The Cabaret of Doctor Caligari: Screening

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Hello!

In today’s lesson we saw a vintage film from the early 1920’s by film director Robert Wiene that was one of the pioneer films from the German Expressionism era. This cult film represents an era, during the First World War, where filmmakers felt the urge to rebel against what was considered “normal” and real, and decided to showcase their deepest fears and anger through these films filled with some sort of darkness, being it insanity, prejudice, betrayal amongst others.

This particular film centers a lot of on the psychological introducing the idea of somnambulism as a means to make someone who suffers from this disease to do whatever you wish. Throughout the film we witness murder, a sort of “mind control” on the somnambulist, unrequited love and just… complete insanity.

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After the viewing, we delved into specifically the meaning behind the set design of the film. Because the sets used had different geometrical shapes as well as the props within them were disproportional to the size of the actors. So we, the class, came to the conclusion that this film had a quite surrealistic set as to probably shock the audiences of the time.

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From this lesson I learned, that filmmakers throughout the ages did movies that could be based off their own personal insecurities or even those of the people whose film is directed to.  Basically we can always give ourselves completely to a film and hope that it will reach people’s understanding and maybe even comfort them.

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Canon 650D: Induction

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Hello!

So today we ventured into the land of DSLR magic, with our induction on the Canon 650D. I was quite excited because I had worked with a previous model in a previous shoot and was quite fond of it, and since then I have been studying up on my DSLR’s so you could say I was looking forward for this tutorial.

We basically talked about all the basic features that we needed to know in order to get good footage which meant learning all that we need to learn about the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. The various lenses we could use was also a hot topic in today’s class and I have to say that I quite liked knowing how different lens sizes can give different effects to a shot.

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From this induction, I learned mostly more about the different lenses we could use as to give the desired effect we might be looking for and that was quite interesting.

Grizzly Man: Screening

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Hello!

In this class we saw Herzog’s documentary called “Grizzly Man” about the famous bear spokesperson Timothy Treadwell. This documentary served as a continuing presentation of the different types of “sub-genres” a documentary can have within itself. In this particular piece we follow a journey of man who believes that his sole purpose in life is to protect the grizzly bears from anyone and everyone that might want to harm them. So he spends most of his adult life, thirteen years to be exact, living in the wilderness with these bears and whilst he learned all that he could from them, he also started to love them. So this is his story.

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Personally, I quite enjoyed this documentary mostly because the way Herzog edited it, we can see Treadwell’s personality and character shine through pretty much throughout the entire length of the film. We can see Treadwell’s caring nature and his firm belief that that is his calling in life, but at the same time we get an inside view into Herzog’s personal opinion in the matter, and how opposite it is from the subject he’s filming. This documentary, that was based on 100 hours of raw/unedited footage that Treadwell shot himself whilst living alone in the forest, serves as a way to expose the story to the audience but also to give them a sense of self-reflexiveness because what Treadwell chose to do with his life isn’t something someone would just choose to do out of nowhere! At least not in the same circumstances as Treadwell. This piece of film has two main characters which are Timothy Treadwell (the bear lover) and Herzog (the opinionated director), and of course you have the bears in the background, yet they are not the main subject being analyzed here. We see Treadwell’s points of view that are almost immediately counter argued by Herzog through the means of a voice-over, and although this was compelling to listen it also through me a bit off-guard because at one point I didn’t know who to believe.

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Werner Herzog, director.

With the knowledge that documentary evidence can either be used through the ‘making’ or the ‘revealling’ of virtue, “Grizzly Man” is right in the middle. For there is in fact a strategic way in which the filmmaker organized the footage as well as wanting it to have a meaning to the audience, but it is also has the subject in his own personal environment and as much as Herzog shares his own opinions he also sits back and observes almost as a third party to Treadwell’s impulsive acts.

Through this viewing I learned more about how even though a documentary needs to be as reliable as possible, given the documentary evidence that might exist (or not), the filmmaker can still be creative in his cinematic decisions in the way he wishes the story to be portrayed and understood by the audience, as well as being able to give his personal insight on the matter.

And here I leave you with a brief introduction to this amazing documentary, so you can see what Timothy is all about.

Italian neorealism: Styles

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Hello!

Today we started the seminar, going back to the definition of neorealism, specifically the film genre. After we watched “Rome, An Open City” on Tuesday, we went back to discussing how the film was made in 1944. For example, we discovered how it was shot mostly in a studio due to the fact that the city where it was being filmed got bombed. How Mussolini, himself, was the host for the very first Venice Film Festival in 1932, which served as a means to show fascist propaganda movies to the masses.

But the main focus point of this class was about the specific film techniques of neorealism. This specific genre, as I mentioned in a previous post, likes to illustrate the “reality” of the events that may relate directly to the situation a country might be going through and to show the “real” pain that common people feel. It’s through these notions that we began to view a few scenes from the film, once more, as to identify particular neorealistic styles that Rosselini imposed onto the film. The most obvious one was upon Pina’s death, the way the focal length of the camera changed drastically. By this I mean, that up until that point nearly every character that came on screen was presented in a somewhat tight close-up as to make the audience feel like they are there with them and going through the same journey, whereas when Pina is killed, we see her being shot from afar as if she is meaningless. As if she never meant anything to anyone, and that’s her ending.

By the end of the class, our teacher prompted us to answer a question that is: Can a style of film be political?

