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FTV2 – Final Reflections

On our own documentary:
We have certainly moved away from our original brief, where the idea was to have a serious look into the world of the psychics, especially that of tarot readers and the whole history and lore of its origins. I think that veering away from that into some that’s a lot more light-hearted and playful, whilst still not mocking the art/process, was a good move. And Jason, we put so much hope into Jason, because before him, though we had 2 interviews done and filmed, they were just not cohesive. Whilst I don;t believe that a documentary has to strictly tell a story or have a message, with the two interviews we had, there wasn’t really either of those two elements at all. So we pinned all our hopes on Jason, and he delivered. Creating a mixture of a acid-tripping montage that was stages and scripted, with an interview and an impromptu demonstration, we were able to create a neat story about Jason, where we had an indication of his history with psychic art, the reaction from those around him, and his belief on the topic itself, becoming someone who was, and still is, a sceptic, to someone who doesn’t understand the entirety of it, but also has a strong belief in the spiritual world.

Documentaries from the screening:
Able and Game
This was just gorgeous, from the sound design to the actual interviewees, everything was adorable. Also the visual aspect of it was very natural looking, even in the uneven lighting of the halls and market stalls. But mostly what stood out to me was the music, very happy and bouncy, it really complemented the character/nature of “Able’ (I’ve forgotten her actual name). Though at times it seemed more of promotional material than documentary (that itself I don’t think is a problem, and is hard to ignore when you’re focusing on people behind a business), it did actually make me want to seek out the cards themselves, not only because they were funny/cute, but that knowing a bit more about the creators and the processes just seemed nice. Personal is the word I’m looking for, but in a behind the scenes documentary, that seems redundant to mention.

At the End of the Day
Im terrible with names, but the drag queen handler/make up artist was incredible to watch. There was no façade about who he was or how he acted with anyone, and his points on what was considered ‘manly’ was great. I would have loved to have seen more of the transforming process, but thats just what I like. The amount used was still good, it didn’t take up a lot of the film and was used nicely with the cutaways to the bingo show.

Alternatives (Im not sure if its the name of the right one)
The one set on the farm. Wonderfully shot, everything looks so crisp and vibrant and, well, alive. Definitely my favourite of the documentaries shown, if not for the visual aspect of it. Sound as well was amazing, for something that was filmed out in the open field, it was all remarkably clear. The main person interviewed, the guy who seemed to own the farm, was lovely, and seemed like he was used to explaining things really clearly and quickly. Actually all 3 interviewed had rather interesting takes on eating meat/working on a farm, and the shots of them talking were just framed nicely with them in clear focus. Also ending on a half-finished sentence calling the dog over was just a nice touch.

FilmTV2 – Final Shoot

Went remarkably well, despite us having the largest amount of technical errors. And they were errors that were both avoidable and unavoidable, but aside from that, the shoot went incredibly smooth!

(Biggest problem was trying to fold up the greenscreen from a rounded square into a circle, took about 20mins. Unprofessional, but hilarious and frustrating, thankfully our participant was wonderfully patient)

This was set up somewhat differently to the other shoots, as we had Jason perform a scripted narration, which will serve as our introductory piece. It works to tie in the three physics, and gives the documentary a bit of context, which we direly needed.

The narration was filmed in front of a greenscreen, and will be jeyed out to be replaced by a montage of visual effects and images, working to emphasise some of the key words and points that Jason makes, and to add a bit of ‘theatre’ and fun into our documentary. It’ll be rather bizarre, which I am looking forward to.

Jason was a lot different to what I was expecting, he was very down to earth and knowledgable about the physic world, as well as having an extensive background in psychology, so to hear how he viewed and interpreted the ‘spiritual’ world was incredibly intriguing, especially as he revealed that he originally studied the craft purely for entertainment purposes. It led to him honing his instinct to the point where it was less of a gimmick and became something more meaningful and personal to him.

We also recorded a little demonstration from him, which he performed on Lauren, which were energy displays and slight hypnotic control, which where really quite impressive. Lauren recalled afterwards that she had no control over her body, and though she tried to fight it, she just had no control over her actions. So theres that to think about.

Now, its a matter of piecing his interview together with his demonstration, and adding it to the rough cut. But this was probably the most important interview, and we were relying on it to the point where, if it didn’t deliver, we wouldn’t have a documentary. But it did, which was great, Jason gave us everything we needed and more to help us tie everything in together.

FilmTV 2 – Starting from scratch?

This was an idea put forward by one of our group members, after talking with our tutor, that we consider the material we have we already collected as research, and try starting again, improving future footage with the knowledge we gained previously.

This is a pretty big thing to propose. But there is a point to it. The footage we have, even when we have cut it down into something more useable, is still not a film, not a documentary. It is just footage. We haven’t yet found our thread that links all our footage, and we can’t just pin it all on the third and final interview. There is no guarantee that that last interview will have the links to the other two, but there is also a chance that it does.

