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Old March 31st, 2005, 07:35 AM   #31
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Pete,

You nailed it perfectly! Guidelines is a better term!

Tom,

Best of luck.

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Old April 25th, 2005, 11:28 AM   #32
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As a student, I would just like to say that breaking the rules is one of the only ways to get satisfaction, but that's not to say it's the right or wrong thing to do.

If you stink at making videos, breaking the rules may only make it stink worse... if you're alright, then breaking the rules may not only aggrivate your professors, but it may add something to your venture.

I think it's great that we can argue about the motions to success, and yet so few of us actually reach it. If it were as simple as this thread makes it seem, I wouldn't live in tennessee right now.

I have a strong distaste for teachers. I feel (as i'm sure many others do) like the great majority of teachers are just bitter and trying to make up for something they could never achaieve. Who are teachers to teach us the way things "should be," and what is "good"?

Didn't you ever have an english tecaher that tried to get you to understand Shakespeare and why his paridoxical ramblings were so great, when the most of us don't and never will care?

The world is subjective. Rules or no rules, judging people and their reactions to movies, music, and stories is like trying to predict the future. When it happens it happens. Few know why, and the ones who do probably only took a good guess.

I think this thread is great, pointless, but great. If ever there was a summation of mankind, this has been it.

Thanks for your time,

Nevin
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Old April 25th, 2005, 11:37 AM   #33
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Nevin,

I disagree with your assessment of teachers. As a teacher who also makes a living make films, I feel that my (and our teachers') experiences in the film and TV trade only benefit our students at the Palm Beach Film School. None of us are trying to compensate for anything. We try to teach the basics of digital filmmaking, and we encourage them to follow those basics on their first film. After that, it's all up to them.

And we teach this as rebellious filmmakers ourselves, anyway. I always say, follow the guidelines the first time out, learn and grow, then go for it in the next films!

Also, if you, as a first time filmmaker or a film student, are out to make the next Memento, Pulp Fiction or Ghandi, you're in for serious disappointment. Know that you will make something cool, but the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on, films will be even better. I've made 5 student films, a feature and 3 short films, and am about to make my 2nd feature, I've noticed each film is better than the previous one.

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Old April 25th, 2005, 11:52 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevin Aragam
I have a strong distaste for teachers. I feel (as i'm sure many others do) like the great majority of teachers are just bitter and trying to make up for something they could never achaieve. Who are teachers to teach us the way things "should be," and what is "good"?

Didn't you ever have an english tecaher that tried to get you to understand Shakespeare and why his paridoxical ramblings were so great, when the most of us don't and never will care?
Sounds like you've never had a good teacher. Too bad for you.

Great teachers don't just teach you the 'rules' or tell you what went on before, they provide insight and inspiration. If you've never experienced that, then you've had the bad luck of choosing the wrong courses or schools.

Good teachers never tell you what 'should be' unless they are teaching something absolute like one of the sciences.

I've had great teachers guide me through Shakespeare and I've seen the beauty and insight of those great works and how they continue to be source for inspiration by modern writers.

I've also had bad teachers, teachers I've clashed with and teachers who were boring. I just didn't take their courses again.

The only thing I've gleaned from your blanket criticism is that your experience has been extraordinarily bad.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 12:00 PM   #35
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I agree with Keith's post. I've had bad teachers, too, trust me. And to add more to my last post, I tell students what it's like, what they can accomplish (a lot) and what their limits are (basic stuff like car chases and the like) and how they can do so much with so little (like a car chase) by using their imagination and hard work.

Nothing's black and white in this world, esp. in filmmaking, but I try my best to guide my students to attaining their goals in the class: making a film. And every student writes and directs their own film (my film school had us team up for the first film we did).

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Old April 25th, 2005, 12:35 PM   #36
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re:

Heath,

Thanks and good luck to you. I would also like to say I have nothing against teachers or school, I was trying to make a point. Someone hit it right on the nose......"guidelines". I am a videographer and self taught(countless hours and projects of mistakes). The simple and the guidelines would certainly have saved me time had I had time or more important, money to go to school. At my age and with 3 kids going back to school really isnt an option but, a few courses are.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 12:59 PM   #37
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A couple thoughts on various topics.

