Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Final Silva Frontier

This is the hardest blog post I’ve ever written in any Silva class ever. Picking your favorite 6x1 project is like picking your favorite child. This kind of filmmaking is so personal that it’s difficult to think of one project being inferior to another. When I finally put this list together I realized that the favoritism lies with the assignments or their guidelines; my favoritism resides more in my ultimate pride in the final outcome of the piece.
I loved working on every single project. I wish that I would’ve given myself more time with all of them, and that this was the only thing that I had to do all semester. I think it would’ve been interesting to see how much better I could have been with a little more time and more attention to detail. That being said, I plan to rework many of these films—if for no other reason than so I could feel less uneasy while watching them.

So, here it goes. Drum Roll Please…

6. Recycled Footage
I got spend hours deciphering the crazy, manic, coked out madness that is Charlie Sheen, and give the president the power to call him a jackass. Who else gets to do that for a homework assignment!
I approached this project wanting to do something more fun than I usually do. I don’t consider myself to be a terribly serious person in real life, but my films always tend to be more serious side of things. Unfortunately, it didn’t really accomplish what I hoped it would stylistically. I like the style of the film from about 42 seconds until the end, but the first 41 seconds didn’t really work without music underneath. I tried to manufacture a beat from frames of Sheen’s dialogue, but it wasn’t suitable for the rhythm of the edit. I really wish there was a culture jam class/unit where we could discuss a methodology. How much would it cost to bring Aaron Valdez in for a workshop?

5. Cameraless Filmmaking
Ok, this was a really cool assignment. I would’ve never thought about coloring on film or scratching making an entire film! It was so cool. I loved working on this. The only thing that sucked is that I missed some of the group meeting times because of a death in my family. I really plan on exploring this technique further.

4. Multi-Plane Animation
The pictures up on facebook say it all. I came into class, played with food, squished a tomato, and shot on film. It was super cool, but I wish that it would’ve come out better. I did enjoy playing up the cheesy aesthetic in post, but I wish that we would’ve framed things better and made better use of our 3 planes.

3. Rhythmic Edit
This was a really cool project. My immediate instinct was to give this assignment a documentary feel, but I decided to just shoot Cassandra in her natural habitat instead. I really enjoyed the visual music feel given to this style. Also, this is probably the coolest soundtrack I’ve ever built.

2. Long Take
Lord of the Flies Weekend was awesome. I love hand processing. It’s my favorite thing, and the fact that I got to shoot and process on the same day made it even cooler. Also, since I had more experience than most I sort of got to do a bit of leading, which was really cool experience since I want to teach.

1. 48-Hour Video Race
This is one of the coolest films I’ve ever made. I played with the idea of making a more traditional self-portrait style film, but I really enjoyed the aesthetic that I managed to create using household items, my face, rubber ducks, and photoshop. I wasn’t in love with how abstract the film was at first until Andre and Cassandra both told me that I managed to make them feel like they were drowning. Mission accomplished.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Life Is a Culture Jam

What do the Yes Men and found footage films have in common?

That’s an interesting question. After all, the Yes Men are a group of activists, who use humor and impersonation to bring global issues to light. The documentary we watched focused on their impersonation of the World Trade Organization. These impersonations showed the absurdity of certain WTO policies and practices.
Found footage films take pre existing footage and cut it in a way to add new context. This come sometimes be political (as with culture jamming) or can sometimes simply explore the subtext in a film—Dave Monahan showed a film in Intro to Editing that showed a single scene from To Kill a Mockingbird that was edited in a way that emphasized every single frame. These can range from films like Big Screen Version, which shows the oversaturation of media by cutting clips from Fox News into a new beat, to The World Wastes Andy Hardy, which shows an oedipal subtext to the Andy Hardy film series that stars Mickey Rooney.

So, what do these really have in common?

Rather than taking footage that is preexisting and creating new subtext, the Yes Man take an existing organization and alter it by taking part in it in order to emphasize a different truth than the one presented by the actual WTO. It’s the closest thing to a real, life culture jam. Rather than cutting together footage of the WTO, the Yes Men research the existing organization and taking a role in it that parodies the organization.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ttttthhhiiiiiiiissssssss Wwwwwaaaasssssssss Aaaaaaawwwwweeeeeesssssooooommmmmeeee

Part of me wishes that I had written a piece of music in response to the beet stretch, or that I did the vlog option and stretched it out. I LOVED the beet stretch. It was so awesome. I have never been so calm while listening to music. I think this is going to replace Glenn Gould for my calming music while I work.

