Saturday, December 27, 2014

Onward and Upward

Hey World!

I took my comprehensive exams just a few days before Christmas, and hopefully my days of needing to use this blog to post coursework are over.  (Big sigh of relief). I am still hoping to use it as a tool for completing my thesis though, and so I will be posting information relative to my research, or to my media literacy interests generally.  Aren't you lucky?

My thesis, broadly, is about how mothers construct and perform identities for their family members online, and how this informs the performance of their individual identities online.  There's a lot of feminist theories about intersubjectivities unique to the female experience.  Women's sense of self in relation to their audience and to the principle characters in their lives differs somewhat from the normative (male) autobiographical voice and sense of "self."  I'd like to see how this is manifest in the way women address their families when they blog.

So: lots of autobiographical theory, feminist theory, digital theories, sociological identity theories, etc.
But mostly, I just want to explore, respectfully and thoroughly, the digital landscape of modern motherhood.  It's too easily dismissed for such a riotously complex phenomenon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TMA 680 - End of Course evaluation.

Evaluation of progress on my goals for this class:

1. To complete a reasonable review of concepts, skills, and roles that I learned as an undergrad (in TMA 185, 285, and others) to help me refresh those items my brain may have misplaced for lack of use.
  • I'm not fully equipped to judge how thorough my review was, but it was certainly effective.  The things that I did revisit were all useful to me and I was very careful to try to integrate them into my skill-set as things I would be able to continue developing my working-knowledge of after this course has ended.
2. To feel reasonably confident undertaking a moderate single-creator video project, from pre-production through post production. 
  • My confidence is still not where I'd like it to be, but my willingness, and even eagerness, to undertake such a project despite my failings is actually much improved.
3. To increase my proficiency in using equipment and software I will continue to have access to after the course ends.
  • This has been a high priority for me in this class, and despite numerous set-backs, I have doggedly stuck to my attempts to shoot on a DSLR, because that is what I will have access to on my own.  Though I am now more anxious than ever to upgrade to a camera with a larger sensor and a headphone jack.  I'm also trying to evaluate my best options for sound equipment.  I'd like to upgrade from the simple cold-shoe mount mic and wired-lavelier I have now, but I don't think I can afford the Sennheiser wireless kit I borrowed from my neighbor for my last two assignments, and I don't think I can, or should, keep borrowing it indefinitely.
4. To increase my pedagogy arsenal for teaching the skills covered in class to others in the future.
  • This was the most uncomfortable part of this course for me, and the part for which I have consistently felt the least qualified.  Because I have so little practical grasp of what might work in a given class environment (because of my lack of a concrete class parameter upon which to base my ideas), I feel less than confident that my lesson plans would pan out to create successful experiences for students.  I expect, however, that they'd be a decent jumping-off point for designing a more focused experience for an actual group of students. So, where I to find myself in a teaching position, they'd still be useful.
5. To create several things that provide me with the benefits of "carpentry" discussed by Ian Bogost.
  • The greatest benefit I found along this line, was how much easier it was to understand a concept than to actually enact it.  I was consistently humbled by my inability to create scenes and footage that followed all of the guidelines I understood and could describe well.  Something about rubber actually hitting the road, and things actually requiring practice to master was a refreshing challenge after having written so many papers describing and critiquing other people's work. 
6. To see a measurable increase in the production value of projects I create over time.
  • I did improve my ability to navigate the controls and options available to me on my camera, and I think this will ultimately lead to the increase in quality I'm hoping for.  However, I rather feel like with every conceivable setting set to "manual" instead of "auto", I'm bound to have a growing-pain period where I screw things up and they turn out worse for a while before they can turn out better.  At least this is the rhetoric I'm working in my head in order that I don't let the perfectionist in me take over and make me quit. 
7. To engage in critical discussion about the decisions that go into the creation of media. 
  • This wasn't a super-high priority in this class, but because of our background in previous courses in our program, I felt like we were able to pretty seamlessly introduce thoughts along this vein during a number of class periods. 
8. To feel/be qualified to instruct an absolute beginner in acquiring basic video production skills. 
  • This, encouragingly, is one goal I can feel was unequivocally met by this course. While my pedagogy may lack polish, I feel confident in my knowledge base and skill set that I'd be able to get the needed information from my own head to a students', through lecture, demonstration, exercise, and reflection.
Final Question is: "Where would I like to see myself in a few years in terms of using production skills for pedagogical purposes? How would I like to incorporate these skills into my classroom/practice?"