Chris Murphy states "Handheld is Evil" and points to the film "Bloody Sunday" as an offending example. Here is an excerpt from a review of "Bloody Sunday" posted on IMDb:
"the jerky, hand-held camera seems to be held by someone who is actually there witnessing these events. Many times, the camera follows behind characters as they walk, panning up and down, back and forth, as a person might actually glance around. This creates one of the most convincing "you-are-there" feelings I've ever had while watching a movie. It's effective the whole time, but especially during the 20 or so minutes when the massacre is happening. These scenes are depicted with a rawness and realism that is absolutely horrifying, like being trapped in a nightmare you can't wake up from."
Morale: one person's "evil" is another's Nirvana. Absolutes will get you in trouble in matters of taste. Sorry, Chris, but I would hate to think that your warning would keep someone from viewing what I THOUGHT was an absolutely riveting film. And how you get those performances from what is mostly an amatuer cast is just spectacular. But, hey, that's just my OPINION.

"We are creating ART." (my caps) Oh yeah? Well, thank you, but we'll be the judge of that. There is a major gap between craftsmen and artists, and it has to do with a lot more than simply execution. Everyone who has the talent to draw, is not an artist. And everyone attending an arts college is not de facto an "artist." Artist is a title that should be reserved for those who have earned it. Supposedly, when the German writer and philosopher, Goethe, was asked the eternal question, "What is Art?" he responed with three criteria;
What is the Artist trying to do?
How well has he done it?
Was it worth doing in the first place?
Obviously, it is the third of the criteria that is the major stumbling block, and will provoke the most discussion. For example, is "Sin City" a work of art, because it looks good? Have fun.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 01:21 PM   #38
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Well...I'm with Nevin. If you have the ability to identify your strengths and weaknesses, there's no education like self education. The one-size-fits-all scholastic model does not agree with me, and denies me the pleasure of discovering things on my own.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 01:36 PM   #39
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My problem isn't with teachers. It's with the system they use to grade. Grading films is like grading poetry. I think that as long as it means something to the maker no one else's judgement should matter no matter what style is used. You can give it an A or an F but its good as long as the creator thinks so and or it appeals to anyone.
That's why the subjective thing about teachers annoys me. I have had plenty of great teachers. But no great teacher can make up for the fact that there is a flaw in the grading it self.
What makes sponge bob as popular as scooby doo? They are completely different and yet both are incredibly popular. There is no set of rules that both cartoons explicitly follow that makes people like those cartoons.
This idea applies to all forms or visual, spoken, and written art.
That's all I was trying to say.
Thanks, and sorry if I have offended anyone.
Nevin
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Old April 25th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #40
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I hadn't been paying much notice to this thread, but I think I'll go back and read through it. Always entertaining to watch people try to argue objectively about things that are inherently subjective. After all...

Can there exist a word more subjective than "art?"

Whether learning in scientific disciplines as I have done, or in artistic pursuits as my wife -- who has a degree in art history -- has done, one's capabilities grow faster by absorbing the accumulated knowledge of those who came before, than without. Good teachers facilitate that process greatly; poor teachers, well, less so; there are all kinds, just as in all professions. When we finally know our craft as well as do our mentors, we are then well-positioned to expand the boundaries. In science, the student becomes the researcher. In artistic fields, one develops new forms, or at least new techniques, of artistic expression...whatever that is.

Not so rare is the youthful student who believes he knows better than his teacher. Rare indeed is the student who eschews learning and yet exceeds his master, excepting perhaps to his own eye. Michelangelo was apprenticed; Einstein was a clerk (and a teacher, by the way). But for those who cannot bear the yoke of learning from others I say, "Go forth. Journey on without your roadmap. For the faint chance that you find your way to some good place, it was better lucky than good."
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Old April 25th, 2005, 03:07 PM   #41
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Well-said Pete. I couldn't agree more.

