Wednesday, November 19, 2008


For everyone out there who enjoys Dance-a-lorus, I apologize for this post in advance.  People have different tastes, and mine certainly does not match up with those who thought Dance-a-lorus was a good idea.

To put it simply, having a bunch of people dancing around in front of a film is just too much visual stimulation.  I couldn't decide if I was to watch the dancers or the film that was being projected behind them.  Either way, I wasn't getting the full experience of either, so I felt I was being gipped in both departments, especially when the film was a bit narrative in nature.  

The dancers detracted from the film, and the film detracted from the dancers.  In any case, I'm sure each would be interesting shown separately, but I just couldn't put it together and capture the entire experience.

For me, a cool concept would be to film a dancer doing something on screen, not necessarily dance, but it could be.  Then, in such a way make it seem as if they come out of the screen, or walk off screen, and then the dancer could walk on the physical stage with just a static background behind them.  This way, I would be able to watch the film when the film is playing, and the dancer when the dancer is dancing.

Overall, the synergy of dance and film really doesn't work for me.  I was quite let down by something that the festival really seems to hype up, and I was disappointed afterwards because I skipped a screening of shorts that I also wanted to see in order to go to Dance-a-lorus, which sucked.  I heard the shorts were great.  I will never get a chance to see them again because someone thought it was a brilliant idea to dance around in front of a film.

I know if I made a film I wouldn't want someone dancing around in front of it diverting the audience's attention, and I'm sure the dancers want the audience to focus on them as well.  The dancers have the upper hand because anything live action is going to outshine something on a screen.  Plus, the dancers are in the foreground, further detracting our attention from the film.  I go to film festivals to see films, and no one was dancing around in front of any of the other films, and you know what?  I enjoyed all of those films a hell of a lot more because of it.

Case and point:  don't dance around in front of films... unless it's Rocky Horror, it really just doesn't work.  

Dance-a-lorus?  Dance-a-bore-us.

Women Filmmakers - Fuck Yeah!

I saw so many amazing films this year at Cucalorus, but my two favorites were amazingly made by women filmmakers (fuck yeah!)

As a woman trying to make it in the film industry, it is hard to find other women filmmakers to look up to and aspire to. No doubt about it, this is a male dominated industry, so when a woman can make it, especially in a dominant position, it is very inspiring.

The first film I saw was
Good Dick, a film written, directed, produced, and starring Marianna Palka. Both the film and the filmmaker were very inspiring.  This woman is a one-woman show.  She does it all.  This was her first script, she wrote it, then made it as the director and main character.  Now she is traveling around promoting and distributing it.  

This makes me believe that I can do that if I want too.  I can write a script, shoot it, and get it out for people to see.  Why am I not doing this right now?  I don't feel that I'm up to the challenge of creating a feature film quite yet, but I could do a short.  I have a script, so why am I not getting out there and making it?

I wish there was a class here at UNCW that explained how to get your film made.  I think one of the reasons I am so throughly impressed with this film was because of the talent that was involved (how do you go about getting professional actors to sign on to working with you?  Especially if you're an unknown young woman wandering around with your first script.)  Also, where do unknowns get the money to produce these films?  They have to have investors and what-not, but where do these investors  come from?  I have no idea where to find them, and I don't think many students do either.  Most student-films seem to be self-funded, which although encourages creativity, also hinders it in many instances.  

Also, when you're out on the film festival circuit promoting your film, how do you afford your costs of living then?  You're on the road, constantly traveling, spending money, but not working because you're busy traveling around to different film festivals to promote your film.  Where does that travel money come from?

Someone please explain to me how all of this happens.  It really comes down to being an unknown with no money.  How do I get people to pay attention to my work, my ideas, and then how do I get people to give me money to put my scripts, my ideas into motion?

Nevertheless, Marianna Palka did it, which inspires me to no end.

Another amazing film I saw directed by a woman filmmaker was The 27 Club -- an Erica Dunton film.  Erica really makes use of the Wilmington area, but also is able to get some amazing, pretty well known actors to work with her.  I'm sure it helps that her father owns a Camera and Lens store, which makes him privy to infinite resources in the Wilmington filmmaking community, but nevertheless, she made an amazing film.

Overall, it's great to see these women filmmakers creating such beautiful films.  It's an inspiration to me, and really lit a fire under me as well.  Although I will be abroad next semester, when I get back I'm going to make my film.  There's nothing aside from money that's stopping me, but low-budget films work well.  I've seen a lot of really good things come out of the Film Studies department with little to no budget.

Either way, these women inspired me to keep going, to not give up, and that women really can have an impact on the film community at large.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Film/Video class no longer allowed to use either

I missed the blog topic for last week, which was ideas for the 48-hour video race.  Since this week is supposed to be a free-write, I am going to use this opportunity to talk about ideas that I had for the 48-hour race.

I found it very interesting being in a film/video class, and having our final project be one where we can't really use either.  However, this class has also been all about creativity and interpretations of different things, and this race will certainly cause us to be creative, use our wiles, and test our focus.  

