December 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In the world of cinema, there are many ways to manipulate the viewers. It can be achieved by using a narrative in which the viewers feel sympathy for the main characters or more importantly by using the effectiveness of the perception conceptually. There is a clear distinction between those two features since they open up to the viewers from different perspectives. While a narrative based film does not need too much thinking and is easy to read, a conceptual film focuses on the ideas of the work behind the images that are not shown onscreen and needs a great amount of thinking in order to be perceived and read properly. Meranda states this as; “Structural films are almost always conceptual artworks where the actual experience is the process of thinking about the film and not just consuming what is on the screen.” Paul Sharits’s T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, Ernie Gehr’s Serene Velocity, and Michael Snow’s Wavelenght are great examples of structural films as they show how the perception of the structural films can lead the viewers in different directions in terms of interpreting these films in various numbers depending on its use of sound, emphasis on materiality of the film, visual imagery, the creation of space within and outside the film and the feeling of repetition in many ways.
Paul Sharits, an influential visual artist in the Structural film movement, is well known through his extraordinary piece, T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G. This is a significant structural film since it can be interpreted in countless numbers even though the film seems simple to perceive. In my opinion, this simplified side of the film is what makes it more complicated and profound in terms of approaching the ideas of the film. Not only in this film but also other structural films by different artists such as Len Lye’s A Colour Box and Malcolm Le Grice’s Berlin Horse and many more pieces have the same effect on me. The reason is that the simpler it gets in order to emphasise the materiality of the film, the more it “negates the filmic illusion and places the focus on the function, as well as on the viewers’ subjective perception” (Sharits). Thus, it is inevitable to consider how the viewers perceive these films psychologically under the illumination of the simplicity of the pieces.
The way the sound is constructed in T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G has a major impact on how the viewers react to this piece psychologically since it is also as powerful as its’ flickering imagery. Beauvais states that “the soundtrack also developed into an equally important, rhythmic and independent element within his film. With the single loop word, “destroy,” one hears such things as “It’s gone” or “It’s off,” “It’s cut,” “His straw,” “History,” and more.” I completely agree that this powerful element of this piece increases the possible interpretations towards it and confuses the viewers mind. This illusion of the sound is a great factor that causes the various interpretations since no one can clearly hear what the exact word is in T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G. It ends up creating many opinions and various perceptions in the viewers. Therefore, the more one thinks about this piece, the more interpretations occur simultaneously, even though the piece might appear as a simple work of art at first.
Ernie Gehr, American experimental filmmaker, is well known for his innovative film Serene Velocity. His piece mostly focuses on emphasising the materiality of the film by using repetition of the images, fixed camera perspective, and creating a space which is continuing and not bounded within the film strip, with the ideas of the work underneath the images onscreen. Aside from drawing the attention to the materiality of the piece, Serene Velocity also creates a fabulous visual experience for the viewers through the optical illusion that creates geometric shapes in the viewer’s perception. Gehr expresses his thoughts about the materiality of film in the following words:
Traditional and established avant garde film teaches film to be an image, a representing. But film is a real thing and as a real thing it is not imitation. It does not reflect on life, it embodies the life of the mind. Film is a variable intensity of light, an internal balance of time, a movement within a given space. (Gehr)
The looping word in T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, “destroy”, loses it meaningfulness when it is repeated over time in Sharits’s piece. As he indicates: “ “destroy” actually destroys itself.” Even though that word loses its power after being repeated many times, this self destroying sound creates a space pulls the viewers into that space and draws them more since the distance disappears between the screen and the viewers. In my opinion, the silence in Gehr’s Serene Velocity has the same impact on the viewers. The lack of sound in this piece manages to create a space and break the distance by “exploring the use of fixed photographic images, perception and time” (Boruszknowski, 53). For instance; If there was a sound in Serene Velocity, it would not be as impressive as it is now. Because this piece manages to achieve to pull the viewers into that space by “using the medium to expand minds and stretch the limits of what is possible to see in simple images” (Hall). In other words, through perception.
