Sad to hear about the death of Jacques Rivette, one of the really great filmmakers. Seeing L’Amour Fou and Celine & Julie Go Boating for the first time was, for me, the proverbial life-changing experience. When I was 20, I drove across the Nullabor to see a screening of Out One Spectre at the short-lived Perth Festival that ran in the seventies, worried that I’d never get a chance to see it again. A mere 4 hours running time, the short version of his legendary Out One. Good tribute in the New York Times.
My recently completed short essay film about waiting in line, The Q, was on the big screen at Federation Square last night, as part of the 2015 Mobile Innovation Network Australasia [MINA] screenings. Not many queues in sight but the bars were full and the rain stayed away.
My short essay film the 57, about my local tram route, has just screened at the international documentary conference Visible Evidence, held this year in Toronto. It was part of a 45 minute screening of ‘mobile-mentaries’. Curated and Presented by Gerda Cammaer and Max Schleser, the session featured ‘the most innovative and creative mobile moving-image works which were screened during the last four years at the International Mobile Innovation Screenings.’
Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy was a film festival/conference held at RMIT University in November 2014. A range of participants were asked to respond to the question: do you think academic filmmaking needs written text to count as research? Here are their responses, filmed and edited by Nicholas Hansen
Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy was a film festival/conference held at RMIT University in November 2014. A range of Sightlines participants respond to the question: What do you think the relationship should be between the screen industry and university filmmakers?
In the film industry, research is commonly understood as audience research. Films, in contrast, are entertainment or a form of audiovisual communication. But can film-making also be a form of academic research?
Within the academic community, research is about new knowledge and is done through experiments or surveys, not through the creative process of film production. But it is also done using interviews and ethnographic observation.
Four colleagues and I, who have all recently completed our doctorates involving the production of a film, have got together to compare our experiences. We decided to write about our PhDs/DCAs in relation to:
Creative works: genres, length and formats
Exegesis: purpose and rational
Methodologies: reflective practice strategies and approaches
Theoretical approaches: Genre-centred, practitioner-led or creativity-based.
Generating new knowledge: identifying the heart of the research
PhD Research publications: peer reviewed research outcomes
Feral is a fun and interesting video essay made by Nick Moore. It has been published in the ‘Unlikely’ issue of the Centre for Creative Arts Livejournal. A compilation of film and TV clips that represent Melbourne from a feral perspective. Features three clips from my film Holidays on the River Yarra.
Narrating Place is an international creative collaboration where about twenty people made a series of 45 second videos about their experience of a particular place. The resulting videos can be found here.
‘The 57’ is a short essay film about my experience of the Melbourne tram route I often use for transport in and out of the city. The film is 15 minutes long and was shot entirely on an IPhone. What appears here is a nearly-finished version but, given the nature of the production, it is relatively easy to make changes. I am interested in getting feedback from filmmaking and academic peers before I finish it. I am hoping to try out a form of peer review that may be suitable for the academic screen production discipline.
I’m planning a short video essay on hard rubbish, which focuses on a personal experience I had trying to get rid of an old couch. Whenever I put it out for hard rubbish collection, someone would take it, then it would reappear further down the street a short while later. So I have been taking photos of other people’s couches and armchairs on the footpath and the median strips of my neighbourhood, with the idea of including them in the video. They appear surprisingly often. My couch had an association with many important experiences in my life. It was also extremely uncomfortable, which is why I wanted to get rid of it.
I went to a public talk last week by Jack Binder, Hollywood film and TV producer, and Antony I. Ginnane, prolific Australian film producer. The talk was hosted by RMIT School of Media & Communication and Film Victoria. I have long thought that the producer’s perspective is somewhat undervalued in many discussions about film and television, so it was great to hear two experienced and accomplished practitioners of this role talk about their work.
I completed my PhD earlier this year and, since then, have been giving a lot of thought to what I should do now. My doctorate involved the production of a feature-length drama and the writing of a 40,000 word exegesis. A big project but, as various people have reminded me, finishing a PhD is the start of a process, not the end of one. For better or worse, I’m now regarded by the academic community as a qualified researcher in my discipline. There is a concern, I think, that the discipline of screen production risks being marginalised within the higher education sector if it is seen as being no more than a teaching field. However, that means it needs to develop as a research discipline, and that means there needs to be a viable post-doctoral path for filmmakers who wish to develop their creative practice and have it considered as research. It’s not clear to me whether such a path exists at the moment.
The Screenwriting Conference ‘Words & Images’ wound up in Sydney last weekend. Held at UTS and Macquarie University, the conference was an international gathering of academics and practitioners interested in researching and rethinking the role of the screenplay in the screen production process. Over the three days of the conference, the screenplay was discussed and debated from just about every conceivable angle: historical, national, intercultural, genre, specific works and auteurs, different approaches and platforms, even formatting.
The 5th Screenwriting Research Network International Conference is being held in Sydney from 13-16 September, at Macquarie University and UTS. I’m giving a paper titled ‘Screenplays: what are they good for? Reflections on making a film as an anti-screenplay activist’. I’m looking forward to what seems a great line-up of interesting papers. For more details visit the conference website.
In my experience, there is a fairly widespread degree of scepticism amongst the general public (and even amongst some university academics) about the value of research. It is rarely directed at medical research, although the whole climate change issue highlights that many people either ignore or dismiss even broadly consistent scientific research. Once you get into social science research the doubts grow and I won’t even touch creative arts research (at this stage anyway).
I’m working on an essay film project and have been thinking about the role of voice-over. For someone not used to ‘personal’ filmmaking, where you’re a presence in the film, getting the voice-over right is an important issue and not as simple as you might think.
One interesting session at the recent ASPERA Conference in Brisbane involved Michael Sergi talking about his research. Michael, who is the Director of Film and Television at Bond University, has a focus on the actor/director relationship in screen production. I was struck by similarities between some of his conclusions and my own research into improvised performances in filmmaking.
At this year’s ASPERA Conference in Brisbane in early July, Tim Thomas from the University of Canberra presented a paper called The Bass Girl Research Project. The focus of the paper was on how Tim and his colleague Susan Thwaites used the production of a short film to conduct a research experiment into what is known in screen production as ‘crossing the line’ or the 180 degree rule. This is an approach to filming screen action designed to convey a consistent sense of spatial continuity.
One of the interesting papers at the 2012 ASPERA Conference in Brisbane earlier this month was Gill Leahy from UTS talking about her experiences raising money for a film using crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is one of those seductive web 2.0 developments that seems like a struggling independent filmmaker’s fantasy, so it was good to hear from someone who’s been through the process. I think on the whole Gill felt it was a legitimate new source of funding for independent productions but with a few notes of caution:
Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved in communicating with would-be and actual pledgers;
I’m a filmmaker and an academic. I want to use this blog to look at interesting ways to combine these two activities. In setting up the blog, I had to decide on the names of categories used to organise the blog posts. I found this quite hard, because what I’m interested in is blurring a lot of boundaries, between creative and academic practice say, or producing and consuming media or teaching and research. I’d even be prepared to confess I want to muddy the distinction between my personal life and my working life.