My first idea was to use my digital camera to make a stop-motion animation.  The thought was that taking a picture would be pretty much the same thing as clicking off a frame or two of a Super-8 camera.  The only thing with this is that putting those hundreds and hundreds into final cut and arranging them correctly could be quite time consuming, but I could manipulate the pictures to have them last longer than one frame, maybe three, in order to expedite the process seeing that 48-hours is not a very long time to create a film, especially without a camera.

If worse comes to worst in this situation, my digital camera also has a video setting where I could record bits of video.  Something interesting would actually be to do a bit of the stop-motion using still images, and then transitioning to video for a bit, and then transitioning back into the animation.  Something like this could be really trippy looking, which seems to sort of be a main goal of this class.  Everything we do looks like nothing I've ever seen before, and it's all a little trippy, and I like it.

At the beginning of the semester someone asked me if what we did in this class would be helpful to anything but experimental filmmaking.  At first I wasn't sure, but as the semester progresses, I see that this class is more than just experimental projects, but projects that challenge us, that force us to look at things in different ways, put limits on us, and force us to problem solve when certain guidelines are laid down.  These skills are certainly useful in all types of filmmaking, be it narrative, documentary, or experimental.

This class has also given me opportunities that I never would have gotten in most other classes.  I had my first experience with actual film, and loved it!  This class has really opened my eyes to the opportunities available, and the infinite possibilities that film has as a medium and as an experience.

I'm looking forward to the 48-hour video race.  The restrictions are stiff, but I think because of that, all of our films will be that much more exciting, interesting, and unique.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm a Yes Woman

Watching The Yes Men in class last week inspired me in multiple ways. First being that there are such small groups of people doing such big things. These two men got together, and with the help of a few other guys were able to really pull something off, both hilarious, ridiculous, and really meaningful. It makes the famous quote by Margret Meade, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." really hit home. What "The Yes Men" are doing embodies this ideal that we as individuals can make a difference, if we only put our minds to it.

The Yes Men inspired me again in the form of documentary filmmaking. This film was, without a doubt, quite funny. A film that would entertain a good majority of the population, and it really drove home a message. By making their fight into a documentary makes their audience that much larger, and by putting it in a humorous form that many would be willing to watch and recommend to others grows their audience, and therefore their message even more.

I have recently been more and more interested in documentary filmmaking, and I think this film pushed me over the edge to really want to get into it and make a statement that way. It's a great way to get an idea or issue to a mass amount of people, and ever since I decided I wanted to go into filmmaking it was because I knew it was a way that I, personally, could make a difference in the world. Cheesy as it may sound, that's what my ultimate goal in filmmaking is: to make a difference, to open people's minds to new ideas, to broaden horizons, and do "my part".

A huge part of The Yes Men was to expose the evil that lies in major corporations in a humorous way that would make a clear point, and still entertain. We live in a society of these major corporations, and we as the people need to provide some checks and balances in order to keep these conglomerations in order. The sheer size of them makes them all powerful, their resources are so vast it seems as if no one person could bring them down. However that is precisely the point. They need to be taken down one customer at a time. It's like voting. Many people feel that their vote's don't count, so they don't bother, but if no one voted, then we would only let a few choose our leaders. This documentary is a grassroots movement to inform people, and have other individuals act, and the more that are involved, the more these corporations have to answer to their unethical and nasty actions.

Overall, I'm inspired to work hard as an individual, and start a grassroots movement of my own through documentary or other means and do my part to change the world.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Moltov Man Prevails

Imitation is the biggest form of flattery. This is a common saying that I have been told ever since I was very young and Daniel Rombach stole my great idea for a story in second grade, told the whole class about it, and was praised by everyone including our teacher. However, this was theft and not imitation. Daniel did not see something I wrote and try to re-create it in a new form. He took the original and tried to pass it off as his own without giving the rightful owner (me) any credit.

Both arguments in the article "On the Rights of Moltov Man" are compelling and have their own right, but ownership of anything is treading such a fine line. Owning something, having something belong to you, and you alone, is a very ambiguous concept, and one that is constantly being challenged and uprooted. Especially when it comes to a life. Susan Meiselas felt she owned the rights to this picture and she wanted to keep the history behind it in context instead of having it spin out of control into a symbol of something it doesn't represent. However, Joy Garnett's intent was not to de-contextualize the photograph in any way. Joy's goal was to paint
"images or figures in extreme emotional or physical states" -- something that "moltov man" certainly garnered.

In the end, it was the fight over the rights of the picture, who "owned" it, and who had the rights to put it into certain contexts that seemed to make it into something bigger. Susan cites many uses of "moltov man" and he became a symbol for this Nicaraguan struggle long before Joy painted him. The symbol has been used so many times, few know the true context of the original photograph which upset the original photographer, yet is something that cannot be helped.

It's like the infamous image of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary. His image is used today extremely out of context, and is worn on t-shirts by people who have no idea of the relevance of Che's mark on history: on his stance, on his greed, or the number of people who were murdered by him and under his command. It is a symbol taken out of context and out of reality and made to represent something else. Angst and rebellion in a high school student is a bit more underdeveloped than the revolutionary tactics of a rebel leader.

