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How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?

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Jon Fidler
How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 3, 2011 at 1:28:03 am

When I did my university course there was a heavy emphasis on politics, karl marx etc, sociology and semiotics. and the only thing ive found any use was Beyond every denotation there is a conontation which is a pretty common sense principal anyway.

Also surely the political and social viewpoint are individual to the film maker and wont really fit into any structured political ideology. So basically unique.

Im currently editing a pilot for a new comedy tv show so im not a begginner, ive been editing professional level material for two years now.

I just dont understand the relevance of any of this to anything I do, and its driving me crazy because its made out to be and the end all of filmmaking. Its annoying because its making my progress slow down because I had 3 years of this drilled into me, So any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 3, 2011 at 3:42:50 am

The key debate imo seems to be if a film/tv show represents the dominant social political ideology or does it represent a social political view which is unique to the creator. To me the former idea is ridiculous and semi paranoid, am I right in thinking this?


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Andrew Rendell
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 3, 2011 at 12:33:53 pm

[Jon Fidler] " To me the former idea is ridiculous and semi paranoid, am I right in thinking this?"

I'd agree with you. But I never studied film. When I was training there seemed to be a widespread opinion that those of us who came into tv from a non-media background progressed more quickly than those who had studied some form of media at degree level as we had less to "unlearn"!

Personally, I reckon that John Berger's "Ways Of Seeing" and Mamet's "On Directing Film" had a direct influence on my work, everything else basically sits in the back of my mind and although it "informs" me/my attitude, it is always subservient to the story in hand.

So I think about such questions as "why should the audience care about this?", "what is the function of this scene in the narrative structure?", "to what extent is this character a metaphor for a bigger idea and how can I reveal that?", etc, in what I think is a practical way - I want to show the emotional truth of whatever I'm cutting and I don't really care about the socio-political intentions beyond that. (Which is probably why I'm an editor, not a director).


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grinner hester
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 3, 2011 at 3:09:58 pm

All artistic majors are gonna offer courses for sleeping or getting other things done, man. Theory is a fine one for that.



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Andrew Rendell
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 4, 2011 at 9:11:46 pm

Brief anecdote.

A few years ago I cut an interview with a well known abstract artist. The interviewer asked him to tell her how he constructed a painting, and he spoke for some minutes about how this curve represented this thing and that colour value represented whatever it was, and so on. When he paused she asked him whether he was actually thinking about all these things while he was laying the paint on the canvas and he replied; hell no, at that point I'm just trying to make the damn thing look the way I want it to.

I think that's how lots of us work - buy me a beer and I'll give you chapter and verse, but when I'm actually cutting I'm just trying to get the damn thing to work.


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Richard Clark
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 5, 2011 at 4:04:14 am

You nailed it. Story Telling, plain and simple.

Richard Clark's kiwicafe.com
Film | Photography | Writing
http://www.kiwicafe.com
+64 27 291 5494
Aotearoa New Zealand


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 5, 2011 at 7:08:15 pm

Im glad people on here agree. The way these people make it out to produce a film you need to be the new Karl Marx LOL.

Half of the time I pretty much rely on inutition, rhythm and storytelling knowledge to edit. Thats pretty much isnt it.


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Oliver Peters
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 5, 2011 at 8:58:10 pm

No offense, but from the sounds of your description, your education seems like it was taught by those who "teach" instead of "do". What would have been more productive would have been an education in entrepreneurship coupled with the mechanics of storytelling.

All films and TV shows are produced in order to make money. The originator might have a political view - and I think all do including the most "objective" documentary filmmakers - but ultimately it's about getting paid. If they don't admit that they are liars. Because no matter how altruistic - or manipulative - their motives, if the project isn't successful, they will never get the chance to do it again.

Of course, not everything has high and mighty goals. Sometimes the entertainment value is a valid goal in itself. In that sense many TV shows and films have the same inherent value as your favorite YouTube video about kittens ;-)

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 6, 2011 at 6:56:39 am

Hi Oliver

No youre absolutely right, it was a total waste of time. All the things you mentioned I have taught myself in my spare time since and just wanted confirmation from working professionals that I can finally drop this extra nonsense!