I think both points are something that we needed to consider, but I don’t its worthwhile to scrap everything. We have already been fairly ruthless in cutting out extraneous material, so I don’t believe it is solely due to being attached to the footage, but that we know that we can use this, but we are just not 100% sure yet.

Starting again would allow for us to have perhaps more control over future interviews, but without a clear idea for the direction, I think we would just run into the same problem that we would have with our current footage.

So, after discussing this with the group, we decided not to drop all our footage, but instead spent an intensive period sorting out what exactly it is we want from our documentary. And I think we definitely came to a conclusion about a few things, that our documentary can change into a small anthology of 3 different mediums of fortune telling and the physic, whilst still remaining something that is visually fun and bizarre. We have such interesting participants, that the bizarre side just seems to come naturally. Then we had the idea that our 3rd participant would actually be the narrator of the entire documentary, with the reveal at the end that he was ‘reading’ this from someone’s (probably a group member’s) head. Then we would have a (fairly) normal interview with this person.

He would also be doing a form of an introduction to fortune telling, especially the different types that it can present itself in, as it seems that our 3 participants all claim to have a connection to the psychic/spiritual side, but one is a tarot reader, another is a spirit guide drawer and the third claims to be a mentalist/esp worker. So for now, this seems to be our link, and the 3rd participant seemed to be very willing to narrate this, we just need to send him a script or an idea of what we want from him, which we should do before filming him in a weeks time.

Definitely some solid progress made that lesson, which was great.

FILMTV2 – The First Shoot!

Hasn’t actually happened yet. Its tomorrow. And I wont even be there due to a scheduling conflict with a class.
But still, it sounds like it is going to be incredibly exciting.

We are filming the wonderful ‘Spider Lady’. In her house, which should hopefully be filled with a large array of knick-knacks of the paranormal sort. She initially warned us that if we filmed at her house, her cats would be everywhere. It was pretty much an unanimous decision to go ahead with that. We want the cats. We want them everywhere.

Seeing as this will be our first shoot, we are working it so that it sets the precedence for the ones that follow, especially the actual interview part. She has wonderfully agreed to ‘ham’ it up, and get the costumes and the crystal ball and everything you would expect from a stereotypical tarot reader. So filming that sounds like it would be unbelievably fun.

Decided to use the Dedo lights, more because they are smaller and easier to transport than something like the redhead kits, and seeing as there are already 3 in a kit, we have some option with positioning where they are going. For the hammed up part, I think the aim is to go for the whole under-lit look, with (CGI) smoke billowing out from under her. Something really dramatic and theatrical, as it is going to be our opening sequence. And for the actual interview section, lighting is to be quite normal and natural, something that has a huge contrast to the opening shot.

From talking to them at the Psychics Expo, these readers are pretty down to earth, and most of them have very interesting and sometimes tragic histories about their lives or their craft. This may turn into a documentary about the lives of a few different tarot and fortune tellers, rather than the initial plan of being something purely educational about misconceptions of tarot. Maybe it will be a combination of the two. We have a set of 9 questions to fall back on, or to use to start a conversation, so I guess whatever direction the conversation/interview takes is something we will have to try and recreate when interviewing the other participants.

IM2 – Flipped Lecture

Alex Ohanian
Creating viral interest
What seemed to be the message here was that being a part of a community for a specific cause doesn’t really mean that you have to actively care about the idea or cause. Instead the most effective communities are made up of those who want to get behind something that seems fun and exciting to them personally. For us in IM, our ultimate goal is realistically to pass the subject and get a good grade for our event. Our grade doesn’t really even revolve around how many people we get involved, but more about how we involve them and what we use to do so. Our participants don’t really care about this, because we have made the event about them, we are trying to interest them with something that is fun and relatively simple to accomplish. There aren’t any forms to fill out or any questions to answer, in our case with the Snapshort project, we are just asking for a 10-30 second video about their day.

Seth Godin
Creating tribes using the internet and social media
Though our ‘tribe’ of Snapshotters (Snapshooters?) is not founded out of a burning desire with others who want to show a snippet of their day, we are using more or less the same ideas the Seth speaks about to grow this community. Sharing Snapshots on our Facebook and Tumblr page allows for other participants, and potentially future participants to engage with and comment on, or like the Snapshort itself. They are witnessing what other participants are creating, hopefully inspiring them to make their own. Like he mentions, our product, or event, is not a mass event. Not everyone is going to be involved with it, even the people who have ‘liked’ the Facebook page may not necessarily become active participants, nor would they attend the actual event. This is to be expected, but for the people that we are engaging, that are actively participating, we can just keep encouraging and supporting their efforts to help us, in hopes that it will inspire others.

