TYSON

One of my favourite websites ‘Aint it cool news’ recently listed Tyson as the best documentary of 2009. I watched this in the summer when it was released. There was an extra incentive for me to watch it, as I’m a fan of boxing.

It’s a great documentary, and I would urge you all to watch it. I have a copy of it so let me know.

A huge portion of the documentary is Tyson talking quite honestly and candidly, reflecting on his life. It’s because he’s so controversial that getting his opinion on certain events, gives you an insight into his personality.

There’s excellent use of archival footage & voice over. It’s brilliantly edited, especially the opening sequence with the use of different cuts & images. There’s a montage of different voice-overs, and it perfectly depicts the fragmented personality of Tyson.

I felt certain moments were brilliant especially where Tyson talked about his trainer, Custamato. It depicted how the trainer was more of a father figure to him, but there relationship was a lot deeper. At times he was Tyson’s mentor and even best friend.

I remember how he struggles to talk about him in the interview, and the emotion is evident in his voice. A brilliant piece of film-making!

Although I do follow boxing, it was only after watching this documentary that I was able to see how Tyson dominated the heavyweight division. In boxing today most of the exciting fights are at Welterweight, around ten stones. The heavyweight division is a bore. Tyson was ferocious, and his knock outs made his fights interesting.

The documentary mainly gives you a story of Tyson’s life, with insight on a character you thought you knew. It gave me a story not just about this amazing boxer, who plunged into the pitfalls of celebrity culture. But a young man, who never had anyone around him he could trust. He was manipulated, and suffered a rough childhood that he still struggles to overcome today.

Some of the other documentaries that were listed were:

2. ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL

3. BEST WORST MOVIE

4. THE COVE

5. AN UNLIKELY WEAPON

6. THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE

7. FOOD INC.

8. WINNEBEGO MAN

9. HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29

10. THE YES MEN SAVE THE WORLD

11. HERB & DOROTHY

12. WALT & EL GRUPO

13. WE LIVE IN PUBLIC

14. EVERY LITTLE STEP
15. THE BEACHES OF AGNES


AVATAR 3D

I recently watched James Cameron’s AVATAR, which was very impressive. It’s the first time I’ve seen a film in 3D, and so the experience was very captivating. AVATAR is an experience, and the visuals are mesmerizing.

Most people were a bit apprehensive about the story of the film. They felt the story would be neglected in favour of the special effects. At the time I rejected this notion given James Cameron’s track record, with the likes of Terminator 1 & Terminator 2 and Aliens.

However, I felt the story development throughout the film was lets just say, intact. There wasn’t much character development, and Sam Worthington is a dull actor. Certain elements of the story were trying to reflect current issues regarding oil and the war in Iraq.

I suppose that with a film of this magnitude, it’s going to be a bit difficult for James Cameron to convince the studios financing the film. A film created in this type of technology, with the attention to the visual detail something was going to have to be compromised.

It just makes me wonder how difficult THE MATRIX would have been to make a few years ago. Not only was the film a revolutionary film in terms of technology, but it also seemed to explore mostly everything about philosophy.

It’s quite evident that films are now being revolutionized by technological developments like IMAX and now 3D.

Within a couple of years this new technology will prompt filmmakers to take this technology into consideration when producing films. In rare cases this technology will be used to good effect. Some filmmakers won’t need to restrict their artistic vision as they’ll have the technology to accommodate it.

However, there’s a fat chance of that happening. The most likely thing to happen is the likes of Transformers 3 being shot in 3D and IMAX, and style over substance.

Experimental movie

This is my one minute experimental movie, with all the footage from Helmdon. I had originally had this idea when making the three minute documentary. You can see some of my rough footage in an earlier post. However, I realised that it didn’t comply with the theme of the documentary.

TARKOVSKY

I have completed some research on Tarkovsky, and found him to be a very interesting individual. These are some videos which I’ve found interesting courtesy of YouTube.

Tarkosky stated that cinema was in an unhappy state because it relies on money to survive. Although these comments were perhaps a very long time ago, they’re still relevant today.

Many filmmakers find themselves having to restrict their creativity, and artistic expression in order to be commercially viable.

Films that struggled to ever see the light of day include, the likes of ‘The Fountain’, ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘American Beauty. They were only made because of the reputable filmmakers that took charge of them.

Most films and/ or filmmakers find themselves in a difficult state, as major studios won’t fund them. I used to blame studios for all the poor films that I was tortured with over the years. But now I’m not so sure it’s black and white.