Michael Snow, Canadian artist and experimental filmmaker, is one of the most significant names who has made great structural films. Especially; his piece Wavelenght, a landmark of Avant-garde cinema, is quite influential since it is so meaningful and well thought. Watching Wavelenght and the slowly zooming camera for forty five minutes is a great experience because of the way it makes the viewers question the space and time in the room that they are in. Even though we see a similar creation of space and time in Sharits’s Touching and Gehr’s Serene Velocity, this relation between the time and space in Snow’s piece appears more profound in terms of the dense relation of the sound and image of the piece. In my opinion, the use of the sound in Wavelenght is quite irritating. It is a type of rising sine wave tone which is not that easy to listen. However, it is one of the major aspects that I find highly interesting about this piece. Because after watching halfway through the film, you start not to hear it even though the frequency of its tone rises. Interestingly, the perception towards the combination of the sound and image works against each other. While the impact of the sound disappears, the influence of the image on the viewers’ perception starts to become more recognizable. Sitney says that in Snow’s film “simplicity is foregrounded” (Sitney). However, I completely disagree with this statement. Even though Snow’s piece appears simple, its only the imagery which appears to be “simple”. The psychological perception of the piece is not that simple in addition to the ideas and the various interpretations of the work. “Michael Snow’s work is in many ways the most dense and complex.” (Boruszknowski). Snow expresses his own ideas about Wavelenght in the following words:
I wanted to make a summation of my nervous system, religious inklings, and aesthetic ideas. I was thinking of planning for a time monument in which the beauty and sadness of equivalence would be celebrated, thinking of trying to make a definitive statement of pure Film space and time, a balancing of ‘illusion’ and ‘fact,’ all about seeing. The space starts at the camera’s (spectator’s) eye, is in the air, then is on the screen, then is within the screen (the mind). (Snow)
As I mentioned before, the structural films are open for many possible interpretations since it can be perceived in different ways by the viewers. I believe that the structural films happen to belong to the viewers since they can vary and expand the meaning based on their personal perceptions. In other words, structural films free themselves after they are publicized. Therefore; even though Snow explains his ideas about his own film in these words, limiting the content of the work only based on that would not be fair for the viewers who can interpret it from a different perspective.
In conclusion, Paul Sharits’s T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, Ernie Gehr’s Serene Velocity, and Michael Snow’s Wavelenght are all related with each other in terms of the materiality of the film. More importantly, those are three major examples within the structural film movement that creates its own space and time with the use of sound and visual imagery. Therefore, with the creation of this space, perception of these films varies along with the interpretations.
November 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This is the sound design I created by using ProTools. The function of this commentative sound design isn’t directly identified with the action it accompanies in the video. It is open to interpretation but it has been created to awake a certain feeling in spectators.
November 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The Status Anxiety documentary struck me because of its’ extremely realistic approach to the problematic sides of how societies are shaped without us realizing it. While watching it, I felt regretful and upset for being a part of this cycle in which we shape all our decisions, goals, and relationships based on monetarily expectations from the future. As one of the Bohemian said, “people are robbed at life, they are robbed at freedom of choice and understanding.” Even though many of us believe that we have the freedom in every aspects of our lives, this doesn’t seem to me as a realistic idea anymore. We are being standardized by the structure of societies in terms of expecting to achieve similar commodities. As a result of this, we lose our sense of understanding towards this human life. Moreover; since people are taught that they can be whoever they want to be, the influence of fear of losing this game and not being able to achieve a well paid future is a major element that stops us to let go of the materialistic expectations in this life. John Ruskin’s quote is a great example for this: “There is no true wealth, but life”. Considering that I spent twenty one years from my lifespan by trying to achieve these materialistic gainings, is an upsetting truth and makes me feel depressed because now I clearly realize this isn’t the true form of freedom.
