Monday, December 19, 2011

Blog: 5 Most Valuable Minutes- Research Practice

I chose the very beginning of the film because it really characterizes the person that Travis Bickle is. It also shows how his everyday life seems to just be a living hell, as he lives and works on the unforgiving streets of New York. Throughout the film, it is visible that this environment really shapes who Travis Bickle is as a person, and how this everyday environment really affects him.

The beginning of the film displays Travis's life. It shows the job he works in, how he is a desperate person for love, and how he really doesn't know how to apply himself to formally greet people. In this shot, we see Travis driving what seems to be a man with his wife. We can see that Travis uncomfortably doesn't like what he does for a living, and doesn't appreciate how others treat him. The darkish tint to the shot also gives that gloomy appeal; this makes us, the audience, feel like Travis is living in an uncomfortable environment. This relates to the plot throughout the film because Travis has to drive a bunch of people that show him no respect, and he's force to live with it. This is a probable explanation as to why he is the kind of person that he currently is. This also show's the director's intent to show how Travis will eventually develop as a character. By showing these kind of scenes, it shows the worst of Travis, and how he's going to have to eventually develop to become a better person.

This scene also characterizes who Travis is as a person. Him drinking in public shows him as a person who doesn't abide by the usual standards of being normal. This also shows how he has a drinking problem; this is significant because it shows that he's weak. By drinking in public, it also shows that he's trying to drink away his problems, and he doesn't care what happens to him. The director's intent here, as previously state above, is that he wants to establish what kind of person Travis is, and how this characterization of him plays out throughout the film. 

These two scenes show Travis' Bickle's life without a female. In the top scene, it shows how he sadly tries to flirt with the cashier with the hope of getting her number, but eventually gets shut down. This also shows how he is a desperate person; he flirts with a person that he doesn't even know, and hopes that she'll respond to him with interest. This shows how the director wanted to depict Travis as this person that has to get what he wants in order to satisfy his needs. 

In the bottom scene, it shows how Travis is a even bigger desperate person. He watches porno's as a way to contemplate for his sorrow's in life. This also shows his desperate as he really wants to find love. These two scenes really show what kind of person Travis really is. He really wants to make an effort at finding love, however, he is inexperience in it, and has to result to watching porno's to make up for it.

This scene is a turning point in the begging of the story. Travis finally seems to found a women that could possibly satisfy what he is looking for. Once again, however, his inexperience as to how to approach a women properly is still not present. This makes him out a a creeper, and not suitable for the women. This shows the director's intent of really trying to show how this women would be his driving force to attempt to get better for a period of time. This is a big part of the film because Travis really tries to better himself to really impress this women, however, this is not evident later on in the film. This shot also shows how the lady works to support the future president. This foreshadows what Travis has to do in order to impress this woman.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Short Film Portfolio/Critique

A. Rationale:
The film that me and my group made was a simple short film on our main character's life without his mother around. We chose this type of movie in an attempt to really capture our audience and engulf them in the main character's compelling story. We thought this was a good idea because we thought that by making the main character as real as possible along with good flashbacks, it would really make the short film believable. Also, we really wanted to make a film that broke the fourth wall, and this hasn't really been done by my fellow colleagues.

B: Commentary: 
My area in the film was mainly cinematographer and editor, along with being the director at times. I chose to be the cinematographer and editor mainly because I was very familiar with these roles, and the director just came along naturally. Usually with these many roles there would be difficulties, but I surprisingly rose to the task and made very few mistakes. The only troubles I had was ensuring that I had proper lighting for many of my shots as we shot a lot inside and it was usually dark.

I also had trouble maintaining continuity throughout the film I wanted pure perfection in the film. I fixed these problems by ultimately stopping the filming process, and fixing up everything. I made sure that we had natural lighting from the sun by making sure that light came into the house, and I made sure that I took as many possible takes on a scene as possible. Problems that arose throughout the film was actually coming out with the concept of the film as a whole. We had to usually improvise a lot of the film on the spot, however, it still came out good. We got a lot of pretty unique shots, such as the one's in the beginning, that set the basic location of the film.

We only had three people all together on the film production, with usually one person just lagging off, but we still do good. One main problem we had was deciding whether to keep the entire process where the main character dresses up to leave, or just skip to him leaving his house. We ultimately ended up just keeping the dress scene, however, it was a mistake as it was deemed "unnecessary" by our fellow colleagues. Although we were shorts on personnel for the shoot, we still was able to keep that one person who never helped useful by making sure that he worked on our film site. Overall, we thought that the film was a good success. Our initial thought was tat it would be a failure because everything was really falling together, but surprisingly it did. A lot of the credit has to go to Justin Pieraldi, for stepping up to the task and really acting from the heart. 