From this, I did a bit of research online as discovered that “style” has a very different meaning from “genre”. Style is in regards to filming technique whereas the genre means the type of film it is, more or less. So in regards to the film’s style, I do think a film can be political although it is all down the director’s choices. For example, in the film we saw on the Tuesday class, I felt that the director did a good job portraying through the use of camera framing, length and even the use of stereotypes within the fascist regime was well presented as to give the sense that he does not support or condone the way the fascist arms acts towards the people of Italy. It’s through also through the script, that we can see the real struggle that these characters go through in their fight for liberty. And in a particular moment, when we see a moment of weakness in one of the officers as he recalls all the bloodshed from his past that he caused, and how that guilt just eats away at him. That is a real moment that the director wanted to portray as to show that even people that have killed thousands, can still have times where all the killing and the pain is just too much even for them.

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Module induction and “Space” assignment

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In this class we mostly talked about what our new Module Handbook contained, future workshop opportunities and were given the brief regarding the new “Space” assignment due on 6th February.

This assignment that in groups of two, one being the Producer and the other the Director, create a 2-5 minutes short film about what is our personal idea of space. Meaning, what is our own interpretation of what space can be and to portray that accurately on screen. This can be intellectual space, cyberspace, any thoughts relating to darkness, loneliness, observation, amongst others. It is also part of the brief the fact that we need to find our own crew by ourselves and that we need to document all that we’ve done in our blogs. Well… At least of one those I can already scratch out of my list. So from here we were randomly paired up and I choose the Producer role and my colleague the Director role. After the class finished we both sat down and started trying out different ideas and interpretations until we finally decided upon a story that we both enjoyed. The only real downside from this is that we only have one week to shoot and edit it to completion! This will prove to be a challenge indeed.

Rome, An Open City: Italian neorealism

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Hello!

In our first screening this semester, we saw Roberto Rosselini’s “Rome, An Open City”. The basis of the story is about a italian man, Manfredi, who is being hunted by the Fascist regime for being the leader of a revolutionary organization who threatens to bring down their conformist hold over Rome in 1944. Despite him being the main character, we are further introduced to secondary leads that may or may not influence him directly. We see Pina, a widowed young mother, anxiously waiting to be married to Francesco, so that they can finally have their own happy ending in the middle of the terrible war. Marina, Manfredi’s girlfriend who is shown as being a woman who would do anything to get her way, yet only wishes for Manfredi’s love and affection. Don Pietro, the priest, helps Manfredi in his hiding out from the regime and even serves as a messenger with other people inside the the Resistance.

All these different plots, at the end, will only bring tragedy upon these characters yet the story gives them so much life that not even their demise can erase that fact. I enjoyed this film because, mostly, it brings a new spin on events that have already been told and retold countless times and yet they are never told in the exact same way. Thank God. I’ve felt that this movie had such good character one-liners and the way the story was presented was interesting to me.

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After the viewing, I researched about the origins and meanings of “neorealism” and became quite elucidated as I discovered and finally understood the meaning of this type of film movement. It’s definition is to present, to the audience, the real everyday life struggles that come along with living under repressiveness. This specific movement was very popular in Italy during Mussolini’s regime, and directors like Rosselini, decided to show their resentment through the creation of films that show the reality of the country’s struggles. It showed the poverty and the injustice that the italian people was going through. So through this viewing I learned a bit more about this movement and how a specific theme that has been told so many times throughout history, can still be original and interesting.

4 Little Girls: Documentary introduction

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Hello!

Today we kicked off our Screenwriting module with a first glance of a genre we are going to be talking about for the next couple of weeks. Yes, it is Documentary time. When I first started in this module, we learned all that we needed to learn about Melodrama which was nice but I am glad that we can now move on to something different.

We learned that even though a documentary needs to be truthful and “follow the rules” in order for it to be an accurate representation of an actual event in time and space, it can still be creative. We, potential filmmakers, can still let our creative juices flow and let them show through it. It’s just a matter of editing: the cutting, the order in which we put the footage, photographs, locations, interviews, the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound, amongst so many others. It is in post-production that we can make a masterpiece out of a documentary. And that was interesting to acknowledge.

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And to kick start our classes, we were shown a Spike Lee documentary entilted “4 Little Girls” which follows the story of four young children that were brutally murdered by a bomb explosion while at church in Alabama in 1963. This is the basis of the story yet Lee tells us much more than that, he tells us all the events that led up to this massacre as to show the audience the “why” this happened. He doesn’t condone these events but instead feels the need to justify and to bring a clarity to the world, of who, why and what happened or needed to happen to give a reason for these murders. I don’t know if he succeeded but at least he told a story that deeply moved audiences, well at least it moved me. Lee goes deep into the begginings of racial prejudice in Alabama with the showing of archival footage, still photographs and even interviews with victims or bystanders that were there at those times.

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Later on in the afternoon seminar, our teacher mentioned something that I found quite alluring, when he said “Film is a ghostly medium”, right when he said it, I felt a chill come over me. The complete truthfulness of that statement caught me off guard. It is something so obvious yet it had such a poetic meaning to me. The idea of each film, even the current one’s, are and will someday be mere ghosts of the past is something morbidly fascinating to me. Yet, I always knew that film was such a beautiful medium where some of the greatest stories and pieces and History are forever “trapped” in film stock (or SD cards!) is something beyond precious. That beautiful moment when you can watch your favorite movie from the 1940’s and feel yourself being immersed into the wonderfulness of the acting, story and location. It’s priceless.

Though this viewing, I learned the difference between the different types of documentaries that exist as well as the basis of what type of documents I would need to obtain in order to, try, and give justice to the piece of history I would like to portray on screen.

P.S.- And I also learn that I rant too much. I am sorry.

Here is an interview with director Spike Lee talking about his documentary film.