Are the producers responsible for these crap films? Or are they just catering to the public?

It comes back to the nature vs nurture. We can argue a possibility that due to the mindless films that have been produced over the years, has now resulted in audiences being accustomed to watching poor films.

In my opinion films like Bad Boys, Transformers, Triple X may be poor films, but we can’t deny that they gross a lot of money.

Producers would argue that the public wouldn’t watch certain films that have experimental elements such as the ones mentioned above, and would argue that these kind of films don’t sell as much.

However, if mindless films continue to populate cinemas then how can we expect people to appreciate different films.

It’s not just feature filmmakers that find themselves in this position, but also documentary filmmakers are also found having to censor most of their material to suit the needs of the producer.

The marketing of a film is also something Tarkosky mentions and today films are sold like a product. Today you see a film advertised in fastfood restaurants like McDonalds, breakfast boxes like cornflakes, toys, consumerism and capitalism have infiltrated the cinematic arts.

Another point worth mentioning is how he mentions a film’s success is dependant on how much money it makes. A film like The Shawshank Redemption, or There Will Be Blood didn’t gross much money at all, but there’s no denying that they are classic films. ‘Good films are not seen by the masses’


REPORT

The Mass observation project gave me a lot of insight and knowledge. Over the course of the project, I feel that I have gained a strong awareness of documentary production.

To reflect on the whole process, I want to split the report into three sections. This will be completed by briefly discussing all three elements of production.

Firstly, the pre-production was perhaps most least difficult of all three stages. Most of my experience and background stems from this area. Research and generating ideas are some of my strong points. An area where I felt challenged was during the recce in Helmdon, which was mostly due to the time constraints on that particular day.

Originally I was set on the vicar being the main subject for my documentary. However, the main problem I recognised was that his story did not have a structure. My writing background allowed me to recognise that each story needs a beginning, middle and end. This is when Caroline King’s story appealed to me. I could see an arch in her story, and also I found it resonated with me. When visiting the village I instantly started comparing it with the city.

As Caroline has experienced both lifestyles, she made the ideal person to give an interesting perspective on village life.

Preparing questions for the interview required me to work out how I could bring an interesting answer. Trying to get the interviewee to expand on questions was my main objective that worked quite well.

The day of production and the filming process was very strenuous. The main difficulty was the unexpected funeral on that was on the day of filming. This restricted me filming certain areas of the village, which would have been useful in cutaways.

Lastly the post-production stage arrived when I came to digitize the footage.

The main problem that I encountered was that the full interview lasted for thirty-five minutes. In this whole duration, I became quite biased in what I wanted to show. This was overcome because; I referred back to my original notes, along with my treatment for the documentary.

This method allowed me to truncate certain segments that may not have contributed to the story. And also did not correlate with what I wanted to say.

In conclusion the whole production was very insightful. The experience allowed me to take a closer look at myself, and highlighted certain areas in my production skills that can be improved.

Final Edit

The final edit was completed yesterday, and earlier today I screened it to the class. I received some very positive feedback from my colleagues, and from both Nick & Karen.

Some considerations that went into this edit:

*) After the first edit, something which stuck out like a sore thumb was the transitions. Most of my cuts were faded to black, and although they may have worked for the experimental introduction they didn’t work for the entire piece. I recognised that in all television and film, you’ll almost never see a fade to black apart from in the beginning and the end.

*) There were also minimal cutaways used in the interview. I thank Jenny for allowing me to use the cutaway of the sheep

*) In the first edit, I tried to be a little experimental and immerse the viewer with the introduction I created. However, from most of the reactions led me to believe that people didn’t understand it. So I discarded it the whole piece, and instead used the images for cutaways in the interview. This worked really well, as the cutaways worked in a narrative image system. The empty streets, green fields, empty benches complimented the mass observation theme. For a final scene, I chose to place a close up of Caroline pouring in a cup of tea. Main focus was on the cup being full, which I tried to use as her & the residents being content with their lives in the village. You could say that there was a double narrative, one which was Caroline’s story, and the second was my perception of the village.

Still Cameras the future of shooting video?

I was amazed at the depth and clarity of this footage. It surprised me that it was shot on a still camera. It’s only a matter of time to see these being used in film or documentary production. It might be able to add to certain elements, and enhance the viewing experience.

A good example of how technology can be used to enhance the story is the film Collateral. The director Michael Mann used a digital camera to capture the city lights, and gave it a more authentic look.


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