We thought that the film also had some pretty good cinematography. Many of our shots, although not that noticeable, took a lot of time as we tried to set up each shot with good lighting and fluidity. We also tried to ensure that mostly every shot had purpose; the flashbacks ensured that sense of sadness, and this was one of our main goals in this project. These flashbacks basically were the backbone for our project as it really allowed the audience to feel for the main character.

We also that we had really good editing. Throughout the film, it was visible that there was clear continuity. This was one of our main goals from the beginning of the film. By maintaining this continuity, it allowed our film to seem really fluent and really kept that sense of realism. Also, this editing really did capture great continuity as it matched well with the flashbacks. Whenever the main character said something with significance to the past, a flashback was included to show what he was talking about, and this couldn't be done without such good editing.

Our sound came out pretty decent. We had some minimal trouble making sure that the mic was kept steady to prevent that scrunchy sound, however, that was still visibly heard. We made sure that the mic was as close to the main character as possible to ensure that everything he said was understandable. The sound quality still came out exceptional as it played it's role in ensuring that it flowed with the film. 

The music choice we used also worked out very well. It set the stage for making the sentimental scenes really stand out. The music we used was to ensure that it really brought out the sincerity of the main character and that it would make the audience believe his sincerity. It took a lot of research to find the perfect song, but it was worth it when we found ours.

C: Supporting Evidence:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blog Response- Article- Intensified Continuity

According to David Bordell, explain how and why continuity has intensified in Hollywood cinema. Also consider whether anything has been lost with this change.

David Bordell explains that Hollywood Cinema has intensified over the years. Film makers have deterred themselves slowly from the use of wide angle shots and transferred over to a more fast pace cutting. Also, film makers now a days now use narrow lenses rather than the standard wide lens.

"Between 1930 and 1960, most Hollywood feature films, of whatever length, contained between 300 and 700 shots, so the average shot length hovered around eight to eleven seconds." This shows that each shot was usually a long length shot that stood still. In the mid 1960's many filmmakers began to experiment with faster cutting. Filmmakers began to edit their films more faster to make the film seem more interesting rather than showing one long continuous shot. In the 1980's, the tempo had continue to pick up, however, average shot lengths began to vanish. ASL's in movies began to now reach an average of four to five seconds. This shows how filmmakers began to go away from ASL's, and move toward more faster shots. 

Faster cutting of shots had become a 'must' for films. Shot lengths went to the extreme of lasting 1.5 seconds per shot. "No film is one long sequence." This shows that films have gone away from the traditional ASL, and now have become more fast pace. 

"From the 1930's well into the 1960's, directors often played out stretches of scenes in a plan americain, which cut off actors at the knee or mid-thigh level." In recent decades, filmmakers have been inclined to build scenes largely out of singles. These singles allow the director to vary the scene's pace in editing. When widescreen process were introduced, filmmakers often felt obliged to rely on long shots and medium shots. This shows that throughout the years, the style of shots had continually changed and filmmakers emphasis on it increased.

"Today's camera movements are ostentatious extensions of the camera mobility generalized during the 1930's."  This means that camera movements are now used to attract the audience's attention rather than focus on the main meaning of the shot. Today's camera use the "push in" to show the emotion displayed in a person's face. Push in's underscore a moment of realization and build continuous tension. Today's camera work has further pushed itself from the classical Hollywood styles of film, creating a new era of film making.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Blog Response- The American Anti-Hero

What historical factors influenced the rise of the American Anti-Hero in cinema and how does this hero contradict the Classic Hollywood Ideology.

The Anit-Hero became popular between 1945 and 1980 after World War II.  According to Wikipedia, "An anti-hero in today's books and films will perform acts generally deemed 'heroic', but will do so with methods, manners, or intentions that may not be heroic" This describes them as heroes that aren't really smiled upon. After the war, America was looking for a new type of Hero and they wanted this hero to be rebellious to their society. America also wanted this heroes to represent what life was really about, and to reflect the human spirit that everybody embodied. From 1945 to 1980, there was mass amounts of anti-heroes in American movies. "Within the American cinematic gestalt, we are continually offered portrayals of the individual redemptive journey. Filmmakers repeatedly portray versions of the hero and anti-hero. These figures have their roots in age-old mythologicaland religious characters..." (Fitch 1). This shows that filmmakers made these attempts at portraying this "hero" as what the American people had wanted. "The anti-hero gained popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, probably due to the cynicism during and following World War II."