  • At the moment my long-term career goals are especially ambiguous, but I do anticipate that they will ultimately utilize everything I have developed in the class.  One possible emphasis would include teaching a class on the use of media in accumulating and organizing biographies and family histories.  The skills and lesson plans developed here and in my previous documentary class would be especially helpful in creating a curriculum.  Regardless of the direction my career ultimately takes, I will be better-equipped to remain engaged in the creation of media, and hope to remain comfortable in it and to not let my skill-set atrophy the way I felt it did the first time around (largely due to lack of access to equipment, software, and opportunities). 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Documentary Assignment: Documenting events and/or processes

The process of composing lesson plans has been unilaterally deflating for me, but, in creating a documentary assignment,  I encountered particular difficulty in coming up with an assignment for students that I could also complete an example of.  (My life and the spaces, events, and people I have access to are rather antithetical to the lived reality of most students mature enough to maneuver a camera and editing software.)  So the parameters of my final lesson plan are ultimately a bit more vague than I’d like.  If I were spending more time in a teaching environment, it’d be more feasible for me to complete a project along the more clearly defined parameters of my first draft of the assignment, so I think they are both useful as alternatives to one another even though they sort of reverse the process of capturing footage.  One exercise gathers interviews about a past event, while the other gathers interviews about an ongoing process, and then captures the field footage of that process afterward.  They both create an opportunity for recognizing the process of trying to match interview sound bites with the footage of the event or process that allows for appropriate contextualization and understanding.

I continue to be humbled by the process of working with equipment I’m not entirely familiar or comfortable with, and the process of filming an interview is still stressful for me.  Two of my interviews were severely compromised by my willingness to rush through setting up the shot because it felt so awkward to ask my subject to wait for me to get it just right.  The first interview I conducted was with my Aunt Heidi, and it was my first time using the Seinheisser wireless mic system with my camera.  I hadn’t had time to be trained on it before that, and I could tell on playback that the levels were too high, but I couldn’t figure out how to adjust them on the transmitter/receiver units and didn’t have a user-manual with me.  Rather than make my subject wait for me to figure it out (she was in a hurry), we just kept moving the mic further from her mouth, and she tried to speak more softly than usual.  All the microphone drama led me to forget to re-set my focus after moving the tripod, and so not only was the sound bad, but the subject was out of focus.  Bad news, and no time to re-do the interview, so I’m forced to use it despite how awful it is.  I also had problems shooting my Aunt Holly, as the light levels (coming from a window) dropped drastically almost immediately after we started shooting.  I did stop her and adjust them once, but the lighting in almost her entire interview is problematic.  I didn’t feel comfortable stopping her to adjust the lighting as often as I’d have needed to to save all the shots, so I’m still working through how I ought to have handled that.  I’m mostly concluding that it would have been better to have dealt with mixed lighting, or less-attractive lighting, and to have had the levels be more consistent than to have been at the mercy of unpredictable cloud cover. (Also, I've conceded I am too stingy with ISO, I need to think rather differently about it in video than in still photography). 
(I’m not altogether happy with the other two interviews, I think they look really blown out, even though the meter in my camera was telling me 0.  All of these things point to: Emily needs more practice. Preferably under less stressful, rushed circumstances.)

Ultimately, I think this could be a really fun unit or lesson to teach.  Especially in a time when more and more youth are actively creating media for the web, I find it exciting to think about equipping them with the skills to create more polished and engaged pieces about their own lives and the lives of those around them.  It seems like a pretty effective way for them to engage in virtual communities and invite investment from their peers and viewers, and thus a really relevant skill set for them to have.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Narrative Assignment: (500) Days of Summer Scene

(The components of my lesson plan can all be found here)

In an attempt to illustrate the constructed nature of narrative dialogue, my plan is to begin by introducing students to this clip.

Following which, we watch it again, with a shot-analysis to pull us out of our suture, and to help us see how many different camera set-ups are contributing to this scene. 

At which point, the students are each given a copy of the script for the scene, and are taught how to bracket a script.  After bracketing to suit their own direction, and creating a shot-list, they are (equipment allowing) to shoot the scene in groups of 3-4.  If they have access to and knowledge of editing software, they can edit their own scenes together.  If not, the teacher could edit together a sequence using shots from each of the groups (showing a purposeful break in continuity).  

