Year 1 Module BCOP100-CMFT

Creative Activism: Editors and Cinematographers

On the 12th of February, it was reported that the film academy would be cutting four Oscar categories from the 91st Academy Awards live broadcast.

During the ceremony on the 24th of February, the plan was to present the awards for these four categories – which were for best cinematography, film editing, makeup & hairstyling, and live-action short – off the air, during commercial breaks. This was because they wanted to shorten the show to three hours.

It is important to note that they didn’t plan on getting rid of these categories. The awards still would have been handed out on the night of the ceremony, but the winning speeches would have been edited to remove the winner’s walk from their seats to the stage, and each speech would have been aired separately later on in the telecast (Variety).

There was a lot of discontent on social media from a lot of big names, but also from people like us who understood the importance of these categories in the making of a film. Moreover, The American Society of Cinematography sent an open letter that was signed by hundreds of people, including names like Spike Lee and Quentin Taratino. All this outcry was definitely forms of activism, and it worked. All four categories were handed out live on air, and all the winners rightly got their chance to shine in the spotlight.

Below: social media outrage over planned cuts to the show.

However, this does highlight a growing problem: the under-appreciation of the men and women who help make a film what it is. An extract from the letter written by The American Society of Cinematography reads “when the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form” (Strange, 2019), and this definitely hits the nail on the head.

More specifically, Guillermo del Toro, the Oscar-winning director of The Shape of Water, said “If I may: I would not presume to suggest what categories to cut during the Oscars show but – Cinematography and Editing are at the very heart of our craft. They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition: they are cinema itself” (Michallon, 2019). I only focus on editing and cinematography in this research as it is the fields I’m studying, I don’t mean to diminish the importance if the other two categories that were in danger of being excluded from the live broadcast.

The problem of under-appreciation for the departments that make up the backbone of film is highlighted even more by the proposals late last year of adding an award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film’, essentially ‘a way to reward blockbuster movies otherwise not considered prestigious enough to warrant Oscars on their own’ (Desta, 2019). Going deeper than this explanation, in many people’s eyes it seemed to be a way to pander to mainstream audiences in hopes of increasing the viewing figures for the Oscars.

In fact, all of these incidents were in response to the fall in viewership from the previous Oscars. But this is an important point – it seems as if the intentions are well placed. They want their viewing figures to increase, but went about it in a bad way by insulting the departments that make a film what it is. In their eyes, the audience aren’t interested in cinematography or editing, hair & makeup or live-action shorts.

This links back to under-appreciation. Is the Academy under-appreciating these very valuable departments, or is it normal, everyday people who are under-appreciating these categories? Is it their fault though? Maybe the media outlets and press who are always sensualising the actors and actresses of the screen has the result of credit being taken away from other areas. The fact that actors and actresses get paid much more than other areas, especially in movies like Transformers where the movie is made by the special effects, also goes to show where people put their priorities.

References

Campea, J. (2019). Oscars Cut Cinematography And Editing From Show. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6thvrTHacwQ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].

Desta, Y. (2019). The Best-Popular-Film Oscar Was an Attempt to Save Ratings, Academy President Confirms. [online] HWD. Available at: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/11/best-popular-oscar-ratings-john-bailey [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Award_for_Outstanding_Achievement_in_Popular_Film [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].

Gleiberman, O. (2019). What Are ABC and the Academy Doing to the Oscars? Trying to Cut Cinema Itself Down to Size. [online] Variety. Available at: https://variety.com/2019/film/columns/oscars-abc-academy-commercial-breaks-opinion-1203138468/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].

McNary, D. and McNary, D. (2019). Oscar Categories That Almost Didn’t Make It on TV Get Their Time in Spotlight. [online] Variety. Available at: https://variety.com/2019/film/news/oscars-2019-cinematography-editing-make-up-hairstyling-live-action-short-1203144712/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].

Michallon, C. (2019). Here are the four categories that won’t air during the Oscars this year. [online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/oscars-2019-categories-cut-when-tv-cinematography-film-editing-make-up-hair-live-action-short-a8776086.html [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].

Strange, H. (2019). Academy backtracks on plans to present four Oscars in ad breaks after outcry from stars. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/02/16/academy-backtracks-plans-present-four-oscars-ad-breaks-outcry/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].

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Year 1 Module BCOP100-CMFT

Culture Jamming (Context)

For the many, not the jew.png

I won’t lie, I do find it hard to not be political at Plymouth College of Art. That’s probably a good thing, but before beginning university I promised myself I’d be the ‘grey man’ to avoid having confrontations with people everyday. So far, I haven’t been that successful in being the grey man, and this certainly isn’t an exception.