Naturally, I was so entranced with it that I had to share it with everyone I met for the next few days—ok, so I shared with the people sitting in my office with me at work, but hyperbolic language is sometimes necessary to drive the point home. They also really appreciated it, but they couldn’t believe that it was Beethoven.

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is perhaps one of his most well known today (if for no other reason than because Ode to Joy was forever immortalized by Blockbuster commercials in the 90s). It was the first song that my brother and I learned how to play on the guitar (although I’m a little rusty now) so, I would say that I am somewhat familiar; however, if I hadn’t done some internet research, I don’t know that I would have known that this was Beethoven. I knew that it was a classical piece, but it could have easily been Bach, Handel, or Mozart. How would I know the difference from listening to it slowed down at the rate that I heard it—for all I know this is an elaborate rouse that Andre is playing on us with Leif Inge in an effort to make us plunder other pieces of music to fit their radical recyclable agenda.

This of course poses the question that was discusses so poignantly in last week’s readings. Who owns what?

Does Leif Inge own 9 Beet Stretch, or does Beethoven? Ludwig van Beethoven composed the 9th Symphony; he was the revolutionary mind that decided to make the work a choral symphony (credited as the first of its kind) even though singers regularly comment that it is often performed as an instrumental because it is so incredibly hard to sing.

Beethoven had the idea; he composed; he conducted it when it was first played.

Does he have the ownership of 9 Beet Stretch?

Beethoven, technically, isn’t completely responsible for Symphony No. 9. “Ode to Joy” was a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803. The words to that poem are the lyrics to Symphony No. 9. Does that mean that Schiller is the real author of Beethoven’s 9th?

I contend that only if Schiller is the owner of Symphony No. 9, than 9 Beet Stretch is also his. If that isn’t the case (and I certainly don’t think that it is) than 9 Beet Stretch is essentially an original work.

You Don't Own Me

What is artistic ownership really?

Do we really own anything that we make? Are we even responsible for the things that we consider to be products of our own imagination; other works of art, stories other people tell us, and even the experiences of others, influences those things. Does ownership depend on whether or not we are standing behind a lens or holding the pen/brush? Or does it simply depend on how much we alter existing artwork.

Does Aaron Valdez own his work? He is simply compiling news footage and editing in such a way that it that it suits his agenda, which in counterintuitive to the agenda in the original media. Does that mean that he owns the art simply because he owns the agenda? Is it even really his agenda? Surely, he isn’t the only artist or filmmaker to believe that we are oversaturated with media—particularly the right wing hate mongering of Fox News.

Where can we draw the line? Is my documentary really mine? I don’t own my subject—although I do have her consent. I am not the first person to document an artist’s work or struggle. Does that mean that my work is unoriginal and up for pillaging by other artists? How would I feel if someone incorporated my work into their work to say that people with disease should not be able to make art? I may not agree with that notion, but it is certainly the right of the acquiring artist.

I suppose it comes down to our ideology about art. What’s our society’s view on art? Is it created as a means for capital gains or simply a way to comment and assess the way the world works? Obviously, monetary gain is a perk to making art for a living, but is that the only reason?

If making art carries all the weight of standing behind a check out counter or answering phones or scrubbing floors, then, yes, ownership is vital, and we should fight tooth and nail for every penny and every ounce of recognition; people like Joy Garnett and Aaron Valdez are glorified thieves, who should come up with their own ideas for which they can profit or they should pay us for the rights to incorporate our original work.

I, personally, cannot subscribe to that idea. Sure, it would be nice if I can make some money making art, but I don’t count on it. I plan to have a day job and apply for grants that would afford me the luxury of making the films that I want to make.

The Molotov Man belongs to Joy Garnett. Susan Meiselas may think that Garnett’s use of her photography diminishes the importance of her subject, but Garnett saw the potential in the photograph to comment on the universal need of man to make noise and express extreme emotion. Her agenda was not to embody the horrific struggle for freedom in Nicaragua; that agenda was Meiselas’s and it deserves equal respect. These works are separate, and they should be treated as such.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lord of the Flies Weekend

What a weekend!