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 6, 2011 at 7:26:48 am

How does politics actually fit into storytelling though. I mean unless the subject matter involves it, like the tv show Rome or something like the office where work politics is the forefront of the story, other than that im lost.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 6, 2011 at 12:31:33 pm

I'd like to put in a good word for semiotics here. I try to apply it in everything I shoot, I evaluate the frame in terms of a visual subtext to support the message I want to send. I think all of us do, but we do much of it unconsciously, informally. When you start moving things around in the scene to make a better picture, you're beginning to use semiotics.


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 6, 2011 at 7:40:21 pm

Hi

Yeah I agree thats a must, but I think once you go deeper than that and look for an underlying agenda it begins to get silly.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 6, 2011 at 11:27:06 pm

[Jon Fidler] "How does politics actually fit into storytelling though. I mean unless the subject matter involves it, like the tv show Rome or something like the office where work politics is the forefront of the story, other than that im lost."

Writers, producers and directors are constantly using the story or character development to advance their own politics, and often not in an obvious political story. This is nothing new, and is more common, than not.
TV shows like All In the Family, Barney Miller, MASH, The Andy Griffith Show and Family Ties, or movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Air America, and Catch-22 are some examples that come to mind, but there are plenty of others. And then there are some that are more upfront about the agenda, like DR Strangelove, Paths of Glory, The Manchurian Candidate, Johnny Got His Gun, and Fail-Safe. But even at that, non of those are 'political' films, but are well known for pushing a political agenda. Of more recent films that have been criticized for a deliberate political undertone, Avatar, Crash, District 9, and Happy Feet come to mind.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Rocco Forte
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 4:29:34 am

I've struggled with this myself. I'm an avid reader of editing books (excuse the pun) and film theory. I soak that stuff up like a sponge. After I got my degree studying film, media, semiotics, film noir aesthetics and all that jazz I spent six months peeling stickers of VHS tapes. Seriously.

More recently, it was about Walter Murch vs Me. Specifically, I'd read all of Mr. Murch's genius insights then jump back into the edit suite ready to rock it like a pro and get feedback like "make her look less fat" or "I don't care, just do it" or "how about a jump cut?"

You said: "I'm currently editing a pilot for a new comedy tv show ... I just don't understand the relevance of any of this to anything I do, and its driving me crazy" - you're over thinking it.

And that's the thing, 90% of all media you - and I - cut requires no or little insight into anything remotely cerebral. It's LOW END. Our fluffy, artsy-fartsy, liberal-arts, euro-posing education means nothing when it comes to "editing a comedy pilot" or pretty much anything else for a big audience. Not to say that a university education isn't worthwhile; you just have to weed out the relevant from the irrelevant.

The only analogy I can think of is of someone taking three years of culinary school in Paris, then working at Mr. Meat in South End: "she said well done, this is medium you idiot!" Sigh.

HOWEVER, if you meet and team up with a director or production company who appreciates the same kinds of things you, such as a Coppola or a Murch and you end up at the Cannes Film Festival, then you might have a place for your film theory, sociology and post structuralism. We're talking high art here.

When you're a hired professional, there's not a lot you can do. It simply isn't your job to find meaning in the subtext as it relates to the socio economic status and whatnot. It's your job to entertain and/or inform.

If you are one of those people who desire to create deeper, more meaningful, subtexual, symbolic work (aka "art") - and draw upon a diverse literary background, you're probably going to have to suck it up and become your own auter. After all, that's what those people we studied were.


