Tag Archives: society

Fire In the Hole

Those of you that tune in to the Reverseangle may have noticed that I have been relatively absent as of late. Busy, busy, busy, as they say, but I’m not abandoning the blog as much as checking in less often. If you miss me terribly I can be found these days on a shiny new podcast called Fire in the Hole which I run with my best friend, Richard. Check it out, maybe you’ll dig it.HOUSE

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Idiots

A tale by Big Lazy Robot VFX
Music and sound design by Full Basstards

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Food for Thought


 
When Colin Stokes’ 3-year-old son caught a glimpse of Star Wars, he was instantly obsessed. But what messages did he absorb from the sci-fi classic? Stokes asks for more movies that send positive messages to boys: that cooperation is heroic, and respecting women is as manly as defeating the villain. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

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The Fiction We Live

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The exponential growth of cinema as an entrainment medium owes much to the rapid acceleration of technology over the past half-century. Film has become a near-tangible dreamscape where modern society works out its cultural values and collective fantasies. Where history books record timelines and social movements, film has become the chronicle of our musings and contemplations.

Society has changed its relationship with film; what was spectacle is now a neatly packaged product that comes in various flavours and is immediately accessible. Cinema has become such a constant in our lives and has in some respects coloured our world-view to the point of creating a kind of fusion of reality and fantasy.

Film is many times idealism, and in this deliberate idealizing the world around we must consider the possibility that it has distorted our perceptions of what is real. Human relationships are a perfect example of this phenomenon; how many people now suffer emotionally because their social lives do not more-closely resemble “the movie life”? How many romantic relationships suffer due to fantasy-accelerated expectations? The meticulous artifice of cinema has confused us into thinking that our lives should play out similarly to what we see on the silver screen. We feel disappointed when it doesn’t.

This delusion seems to have also overtaken the movie business itself in many respects. The advent of the DVD era has cracked the profession of filmmaking wide open (perhaps by accident) by loading movie releases with additional content to get the market to legitimize the format. The standardization fo the “featurette” has given the viewers almost complete access to the craft and raised a new generation of “smart-fans” that discuss, critique, and dissect film like never before in its history. The flip-side of this coin is that in this exposing of the industry many people, including new filmmakers, have formulated romantic notions of what it is to work behind the camera.

Again, this is not a negative thing in of itself, only something that must be considered thoroughly because it can easily lead one to confuse making film and engaging in the filmmaking fiction. Both exercises will likely produce a film, but which approach is more likely to yield quality material?

If you are a filmmaker then take the time to consider how much more productive you may become if you let go of these Hollywood notions of writing, directing, and producing, and concentrate your energy on knowing exactly what these roles entail and how to do them in a way that will benefit your project the most.

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Filmmakers and Cinephiles

How important is it for a filmmaker to be versed in cinema history and filmography? There clearly exists a social pressure to be all-knowing when it comes to movie trivia, particularly with the more obscure titles, roles, and years of production. Can a filmmaker truly claim the title credibly without having logged several hundreds of hours of film-watching per year? Would not such an individual be uninformed and lacking a crucial frame of reference needed to craft his or her own films? It’s a little bit like asking whether an author can be successful at his craft without being a voracious reader in their own right.

Clearly, a person who has become a filmmaker was attracted to the profession because of their own personal affair with the medium, and their paradigm is very likely informed by the countless films they have watched and enjoyed over their formative years. But is film-fanaticism necessary?

For filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, film history is clearly a huge part of their source material. They are hommage-ists, particularly Tarantino. Whatever anachronisms and curiosities he brings to his screenplays, the major thread in all his films can be felt very plainly; Quentin loves films, he loves them a lot.

On the other hand there are many other filmmakers and artists who are sufficiently acquainted with their forbearers to have gained a context for their own work, but who do not indulge so much in film spectatorship. They are busy thinking about film, crafting it, trying to isolate their voice, their technique, their vision. These filmmakers will often not be up-to-date on the latest films, or possess encyclopedic knowledge of film history, but somehow they manage to ply their craft all the same.

Knowledge and respect of the past is important, and even essential to form a solid basis for any argument, but there is also the very real danger of becoming saturated with the work of others and to impede one’s own natural creativity. There is a danger of “hopping on the bandwagon” and engaging topics in your film with a style and approach that fits just perfectly what others before you have done, and that has been in a way robbed of your true essence by its desire to appear “legitimate”.

It’s quite possible that like in many other facets of life, the ideal state lies somewhere in the middle; a filmmaker might find it most productive to be educated in film and to stick his/her head out every once in a while to see what their peers are doing, but to also confidently ignore the noise and to go with their gut instinct over what Orson Welles would have done.

Balance is really the key.

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Time Out

I had a very thorough post prepared today about the endless wonders of the science fiction genre, and how it is a domain that can has yielded, and might possibly continue to yield some of the most profound cinema ever produced, but like millions of people around the world I was arrested today by the absolutely devastating news out Connecticut, U.S.A.. No doubt there will be a surplus of media outlets commenting endlessly on the gruesome details of this heinous incident, so instead of adding our largely meaningless voices to the cacophony, let us take a moment to think about a couple of things.

Let us take this opportunity to remind ourselves of all the good things in our lives, and all the people we cherish deeply. Let us be thankful for each other’s company, let us be thankful that we live in a society where such things do not occur with such disheartening frequency (thought they still occur), and that we are far more fortunate than millions of people in other parts of the world where severe injustice and suffering are a way of life.

In whatever place you find yourself, whatever your beliefs, pursuits or ambitions, try in any way you see fit to make the world a little better around you. It’s all any of us can really hope to do to push society in a better direction.

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