As an advanced option, the students can intentionally break continuity by inserting something visible into each separate shot (different object for each shot).  I would recommend using something larger and more visible than the heart stickers used in my example video.  The initial plan was to use different colored ties on Tom, and different hats on Summer, but my intended bucket of props fell victim to a short person who felt that every bucket should be filled with a garden hose.  This was our improvised backup.  Ideally this process would both illustrate how narrative dialogue scenes are constructive, and help students deconstruct them while watching them, and also heighten their awareness of continuity issues in production, and the planning and attention required to maintain continuity in a completed scene.

It's kind of difficult to differentiate the importance of recognizing these concepts in a student's experience as a viewer/spectator and the importance of learning about these concepts by attempting to enact them.  It feels like there is almost a chicken and egg cycle of primacy there.  After having tried to do this, a student is far better equipped to recognize these processes in action in the media they consume, but it is conversely helpful to try to identify the processes in existing works before trying to recreate them.  In that sense, it is kind of difficult to nail down the primary learning outcomes for an activity or even a curriculum like this.  Whether the purpose is to increase media literacy, or to build skills for media production makes a difference in where focus will be spent, (and the two outcomes are not necessarily contradictory, but a focus on one over the other would change the way a unit was taught).    

Continuity Editing

(Scene from 10 Things I Hate About You)

This (^) Is the equivalent of a quick and sloppy exercise in shooting and maintaining continuity with a dialogue scene in narrative filmmaking.  By going through the process of editing it, we were all able to recognize (loud and clear) how many precautions need to be taken prior to and during shooting in order to maintain a continuity between shots that allows for fluid cuts between them.  We would have benefitted tremendously from a more concrete bracketing of the script, as well as more detailed and time-specific blocking.  We ran into trouble with inconsistent hair-twirling, and for the second half of the scene we had only 1 shot/take of Mindy to work with.  All of which could have been prevented with better pre-production, and more attentive continuity monitoring during shooting.  However, there is no better way to learn the value of watching for continuity than to have to confront the way it can ruin a scene in post-production!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Media Production Experience: Fictional Narrative Production

Cramming an "introduction" to shooting a scripted narrative into even one term would feel crazy to me.  Trying to cover it in just a couple of weeks, while necessary, has felt largely inadequate.  There's just such a lot of elements that have to come together with reasonable proficiency in order for a finished product to begin to look even moderately polished. We briefly covered a few of these: scripting, shot-lists and shooting scripts, 3/4 point lighting, continuity, 180 degree rule, and dialogue editing.  I felt that an overview of on-set and pre-production roles would have been beneficial, as well as possibly a more thorough introduction to on-set-protocols.

We've all had a difficult time trying to assess the best ways to choose the best concepts to teach in a youth classroom setting in order to provide the best value to students.  The narrative unit could easily fill an entire course, though it's highly unlikely that a non-CTE teacher would have access to cameras, lighting, editing, and sound equipment needed to really illustrate these processes to a class. (Especially a large class, where hands-on-experiences with equipment and software become more problematic).

Allowing for these limitations, I've found that most of the lesson-plan material I come up with is not best suited for a public secondary-school setting.  I'm not familiar with those environments and I am a poor judge of what would work well in them.  However, a lot of what I am able to devise would probably work well in a private or charter-school setting with a smaller class size and access to resources, or in a home-school/co-op environment.  It would also be well-suited to extra-curricular environments where the rubric becomes less of a focus and it is easier to assume that students are motivated to engage with the material.  Any of these conditions would allow for a more favorable teacher to student ratio, as well as better likelihood of being able to access the equipment and software needed to do this kind of material justice.

While I've tried to foster media-creation in my home, I'm finding that the processes involved in narrative production are too complex and require too much simultaneous enactment for me to teach with any brevity to the ages of children I have ready access to (1-8 years).  I'm not yet confident judging at what point a child would be ready to recognize all of the elements of narrative production in action at the same time.  But the impossibility of illustrating shooting for continuity without also going through the editing process is a good illustration of how complex it becomes to try to teach a single concept.  Continuity shooting requires involvement in pre-production, shooting, and post-production in order to be quite clear.  Trying to illustrate this in a hands-on-way requires some forecasting skills from a student that even many high-schoolers may find evasive.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Composition assignment for 8-13 year-olds

Our most recent assignment has been to create a lesson plan for teaching elements of screen composition. Mine can be found here, and it incorporates an activity, where students are asked to capture different shot types using a ball as a subject.