October 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
After completing a long weekend of shooting with an amazing group of people, finally it is the time to write down the journal. It was a long and busy weekend for everybody who participated in it. The reason I’m saying that it was long and busy is mainly because of our lack of experience on an actual film shooting. Most of us have worked on 3rd or 4th years’ sets; However, that weekend was a complete new experience for all of us. Because for the first time, we had more challenging crew roles rather than just griping. We had a chance to see the pros and cons of every crew role. I believe that was quite useful in so many ways in order to shape up our future expectations. I would like to mention about my experience in details over the course of this journal.
First of all, The first week of this class was such a chaos. We were 9 different individuals who had no idea about what to do for this class or how to work as a group of 9 people. Our first mission was to combine a story outline by using everyone’s idea. Even though we had a limited time for the first task, we came up with one. The brief information about the story was to set up a series of dating scenes with different girls, in order to find a soulmate for this agent. The story does not sound too complicated, but the process of compiling it together was the biggest challenge. Because we all had personal opinions about each dating scenes and everyones’ opinion had to be counted and thought as valuable as others. Personally, this starting point thought me a great lesson. Now I can see why there is has to be a few screenwriters for one project. The more the people are, the harder it gets to be fair. Because at some point you know that someone has to be cruel and pull out the best ideas out of it. Luckily, we didn’t have any problems with anyone’s ego and just focused on completing this shooting.
After completing the hardest part, we found ourselves a smaller groups of 2 or 3 people and every group got 2 scenes from the whole script. So that, every group was going to focus on their own scenes mostly. I personally think this was necessary, so that everybody started to do their own thing while helping on others scene. We, Irina Lee and Me, discussed the theme and all the little details of our scenes such as make-up, outfits, props. Efficient working saved us so much time, because the class time wasn’t long enough to cover everything for us. When we get back together as a group of 9, I realized how things started to flow. Because like I observed before, everyone was doing their individual task a lot faster compared to working as a bigger group all together. Even though this is just an observation, I can easily relate this to the film industry and how bigger crews work in harmony. I believe the same rule applies to those as well. The main idea is to focus on your part depending on your crew role. However, if you want to do everything by yourself, this is quite likely to cause a problem with other people. Because everybody wants to do their specific role and feel like they are a part of a project in terms of physically and psychologically.
Second of all, this weekend shooting made me realize how time management and organizing every little details for the shooting is important. My group was responsible for finding the props, costumes and the make-up artist. Luckily, I had some nice connections and we didn’t need to pay for the make- up artist. However, the costumes and the props was at the top of our importance list. We were thinking to use the costumes that belongs to the theatre department. Of course, that was our idea in the first place because we were avoiding of paying for clothings. However, It turned out that we didn’t have the permission to borrow their costumes. That was so unexpected, but a great lesson for all of us though. It made me understand that having a plan A is never enough if you want to be serious in this Film Industry. Since these shootings are a product of a huge number of people’s effort, time and plannings; things has to be planned considering a Plan B as well. Because It is likely that plans go wrong from time to time and you could never break this cycle in the industry. We solved our problem by kindly asking our actors to bring costumes over from their own garderobe. That was a great way of problem solving, but it is a plan which I am hoping to avoid indeed. The reason is, all my observations and knowledge until this point tells me to make yourself and your crew look as professional as possible to the actors. So that you can gain more respect from your actors and they would never have unwanted ideas towards your work.
Third of all, the first of day of the shooting was a great day to learn things. We had Rob and the twins to start off this cycle. Even after they left, I felt like we were doing things in a nice order. Maybe it wasn’t that fast, but I felt that there was a determination. I had a chance a experience every single positions on a set. However, I personally enjoyed being an Ad most. It was quite fun doing every single of them, but I was more connected to being an AD. Trying to keep everyone on tight schedule and make this circle run wasn’t challenging or tiring for me. It was exactly what I wanted. As I said before, I had a chance to observe and experience different crew roles on the first hand. Now, I know what I can expect from each of those in the next couple of years and I am more confident in terms of which ones’ I should go for. I believe that was an important part of our crew as well. The reason is, whoever felt more confident with their positions, the faster we worked on the scene. As I mentioned before, time was one of the biggest challenge for everybody. Being on a tight schedule had its own pros and cons. I know that if we had more time, we could have done better. But still we would never feel completely comfortable with the final product. Because its hard to make everybody feel happy at the same time. Moreover, we were quite lucky in terms of the locations. Even though we couldn’t get the cafe location that we wanted, we came up with another space in Sfu woodwards. This might seem like a bad plan B; however, I believe this was a smarter choice for all of us. I’m actually glad that we lost our first location option for the cafe scene. Because we actually didn’t need to move the equipments so far away from school. For the office scenes, we used my apartment in the woodwards building. So that the equipment stayed in the same neighbourhood all the time. As a result of this, we had a chance to spend more time on our scenes, instead of trying to move the equipment from one location to another. I’m well aware that this won’t be the case in the film industry in the future. But still, as a group of new filmmakers, we managed to use our time more wisely on the shooting days.