Those who believe that they know it all, or that they can learn it all from their own experience just because it is "art" indeed have a lot to learn. I wish them luck, because they will need it more than most.

Becoming a successful filmmaker requires much more than being a talented artist. It requires significant technical skills, people skills, and business skills. The wise realize that much is to be learned from the masters, whether the master is currently active in his/her profession, or have dedicated him/herself to being a teacher. The key is finding the best "master" to mentor you.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 03:40 PM   #42
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I think there is a difference in attitude depending on whether film education is seen as 'professional development' versus 'scholarly learning'. It is also a difference in maturity.

I've never stopped taking courses even though it's been nearly ten years since I went to university as an undergrad. Does this mean that I like sitting in a lecture theatre lapping up wisdom from someone who more credentials than me?

No. Learning even in that sort of environment involves a lot more than that. It is a two-way dialogue. I take a course because I want to add to my knowledge and want to be around others who are seeking knowledge. I want to add to my own skillset. Different from when I did my undergrad degree, I am picking and choosing what courses to take purely on the basis of adding to my skillset. My attitude going in is that this course *must* add to my knowledge or skillset or it is a waste of time. It is not a requirement, it is something I've chosen to do. I am paying my own fees and I can walk out or demand a refund if I want.

So if I don't like a certain teacher, I vote with my feet. If I was mislead about the content, I complain. But when I know this is the course for me, I make it my own whether in study groups or in interacting with the teacher and with other students. I do this so I get full value out of the money I paid for it.

If I think I can develop certain skills or gain knowledge on my own, certainly I won't take the course. But to me it is not an either/or proposition. Buying my XL1S was an excellent self-education. During that time I took lots of courses. I also bought or borrowed books. Continued watching film. Read scripts. All of it was learning.

Your whole life learning should be seen as self-directed. People who complain at the end of the course have wasted everyone's time and their own money. As a lifelong student as soon as one gets away from the high school attitude the better.

As for getting marked. In many continuing education courses now I see that marking is optional. I like seeing how I'm marked so I always opt to be marked by the teacher. Why? Because I see the teacher as a peer and want to know their opinion. But almost all the courses are pass/fail so I'm free to disagree or agree or even discuss the mark with the teacher. Of course in a technical program marking should be required (for example, any industrial trades course). No one really cares what your grades were like after you graduated, only that you took part (certification). If you failed a course then there were probably a lot more serious factors involved than a poor teacher.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 09:03 PM   #43
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It ceases to amaze me how fast what is said can become misconstrued or ignored on message boards.
Yes, art is subjective.
Yes, learning is fundamental and very important.
My problem is the fact that student get graded based on that subjectivity.
If a teacher at yoru school doesnt like your lighting you get an F... but at another school its something diffrent or the teacher just happens to like it for some reason then you get an A.
Thats what i dont appreciate. There is no set standards for teachers to grade by. Its all depends on their mood and personality. Grading objectively as a teacher of art does not seem possible. Thats how it looks to me as a student.
Maybe now what i have been saying will make more sence.
Thanks for your time,
Nevin
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Old April 27th, 2005, 11:52 AM   #44
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Yes, let's have those rules broken, but let's figure out which rules to break first. This is all very well talking about ART, and SUBJECTIVITY, but in this 10th anniversary year of Dogme95, lets get down to brass tacks.

Here are some of the rules I see my students adhering to with depressing regularity that I would like to see broken.