I will confess that I was only able to test this lesson plan in a one-on-one class with my eight-year-old, Oliver.  Being at the younger end of the intended age spectrum for this assignment, and with tentative willingness to participate, I left out all optional portions from the description of activities, however, I think with an older or more invested group of kids, those optional portions might be a good enhancement to the lesson and activity.

Oliver was very quickly able to catch on to the rule of thirds in viewing examples, and was able to identify shot types when I paused them for him. I felt that encouraging this type of aesthetic awareness will lead to recognitions and skills that will improve his ability to create good images over time.  However, this assignment is (necessarily) structured for the shots to be captured shortly after the discussion, so while I felt that the material learned made it possible for him to complete the assignment, I did not feel that it captured the full value of what was taught or it's potential for helping him create strong images over time.  Thus the evaluation and rubric are tricky.

The shot list I created for Oliver included:
  1. Pan
  2. Tilt
  3. Dolly
  4. Trucking
  5. High Angle
  6. Low Angle
We found it difficult to incorporate potentially more static concepts (closeup, rule-of-thirds) when we were shooting a moving object, and with the size and speed of that object, I had to give up the idea of being a stickler for lead room.  After shooting this exercise with Oliver, I edited the lesson plan to change "bouncy ball" to "ball,"  thinking that a larger, less kinetic one might be easier to keep in the frame.

Despite these hiccups, I still felt that the entire experience was positive and valuable for Oliver, and would hopefully translate into a small group setting as well. 

Oliver's shots (captured using my iPhone):

My own example/rendering of this assignment (Using Canon Rebel T2i and a Canon zoom lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS):

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Media Production Experience: Composition

Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)
There are some aspects of film production knowledge that completely transform the learner's film viewing experience.  At the top of my list (based on my experience) are composition (placement of objects and environments in the image, but also including lighting, exposure, and color balance), editing (juxtaposition), and sound editing (especially foley and dialogue editing). After learning about and trying one's hand at these stages of production, there is simply more to see, notice, and look for when viewing a film.

Dog Star Man (1962-64)

 I've become increasingly attuned to how much narrative exposition is performed in film via cinematography and framing choices.  Almost everything I need to know narratively about how characters, locations, objects and relationships should or will fit into the narrative is explained by the way the camera portrays them.

The Piano (1993)

Having a rudimentary understanding of the psychology of framing and of color, the intention behind a lot of composition decisions becomes easier to read (and easier to critique). Understanding, for instance, the state of rest promoted by adherence to the rule of thirds and the unease generated by more perfect symmetry, or the way that Western Audiences read lateral action in one direction (left to right) differently than in another (right to left), or the eyeline assumptions made by a shot-reverse-shot sequence, or the way filters and color balance are used to evoke very specific color-associated emotions intended to be applied to the diegetic world of the film.  All of these understandings combine to make it more enjoyable to watch impeccable work, and easier to distinguish the distinct differences between amateur and professional level camera work.  In that sense, it's a fair equivalent to basic studies of composition in art and art history, and shares some of the same value.

The Tree Of Life (2011)

Because I feel that it is safe to assume that there is value in teaching these concepts and skills to students who are not necessarily bound for a career centered around them, I can feel called upon to defend the value of that knowledge, that developing a critical eye is valuable for both producers and consumers of visual mediums.  But in the digital era of the present, it is not only professionals who are producing media as a part of their day-to-day lives.  In an age where every business and most individuals are maintaining an online presence, the need for the creation of engaging, reasonably polished original content is indefatigable.  The democratization of media-creating-technologies has turned every citizen into a potential content producer.  Having the tools to communicate a visual idea efficiently becomes then a literacy akin to being able to write and communicate clearly verbally. And having that literacy promotes a similarly heightened standard of taste as it's verbal counterpart.

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

So, reviewing some basic elements of composition and camera operation, I've been impressed at how a little knowledge (introduced early on) can go a long way in reframing a students' relationship with film and video from that point on.  It seems to me a potent element of media literacy, and I'm tucking it into my arsenal as such.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Media Production Experience: Storytelling and Screenwriting

My relationship with story has evolved significantly over the last ten years.  I used to feel like stories were things you had to find, and now I view them more as a facet of reality that you have to see. Everything and everyone has a story (or many), and the trick is to draw it out, and to craft it into something emotionally compelling.  The drama in fictional stories is always informed by the stakes of lived experience.