My family has Jewish heritage, and although I haven’t got any religious beliefs, I did take offence to the anti-Semitism that seems to be rife in the Labour Party right now – although it is fair to say these anti-Semitism claims are liable, but I have backed up my work with evidence:

All the Labour MPs who have left the party due to anti-Semitism

  • Luciana Berger
  • Chuka Ummuna
  • Mike Gapes
  • Ann Coffey
  • Angela Smith
  • Chris Leslie
  • Gavin Shuker
  • Ian Austin
  • Joan Ryan

 

  • Louise Ellman, a Jewish Labour MP, said that Jeremy Corbyn “doesn’t care about the issue”.
  • The Jewish Board of Deputies said Jeremy Corbyn “swims in a sewer of anti-Semitism”.
  • Ian Austin, who is the adopted son of a holocaust survivor, said “the hard truth is that the party is tougher on the people complaining about antisemitism than it is on the anti-Semites”.
  • Frank Field, formally a Labour MP, said that the Labour party has become a “force for antisemitism” in British politics.
  • The chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom said that the remarks Jeremy Corbyn has made in the past are “are the most offensive […] made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”.
  • Chuka Ummuna said that “you have a leader who backed up and promoted an anti-Semitic mural. You have a leader who has talked about Jewish people not having an English sense of irony. You have a leader who has attended a wreath-laying ceremony for terrorists” … “there has been people who have been guilty of the most egregious anti-Semitism, and the sanction is just being reminded of the guidelines.”
  • Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said that he has sent Jeremy Corbyn a file on 50 party members who have made anti-Semitic comments that have “not been dealt with adequately”.

 

As a result, I couldn’t miss the chance to make this.

Year 1 Module BCOP100-CMFT

UTOPIA / DYSTOPIA (Context)

The Wasteland

After researching ‘The Waste Land’ by T.S Eliot, I found that it had several deeper meanings that stretch further than it just being about the aftermath of World War 1. ‘The Waste Land is a poem of breakdown – psychological breakdowns, a breakdown of marriages and relationships, of poetry and language, the breakdown even of an entire world’ (Tearle, 2016). The poem, or wasteland, is full of people sleepwalking through their daily lives. They are mechanical and emptied of meaning, something that interestingly still affects us all these years later.

In the image I created, I wanted to focus on the psychological breakdowns the poem seems to hint towards. Using Photoshop, I manipulated the image to show a visualization of what a psychological breakdown could look like, making use of the same wasteland T.S Eliot got his inspiration from to represent the breakdown itself.

References

Tearle, O. (2016). A Summary of The Waste Land by T.S Eliot. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSI5AejsFbU [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].

Year 1 Module BCOP100-CMFT

Human Being, Doing, Thinking, Making 300 Response

Mind over Matter:

My response to Louise’s slides.

Unfortunately, we did have any lectures or seminars on this topic. As a result, I am basing this response on what I have gathered from the different PowerPoints I have read, and decided I would like to write about the idea of mind over matter. In the dictionary it is described as meaning ‘the use of willpower to overcome physical problems.’

In our everyday lives, our minds have a tendency to wonder from thought-to-thought, quite often within milliseconds of one another. People who struggle with their mental health tend to have to deal with this more, and they fight a lot of battles with their own mind; ‘all these people are better than me’, ‘I am my own person with my own qualities’.

Life is never clean sailing, and in a world where there is an ever-growing continuous flow of distractions. the tendency to experience a splintering of our attention is strong, and when this happens we do not feel complete; we don’t feel ‘whole’. No matter who you are or what you are dealing with, we are all on a quest to feel whole and to feel at one with the world. When we don’t have this feeling, we will seek it out. We determine what the antidote to our negative feelings is, and we aim to acquire it (or more of it). For example, we look for relationships because of the intense and powerful emotional effect it has on us. It distracts us from jumping between our own negative thoughts, and it fulfils our need for connection. Similarly, we seek to complete goals in our lives because it provides us with that sense of achievement that can quell the negative thoughts and give us that feeling of being whole.

When we do not ‘get busy’ and spend days at a time trapped in the prison of our minds, wondering from negative thought to negative thought, especially after a distressing moment in your life like a break up, we get trapped. We do not have that feeling of completeness – just feelings of fragmentation, disconnection and unhappiness. Your body is then affected as a result of your mind; stomach aches, chest pains and tiredness. Training your mind to simply ignore mind-chatter and calm down, and take a few breaths can be the relief from anxious and obsessive thoughts. ‘Mindfulness’ proves mind over matter, and I would argue that your body is just a vessel for your mind.

Year 1 Module BCOP100-CMFT

Production, Value and Taste 300 Response

Conformity:

During one of our seminars with Andy, we had an interesting conversation on conformity.

