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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old May 25th, 2003, 12:16 AM   #16
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<<<-- Originally posted by Matt Betea : <<<-- Originally posted by John Locke :
I think laying out rules about what is and isn't considered good filmmaking is a load of crap. Your story is principle and the visual devices are simply mechanics of telling the story. The main word here is "your." It's YOUR story. It's YOUR film. So use whatever visual devices you like because the person you should please first is yourself. That's a luxury you should take advantage of while you're in the no- to low-budget filmmaking arena...once big money is involved, you'll have all sorts of opinions and restrictions piled on you.
-->>>

It is your film, but using flashy visual devices isn't going to make up for lack of knowledge or ignorance. What I mean is, maybe there are other ways to accomplish the same thing you're trying to do but haven't looked at and could be more effective. I think Akos pointed it out rather well:

"I would say that the film students use those angles and things to do something cool, but don't look at whether it actually adds or removes the "feeling" of the movie."

To me at least, that's what "the list" seemed to be venting about. -->>>

Ignorance? Based on whose assessment of being "learned"? That's the old "Picasso was a joke/Picasso was a genius" debate. If he hadn't gained the support of some influential backers, do you think he "really" would have become so big. I'm sure he'd have been torn apart by do-nothing critics..."You're not any good, you know...Seņor Picasso, because you simply won't follow the rules. Her eye is in the wrong place. I could paint better than that."

It's all perspective. And as is the case with perspective, there is never a concrete right answer. It depends on the person. But one thing that isn't arguable is telling people that they absolutely can't do something because if they do, their film will suck." If that kind of attitude is the path to becoming "learned"...I'd rather stay ignorant.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 12:31 AM   #17
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There was a movie called "Jump Tomorrow." Anyone seen it? It was some dude's graduate film from New York University, I think. And it was great.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 12:55 AM   #18
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Well, I think it's odd that the focus of the DUMP page seems to be to advise "students" on production techniques that might bore or irritate a viewer. Just who would these viewers be? Professors/instructors? Fellow students? So what?

Unlike the study of architecture, engineering, medicine, or nuclear physics the study of film production is a "soft" field composed substantially of interpretive observation and development of aesthetic awareness and judgement. Students at films schools, or their parents, are paying not just for instruction but also for the opportunity for experimentation without consequence. Whether or not they use a particular technique that's currently considered overused or trite is immaterial. How they used the technique within the overall context of their work, and the judgement process they applied in doing so, is what's important.

And regarding trite techniques... As I learn more about the history of motion pictures I am frequently struck by how many early-day techniques have been rediscovered, refined and redeployed by some of today's best filmmakers...to new eyes and in new contexts.

So I say to the dumps with the DUMPS page. If you want to chill your camera in the fridge, giver 'er a go kids! Context is king.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 01:26 AM   #19
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I felt a lot of attitude reading that page. What a waste of time. A student film is something you're allowed to screw up. Some people want to try all the devices to see why they work and why they do not work. And over and over I've seen great directors break some of these 'rules' the dude wants to shame student directors with. Is anyone really going to plan out their shoot and then consult the DUMPS site to see whether they are going to get laughed at? Forget it. Be inspired to do something great and wacky, not something safe and staid.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 01:36 AM   #20
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Well, on the page he does state that it is not to be taken too seriously, and that it is mostly a joke, but like all jokes there are some truthes in it.

All i took from it is that, if you have neither the talent and/or story, and/or the actors to acomplish something worth while, apply the KISS methodolgy and make it as straight forward and tight as possible.

And i am going to have to disagree with a few of you here, because i believe some of you, whom i respect, have not been through the film school circuit.

A LOT of those movies are boring, contrived, badly made and acted terribly. Not because the talent wasn't there, but because choices were made that were totally wrong or unrealistic to the production.

You all seem to forget, you need to know the rules (inside out) before you can break the rules!

Zac

Edit: Let me extend this analogy.

If a person was to make some amazing new medical theory, there is a lot more too it than you think.

First is to become a doctor,
then to practice as a doctor,
then specialise (usually),
then to publish papers,
then to advance your career,
then to conduct more research,
then to assemble a team and recieve backing,
then to publish more papers,
convince more of your theory,
finally release your theory to the world and some will agree and others won't.

But none of it will be worth a dime without the prep work that has gone into it. And that does come down to recognised stature and experience.

If some kid comes out of school, has a 3 page paper (a reflection on a short movie here) about how rats in toronto are the cause of Aids, he will laughed at, and even worse thought of as an idiot,.

Change that person for a professional who has proven, through research and position that his points hold validity, and it's a different story.

Sorry but *mostly* this rings totally true in film making as well.

Zac
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Old May 25th, 2003, 02:59 AM   #21
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I'm going to back Zac up this. I didn't realize how painfully bad, self-indulgent, and boring pretty much every film was that came out of my class when I was in school.