Really, no one can control people's opinions and how they view certain ideas and symbols. We can take things out of context to make people look stupid, and feed on the stupidity of those who believe it (coughcoughmichaelmoorecough), but that doesn't make it true, it's just freedom of speech. Someone trying to get across their point of view, be it through manipulation of the truth or otherwise.

In the end, it's up to us to be informed consumers, media viewers, and human beings. If you don't already know that you certainly can not believe everything you hear or see, than you've got some major media literacy issues that need to be tackled.

When all it comes down to is the "validity of the context" of something, copyright exists, but the first amendment will prevail more times than not.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Rough Theater

My own experiences with the rough theater have been both interesting, engaging, and overall really fabulous.  I know there are many types of rough theatre, and there are those that are simply more run-down theaters; however for me, the trough theater comes from childhood.  I think most kids like to put on plays, or shows, or some sort of "Mommy, Mommy!  Watch me!" sort of deal.  I was no exception, and some of these examples of "the rough theater" are some of my favorite childhood memories.

One specific example that comes to mind is a time in my neighborhood when a few of my friends and I decided to put on a showing of "The Little Mermaid".  Now we didn't have a script, nor any real sort of direction, so our first task was to watch the movie, and write down all the lines of our respective characters.  I think we may have gotten through the first 3 minutes of the movie, pausing our VHS tape so we could write down our lines every five seconds.  Soon we thought, enough is enough, we'll just wing it!  So we made fliers and invitations, invited all of the neighbors, and only our parents showed up.  Eventually "The Little Mermaid" turned into an all out free for all, and we all ran about the driveway screaming the lines we managed to remember at the top of our lungs. 

Although it may not sound like much, it was a great memory for me, and to this day I'm sure it was quite an entertaining piece of theatre.  Even today my little sister insists on performing for our family and guests.  When she was younger my brother and I found it a pain that my parents made us sit down and watch my sister prance around our living room for half an hour, but now I realize that her imagination is so ripe and so pure, she can turn our living room into a jungle, and our pool into the ocean.  It's often this imagination, this passion, which brings the rough theater to life and brings so much enjoyment to the audience.

I've seen a few Broadway shows in my lifetime, and every year since my sister was three, my mom, myself, and some of my aunts and cousins go to see the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes wherever they may be in the country.  We've traveled to Branson, Missouri, Nashville, and even New York City to see them.  However, every year I look forward more to my sister and younger cousins creating their own Rockettes dance for us after the show more than the actual show.  Sure, the show is great in these magnificent theaters with the professional dancers, but nothing beats your little sister kicking the lamp off the table in the hotel room during her grand finale dance with my mom and me holding up a sheet for the curtain.

An inside joke with friends will be more funny to me any day than something a comedian can churn out.  The rough theater to me is a theater full of family and friends, reminiscing and cracking jokes, and the fact that in this format, nothing can really go wrong.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another Look at Scratch Film Junkies

After having worked in cameraless filmmaking for the past six weeks or so, I certainly have a new found respect for those who choose this style as a medium.  My partner and I put a lot of time, thought, and effort into our Elements project, and that was only one minute long.  Also, our film had a theme, a coherent idea, and two very short animation sequences, but there wasn't a real story involved.  Some of the other cameraless films we saw in class had a story of sorts.  What comes to mind was a film we watched where in a part of it it just looked like scratching on black leader, a few lines, but they seemed to move, to interact, and to live.  I can't really even fathom how long something like that would take, with the planning, and the execution.  Not to mention the mistakes that come with the territory and cannot be erased but simply re-done.

By knowing what goes into something a person develops a closer relationship with it, and a greater understanding and appreciation.  I felt really close to my project when it was projected.  I had never seen it in that form before.  I had seen it so many times as simply a strip of film with paint, magazine clippings, and scratches all over it, but to see it projected for that first time, and to see what all of those elements looked like projected at 18 frames per second was truly amazing.  As the film flew through the projector certain things looked familiar, but were in a different form.  I remember thinking, "Wow, I didn't know it would quite look like that, but I think I like it!"

Whether or not thinking about the process of how a film was made while watching it is a good idea, or intended by the filmmaker, it is something as film students we have learned to do.  The processes of creating the images that I see on these Scratch Film Junkies clips are burned into my brain, and I find myself wondering "what types of paint did they use to get that affect?" or "I wish I had thought of that technique, it would have worked perfectly in my project!"

Another thing I find interesting about these Scratch Film Junkies clips online is that once the film is imported into the computer, the filmmaker has the ability to slow things down and take a look at things more carefully.  This is something I would certainly like to do with my own film.  In class we were able to view our film twice, but I simply could not get enough of it.  It went by too quickly, and I had worked so long and hard on it, I wanted it to last longer.  Now that we have recorded it on video, I can't wait to import it and slow it down, and see what the film looks like slowed down so I, and hopefully another audience, can look more closely at the painstaking details on individual frames.

As a whole, I don't think the general public knows the amount of time, effort, and manpower that goes into making movies, let them be feature length or a one minute experimental done in a film school class.