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Richard Clark
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 5:27:40 am

Wow Rocco! I read, have done since I was a kid. Adventure, mystery, romance, political, classics. I have a couple of books on editing, I am sure one is by Walter Murch. Flicked a few pages, found nothing to change my thinking, style or direction. Never believed in theory. Never had a professor. My study of autuers was via film festivals and collecting the classics. i learned film editing off a guy my own age who never went to High School, possibly the best editor I have ever met. Instinct for story telling. Having a point of view. Building a body of work. Not suffering fools, even my self :) 90% of the media I have edited has challenged and inspired me to make something more, take it further, surprise, pleasantly, the client. The way to learn from people like Walter Murch is to study the films they worked on and little by little take what you like, leave the rest, start introducing it into your work, take a risk. Editing has been an awesome journey of over 40 years, I continue today. My goal is to bring my sensibilities to the table and so far directors and clients seem to approve. Have you considered other careers? think about it.

Richard Clark's kiwicafe.com
Film | Photography | Writing
http://www.kiwicafe.com
+64 27 291 5494
Aotearoa New Zealand


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Scott Sheriff
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 8:13:51 am

[Richard Clark] "Wow Rocco! I read, have done since I was a kid. Adventure, mystery, romance, political, classics. I have a couple of books on editing, I am sure one is by Walter Murch. Flicked a few pages, found nothing to change my thinking, style or direction. Never believed in theory. Never had a professor. My study of autuers was via film festivals and collecting the classics. i learned film editing off a guy my own age who never went to High School, possibly the best editor I have ever met. Instinct for story telling. Having a point of view. Building a body of work. Not suffering fools, even my self :) 90% of the media I have edited has challenged and inspired me to make something more, take it further, surprise, pleasantly, the client. The way to learn from people like Walter Murch is to study the films they worked on and little by little take what you like, leave the rest, start introducing it into your work, take a risk. Editing has been an awesome journey of over 40 years, I continue today. My goal is to bring my sensibilities to the table and so far directors and clients seem to approve. Have you considered other careers? think about it."

I have to agree with this. You can learn a lot just by watching, both other peoples stuff, and your own. But you have to know how to watch. IMO this would be a better use of time than discussing the social ramifications of film, unless you're going to be a lifer at PBS. And that is something it seems like the newer guys don't have a clue how to do. There is a huge amount of "There's this cool video with ______ transition/effect/look/lighting, how do I ______?" posts on the cow. I think this illustrates most don't know how to deconstruct what they are seeing in other peoples work, or do any critical viewing. When I was starting out, this was one of only ways to learn. There was no internet, forums, or comprehensive how-to books, behind the scenes DVD's, or free tutorials. And when you got OTJ training from other editors, you were certainly not going to learn all their secrets.
While slightly OT, one of the things I find ironic, is that a lot of shooters/editors that have come up in the NLE generation seem to fancy themselves as these film uber-geeks. Sitting around coffee shops with their Macbook Pro, talking about film theory, and storytelling. Then they will run around 'filming' with their 5D's, espousing the virtues of shooting video at 24fps to 'get the film look', but then slather on intrusive and unmotivated camera moves/lighting/FX/transitions that call attention to themselves and completely distract from the story they are supposedly trying to tell in their 'film'. So I'm not sure all that discussion of theory is doing much good at all.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Rocco Forte
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 7:29:56 pm

Haha - maybe I should quit! I'm kinda broke now as it is...

I like your description of how to apply the things you have learned to what you are doing and I absolutely admire your ability to keep that alive in everything you do.

But I still struggle with the notion that film theory is relevant to most of the content that's out there.

Please tell me: if you were to get a seat cutting Jersey Shore and a producer said "this sequence needs more oomph!" how would you draw from your "high" education and produce results in a timely manor? I just don't think it applies in this case. Or many, many cases. In fact, you'd get laughed out of town if you said "For this sequence I was inspired by Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera"

I keep coming back to the OP's statement "I just don't understand the relevance of any of this to anything I do, and its driving me crazy" and I want to point out that it will drive you crazy if you expect it to be relevant. Allow me to rephrase that: IF an editor had absolutely zero formal education and/or interest in film theory, he or she could still cut that comedy pilot through self discipline and practice alone.

We basically agree: I adore film theory as much as you, but where we differ is unless you're cutting the next Terrence Malick (which I would die for by the way) it is mostly irrelevant, like the Parisian-educated chef hurling well done T-bones on a grill.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 8:18:31 pm

I really enjoy discussions like this. Let me add my late TLDR to this.