The guy that wrote this page may have gone a little far in a few cases, but on alot of points he is dead on. Besides the ones John has pointed out already, the rest are mostly all valid.

I don't want to discuss all of them, but I'll make a counterpoint here in this guy's defence.

"A film professor once told me that on a film set, one second of "real" time equals three seconds of film time."

When you see a moment of dead silence after dialogue in a film, it only takes a second to get the feeling they are trying to convey. When it goes on for 5 seconds, it distracts from the film and you start to lose your suspension of disbelief. Lots of students think, the longer the pause, the more dramatic, when it's not really the case. You check your watch and think about taking that whiz you had to take 20 minutes ago when this poor tortured 18 who thinks he knows everything about the world and life started his rant about how love has screwed him over.

Anyway, the authour of the article could have worded it better if this is what he means.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 03:34 AM   #22
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Teaching is not just going down a list of dos and don'ts otherwise every how-to book would be one page long. We all know people who somehow manage to graduate from high school without knowing how to write a sentence or being able to add or subtract. These are actual skills and languages that are being taught not just a bunch of rote material.

I don't find it particularly useful to laugh at amateurism except for entertainment purposes. You can rent a film any day of the week that was something professionally put together that still contains laughable elements. What I find useful is to look at something that was done right and to seek to emulate the good.

My reaction is coming from reading other boards where it seemed to be everyone's pasttime to put down other indie or student filmmakers. The meanspiritness is something I can do without. That's something I really felt in reading that page.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 03:51 AM   #23
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I knew it was somewhat controversial, that's why I was interested in your takes on it... likewise, I don't agree with much of it or the attitude, but there is some slight degree of truth to it. It made me laugh, but... uneasily.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 03:53 AM   #24
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I believe the site was done all in good fun, and yes it was poking fun at them, but i believe if you look past it, it is funny for the people who make these films as well.

Yes we all laugh at shoddy work, and yes we try and emulate good work. But good is sometimes bad put into the wrong circumstances and that is what they are poking fun at.

Art does have methods to it's madness, things are not there because you can put them there, and if you do, then that is the method to your madness, so in the end everything is a method.

When you are starting out, don't try and paint the Mona Lisa, give yourself time, and start with a simple bowl of fruit. Pay your dues, do the best with what you have at your disposal, and that is talent + resources, as you move up, start to push the boundries.

I know i wasn't writing 10,000 word thesis's about baroque aesthetics in explotation cinema when i was 3 or 4, it was more like "i live in a big house."

Look past all this and just see the points made, you can do anything you want with your productions, but make sure it is purposeful.

Zac

Ps. Don't forget this site is talking about movies purely that are going to be audienced, if you want to make something for yourself, then we are talking about something completely different.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 03:57 AM   #25
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Zac,

I don't really see how having a background in film school changes the situation. I DO have a background in photography school as well as a couple of other degrees...and my argument stays the same; there are those who educate through inspiration and by encouraging students to spread their wings...and then there are those who deride, criticize, and do everything they can to clip those wings to make students conform to what they see as "the norm." They cut things to pieces and often try to sound clever and/or cute in the process. (fortunately there are more of the former than the latter...but think of the damage just one of the latter can have on an impressionable young mind!)

Another thing to consider...is art of any form, be it film, sculpture, painting, or whatever, better because "experts" who have studied it say it's better? Or is it better because the person experiencing the art feels it's better?

I don't give a hill of beans what a professor or expert thinks is the best this or the best that... I know what I like. If I create something trying to conform to someone else's idea of what's great, contrary to the way I thought it should be, then would the end result be as innovative and true?

Plus, saying that you shouldn't try to paint the Mona Lisa in the beginning...I heartily disagree with that. I think that if you really want to paint...in fact you can't help but to paint because you're driven...then there's nothing that can stop you from painting the Mona Lisa the first time you pick up a brush. And then there will be nothing to stop you from painting her a thousand times--until you're satisfied that you've either equaled or surpassed DaVinci in your rendition.

Finally, to say there's a big difference between making a film for "yourself" and an "audience" just doesn't make sense to me. You alone ARE an audience. Whether it's an audience of 1 or 1 million, your work should be fueled by your personal vision and passion...and should be YOU.

No disrespect meant, Zac...after all, this is just my opinion. But D.U.M.P.S is just negative...and a positive anything is better than a negative nothing any day (all right film buffs, name the film that came from).
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Old May 25th, 2003, 04:59 AM   #26
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John,

I wasn't referring before to people who have studied at film schools, just people who have had to sit through endless sessions of the same rehashed bad ideas, acted out as movies (grinz).

You said it right there, be 1 or a 1000 times you have to try until you get it right. And sometimes we do need guidence on common mistakes. It may be your artistic choice to under-expose by 3 stops in your shots, but if you want the masses to like it, you better make it quite obvious why, or don't do the under exposure.