Fun date night with this boy last night to see Shrek the musical at Lehi High. Mindy, they are lucky to have you there! #sir_o #lehipioneers

Certainly one useful method of drawing out and crafting a story is to follow a traditional plot arc, and if you allow for a variety of stakes to be still worth telling a story about, then most stories with an "end" can easily land here. But a story arc and its components are not enough to explain what makes a story "work."

While I think I'm reasonably proficient at enjoying well told stories in a variety of mediums, I don't consider myself a proficient storyteller.  I blame my tendency to rush things, which can in turn be blamed on my very demanding life.  I tell a lot of stories - largely to my kids or on my languishing personal blog, but not with the sort of captivation that I recognize in stories that I love to consume.

I recognize that in my typical rushes, a large part of what I'm missing is appropriate pacing and illustrative detail. If I can draw out suspense, increase the stakes, and reveal character and do more foreshadowing through specific, sensory details, it'd go a long way.

I actually find screenwriting to be a relieved way of telling a story for me, largely because the pressure of executing visual details and of pacing would both fall to someone else in telling the actual story. But, conversely, there is a difficulty in screenwriting, in that the creator of a screenplay is not at liberty to realize their vision, and what a director perceives, followed by what is actually produced are both bound to differ by degrees from a writer's original thought.  The decrease in ownership of the story is potentially complicated.

However, for the purposes of this class, nobody but myself is likely to have a desire to execute anything I write, so I can write as though I am creating an outline for myself, in an effort to organize a conceptual story into an executable project.  There is certainly a danger of including too little information in the screenplay under these conditions, but it seems that that would be a lesser evil than including too much.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Media Production Experience: Goals for Class

My goals and initial objectives for a "Media Production Experience" course are:

  1. To complete a reasonable review of concepts, skills, and roles that I learned as an undergrad (in TMA 185, 285, and others) to help me refresh those items my brain may have misplaced for lack of use.
  2. To feel reasonably confident undertaking a moderate single-creator video project, from pre-production through post production. 
  3. To increase my proficiency in using equipment and software I will continue to have access to after the course ends.
  4. To increase my pedagogy arsenal for teaching the skills covered in class to others in the future.
  5. To create several things that provide me with the benefits of "carpentry" discussed by Ian Bogost.
  6. To see a measurable increase in the production value of projects I create over time.
  7. To engage in critical discussion about the decisions that go into the creation of media. 
  8. To feel/be qualified to instruct an absolute beginner in acquiring basic video production skills. 

Video Examples of short/compelling stories

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Documentary Final: Helix

One of the potential strengths of any documentary, is that the process of making it forces the maker to reflect more deeply on the concept they are illustrating than they may have had cause to using other mediums. In the process of constructing an intentional metaphor, the many creative decisions that fall to the filmmaker are also positioned to ask the filmmaker many difficult questions about what they are trying to communicate.  Bill Nichols[1] noted,  “One… generalization about recurring topics in documentaries is that they involve those concepts and issues we need metaphors to describe.” This common use of the medium, to use images, subjects, juxtapositions, and audience expectations to initiate a discussion about otherwise abstract ideas, is inherent in the nature of storytelling, and doubly inherent in the nature of telling “true” stories. 

As was discussed by Nichols and by Broderick Fox[2], there are a number of fluidly categorized ways – modes – that filmmakers regularly use to present these stories or ideas to their audiences.  For this project, given the logistic constraints (mainly of time) involved in the undertaking, it seemed to be in my best interest to make as many decisions before shooting as possible.  This pre-meditated approach lent itself to an essayistic mode, combining elements of the poetic, reflexive, performative, and autobiographical modes.  

The poetic mode is perhaps an unavoidable component of essayistic documentary.  Nichols said that in poetic mode, “The filmmaker engage[s] with the film form as much as or more than with social actors.”  This prevalence of form over subject was also a component of the essayistic mode insofar as it was explored in class.  The subject, in this case myself, becomes less important than the idea, or affect being emphasized by the filmmaker’s creative decisions. 

There are reflexive moments in this project where the presence of the camera and its operator are acknowledged, as well as a certain thematic reflexivity, wherein “Reflexive documentary sets out to readjust the assumptions and expectations of its audience, more than to add new knowledge to existing categories.” (Nichols)

Large portions of this project became performative, largely out of necessity.  In order to capture the appropriate tasks and actions for this essay, many of them had to be staged.  They were all things that happen regularly without the camera present, but because it was my own life, there was no way to enter the space and capture those tasks in an observational style.  In some cases I was able to turn a camera on to capture something that was happening anyway (making my bed) but in other cases I had to stage actions, because capturing them otherwise proved prohibitive. (The laundry basket being filled was clearly staged.  Leaving my camera set up in the hall to capture an actual time lapse would almost certainly lead to the death of said camera.)