Basic equipment use:
  1. Always use the auto features, especially for exposure and focus. Remember the camera knows better than you. You can always tell if you're getting good image by checking out the little flip out LCD screen, THE most accurate and reliable form of monitoring known to man!
  2. Zebra stripes. Are. For. PUSSIES.
  3. Always use the camera microphone - it's there for a reason. If you simply MUST use a separate microphone try to negate its effect by keeping it as close to the camera as possible.
  4. Don't use headphones to check your sound. It'll only depress you unnecessarily. As a student you've got enough to worry about.
Composition and camera style.
  1. Three words: ZOOM, ZOOM and ZOOM. Why waste tedious time on set and in the editing by cutting between close ups and mid/wide shots when this can all be achieved in camera.
  2. Always keep the camera at eye level. The camera operator's eye level that is, when standing up. Citizen Kane is considered the greatest film ever made and this is almost definitely because in every shot, the camera is exactly 5ft 4 in above the floor. Every shot, just check it out.
  3. Always remember, cinema is a 2 dimensional art form, like painting, stained glass windows and writing your name in the snow in piss. Try to avoid any sort of dynamic composition in space or movement towards or away from the camera. It will only annoy the audience when they realise the characters on screen aren't really getting closer or further away.
  4. Handheld IS the preferred mode, but if you ARE using a tripod, try to avoid EVER changing the framing by panning and tilting. Anything between a tight lock down* or shaky handheld is verboten!
    (*the obvious exception to this is zooming.)
  5. If a scene is meant to be dark, it must be uniformly dark across the whole image; areas of contrast are not permitted.
  6. Try to ensure dark shadows in the actors' eyes so their eyes cannot be seen, like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. This is doubly important for comedies.
  7. Lighting tests are totally pointless, expecially as the above effect is quite easy to achieve on the day without much work.
Script writing and storytelling:
  1. Documentaries don't have interesting stories. They are simply exercises invented by government funded TV channels and unhappy film school teachers to punish the rest of the world, and should be treated as such.
  2. When undertaking an enforced documentary project, it should not be planned or researched; you should simply film everything and sort it out in editing.
  3. You will NEVER find a better subject for a documentary subject than your flatmate who is probably a part time DJ/Skateboarder/in a band/in a sports-team/has his or her own car. Your film lecturers will possibly feel otherwise but they are trying to make you BREAK THE RULES!
  4. For fiction projects: DO NOT dilute the purity of your script by doing second, third or subsequent drafts. Every decent script every made into a film was written in _one_ go and usually half an hour before it was due to be handed in, Including Chinatown, Pulp Fiction and Bloodsport II. Everyone knows this!
  5. If circumstances force rewrites, try not to share your rewrites with the rest of the crew, spontaneity will be maintained if they find out about script changes AS they actually shoot the scene.
  6. As in documentary, so in fiction - your flatmates are almost certain to be the best actors you could ever hope to find (unless they are drama students). Anyone who has ever watched Scarface from beginning to end more than once is a potential Al Pacino. Do not cast ANYONE over the age of 22.
  7. Godard almost said it best: "all you need for a film is a girl and a gun", but although the first half of his name IS "God" he was wrong on this, as he should have said "All you need for a film is a girl OR a gun". However if choosing the "girl" route, do make sure that she is beaten/raped/murdered by the end of the film.

Post-production:
  1. Once the script is finished, any deviation in the post-production stage is strictly disallowed. If it was written that way, it has to be edited that way, no matter what those rule breakin' types might feel.
  2. Writer/Directors ALWAYS make the best editors.
  3. try to use every shot you took in some form or another. Wasted camera angles are a major contribution to global climate change.
  4. No-one EVER complained that a student film was too long. Ever. The best way to prepare for a career in Feature films is to be able to make the audience believe your 15 minute film was actually 90 minutes long.
  5. Doing a good sound mix must ALWAYS take second place to making sure you have nice interesting end credits.
  6. Credits don't count in the films' total running time, so take this advantage to extend the film with funny outtakes of you cast forgetting lines and falling over, or the crew messing about (pulling faces, mooning and blow job gags are mandatory). This sort of stuff is ESPECIALLY funny to complete strangers who don't know any of the cast or crew, particularly if the proceeding film was not a comedy.
  7. When it all goes wrong in the end and a lecturer asks you why, simply remember, it's ALWAYS somebody else's fault.

And finally, never forget... What your teachers tell you in lectures is already more than you'll EVER need to know, so never do any independent research or read up on a particular area - it's all a total waste of time. No-one ever learnt anything reading a book.
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Old April 27th, 2005, 11:54 AM   #45
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This is good stuff!

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