I love hand processing. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I don’t know if it’s the instant gratification of seeing my image appear only moments after I’ve captured it, or if it’s the joy of splashing around in chemicals. Either way it’s my favorite thing that I’ve learned how to do in undergrad.

When I was talking to Megan about this blog post, I told I would write about everything but the actual shoot. That’s because the other things were so cool.

For instance, Andy knocked Emma’s phone into the murky water out by Friday Hall. I’m still not 100% sure how that happened, but it did. He was keeping time and stopped to write himself a note when we heard the distinct kerplunk! of something dropping off the bridge into the water.

I also got to kick a volleyball around for our bumblebee to chase, which was even cooler because Laura Murphy showed up as an extra.

The shoot was quite an experience on its own. Who knew it would really take the whole time to choreograph and shoot a 56 second take? This is why narrative is too much work for me. Not that it doesn’t take time to set up a documentary shot or an experimental shot, but I just don’t have the patience for all of the blocking.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Scan Test

So, the 48 Hour Video Race is right around the corner. I have to say this is one of the things I was most excited about when I signed up for this class.

I didn't realize that there was a cameraless component to this assignment, but this gives me the push I needed to really get to know my scanner. So, this morning I got up early and started to play and this is what I got:

This is a present for Laura Murphy, a glass display of NYC, the cap to my flash drive, and a stress ball that I got from Duke two years ago. The motion blur is achieved by throwing red construction paper over the image mid-scan.

This is red construction paper. I used this as a control to see what kind of color quality I would get from my scanner. This red paper is on the scanner without the lid being closed so, it's a little blow out. I found that many things that I did all have this blown out aesthetic because I didn't use the lid at all this morning.

It's my hair!! Isn't the coolest thing. I think that Barrett will appreciate this the most when he looks at this. I really love the way my bed head looks. I really want to get a scan of my hair after its done in the morning to figure out which one looks better.

Here's my left hand. I was really excited to experiment with the pushed against the glass aesthetic. I also think that it works really well with the blown out look against my skin. It gives it a sort of ethereal feel.

These are my rubber duckies in a ziploc bag. I acquired them from the office where I work. They are in the bag because that's where they live--in my desk at home in the bag. I have considered poking holes in the bag, but they haven't asked me to yet.

This my rubber duckies poured out of their ziploc house.

I think that I'm going to use scanned images and photoshop to create a some cool effects. I'm really interested in simulating a digital rayogram for part of this.

Monday, March 7, 2011


What more can I say about cameraless filmmaking?

It was pretty awesome. I really enjoyed it, and it wasn’t as tedious as I had originally expected. I thought it was going to be days and days of my life devoted toward the end of making something beautiful happen, but it was really just an afternoon pouring over my film strip and letting my imagination do what it does best (run amuck).

Are there some things I would change? Absolutely. That’s just the nature of art though. No matter how good we get at it we always think there’s something better—if we are no longer able to learn from our mistakes then we aren’t doing it right.

I colored my rayograms rainbow colored, and it looked really good in my hand. I was sad to see that it didn’t look as cool on the projector. My thought is that given more film to cover that it would have the desired effect, but I won’t know for sure until I stretch the film out in Final Cut. It would be a really cool to try in the future, and I know that I plan to further experiment with rayograms if I can find a project that requires it.

I would really like to do a rhythmic edit with manipulated film—even though it would be really expensive. I wonder if there’s a good way to repeat the same cycles.

I wish that I could have tried printing directly onto the film, but I missed that class so, I didn’t really understand the concept when I talked about it with my group. Cassandra and Barrett were both quite successful with their printing, and it looked really cool.

The scratching and manipulation from thadpovey was a little above our skill level. I really enjoy the texture that their manipulations yielded. I felt that mine lacked a certain amount of texture despite my scratching and the feel of the film in my hand.

I guess ultimately, the lesson that I’ve learned is bigger is better and more is more. In order to achieve texture and use of the whole frame in the name of giving new context to either the film or clear leader is to really go nuts.

This assignment was really fun and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can’t think of another class where you get to take old film and make brand new beautiful things.