But the performative mode isn’t employed merely because of staged tasks, it’s also relevant because the staged tasks are illustrating a hypothetical idea that would be difficult to convey without some kind of embodied subject.  But given the nature of that idea and the way it is communicated, the fidelity of the featured actions has little weight to the validity of the complete piece. In this case, performative documentary “demonstrate[s] how embodied knowledge provides entry into an understanding of the more general processes at work in society.” (Nichols)

The Autobiographical elements of this film are pretty overt.  The voiceover is my voice, my words, speaking in the 1st person about my own experience.  (Though through the process of recording it multiple times and never liking how it turned out, I’m finding out how subjective and constructed that can be.)  I am the subject of many of my shots, and nearly all of the content comes from the context of my day-to-day life. I think this piece imperfectly fits Fox’s parameters for Autobiographical documentary, that ”baring one’s self to the public is at the heart of the autobiographical mode. The emotional and personal life experiences of the producer become the documented reality.”  I don’t feel that I was able to be as raw or vulnerable as the “best” autobiographical documentaries defined by Fox, wherein “the autobiographical mode not only closes the gap between photographer and subject, but also the space between filmmaker and audience – brought together through a subjective familiarity and an invitation to know the “I “ behind the camera.“

Because of that, I feel comfortable describing this piece as primarily essayistic.  Fox said that essayistic mode is “an active one, in which a proposed idea or question is tested by a range of means and intersecting lines of argument.”  This film does not entirely fit the template of “an experiment” as outlined by Fox, but it does explore an idea thematically, rather than a story chronologically. 

If the “written or documentary essay hinges upon integrating personal experience, history, and social critique with taut, kinetic progression toward a synthesizing claim.” (Fox) then I think that is where this piece ultimately fits best.  The synthesizing claim made here is a pretty abstract idea, and a lot of the nuance of it is communicated non-verbally. But ultimately, the entire film progresses to support a reflection on it.  (At least that was my intent.)

My intent, if it is relevant for a viewer, was to compose a media essay about how and whether there is value in repeated, prosaic tasks.  Such endeavors make up a majority of my days and this created for me a meaningful way to reflect on content I had suitable access to for filming.  This project allowed me to further a democratizing idea that acts don’t have to be extraordinary to be worth telling a story about.

[1] Nichols, Bill. Introduction to Documentary. 2nd ed. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010. Print.
[2] Fox, Broderick. "Movements and Modes." Documentary Media: History, Theory, Practice. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. 40-44. Print.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Documentary: Mode Activity 3

This doc mode assignment consists of the exposition for my final project.  The modes I was trying most to embody were autobiographical, performative, and essayistic.  There are also moments of observational mode, and a few reflexive moments, so if the ultimate result succeeds in being essayistic, then I’ve successfully embraced the marriage of modes that Fox attributed to essayistic documentaries.

The autobiographical elements are obvious.  The content for these shots come from my real-life.  About half of them are reenactments of things I actually do on a normal basis, and the other half are me turning the camera on things that were going to happen anyway, although they inevitably happened differently with a camera rolling, if only because we had to pause to set it up and press record.

Also, I feel that because the images here become subservient to the voice-over, that the shots take on a performative mode within the context of the whole piece (this may become more apparent in the final film, where there are more whole-heartedly performative elements).  The shots of daily tasks become more about an essayistic idea being conveyed than about my particular unique experience.  At least I hope I ultimately manage that.  I’m trying to emphasize the universality of my experience, rather than the singularity of it.  The voiceover feels like the element that ultimately renders the essayistic mode dominant for this piece, though that may be a stronger thread running through the finished piece than it is through this exposition.

I did find the autobiographical mode, turning the camera on myself, to be an intensely tricky endeavor.  When I’m the one authoring the piece, and I’m also the one providing almost all of the social acting, figuring out both what I want to capture and how I’m going to provide it for myself, there is an internal conflict of interest in everything I do. With limited control over my environment anyway, to be torn between my embedded social acting -trying to manage how I am perceived - and my need to portray myself as a character - having less concern about how I am perceived than about how best to tell the story – was an exercise in extreme discomfort and awkwardness.