a successful one and in many ways a continuation of the course that I was previously on. I’m gaining more knowledge in the practical and theory based elements of media. Although I am leaning more towards the writing based work of the degree thus far. As I stated before, because a lot of these subjects aren’t quite as new to me I feel that through researching and learning in both forms, I am now able to look at them on a more detailed level than I was when I started the year.

Bill Nichols Documentary Modes

I have mentioned the modes theory in my previous post in which I made an evaluation of my documentary module. In this post I will be discussing how I applied these to my research and practical work.

Nichols proposed that documentary films could fit into six different categories depending on various factors such as the style that they were shot, the subjects that they contain in their context and structure.

These six modes are as follows…

The Expository Mode. In this mode that narrator comments upon footage and discusses it in a formal manner. The most common form of documentary, presenting facts and information.

The Poetic Mode – In this mode the documentary is presented in rhythmical fashion, some what akin to poetry in the literal form.

The Observational Mode – In this mode, the audience simply sees what is in front of the camera, with no interruption on the part of the crew.

The Participatory Mode – In this mode the crew or leader of the documentary will interact with world that the film is capturing, this will often involve giving interviews.

The Reflexive Mode – In this mode the audience is made aware of the documentaries state. It will challenge the audiences perception of the events within the film. These often involve subjects that are uncommon.

The Performative Mode – In this mode, the leader or narrator of the documentary will place a high emphasis on emotional engaging the audience. (This may also include the use of re-enactments).

I used these modes as a gauge of the documentaries that influenced me in creating my own, as well as to place where mine would fit so it could be analysed afterward.

1. ANDERSON-MOORE, O. Nichols’ 6 Modes of Documentary Might Expand Your Storytelling Strategies (Anderson-Moore, 2015) Anderson-Moore, O. (2015). Nichols’ 6 Modes of Documentary Might Expand Your Storytelling Strategies. [online] No Film School. Available at: http://nofilmschool.com/2015/09/nichols-6-modes-documentary-can-help-expand-your-storytelling [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Propp’s Narrative Theory

For my third and final module of the first year with Buzz we were asked to create a concept for a short script, present it and then write the aforementioned script. As part of this we also had to take note of theorists in narrative.

Because my scripts concept was designed in principle to oppose many of the known behaviours and roles of characters I chose to acknowledge Propp’s narrative theory as it is well known in the film industry as the standard from which most major big budget films are made from.

Propp proposed from the basis of his studies of hundreds of Russian fairytales that all narratives have certain elements. First starting with character roles. Some of the most obvious amongst these are characters such as a ‘hero’, a ‘villain’, a ‘princess’ etc. These characters would all behave in a set way according to their roles, they may have distinct personalities but will likely do certain things within the context of the story. Examples of these could be along the lines of, ‘the princess is saved by the hero, because he is the only one deserving of her’. or ‘the villain creates problems which the hero will eventually overcome’.

The second proposal from Propp was that all narratives also follow certain functions. I have found that these are less foolproof than the character role theory but these are again often seen in most film media. Examples of these that can often be obviously seen in film include. Absentation, when the hero set of on his journey, leaving home. Villainy, the villain commits an act that harms the ‘hero’ in someway or form. Or finally Liquidation in which wrongdoings or problems created earlier on within the story are dissolved or fixed.

I put this theory in context with my own script concept and found that most of the character roles do fit in some form or another. By example, in my script one character represents two people by one of the characters being a creation of his sub-concious in the form of his own writing. Because the character who is writing the path for the other one often makes decisions that lead to negative affects on his fictional counterpart. One can’t strictly define him as a hero, although he is the protagonist, although he would also fit into several of Propp’s other character roles, such as the false hero, villain or guide.

In regards to functions, I found very little that did actually fit my scripts concept. Because it was written to more or less oppose the concept of standard storytelling in the genre of romance, this doesn’t honestly come as much of a surprise. Characters are left in a state of limbo and thus never really have completed functions.

1. PROPP, V. Vladimir Propp (Propp, n.d.) Propp, V. (n.d.). Vladimir Propp. En.wikipedia.org. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Propp [Accessed 1 May 2017].

2. WILSON, K. Mediaknowall AS&A Level Key Concepts — Vladimir Propp (Wilson, 2017) Wilson, K. (2017). Mediaknowall AS&A Level Key Concepts — Vladimir Propp. Mediaknowall.com. Available at: http://www.mediaknowall.com/as_alevel/alevkeyconcepts/alevelkeycon.php?pageID=propp [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Documentary Module Analysis/Reflection

Finishing at the end of March, the documentary module has been one of the most challanging tasks of the degree thus far.

Continuing on with the theme of dream psychology that I undertook in my Introductory Skills unit, I decided to make a documentary based on the influence that dreams can have on creative practice.

Although I believe this project to have been a success in many ways, mostly in the theoretical sense. I believe it to have fallen short in the practical element of the module. Beginning with the positives I will be discussing my Documentary project, The Dreamer.

In positive the concept itself was interesting and unique, a topic that very few other people had touched upon, notable or not. The research and concept backing that found to justify the purpose behind the documentary was also interesting, with influences from the likes of Salvador Dali and Godfrey Reggio.

Negative aspects of the documentary mostly came from the film itself. A lot of the production had to be rushed to meet deadlines. Although many scenes, especially ones involving landscapes and re-cretions came out well. The short itself lacked a wide variety of subjects to speak about how they felt dreams affected their creative practices. To be able to reach the deadline on time, I placed a heavier emphasis on one of the interviewees and his position as a documentary filmmaker himself, placing re-enactment footage in-between to add an off-kilter pacing.