Experts, well so called experts, will praise something through respect, usually respect comes from doing outstanding work within or partly within and just outside an established norm. Eventually that circle of norm will expand and what was outside will be inside, due to the experimentation and correct execution of whatever was done.

It is all about reasoning. There must be a choice made of what is valuable to the meaning of the piece, not just because it can be done.

And don't think i am saying, do for others and not yourself, what i am saying is, do for yourself what is helping you bring accross your piece, not just what you can do.

If someone was to read that site, they can take away exactly what they want from it, Josh said screw it, i am doing what i want. Which is just fine, others may read it and go, maybe for my next piece i will try this and see if it nets me a good result. It is all about learning, and experimenting. But if anything valuable was to come from it, is that to think that extra bit before you stick your camera up your ass to see what a s%@t coming from your ass looks like in a love story (it just might not work).


John, love ya pal, say hi to all the beautiful japanese women for me please, and have a sake on me.

Zac
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Old May 25th, 2003, 05:23 AM   #27
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<<But if anything valuable was to come from it, is that to think that extra bit before you stick your camera up your ass to see what a s%@t coming from your ass looks like in a love story>>

See there? See what negativity can do? Now you've discouraged me from sticking my camera up my ass.

Back to the drawing board...

;)
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Old May 25th, 2003, 05:32 AM   #28
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John, i have a pd150, but imagine the possibilities with your XL1!

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Old May 25th, 2003, 08:55 AM   #29
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<<<-- Originally posted by John Locke : <<
See there? See what negativity can do? Now you've discouraged me from sticking my camera up my ass.

Back to the drawing board...

;) -->>>
You sure you would really want to go in that direction? :p

What I was saying earlier about ignorance, I wasn't knocking anyone. We're all at the mercy of our own ignorance at one point or another, I would think it's part of the learning process. I know I have been. What I was trying to say is, because it is your idea, doesn't necessarily make it the right way or time to do it. I think it's a good thing to step back from your work every-so-often and look at it objectively. I should have made a correction with my statement before and said:
It is your film, but flashy visual devices won't make up for the lack of storytelling.
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Old May 25th, 2003, 08:12 PM   #30
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John, I took the whole page as more than a little tongue and cheek. And watching my son make his first student short (A combination slasher/mafia flick, but later he cut out the slasher stuff) the guy is dead on. One of his points are that great visual moments in film get so copied they become annoying cliches. Why not be the person who creates the next great visual moment in film?

Another is, was the shot necessary? Did it do anything to move the story along, or was the rich kid playing with his new toy? Or was he on a power trip? Or was the whole film just a form of masturbation? I mean John, if sticking the camera up your wazoo fits with the story, by all means do it. for weird shots that totally fit the story, watch City of Lost Children. All sorts of violations of the DUMPS rules in that one.

When a great director makes a dolly/zoom shot (like in Good Fellas) it 'fits'. Most student filmmakers have a ways to go before they become great directors. Speilberg didn't get accepted to film school btw, and his first film sugerland express has lots of weird POV shots that hadn't been done before. Everyone thought it was cool.

the most important thing is.... he at least makes you think through what you are about to do. this really is just one persons opinion, nothing more.

Now if you really really want to be challenged and upset, go to this site....
http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/filmandart/

And read some of his opinions on the state of film, whew.....

Ray Carney (no relation), recognized as the formost authority on John Cassavetes and a true gadfly when it comes to attacking the hollywood film establishment and all the various cliches that permeate most studio films.

I happen to agree with a lot of what he says is wrong with film, but strongly disagree with his personal attacks.
His opinions are garaunteed to make D.U.M.P.S. look like a love poem. After you get through wanting to ring his neck...
you will realize he has done what teachers are supposed to really do....make you think for yourself and don't accept prevailing wisdom as gospel.

He can seem a little shrill and contradictory at times but read through anyway. Nothing is sacred to him. He is also a good source if you are looking for a list of the best Independent film makers over the last 40 years.

(He thinks the Godfather was nothing more than a cliche ridden Italian Minstrel flick to give you an idea). Many in Hollywood won't even mention his name, because he has attacked so many of them. Don't get him started on what he thinks of Jack Nicholson, hehehe. (No talent, mugging for the camera the same way for the past 30 years). Nothing is sacred to him, nothing that comes out of Hollywood that is. He is especially harsh on Movie critics, Pauline Kael in particular. That part makes for some fun reading, even if you don't agree with him.

tidbit, I've been reading Carneys' work, Cassavetes on Cassavetes. Get this book if you want to learn more about truly independent film. Puts a very human light on a great Director.

Myths about Cassavetes... I've heard directors and actors talk about how Cassavetes didn't use a script, and improvised all his films...
Cassavetes most certainly used a script (he wrote most of them himself), and expected his actors to stick to it.
He also beleived in rehearsal when time and budget permited.

If you get lost trying to find things at his site, here is a direct link to page devoted to independent film
http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/indievision/indievismain.htm
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