BSA234: Stuck? Not Anymore…

 

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Colouring correcting on my short film Stuck proved to be quite difficult. As always, I started at the first clip, but that was set in the club where we the coloured lights going. These coloured lights were mostly red or pink, so they cast a reddish glow over everything. I didn’t really mind this look too much, and I thought it fitted the environment quite well, so I wasn’t too keen on colour correcting to much. I also didn’t want the footage to be too light or “natural” looking because that’s not what it actually looks like inside a bar or nightclub.
As we were required for assessment to submit a graded and an ungraded version of our short films, I set to colour correcting. I normally quite enjoy this process, but this footage was particularly difficult to work with because of the lighting we’d used during filming. Trying to match skin tone between shots was especially tricky. At one stage I had the skin tone far too pink even though it was matching relatively well between certain shots. Unable to match all of the shots, I started again, but this time made the skin tone far too orange in some shots and too yellow in others. I think part of the reason for my struggle can be put to the fact that I hadn’t had nearly enough sleep in the days leading up to the editing process. In the end I just started over completely with the colour correction and tried to make it much simpler, and I’m quite happy with the result, but I’m also just trying not to look too closely or I’ll probably hate it again.

The scenes filmed in the bathroom were much easier to colour correct and took considerably less time than the club scenes. For those scenes my aim was to make them less green and make my actress’s skin tone more natural and less sickly. I think I did this quite well.

There’s certainly things I could have done better when filming this project, but even so, I think this is the best piece of film work I have produced so far. My goal with this project was to produce something that I was/am proud of, and even though I recognise it is not perfect (far from, in fact), I am still proud of what I have done here.

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BSA206: Bicycle Thieves

Bicycle Thieves (1948) is the story of a father and son on the hunt for a stolen bicycle. It is part of the Italian Neorealism movement and is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.

I really enjoyed this film, I found it very easy to connect to and I think part of the reason for that is due to the use of non-professional actors – one of the conventions of Italian Neorealism. To be honest, I didn’t actually notice that the actors weren’t professional, but that is because I really appreciate acting that feels honest and true to how a person would behave in real life and that is what I saw in Bicycle Thieves. 

Alongside the realism of the acting, I thought that the focus on the working class made the story more relatable. Again, this is an Italian Neorealism convention. Sure, it’s always nice to see the upper class in a film and fantasise to a point about how nice it would be to live like that, but what the majority of people, who are the working class, want to see is something about them from their point of view. Even though Bicycle Thieves is set in a different time period, it still resonates with today’s working class audience as it shows what actions an honest man would resort to in order to provide for his family.

 

BSA206: Breathless

a-bout-de-souffle_4
[1]
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard ❖ Released 1960 ❖ Part of the French New Wave movement

“A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.” [2]

For me, the most interesting, and perhaps the most engaging, aspect of this film was the way Patricia (played by Jean Seberg) seemed to care so little about every important piece of information that was thrown her way. She thought she might be pregnant to Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), but spoke of it like it hardly mattered, she was told that Michel is married, but isn’t worried, and shrugs off the fact the he is a murderer. Her character struck me as the stereo-typical teenage girl who believes the only thing that matters in life is whether or not you are in love to the point where Patricia betrays Michel only to figure out for herself if she actually loves him.

French New Wave films break free of the classical Hollywood film structure which was based on literature and theatre structures. Instead the directors of these films wanted to make the viewer think about what they were watching and connect it to their own lives, instead of having their hands held by a familiar story line and structure. [3Breathless, being a French New Wave film, doesn’t follow classical Hollywood structure, and I think the makes it even more enjoyable.