"The anti-hero was daring the audience to relate to doing wrong or being wrong even for the wrong reasons. " We can personally relate to the anti-hero because we too make mistakes and do wrong doings. These characters gave the audience a sense of something tangible lost or gained, which gets us, the audience, thinking what these anti-heroes go through. The anti-hero can also be described as "rebellious", as he prefers conflict rather than comfort, which shows his true intents as this hero figure. Within Classical films, the hero is usually the one that is courageous and always looking out for others, but that contradicts what a anti-hero is. The anti-hero goes against the Classic Hollywood Ideology by defying this stereotype that all hero's do good as it is the right thing to do. The anti-hero looks out for themselves and fight off authority figures simply for reasons unknown. Although this isn't what the audience is typically looking forward to when seeing a film with the average hero, it creates a sense of something new rather then having the audience already know what type of person this hero is.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog- Advanced Editing Notes- Overview/Classical Paradigm

1. How would describe the difference in camera work: composition, angle, movement?
In the "Arrival of the Train" and the "Damsel in Distress", there are major differences that are clearly shown. In the "Arrival of the Train", there is only one whole continuous shot, while the actors in the movie just move around the scene. Although it is a somewhat unique shot as it shows the train at an angle, it is too long, making the whole entire shot seem boring and simply useless. In the "Damsel in Distress", there were a variety of shots that made the film seem really intense. There was a lot of PoV shots, reaction shots, such as when the man was tying up the women and noticing that the train was about to arrive, and Direction Match Shots, such as when the women was constantly looking back to see where the train was. These shots added together make the film seem more interesting as it makes the audience more interested in the film.

2. How would describe the differences in the edit?
In the "Arrival of the Train", there was absolutely no cutting at all, and there was just one long continuous shot. This makes the film seem really boring, although there seems to have a lot of movement in it. In the "Damsel in Distress", there is a lot of quick cuts, that add on to the intensity of the film. This gets the audience more into the film, rather then looking at once long, continuous shot. 

3. How would describe the characteristics of the story being told/narrative?
In the "Arrival of the Train", the people in the shot seem to really gitty and rushed. However, there wasn't much emotion displayed, as we couldn't really see what the people were feeling. Also, we, the audience, seem to want more out of a shot, rather than just simply stating the title of the film. In the "Damsel in Distress", we knew what was happening. We knew that the man was the evil mastermind at hand, and the lady was the one in trouble that needed to be saved. The film uses excellent shots, such as close ups in necessary moments, to see what the character is feeling. Also, we see how the evil mastermind acts, showing that he truly is the evil person in the film.

Blog: Advanced Editing Notes: 3. Soviet Montage and 4. Realism

3. Soviet Montage and Formalism
a. What was Pudovkin's concept of constructive editing and how did it manifest itself on film?
Pudovkin insisted that each shot should make a new point. He believed that each shot created new meanings to itself. He believed that riffith's close ups were too intrusive to the actor/actress, which showed no meaning to the shot. The way Pudvokin put close ups together was in a way to create meaning, and stating that long shots were too far from reality. An example of this is when a there was a close up of this man, then it cut to a close up of this bowl of soup, then back to the man, show his emotions and his need to eat the soup.
b. What was the Kuleshov effect and give me an example of how is it used in today's film's?
Kuleshov believed shots were linked together framentarly through details to produce a unified action. The Kuleshov Effect shows that the emotion is produced not by the actor’s performance, but by the juxtapositions. The viewer creates the emotional meaning, once the appropriate objects have been put together by the filmmaker. 
c. What was Eisensteinian Montage and how does it work in the "Odessa Step" sequence?
Eisenstein believed life was about constant change and this dialectical of contrasting opposites, because all phenomena are in a state of becoming. Eisenstein also believed art of film was in the edit, that each shot must be incomplete, contributory rather than self-contained, but not too linked.  Eisensteinian used this technique in the Odessa Step. Critics of Eisenstein argued that his films lacked a sense of realism. They also guided the audience too much. 

4. Andre Bazin and Realism
a. What were Andre Bazin's frustrations with Classical and Formalistic film making?
Bazin claimed that he was not a film maker. Bazin was responsible for creating an approach to analyzing a the body of a Director's work in order to discern patterns in style and themes. He believed that editing could destroy the effectiveness of a scene. Distortions in using formalist techniques, especially thematic ediing, can violate the complexities of reality. Formalists were egocentric and manipulative.
b. What do Realist filmmakers strive for in their work?
Realism in film is accomplished by using long shots, wide screen, lengthy takes, deep focus, panning, craning, tilting, or tracking rather than cutting to individual shots.  Realist filmakers strive to ensure that each shot was as realistic as possible, and that it flowed smoothly, rather then doing unnecessary cutting to a shot. By not following these guidelines, realist filmmakers cannot create this sense of reality. 
c. What techniques to realists use in their film making?
Realism in film is accomplished by using long shots, wide screen, lengthy takes, deep focus, panning, craning, tilting, or tracking rather than cutting to individual shots.  Details within a shot are presented more democratically, without the special attention a close-up inevitably confers.