Overall this was a successful project, no quite so much so as the previous Introductory Skills but as it was my first time working in the field of documentary filmmaking, I believe I made a good attempt, the concept was excellent in practice but slightly wanting in execution.

 

Exeter Trip – Group Work

In this post I will be mentioning an example of co-oprative work on the course this year. In an ironic turn, the only actual project that I have worked on this year involving group work was the Exeter trip in September. This is because I primarily take preference to working on my own, to envision projects and like to bring in my own people who I know personally.

Between myself (and at the time) four others, we were tasked to make a short film with the subject revolving around a chase. To do so we took a camera and tripod and shot by the waterfront, town centre and St. Thomas train station. As a group we took turns to man the camera and act in the film. We also shared are concept ideas between us and as a whole came to a decision on what we put to film.

After this we then returned to the university the next day to edit individually a sequence based on the footage taken, they were all vastly different. I stylised mine after the Carol Reed film The Third Man, by converting the footage to black and white, using fast cuts and pro-longing certain pieces for atmosphere.

Narrative and Script Development

In preparation for my upcoming script writing project which I have titled April 14th, I have been studying the scripts of notable writers and their works that I have taken influence from.

For the script I am writing, the biggest influence has come from Michel Gondry’s 2004 film, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. I have taken inspiration from the concept of changing things in reality from the subconscious. In my script thus far a character is featured writing his own script and comments upon the events with it. Much like the voice over in this example page.

Another influence from within this page that I have been inspired by is the somewhat ethereal and slightly unnerving descriptions of the characters, in the script below it lists a description of Clementine ‘Clementine doesn’t respond, she continues to eat robotically’. This description is interesting to me because it give a real impression of distance and absence from reality.

I would like to incorporate traits like this into one of the characters in my script, as I believe the absent and mysterious nature of character description like this would play well in a screenplay based upon a man’s self created psychological disillusion.

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1. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF A SPOTLESS MIND PDF (“Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind PDF”) “Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind PDF”. https://stephenfollows.com. N.p., 2003. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

Introductory Skills Analysis/Reflection

On the thirteenth of February I received my grades for the Introductory Skills unit that I had started in September.

Broken down into three sections. Developmental Workbook, Practical Outcomes and Critical Evaluation. I received the percentages 62, 59 and 65 respectively, with an average mark of 61%.

As an observation of my own work it would appear that my strengths still lie with the written and theory based side of film and photography, the evaluation, which was given the highest mark overall is described on the grading sheet as being discussed ‘thoroughly’ and ‘thoughtfully’. Although my practical mark isn’t far below these writing based sections it has often been my opinion that I am stronger in theory than practice.

My workbook which garnered the second highest mark averages was also a success in most   respects. Once again I believe the theory side of the book came up the best with areas such as Research, influence points and analysis of the film being well developed and more engaged. I think certain areas could have been improved upon more so such as the documentation of the image and film editing processes, these could of had more specific detail. The workbook would also have been improved by having more examples of skills that I had learned and put into practice.

The practicals which received the lowest marks overall were overall fairly strong. The film was my own take on several influences such as The Seventh Seal and Lynchian styles. Although the film was overall an interesting idea and sucsessed in many ways I wanted it too. e.g. style, use of symbolism. It was also too slow at times and dragged on a little too much.

The image based outcome was the most mediocre area of the Introductory Skills unit, although the photographs were fine and some presented some lovely landscapes and things of interest local to me, I feel that some lacked character because of the style and tone that I choose to shoot with, with similar techniques and settings used for all the images it simply didn’t work for all the chosen subjects.

In conclusion I believe this to have been a relatively successful unit for me and am happy with the score I received overall. If the unit is anything to go on it continues to assure of my strength in theory over practice.

Research into the late career films of David Lynch

For my Introductory Skills film project I took influence from the three movies in Lynch’s filmography. Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire.

All of these films have interpretable narratives involving various areas of psychology, an example of this could be one interpretation of Mulholland Dr using dream analysis. This states that in the film the leading character Diane, sub-consciously invents herself as another person as if casting herself in her own idealistic version of a 1950s Hollywood film.

In my project I took inspirations from these films to add a interpretable psychological element into the plot through a characters dreams. Although I chose more personal theories such as wish fulfilment. Having these themes in the short film in my opinion adds another layer to what is already there visually but is there by the choice of the viewer, one could chose to ignore these aspects of the film and enjoy the film on its own.

Although I may not use these influences in my other projects or future films I believe this research will be useful in my upcoming film efforts because it has taught me more about complex narratives and adding multiple layers to a plot.

1. WYMAN, B., GARRONE, M. AND KLEIN, A.Everything you were afraid to ask about “Mulholland Drive”(Wyman, Garrone and Klein, 2001, Wyman, B., Garrone, M. and Klein, A. (2001). Everything you were afraid to ask about “Mulholland Drive”. [online] Salon. Available at: http://www.salon.com/2001/10/24/mulholland_drive_analysis/ [Accessed 4 Jan. 2017].

Introductory skills

I went out with the group through various areas of the South Devon College campus to take practice photographs with the aim of better understanding the different types of auto focus. This photo of a dragonfly along with many other images I took was exploring single point focus.

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