 

  1. http://movieposters.2038.net/p/A-Bout-De-Souffle_4.jpg
  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053472/
  3. http://www.newwavefilm.com/new-wave-cinema-guide/nouvelle-vague-where-to-start.shtml

BSA206: Italian Neorealism

Italian Neorealism, a film movement beginning at the end of World War II, was an urgent response to the political turmoil and desperate economic conditions afflicting Italy at the time. [4]

Unlike other Italian films of the time, Italian Neorealism focused on the poor and working class people and featured unprofessional actors. “Neorealism was the expression of an entire moral or ethical philosophy, as well, and not simply just another new cinematic style.” [7]

Ideologically, the characteristics of Italian neorealism were:

  • a new democratic spirit, with emphasis on the value of ordinary people
  • a compassionate point of view and a refusal to make facile (easy) moral judgements
  • a preoccupation with Italy’s Fascist past and its aftermath of wartime devastation
  • a blending of Christian and Marxist humanism
  • an emphasis on emotions rather than abstract ideas

Stylistically, Italian Neorealism was:

  • an avoidance of neatly plotted stories in favor of loose, episodic structures that evolve organically
  • a documentary visual style
  • the use of actual locations – usually exteriors – rather than studio sites
  • the use of nonprofessional actors, even for principal roles
  • use of conversational speech, not literary dialogue
  • avoidance of artifice in editing, camerawork, and lighting in favor of a simple ‘styless’ style
    [7]

 

Some of the most notable directors of this movement are as listed:

Roberto Rossellini

  • Best known for his trilogy of war films; Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946), and Germany Year Zero (1948).
  • One of the creators of Neorealism [5]
  • Considered to be one of the most influential directors of all time [5]

Vittorio De Sica

  • Director of The Bicycle Thieves (1948)
  • The Bicycle Thieves has been “hailed around the world as one the greatest movies ever made,” [6]

Luchino Visconti 

  • Directed Ossessione (1943)
  • Ossessione (1943) not solely a Neorealism film, but foreshadowed the postwar Neorealist work [8]

 

rome_open_city
From Rome, Open City (1945) [1]
2
From Rome, Open City (1945) [2]
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From The Bicycle Thieves (1948) [3]
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From The Bicycle Thieves (1948) [4]
 


Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_neorealism
  2. https://sammimiller.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/italian-neo-realism/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_neorealism
  4. https://www.criterion.com/explore/6-italian-neorealism
  5. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0744023/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  6. https://www.criterion.com/films/210-bicycle-thieves
  7. http://cinecollage.net/neorealism.html
  8. http://www.biography.com/people/luchino-visconti-9519338#synopsis

BSA206: Classical Hollywood

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980)

Psycho (1960) ❖ Dial M For Murder (1954) ❖ Vertigo (1958) ❖ To Catch A Thief (1955)

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[3]

Born in 1899, Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most influential filmmakers to date, with Psycho (1960) probably being his most famous film. He worked mostly in the thriller genre, but his first feature film, The Pleasure Garden (1925), was a drama/romance. [1]
He worked with several different studios over his career including Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Paramount Pictures.
Hitchcock and his friend, Sidney Bernstein, formed an independent production company called Transatlantic Pictures, but it became inactive after the two films it produced were unsuccessful. Although, Hitchcock continued to produce his own films. [2]

Tippi Hedren was discovered by Hitchcock and starred in two of his films: The Birds (1963), and Marnie (1964).
James Stewart starred in four of Hitchcock’s films: Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958)
Grace Kelly starred in three of Hitchcock’s films: Dial M For Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), and To Catch A Thief (1955).


 

  1. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hitchcock
  3. http://a3.files.biography.com/image/upload/c_fit,cs_srgb,dpr_1.0,h_1200,q_80,w_1200/MTE1ODA0OTcxNjYwNDQ1MTk3.jpg
  4. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b9/Psycho_(1960).jpg
  5. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/Vertigomovie_restoration.jpg
  6. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/48/Dial_M_For_Murder.jpg/220px-Dial_M_For_Murder.jpg
  7. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8b/To_Catch_a_Thief.jpg/220px-To_Catch_a_Thief.jpg

 

BSA206: German Expressionism

German Expressionism is an artistic genre that originated in Europe in the 1920s, and is broadly defined as the rejection of Western conventions, and the depiction of reality that is widely distorted for emotional effect.” [1]
This style of film was influenced by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and El Greco and the way they used bright clashing colours, flat shapes and jagged brush strokes to create powerful reactions to their work. These influences can be seen through the use of geometrical painted backdrops,
German Expressionism originated in the 1920s as an artist genre in Europe, and it is “broadly defined as the rejection of Western conventions, and the depiction of reality that is widely distorted for emotional effect. ” [1]

Style

The “German style.” Emphasis on design or mise-en-scène, uncanny atmosphere, and composition (less on story and editing, unlike Hollywood). “The film image must become graphic art” (Hermann Warm).