The last but not the least; the meaning of this weekend is quite priceless to me. Aside from learning nice valuable lessons for my future plans, I also had the chance to get to know more of my classmates. Before taking this class and starting off to this project, only a few of us had close connections with each other. But after a weekend of non stop shooting, we came a lot closer with each other. This might sound a little bit silly; However, I believe we needed this sort of project in order to spend more time with each other. Because at this point, we are more comfortable working with each other on film sets. This is an integral part of working in a harmony, being comfortable around those people. Otherwise, exchanging thoughts and finding a middle point gets harder. Also, I believe that the more we work together, the better our films will get in the next couple of years. And FPA 233 project was a nice way as a starting point. For our upcoming projects, we are more prepared and more knowledgeable.
In conclusion, this class was a great help in terms of teaching me how to work as bigger groups, what I need to expect from each crew roles and how time management and planning is valuable in film industry. We had a chance to get to know each other closer. More, we experienced the hardship and the good sides of working on film sets by ourselves. Therefore, 3 months ago I had no idea what this class was about or who those people were. But now, I feel more connected to my classmates, confident about myself as being a part of this film community, and I know how important it is to share the hardship of a shooting with others.
August 31, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Here is my latest Short Film, White Noise. In this humorous Structural film, my intentions are highly focused on how spectator’s perception can be manipulated by the misleading choice of sound and image. In order to achieve my goal, I haven’t done any changes on the video which I used as it came from my digital camera. The image and sound are put together on Adobe Premiere by my magical hands. Hope it creates the illusion for you. Enjoy it!
May 2, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Multiple is my new born baby. It’s quite special to me in so many ways. Truth to be told, I see it as if it’s the first professional short I have filmed. The reason is: Compared with “Me, Cynthia”, I have developed skills in terms of how to use the lighting, camera and sound in a more advanced level. Also, I got more comfortable with Bolex cameras. More importantly, I started to shape up the genres, themes, materials, ideas that I want to be working on in the near future. Of course, there might be minor “mistakes” spectators can realize. I see them as if it’s the most critical and the fun parts of my works. Because,in my view; those “mistakes” challenges you think that what should be seen as right or wrong.
As I did in the last semester, I filmed my short by using a 16mm Bolex. And then during the editing process, I mixed the positive film with the negative film frame by frame. SO that was the fun part since I had no idea that the film wouldn’t run on the projectors if you cut the film in the frames of 2 rapidly:) But I’m a smart boy, so I came up with another idea. I recorded the film with my DSLR and then worked the footage out on Premiere. Then my baby was ready for viewing even though there was a few changes on the plan. I screened it to my classmates as an installation. And I put the 1.50 long footage in a loop. What i am getting at is the fact that, “Multiple” is quite special for me than “Me, Cynthia” because I learned the importance of taking risks, making huge decisions and embracing those in this industry.
Unfortunately, I can’t put the video up online since I m sending it for festivals. But here are two stills from the original footage.
Short Info about its theme;
This is a structural experimental film about a woman who searches her identity by masturbating in two distinctive clothes, a burqa and a dress. While representing a woman in two different societies, she stands at the intersection showing that anybody can have the same urges, realizations, feelings no matter what they wear or where they are born. More, her action makes the gender roles more pointless with the realization of herself and others.