Clay Shirky
Differences between Social media to past forms of media
The ability, with current media, to connect online with billions of other users at the same time is unbelievable. You can talk to them, watch them and listen to them in real time, and this allows for users to actively engage with each other. As a community you can all watch or do something, and then talk about it, from different areas of the world at the same time. You don’t have to be in the same area as they are, to see the same things that they are seeing. Group members don’t just have to consume the information or product that is being shown to them, but can start becoming producers for their group. They can generate topics or posts that allow for other group members to discuss, generating conversation about the community of the group. They don’t even have to belong to a group, posting videos to YouTube or submitting artwork to sites like Tumblr or DeviantArt automatically makes one a producer, and these sites, which have been integrated into the social network landscape, have allowed for others to be able to comment and share these posts so that it reaches a wider audience. We are using these sites, to do just that. Though we have a theme to our group, it is loose and vague enough that it can result in anything. They are submitted to us via email or through Instagram’s hashtag feature and we share the submitted videos to our Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter page, allowing for those who have liked the page to see it. Though we are sharing it to the page, we were not the producers of the artefact, a participant of Snapshort was, and this is how we have structured our idea. That the content is going to be created by participants. They get to show us what they want to see, and we get to show this to likeminded people to build momentum.

FilmTV2 – Researching for a Documentary

Having a firmer idea of the topics that we wanted to cover in our documentary naturally lead to the next part of the process, research. Not just information, but contacts as well, which is what our group did today. 3 of us, at different times of the day, went to the Psychics Expo at the Malvern Town Hall, to talk to the fortune tellers there, to see if any were willing to participate in our documentary.

It was a bit of a challenge for me personally, as I am not entirely comfortable with just going up to strangers and striking up a conversation, but I figured after lurking the hall and doing a couple of circuits, that I might as well just bite the bullet and do it. Entirely positive results were yielded, so huzzah on that point.

There were two individuals that I spoke to that I think would be perfect for our documentary, in terms of charisma/personality as well as their love for the mystics of fortune telling. Coincidently, both had gone to UNI (one even to RMIT doing a relatively similar course) to study film/tv/media. One of them even did their masters on the representation/misrepresentation of fortune tellers in film. So that was pretty neat, and both were pretty eager to talk to us and for us to contact them to ask questions and organise interviews.

There was also a lady who went by the monkier of ‘spider lady’. Yeah.

Overall though, I guess I was surprised at how down to earth and just regular the psychics were, to be honest I was expecting a few crazies. Not gypsy-crystal-ball crazy, but just something that wasn’t so normal.

Oh, there was a free stress reading from the Scientologists. Apparently their machine couldn’t read me. Yay?

So with a selection of willing contacts (and I believe Lauren and Simon were also successful when they went) I guess the next stage is formulating the specific questions or prompts that we want them to answer, as well as increasing out own knowledge about tarot as well. We still need to have an idea of the visual style for this as well, and should start looking at other films/documentaries to give us inspiration of where we want to go with this.

IM2 – Social Media

This is just more or less what I took from the guest lecturer Alex Gibson.

Social media is just another way for the majority of the population to express their narcissism. There’s the obvious aspect of that, being the plague of selfies and poorly photo-shopped images of oneself to look skinnier or to look as though one truly ‘lifts’ at the gym. Oh, and the whole, ‘Look what I’m eating right now. Look at it. LOOK’. (and now look doesn’t even look like a word anymore)

Whilst we are all pretty familiar with that, from our own doing or from witnessing it on Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr, it wasn’t the aspect that Alex was truly making. He was speaking more about how we construct our identity online, whether that be the social network of Facebook, or for the more professional usage of LinkedIn. We make profiles on these networks, wherein we put personal details about our lives and work, and we start to live by them, sometimes becoming a slave to them (I’m talking to you Facebook – especially when there is an assignment due). Its not the obvious form of narcissism that I mentioned in the paragraph above, but it is still a form of us falling in ‘love’ with an identity that we have created online. And that can be plural too, we have the option of creating multiple identities, or being anonymous online, and sometimes people decide that their online persona is more desirable than themselves, or at least works as an outlet for them to express an aspect of themselves.

FilmTV2 – Filming Interviews/Abstract Footage

Went well I think. Except for the abstract part, we got a bit silly. Quite silly.

But it did help highlight some issues that we should address when filming our main interview/other footage. Basically having an strong central idea, perhaps in the form of a question that would help to link all the footage we have. Our group has selected an idea, but there are just a lot of paths or directions we could take it in, and so if we don’t have this central idea, I think that we would just wind up with a lot of footage that doesn’t really fit in together.