Expressionism = Stylization that abstracts and transforms reality as we know it (from the conventions of realistic art) through

  • –  photography (unexpected camera angles, little camera movement)
  • –  lighting (stark contrasts of light and shadow for various effects)
  • –  totally artificial, stylized sets (“paintings come to life”), stripped of all realistic details and psychology—sets that becomesymbolic diagrams of emotional states
  • –  overtly theatrical (anti-naturalist) acting style (actors move in jerky, slow, sinuous patterns) and heavy make-up
  • –  integration of all elements of mise-en-scène to create an overall compositionSuch Expressionist techniques aim to
  • –  abstract from realistic details and contingencies
  • –  bring out the “essence” of an object, situation, or state of being
  • –  express a subjective viewpoint
  • –  evoke mystery, alienation, disharmony, hallucination, dreams, extreme emotional states, destabilizationExpressionist film in the 1920s is based on the premise that film becomes art only to the extent that the film image differs from empirical reality: “The world is there: Why repeat it?” The “formative” power of film was seen in its ability to
  • –  resignify and rework reality (not merely record it)
  • –  construct a self-contained aesthetic and symbolic world of the imagination radically detached from the everyday

[1]

Defining features of expressionist films include the techniques of artificial, stylized sets that become symbolic diagrams of emotional states, stark lighting contrasts, and heavy, theatrical make up. (2) Examples of these techniques can be seen in the images below.

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Shadow play in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
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Shadow play in Nosferatu (1922)
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Stark lighting contrasts in the geometrical set of Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922) Source: 3
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The artificial, stylised set of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
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Lighting contrasts and artificial sets: Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
"Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari"D 1919/20 R.: Robert Wiene Conrad Veidt
Cesare with his heavy make up in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) Source: 4

 

 

 

 

  1. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/art-house-an-introduction-to-german-expressionist-films-32845
  2. http://courses.washington.edu/crmscns/FilmExpressionismHandout.pdf
  3. http://cinecollage.net/german-expressionism.html
  4. http://theretroset.com/the-cabinet-of-dr-caligaris-sharper-dream/

BSA206: Eraserhead

eraserhead_hair

David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) is probably one of the most famous Surrealist films. Eraserhead is a story about a man named Henry who marries the girl he’s had a fling with after discovering she’s pregnant. The baby turns out to be a strange looking creature (that I think looks a little like a disfigured lamb), and won’t stop crying.
I found the scenes that featured the baby to be quite disturbing, especially when the baby gets sick and is covered in sores. It turned my stomach a little.

I did find this film a bit difficult to follow, but I think I may have been a bit distracted by the general strangeness of it, it was the first Surrealist film I’d seen. Thinking back on it and reading up about it, I’m now able to make a bit more sense of it.
Personally, I think this film is about the fears one faces when confronted with parenthood and the stresses that it puts on new parents. During the film, the mother, Mary, leaves Henry and the baby because she can’t handle the baby crying all the time so Henry has to take care of the baby by himself.

Being a Surrealist film, which is a very artistic genre, Eraserhead can be interpreted in many different ways. The way I see it, this film shows you the ways not to deal with the stresses of being the parent of a new born. Henry, due to the constant wailing of the baby, is sleep deprived and has a lot of strange visions and dreams. The most memorable of these are the lady in the radiator and Henry’s head being made into erasers. The lady in the radiator appears several times, she has puffy cheeks, making her face look a little like a moon, lives in the radiator, and sings and dances. Henry seems to treat this vision as an escape from his reality as it is far more peaceful and relaxing, and he has no responsibility  in it.
I think the vision of his head being made into erasers can be considered a metaphor for the way the crying baby is eating away at Henry’s sanity like an eraser being rubbed on paper. This makes sense considering, at the end of the film, Henry seems to cut open the baby when he cuts the cloths it is wrapped in. Henry then seems to slip into another dream with the lady in the radiator where she embraces him, perhaps symbolising he has fallen into complete insanity. Although an extreme example, I think this can be considered an example of how not to let the stresses of parenthood get the better of you.