In your Jersey Shore example, you have a scene or set piece of characters interacting and you say it needs more "oomph". The guy or gal with the film studies background has a LOT more stylistic weapons in the arsenal to deploy on that problem than one who doesn't, because they have seen more examples of how this problem has been solved by others.

Moreover, they also have a good idea already of what approaches will NOT help, so they can save time by not running down blind alleys. The famous shots in movies thru history have some common threads in them, and one of these is that they were a creative way to solve a problem. A story-telling problem. Be they camera shots or editing tricks, they found a new way to depict something normally unseen, specifically, emotions and thoughts.

But to best use these tricks, you must first have some basic understanding of them, and that's where all the posh talk and philosophizing comes into play. It may sound pretentious and much of it may be, but there isn't really any better way to learn the tools than to first see them used and explain them to yourself.

Jersey Shore isn't going to be High Art, no matter what you do. But there are tricks you can play by altering the mood and the audience's perception of what passes for the unspoken thoughts of these kids in that scene you're talking about needing more "oomph".

What is "oomph"? I will interpret that as a call to escalate a sense of drama and importance to a scene. So besides the shots you're given, what can you do with that?

You can alter the color timing. You can play with music cues and beds. You can introduce parallel action. You can swap around b-roll and cut-aways to imply reactions that weren't there, propose alternate reactions or magnifications of the reactions. You can add flashbacks. You can jack up the rhythm of the cuts, their pace.You can pull interview quotes and voiceover commentaries out and re-align them. You can make waiting for someone to get out of the bathroom into very high drama, just taking some time to apply rules of classic drama and storytelling, and you cna make that wait seem like a minute or like days. I would say you could do the whole Campbellian Hero's Journey in that waiting-for-the-bathroom-to-free-up sequence. Just look at how Larry David's show blows one tiny foible or simple act into a complicated evolution of epic tragic proportion.

When I make something like a 30-second PSA, I try for that level of Campbellian subtext in it. I consider the semiotics - the unspoken visual symbolism - of everything in the frame, and everything implied by but NOT in the frame. The audio, the sound effects, the music, the color timing, the props. The spacial relationships and blocking of the room and the actors. The casting. The camera angles. The cutting and it's pace.The typography and colors used. All of these, I try to tweak to serve the script as much as possible, so you could watch this with the sound off and still understand it. More than understand it; accept it, internalize it, and FEEL it as truth. "That really does happen", or "Yes, that guy could be me" "I might react just that same way".

I do this for the cheapest spots the same as I do for the highest budget ones. It is the largest part of what is FUN about this job for me.

I don't mean to say you can only learn these tricks in a formal film school. If you're an auto-didact, you can do the independent reading yourself, watch all the movies and study them, yourself, and learn a LOT. ANd a good liberal arsts and sciences background is exceptionally sueful in all kinds of way you wouldn't expect for a video editor. I think the frosting on that cake though is sharing what you think with others and testing your assumptions against theirs, to see if they hold true. That sometimes pretentious-sounding debating really does serve a purpose.


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:04:05 pm

Mark maybe you can help me out with something I need to know as you seem to have semiotics down. You hear about all these semiotic readings, but to me whats going on is clear as day.

The connotative meaning of a single shot will always be related to the denotative meaning, e.g if someone was glum and it was raining etc for a simple example. To me this is stuff I pick up on intuitively and I suspect most people do too. Isnt that the point of this stuff you just have a sense for it. To me like you said this is one of the most enjoyable things about editing being able to insert subliminal ideas.

Plus doesnt all this stuff just add up so its one overall meaning per shot anyway, its made out to sound so over complicated in these theory books and to me it sounds like something you could sum up in about thirty seconds.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:26:45 pm

check this out:

http://www.etap.org/demo/englishhs/instruction_last.html



Look at their example of "Mother".

