In this opening lecture we were given an introduction to the module and a summary of what we are expected to achieve over the course of the year. It was explained that the lectures for Project Development are for the entire of Media Practice, rather than specific to each module. This means that we are able to attend guest lectures about other modules rather than just the one’s we are taking.
We were shown a video about the English born inventor Dominic Wilcox, called The Reinvention of Normal.
This short 7 minute film is very unique in its content.
“Considering the sheer amount of short profile documentaries online, sometimes it takes a bit of personality to stand out. Well, in this portrait of London-based artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox, director Liam Saint-Pierre delivers personality by the bushel full. Saint-Pierre’s film is a quirky, playful look into the mind of a man who looks at the world just a wee bit differently than everyone else. Quite simply, Wilcox is a great documentary subject—a man who crafts odd doohickeys and thingamabobs with an energy that might seem crazy if it wasn’t so infectious. Granted this may not be the deepest cinematic experience in the world, but it’s just so much damn fun—7 minutes of unadulterated joy in the visual form.” –Ivan Kander, Short of the Week
Lecture 1: Matt Thompson:
Notes from lecture:
Exploration in the dark: Matt Thompson (Director of Rockethouse Productions)
- Been at the BBC for over 20 years
- Applied 10 times to the BBC
- Approach to radio & sound: Important that the audience keep engaged
- Don’t try and do everything yourself; there will be other people out there who can do it better than you, and even teach you things.
Fabulous Fables – words that stand out:
- I fell in love with her
- When she died it didn’t take me long
- Not a beauty
- Quite a short dumpy figure
- She knew how to handle men
- She was good
Prefiguring the story
Music is very effective; if used sparingly it has more power.
Some of Matt’s radio work:
- Fabulous Fables
- Wind In the willows
- Counting sheep
In Matt’s lecture we listened to the above audio’s created by Matt, and thought about characterisation, creative use of sound to tell a story, phrasing and use of silence, forensic interviewing as music and editing.
Out of the above audios, the one I found the most interesting was the ‘Wind in the Willows’ story, Matt had combined the audio of the famous children’s novel, with audio of the real story of a little boy going missing. The juxtaposition of the two stories worked really well together and made for very compelling listening. I don’t know much about sound or audio so it was an interesting lecture that got me thinking about the type of sound and music I would like to use in my short film.
Lecture 2: Joanna Callaghan:
“Why read if I want to make stuff?”
Joanna Callaghan is a filmmaker and a Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking at Sussex. In 2014 she completed her second feature film ‘Love in the Post: From Plato to Derrida’ based on a book by the philosopher Jacques Derrida. In this lecture Joanna outlined how the research process shaped and informed her film “Love in the post”.
Joanna was my script writing teacher in second year so I felt particularly interested in this lecture, as she was very helpful as a script writing mentor. She gave constructive criticism on my script which helped me achieve a mark I was very proud of by the end of the module. I found the concept of Love in the Post, quite confusing, but I could appreciate that it is a quite abstract and unique idea for a film. Although it isn’t my kind of film, I think it is well done, and it was interesting hearing Joanna talk about her past work.
Lecture 3: Phil Grabsky
‘Filming in Afghanistan – and saying what?’
Phil Grabsky has been making documentaries for over 30 years – and has produced for every major channel in the UK and many beyond. These days he works primarily for the cinema. In 2002, fed up with TV, he flew with just his camera (and a translator) to the recently liberated Afghanistan. Since then he has made two award-winning films and is now producing a third.
Grabksy’s film – The Boy Mir:
The Boy Mir is documentary film about ten years life of a Hazara boy in Afghanistan.
The film reveals the day-to-day life of Mir and his family from a very close-up perspective. The narrative is driven by Mir’s journey into his early teens, when he will be expected to put his childish ways behind him and begin the difficult process of becoming a man. This is hard enough for any child, but Mir has to face this challenge in modern Afghanistan. The film tracks the life ten years life of Mir, from a naive 9-year-old to fully grown adult in one of the toughest places on earth, Afghanistan. The film begins in the year 2002, just after the fall of Taliban when Mir, at that time, was living in a cave by the recently destroyed Buddhas of Bamyan. After a year in Bamyan, Mir’s family moves back to their home in a small and remote village up north. The film covers the day-to-day lives of Mir and his family.