Eraserhead is certainly the strangest film I’ve seen, but I did quite enjoy it, even though it was a bit difficult to follow.

BSA206: Surrealist Film

The Surrealist movement began in the 1920s and it has been noted since then that there have been many similarities between the movement and filmmaking. [1]

The objective and technical processes of filmmaking shared affinities with the surrealist project of disassembling reality into a multiplicity of images, and then reassembling those images to achieve a marvelous and uncanny “dream world” that redoubled reality and captured the consciousness of mass audiences [1].

Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (2010) is full of surrealist elements, after all, the main part of the story is set in Alice’s dream and surrealism in film often focuses around dream sequences.
Catriona McAra explores the idea of Lewis Carroll, the writer of Alice In Wonderland, inspiring a lot of surrealist art and writings of the time saying,

“The surrealist movement claimed the Alice books’  writer Lewis Carroll (Charles Ludwig Dodgson, 1832-98) as an important precursor. Traces of his influence can be found in a stream of surrealist works, and, further, surrealism can be seen to have co-opted the curiosity of his heroine Alice as an investigatory trope, in keeping with its research-based practice.” [2]

The difference though between Alice In Wonderland (2010) and traditional surrealist films is the same as many other modern films with surrealist elements; it has a narrative.

The two images below, the first from Spellbound (1945) and the second from Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice In Wonderland, illustrate the similarities in the sets between a Surrealist film and a modern film with Surrealist elements.

spellbound-1945-salvador-dali-e1262802783374
Spellbound (1945) [3]
alice_in_wonderland17
Alice in Wonderland (2010) [4]
Below are two images, one from the 1932 Surrealist film Blood of a Poet and the other from Alice In Wonderland (2010), that provide a strong example of the influence of Surrealism on contemporary film. The  hypnotic element of the Cheshire Cat and the way it appears and disappears piece by piece seems to have been influenced by this scene from Blood of a Poet. In this scene, the man slowly appears, piece by piece, as the hypnotic spiral spins.

tumblr_inline_mijy8t40c91qz4rgp
Blood of a Poet (1932) Source: 5
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The Cheshire Cat from Alice In Wonderland (2010) Source: 6

 


References

  1.  http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199791286/obo-9780199791286-0139.xml
  2. http://www.surrealismcentre.ac.uk/papersofsurrealism/journal9/acrobat_files/McAra%2013.9.11.pdf
  3. http://facets.org/blog/facets_excl/surrealist-cinema-and-the-avant-garde/
  4. http://multiple-sclerosis-research.blogspot.com/2013/11/alice-in-wonderland-and-ccsvi.html
  5. http://lostmediaarchive.tumblr.com/post/43623348833/secret-bonus-ismn-the-blood-of-a-poet-1932

(6) http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2010/08/alice-in-wonderland-blu-ray-review/

How to make a surrealist film: http://www.theguardian.com/film/features/featurepages/0,,2026690,00.html

Surrealist Cinema: http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Romantic-Comedy-Yugoslavia/Surrealism-SURREALIST-CINEMA.html

https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=_dvIX1OZYwUC&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=surrealist+films+vs+western+films&source=bl&ots=IzNWMafoxL&sig=K7Tu_SwjImvUCz2VWIHLwgMxvMg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiTyJGa1PPLAhWFjpQKHf8EBlsQ6AEIRzAI#v=onepage&q=surrealist%20films%20vs%20western%20films&f=false

BSA206: Montage

Sergei Eisenstein (1898 – 1948)

sergei_eisenstein_portrait1-11

Director of Strike (1925) and Battleship Potemkin (1925) and a pioneer of the use of montage, developing the “methods of montage”:

  • Metric
  • Rhythmic
  • Tonal
  • Over-tonal
  • Intellectual

“The first and most basic is metric editing, based on the length of a shot. It creates the tempo of the film.