Now, think about a scene where one character has more or less this role, but isn't the typical female. Expand that notion, look at the movie "Gran Torino", where Clint's character becomes a somewhat unwilling father-figure and mentor to a kid he would normally have nothing to do with. It is not full of very overt straight-ahead statements like: "Now I will choose to be the mentor, and you the mentee". It evolves in a painfully halting way. Clint hands the kid one tool to borrow, shows him how to use it, how to treat it, tells him to bring it back. It's a test. Step by step, a bond is forged, a character, defined. The day he tells the kid he can keep the tool, what is the symbolism going on in that, the subtext of that? Now that's more along the lines of scriptwriting and storytelling, directing and acting, and not editing, but all these elements intertwine in a film or video, and you could think about how you edit scenes like that, how you play up or play down the significance of the symbolic object, what cutting techniques you use to make the object more or less important.


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 12:27:41 am

And how does this all work in regards to cinematography though, camera angle, colours etc etc


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Scott Sheriff
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 3:59:11 am

[Mark Suszko] " you could think about how you edit scenes like that, how you play up or play down the significance of the symbolic object, what cutting techniques you use to make the object more or less important."

This is true. But people often take this to a ridiculous extreme, or see symbolism where non was intended.
I'm more in the "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" camp on symbolism.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Scott Sheriff
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:27:22 pm

[Jon Fidler] "Plus doesnt all this stuff just add up so its one overall meaning per shot anyway, its made out to sound so over complicated in these theory books and to me it sounds like something you could sum up in about thirty seconds."

+5 for that!

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Richard Clark
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 7:28:48 am

"The connotative meaning of a single shot will always be related to the denotative meaning, e.g if someone was glum and it was raining etc for a simple example. To me this is stuff I pick up on intuitively and I suspect most people do too. Isnt that the point of this stuff you just have a sense for it. To me like you said this is one of the most enjoyable things about editing being able to insert subliminal ideas."

my god guys, where do you learn this stuff, this is not rocket science or psychology, it is simply story telling with as much window dressing as you need to cover the lack of an idea. please, keep it simple and out of your heads.

Richard Clark's kiwicafe.com
Film | Photography | Writing
http://www.kiwicafe.com
+64 27 291 5494
Aotearoa New Zealand


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Scott Sheriff
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:25:34 pm

[Mark Suszko] "I don't mean to say you can only learn these tricks in a formal film school. If you're an auto-didact, you can do the independent reading yourself, watch all the movies and study them, yourself, and learn a LOT. ANd a good liberal arsts and sciences background is exceptionally sueful in all kinds of way you wouldn't expect for a video editor. I think the frosting on that cake though is sharing what you think with others and testing your assumptions against theirs, to see if they hold true. That sometimes pretentious-sounding debating really does serve a purpose."

I really don't think you need a 4 year degree to understand what schmaltz is, or how to add more ompf to a scene. If you can last a year or two in a working environment with other pro's, you will learn ten times more useful items, then you will in the average school program. I have had interns in their third year from well known schools that didn't know what the term '3 point lighting' meant, but they could prattle on about 'the meaning' of the dolly-zoom in Vertigo. Duh. Do I need a degree to get the meaning of that shot?
Over the 30 years or so I have done this, dozens of my interns, and hundreds of colleagues have come and gone. Of those with a 4 year film school degree that actually had a career and stayed in the biz, I could count on one hand with fingers left over. Most had a 'day job' in 5 years, or less. Those that had no degree of any kind, or a BA in Mass Comm or other light-weight subjects seemed to do better, with long careers in the biz.
It seemed like there was a direct connection to how 'arty' someone was, and how well they worked out in the real world. It seemed to me some folks would rather talk about film, than actually make one because it is hard work and the majority of the 'philosophers' seemed rather lazy, and were better at talking than doing. I always told the interns, if your on a gig as a grip or a PA, be the best damn PA there is. Don't spend a lot of time debating style with the AD, or telling the DP how to light, or asking to look in the frame. Just do your job, and do it well. And for god sake don't show up on time, be there early! The arty film school kids almost always did the exact opposite of this.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 12:34:31 am

Scott: I agree!