In the lecture Grabsky showed us a clip from his film, which I thought was excellent. Not only was it beautifully shot but it was a really interesting and unique documentary topic. This lecture has been my favourite so far, as I’ve found it the most relevant to what I am doing. I’m very interested in documentary, as it is one of the modules I am studying this term, I found it really helpful to hear from the perspective of a documentary maker, and think about the more practical side to documentary, rather than the theoretical, which is what we have been learning about in our seminars.
Some question to consider:
- How does one turn a desire to explore a topical subject into a film that is seen around the world – and makes a difference?
- How do you decide what the story is?
- How do you act responsibly to those you have filmed once the filming is over?
Lecture 4: Anna Dumitriu
“The Challenges of Bioart”
Anna Dumitriu gave a lecture on her work embedded in microbiology/health settings and some historical and current projects, including the new “Sequence” project and things she is working on at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).
Anna’s work is at the forefront of art and science collaborative practice, with a strong interest in the ethical issues raised by emerging technologies and a focus on microbiology and healthcare. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of biological, digital, and traditional media including live bacteria, robotics, interactive media, and textiles. She has a strong international exhibition profile, having exhibited at The Picasso Museum in Barcelona, The Science Gallery in Dublin,The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei, and The V & A Museum in London. Her work is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum in London. She is the founder and director of “The Institute of Unnecessary Research”, a group of artists and scientists whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and critiques contemporary research practice and won the 2012 Society for Applied Microbiology Communication Award.
Her ongoing project “The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis” was funded by the Wellcome Trust and is now touring internationally. She is currently working on “Sequence“ which investigates the technologies behind whole genome sequencing of bacteria, funded by Arts Council England, and recently created new commissions for “Invisible You: The Human Microbiome” permanent exhibition at Eden Project.
Lecture 5: Aaron Schuman
Folk, Funghi, and (re)Searching for Gathered Leaves…
Aaron Schuman is a photographic artist, writer, editor, lecturer and curator.
In this talk, Schuman will discuss a number of his recent collaborative projects, and more broadly, his own development of a multi-faceted creative practice that combines the various roles and disciplines named above in dynamic, intriguing and often unexpectedly rewarding ways.
Aaron Schuman has built an international reputation as a photographer, curator and critic, with a particular focus on American and ‘Documentary’ photography. He has exhibited his photographic work internationally at institutions such as Tate Modern and the Institute of Contemporary Art (London), and has contributed photography, articles, essays and interviews to some of the fields leading publications such as Aperture, Foam, Photoworks, ArtReview, Modern Painters, HotShoe International, Creative Review and the British Journal of Photography.
He is also the founder and editor of SeeSaw Magazine, an online photography journal dedicated to promoting and publishing photographic work and criticism that successfully presents serious and acute observation via the photographic medium.
Schuman was the curator of ‘Whatever Was Splendid: New American Photographs’, one of the principal exhibitions at the 2010 FotoFest Biennial. He is also the founder, director and editor of the online photography journal, SeeSaw Magazine.
‘The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera, as well as the pen’ – Moholy-Nagy
New York Faces 1995-6 – Shuman’s photography series:
Out of all of the work that Schuman showed us, this particular series stood out to me the most. I really like his use of black and white photography. There’s something really striking about these shots of random people in New York. I love the colour contrast and varied angles he uses.
Advice a young Schuman received from Richard Avdeon in a letter: ‘Do something connected to photography everyday’
I found this advice very inspirational as I feel it applies for all platforms, if you’re interested in something you should work at it everyday. I learnt that with script writing if I make sure I am writing something everyday, I am able to be make better creative decisions. The same goes for my other modules, such as documentary, if I am consuming a large variety of different media texts I gain a greater knowledge of the subject. In my documentary module I have been asked to watch at least 3 different viewings each week, this large consumption of documentary has broadened my understanding of the different documentary forms, and definitely helped with feeling confident in discussing topics in each seminar.