The second editing method is rhythmic montage, based on both the length of a shot and the dynamics of the scenes. In other words, it also considers the rhythm of the action depicted.

Next is the tonal editing method, which focuses on the lighting, shadows, and colors of the edited scenes.

The over-tonal method combines the first three method in a holistic approach.

The last and most complex editing method, and Eisenstein’s favorite, is the intellectual method. It creates new meaning through editing by combining shots on the basis of a conceptual connection between them.” [3]

Dziga Vertov (1896 – 1954)

220px-dziga_vertov_photograph

Director of Man With A Movie Camera (1929). Coined the term ‘Kino Eye’, or film eye

Kino-eye = kino-seeing (I see through the camera) + kino-writing (I write on film with the camera) + kino-organization (I edit).” … “Kino-Eye means the conquest of space, the visual linkage of people throughout the entire world based on the continuous exchange of visible fact” … “Kino-Eye is the possibility of seeing life processes in any temporal order or at any speed” … “Kino-Eye uses every possible means in montage, comparing and linking all points of the universe in any temporal order, breaking, when necessary, all the laws and conventions of film construction. [1]

Man With a Movie Camera is full of various montage effects. Many of them were very fast paced, unusual for the period, and unmatched until the era of the music video.
Vertov uses montage to show a journey in a short period of time when he shows the process of production. [2]
Another use of montage in this film is cutting to shots that are visually similar, but, apart from that, have no connection. [2]

Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893 – 1953)

220px-vsevolod-pudovkin

Director of Mother (1926). Believed “…Editing is not merely a method of the junction of seperate scenes or pieces, but is a method that controls the ‘psychological guidance’ of the spectator.” [4]

He developed 5 editing techniques that help to convey certain emotions:

  • Contrast
  • Parallelism
  • Symbolism
  • Simultaneity
  • Leit Motif
  1. Contrast: Cutting between two drastically different shots forces the viewer to compare two opposing scenes in their mind. [5]
  2. Parallelism: Connecting scenes by matching certain elements within them. Often used to jump from one time period or location to another in a more elegant way. [5]
  3. Symbolism: Similar to parallelism, but provides visual metaphors for elements in the story. [5]
  4. Simultaneity: Also called cross-cutting. For example, cutting between two sides of a situation, making it seem as though they are taking place at the same location when they are, in fact, not. [5]
  5. Leit Motif: A recurring shot or scene that has some sort of meaning or symbolism. [5]

 


  1. https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=N-T_ogXMzlgC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. http://faculty.cua.edu/johnsong/hitchcock/pages/montage/montage-2.html
  3. http://filmslie.com/watch-soviet-theory-of-montage/
  4. https://archive.org/details/filmtechniqueact00pudo
  5. https://vimeo.com/76513972

 

 

BSA206: Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi is a New Zealand director, actor, writer, and producer best known for his films Boy (2010) and Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016). His acting credits include one of the main roles in Boy, the lead role as Viago in What We Do In The Shadows (2014), and Tom Kalmaku in The Green Lantern (2011). Currently, he is working on Thor: Ragnarok, due for release in 2017, which Waititi is directing. [1]

Hunt For The Wilderpeople, released in 2016, is Waititi’s latest film and focuses on the themes of family and acceptance. It broke box office records in New Zealand in it’s opening week grossing $1.26 million in it’s first four days of release. [2]
The film is based on Barry Crump’s book Wild Pork and Watercress.
I thought this film was excellent, I spent the whole time either laughing or crying. Boy is one of my favourite films and I also loved What We Do In The Shadows, so I was really looking forward to this film. I really enjoy the way Taika Waititi tells stories, like Boy and Hunt For The Wilderpeople, more or less through the eyes of a child. I think it’s very clever the way he makes them largely humorous, but there’s always something more serious going on.


  1. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0169806/?ref_=tt_ov_dr#director 
  2. http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/78514350/hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-breaks-kiwi-box-office-records
  3. https://youtu.be/n8Xvsjy57X0