What I actually want to know is more basic as I completely get all the story stuff. In regards to the cinematography, such as colour, lighting and framing etc, the connotation will be directly linked to the denotation wont it?. Like Scott mentioned above with Vertigo, or as I said earlier, someone is sad in a rainstorm etc to give a cheesy example.

Ive heard all these weird theories how there is all this underlying ideological stuff going on and I just need some proper confirmation that its total nonsense.


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Mark Suszko
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 2:37:22 am

I don't think you do, John; I think you've already made up your mind about it. If this was a camera shot right now, I would have you framed in the foreground, looking at yourself in the nearby mirror, as you argue this over the phone.


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 7:20:09 am

Yeah I have its over explained nonsense. But this still doesnt help me with the basic question I asked.


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Richard Clark
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 7:25:36 am

Maybe you should write to Terrence Malik and ask him to send you the footage because the five editors who worked on it simply added to one huge mess of a film. I found lars Von Triers melancholia to be clear, concise and simple, a beautiful film.

Richard Clark's kiwicafe.com
Film | Photography | Writing
http://www.kiwicafe.com
+64 27 291 5494
Aotearoa New Zealand


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 7:35:36 am

This is pretty much an endless debate isnt it. I agree Richard, clear concise meanings are the way to go, thanks.


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Richard Clark
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 7:38:01 am

Whew!
thanks Jon and the very best of a good career, have F.U.N. then we die :)

Richard Clark's kiwicafe.com
Film | Photography | Writing
http://www.kiwicafe.com
+64 27 291 5494
Aotearoa New Zealand


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Rocco Forte
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 10, 2011 at 10:45:19 pm

I think the moral of the thread is learn all the artsy stuff you want, draw on it and use it, BUT: keep it to yourself!


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Andrew Rendell
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 11, 2011 at 9:16:07 am

+1

Some of it can make you better at your job, but most of it only really applies in the workplace if you're sitting with a particularly artsy director who keeps using words like "diegetic" and "analepsis" - then it's useful to be familiar with the terminology ;-)


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 11, 2011 at 2:30:52 pm

I know its similar territory but what about all these allegorical readings you read on the net e.g how Inception is a metaphor for filmmaking?

Im assuming this is all in the realm of personal interpretation and there is nothing of any real use apart from entertainment in any of that stuff.


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Rocco Forte
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 11, 2011 at 8:18:08 pm

Sounds like you should study screenwriting.

McKee, Truby, Horton, Field, Campbell etc. - they're all full of that stuff: metaphor, theme, subtext. There's no doubt that a good story oozes with thematic undertones; that a good story-teller is confident that his unspoken words are felt. It is possible that Inception is a metaphor for film making and Nolan was fully aware of this the whole time. This kind of thing is very common. More often a story is a metaphor for how and why we undergo change (that's a Robert McKee quote). What is the resurrection of Jesus if not a metaphor for changing your life? The same goes for the rising of the Phoenix. The snake that sheds is skin. Almost every third act climax in almost any movie is a metaphor for how you want to undergo change in your life.

These things aren't there by accident. BUT if they're overdone you end up with a studenty cringe fest of arsty nonsense and no balls. So you gotta find a balance.

Watch Natural Born Killers with Oliver Stone's commentary and you'll discover a world of symbolism and metaphor you never knew existed. It's all very carefully mapped out and thought deeply.

Now, will all of this help you become a better editor? Possibly. But it will definitely help you become a better story teller if you grasp it fully.


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Jon Fidler
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 11, 2011 at 11:21:36 pm

Thanks that was a fantastic explanation, ill go order natural born killers and give it a listen


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Andrew Rendell
Re: How is Film theory viewed in a professional environment?
on Sep 12, 2011 at 3:50:53 pm

I scared myself yesterday. As the words came out of my mouth I heard myself saying to a Media Studies student "...the defining characteristic of a current affairs documentary is the way that a character is used as a metaphor for a bigger idea..."

aaaaaagh! I'm so sorry.... she only asked whether I thought that "Genre" was dead...

:-0


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