This is part of the reason why I kind of found editing the mock interview a little difficult, because the sections didn’t really follow a thread unless you didn’t cut the interview at all, just putting all the clips together as well. Which would have been kind of boring, which is also why filming cutaways becomes important. Not that Simon isn’t horrible to look at, I just think that there needs to be breaks in what we see. It also becomes a way to show related footage, perhaps of the interviewee doing something related or filming objects or events that they are talking about, perhaps it would help contextualize things.

We also need to decide the mood or tone of the documentary, and I think this has to tie in a great deal with the visual aspect of the film. AS a general we definitely wanted to go with a lighthearted approach to fortune tellers and tarot readings, so perhaps something cheesy maybe? Definitely something super colourful I think.

Ugh, should not be writing this with a cold, I keep losing my train of thought.

I’m pretty interested in incorporating motion graphics, cause whilst I teach myself After Effects, its something that interests me more and more, and its a skill that I really want to get some solid practice to with. I have all these grand ideas for graphics involving tarot cards themselves, but its a matter of whether or not I can actually accomplish these things.

IM2 – Get your flash mob on.

But maybe don’t wear them. Because thats a lot of people. Unless thats what you’re into. Then go ahead.

 

I rather like this form of a flash mob. Aside from being filmed quite nicely it gives us a scope of the area and the audience. It is also very subtle, and I really quite like this aspect. I find that most flash mobs that are music based (which is a lot) are held in areas like shopping centres or fields and the music just starts. Its very sudden, and whilst that has a surprise and shock appeal, to me this is more pleasant, and builds gradually, gathering momentum.

It also uses diversion, which is an aspect that I really like. The conductor directs attention to certain areas in which band members suddenly appear and begin playing. During that time, another section of the band quietly sets up and starts playing, immediately drawing attention to themselves at that point. I would really like to use this element of diversion, but it depends on what sort of event our group plans.

IM2 – Case Study – Johnny Cash Project

Going to be breaking down the elements of the collaborative and participatory documentary that is the Johnny Cash Project.

The idea behind this collaborative music video for ‘Ain’t No Grave’ was for fans to draw a single image from Cash’s music video, using the template and custom tools provided by the projects creator. These singular images would become the frames for the music video. As the music video is for the last song Cash recorded before his death, it becomes a sort of memorial piece, and allowed fans to show their admiration and love for him and his work, becoming a tribute to his work.

To contribute, the participant is shown 3 randomly selected frames, one of which they can choose to recreate in their own way, using an interface that allows them to redraw the frame. The mouse becomes the painting tool, and dragging creates a stroke on the ‘canvas’. They can reference the frame from the real life music video to aid them in their drawing, as well as using it pick colours from the video as well. There are a variety of brushes available to use, as well as settings like opacity, colour, brush size and zooming into the referenced frame, allowing for artistic expression and freedom. When the user decides they are finished, before submitting the frame they must register some details, such as a username, date of birth and email, to which a verification email is sent. This allows for existing users, to come back and recreate another frame, and can submit it instantly. It also works to prevent those who would spam the interface and detract from the idea or inspiration of the project. These registered and verified users form the community of this project. The user can then create metadata for their frame, indicating whether it is drawn realistically, as a sketch, an abstract render or pointillism. More personal metadata can be entered, such as name, and home country/city/state. This seems to allow for the community created to be more personal, that people can see the works entered in places near and far from them. Users can also rate the frames of others, allowing for interaction between community members. For viewing modes such as highest rated frames, this means that this version of the music video can change with the power of the audience and community as they become the one to decide the rating of a frame. This is another way in which the music video is constantly evolving, not just with the addition of new frames, or using different viewing modes, or choosing to watch the video in a random way, but with the interaction of the users, who are rating the work of other community members.

The majority of the project seems to be held on the main website linked above, but there doesn’t seem to be any Facebook or Twitter usage or promotion. However, the separate on-line portfolio’s of the creators also list the work (here and here). Whilst these are not the main platforms of social media that we access in day to day life, I believe that any link that links to the project or discusses it, such as this article on ReelSo works to promote and build the momentum of the documentary regardless. It allows for different audiences to see the work and possible become a participant and a member of the community created.

As the project is still on going, it has become a piece of work that is constantly evolving, and no two experiences of the work would be the same, as there are numerous copies of the same frame that the audience has submitted, allowing for each viewing of the music video to be made up of different renditions. This idea of an evolving interactive and participatory video is noted in the reading. There is a further metaphor surrounding participatory documentaries, in which the author creates the foundation layer, but it is then up to the participants to decide how it will progress, collaborating in the process. This sort of project is made more global by using the Internet, another point mentioned in the Gaudenzi reading, and also works to compile footage, or in this case, frames, and forms them into more linear form. As a result we can see the direct relationship in form between the actual music video and the participatory one, as the frames of the latter are based on the former.

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