Why do we conform? Because we want to “fit in” with the people around us and be perceived as “normal” by a group of people or by a person. We buy branded clothes because it is in fashion, and then when it is out of fashion it goes to the back of the wardrobe never to be touched again. We do this even though budget clothes can look just as nice and be more comfortable because we are told by society that buying brands means we’re “part” of society.

A lot of young girls act like Kim Kardashian because they think that that’s how girls should act, and they conform to the group and social pressures around them and concede to posting indecent pictures and wearing indecent clothes.

Those are just examples, but in general most people pretend they are something they aren’t by dressing and acting certain ways. This comes down to the pressure society puts on everyone to conform, and media is what influences this the most.

Just like fashion, media has evolved to cater to different tastes as well. For example, in fashion UGG boots were what everyone needed to wear. Now it is Adidas shoes, next year it will be something else. With media, Westerns were the most popular genre of movie, then it was Crime movies. But even in media, why should we conform to making what will get the views? Why can’t we just make what we love and enjoy? Who says other people won’t enjoy it too?

It might be a tenuous connection to conformity, but I do feel as if most media makers just jump on the bandwagon on whatever is trending at the time (whether that’s on YouTube or in the film industry) and they don’t actually make what is true to them and themselves. I find this very sad, but as long as money, views and conformity have their way this will never change; nor will society conforming to how they should look and act.

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References:

Cherry, K. (2018). Conformity: Why Do We Try So Hard to Be Like Other People?. [online] Verywell Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-conformity-2795889 [Accessed 14 Dec. 2018].

Harris, A. (2012). Slate’s Use of Your Data. [online] Slate Magazine. Available at: https://slate.com/culture/2012/10/film-genre-graph-chart-of-percentages-over-time-goes-viral-on-reddit.html [Accessed 14 Dec. 2018].

Year 1 Module BCOP100-CMFT

Stuff and Things 300 word response

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In the first ‘Stuff and Things’ seminar, we got talking about the role of advertising in the modern world. This was very interesting to me because we talked about how there is a psychology behind advertising; it manipulates us all into buying certain things, or wanting to look a certain way. It is quite a serious subject, and the fact that we are all told how we should look, especially woman in my opinion, is something I’ve thought about, and got angry about, a lot.

The Dove self-esteem project came up whilst discussing this subject. It is, supposedly, an advertising campaign that is trying to eradicate the whole concept of body image. But there is a question about whether it is actually sincere or not. In my opinion, it is just trying to reach out to a target audience by putting on this fake cover of being the ‘good’ company that cares about everyone. Maybe Dove do actually mean well, but it is definitely hard to believe as a consumer.

All this relates back to digital media production because most of us will work with companies at some point, and our jobs would most likely have something to do with their advertising and brand. As media makers, this is the kind of thing we’re involved in, whether we like it or not. The question is, how culpable are we? Are we responsible for their message? What is that message? Do we agree with it? Can we make a difference and also serve the client? Are we comfortable with, for example, selling sugar puffs that we know contains tons of sugar in to kids? Are we comfortable with making adverts that lie to the public about what a particular product can do? How can we change things?

Before this discussion in the seminar, I didn’t think too deeply into this. But I’m starting to realise more and more the power we have as media makers, and that it’s really up to us if we want to try make a difference or not, and it is up to us if we want to aid an advertisement company that, for example, sells a body image to young girls. This is something I feel strongly about, and something I’m strongly against being involved in. But also, how much choice do we have? If I refused a job, someone else would just come a long and replace me. That’s just the fact.

Stuff and Things – Full Circle

Isn’t it funny how we all still go to the cinema to watch a movie? It has managed to hold out against VHS, DVD and now things like Netflix. We can literally sit at home in our pyjamas with a cup of tea and watch any film we want from the click of a mouse, yet most of us still prefer the experience of going to the cinema. The smell, the massive screen, the atmosphere. And really, right there I’ve answered the question on how cinema has managed to hold out against all these new technologies that have come out through the years.

Here’s another one: isn’t it funny how vinyl and cassettes are slowly coming back into fashion? You can walk into a music shop and find vinyls sitting there on a shelf, and you want to get it because it’s retro and cool. In that same music shop, you see cassettes. You want to get it because it has that unique retro crackling sound, and it’s cool. Again, I’ve answered the question on why these things have come back into fashion.

Here’s one more: You see an increasing number of media makers are using retro effects, such as a VHS effect. People are taking ultra-HD footage, and wanting to make it worse by adding VHS effects – sound and all – to that footage, because it’s retro and cool. You see the theme here.

It’s amazing how things come full circle, and being in media means you have to keep up with this ‘change’, even if that change is actually not change at all and instead a return to old technologies. Retro now means cool, whereas at one point it would have meant old.