311MC

IDEA: Interactive Short Film

‘The Appointment’

Two women stumble their way home after a night out, unaware that one of them is to be kidnapped by a stalker – by you.
Whoever you decide to kidnap will change the course of all their lives forever, and its up to you to decide their destinies…

Style

– Naturalistic / realism (no SFX) / no music

– Tripod-free zone? Shakycam Fluidity… Immediacy

– Drama / Dark comedy

Content

– 3 Act structure, choice to make at each break

– 5 to 10 minutes long

– Only one or two locations (depending on…)

Finance

– Transport + Catering
– Stay local
– Expenses paid
– Contact previously used actors

Output

–  YouTube: Tech/ audience/
–  iPhone app?

Issues

– Keep to day-t0-day, week-by-week detailed schedule

Plan B:

Documentary on joining the BMP

Term Evaluation

Well, it’s been an eventful few months. Tears have been shed, weight has been gained, and hair has been shaved in new and exciting places. But whilst that’s been going on, I’ve also been busying myself with a little uni work. Uni work which has been both fun and scary.

What’s that, you say? Fun and scary? How can such a thing be? Did it defy the laws of all physics? Well, I sat down with John Invisibleman for a quick Q&A session to get the skinny on the work I did this term, how I got there and most importantly, where I go from here.

JOHN INVISIBLEMAN: Michael, you are a legend in this university, and are also both wise and handsome. Tell me about the work you’ve produced this term. Are you pleased with what you’ve made?

MICHAEL: Well firstly thank you, John. And yes I think the work I’ve managed to produce is grand, simply grand.

JOHN: Okay don’t get smug. Anything in particular you think has worked well?

MICHAEL: Honestly, I think all of the individual pieces have worked out well. I’m particularly proud of the fact that they all consist of original material, and not just ripped-off YouTube clips. Anyway they each turned out how I intended them to, which makes me a happy man.

JOHN: Really? ‘Cos I saw that thing with the tramp, and I didn’t really get it. Also your hair is thick and shiny.

MICHAEL: I said it was grand, not comprehensible. I showed that video to David Lynch and he was like “Whuh?” Bad sign. But I’m kidding.

The fact is, I’m very proud of the artifacts I’ve made during this term, and the possibilities and ideas they’ve helped me come up with for future projects is making me crazy with excitement. But as I’ve said before I tend to come at things sideways, and there may have been a few clarity issues with some people. But honestly I think that’s a good thing, because ultimately it’s art. Even if it’s a crappy TV show or an abstract watercolour, it’s all still art and art shouldn’t be easy all the time. It should make you think and question and possibly itch a little.

JOHN: Okaaay… So did anything go wrong? Any mistakes you want to admit to? It’s important to learn from your mistakes.

MICHAEL: I know what you mean, like that time I shaved too close to my-

JOHN: Michael!! I meant about the work.

MICHAEL: Oh right. Well if I’ll be brutally honest, I think the only major thing I dropped the proverbial ball on was the interactive Power video. Probably could have made more of an interesting narrative than ‘Guy gets out of bed’.

JOHN: But reading all that nihilistic existential stuff you wrote about life gave me the impression that that was the point you were trying to make with your ‘boring’ video.

MICHAEL: True, but not everyone should have to read an essay before enjoying a slice of fun. I need to keep that in mind in future, and give a more visceral pop to my work, because that’s where I like to make my home.

JOHN: Cool. Speaking of existentialism, don’t you think you got a bit deep in that blog? You sounded so depressing!

MICHAEL: Me? Depressing? Don’t be ridiculous! And no I don’t think you can get too deep with this stuff. I enjoyed having the opportunity to explore such a diverse range of influences and let them guide and inspire my ideas further. From Alan Bennett to Sartre, Soderbergh to Fireman Sam, I pride myself on enjoying bring all these different flavours and ingredients together in one pot. Even gits like Banksy have inspired me. By the way John, your invisible fly is open.

JOHN: Whoops! Ahem. So, do you notice any recurring themes in your work this term?

MICHAEL: Yep. As a matter of fact John, I noticed them even before I was asked to by the tutors.

JOHN: Alright Michael, no one likes a clever dick. Go on then, what did you notice?

MICHAEL: Two things: identity, and the passive viewer becoming active. All three items deal with these themes on some level, and this was done very consciously. The idea of someone finding their own identity, what makes them who they are and letting that self-awareness empower them is, I think, an incredibly strong and sexy idea.

A lot of people, through ‘video collages’ (i.e. ripping off YouTube videos and sticking them all together to ‘create new meaning’) seemed to be saying that the media is controlling our minds, and that we should all be scared for our lives.

Well, it’s a valid point and one that I too am intrigued by. Are we storing our very souls online? Are we avatars of ourselves? But what I’ve tried to touch on, and what I really hope to explore on a more tangible level next year, is coming up with a feasible way to not only let the viewer become more engaged and active, but for them to also enjoy it on a new level. Basically, I want to make some form of Pilot ‘episode’ of a web series, where every individual viewer gets a different experience. Something akin to a nihilistic video game meets online TV series.

Whatever I make, either at uni or elsewhere in the future, it’s going to be a funhouse ride of excitement, fear, existential angst and partial nudity.

JOHN: Sounds awesome! I guess we’ll have to wait till next year to see what you’ll hopefully cook up.

MICHAEL: You know what John; you’re not so lame after all.

JOHN: Will you hold me, Michael?

MICHAEL: Yes, John. Yes I will.

JOHN: Oh by the way, you didn’t seem to take much notice of those Obstacles, did you?

M: The what now?

JOHN: Never mind.

MEMORY (10) Final Artifact – iDentity

Here’s the final piece:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/martikhora/4136640599/

Well my first proper photography session was a blast. Possibly because I was doing something new and exciting. Or possibly because Kim baked cookies. Either way it was fun. I, without any input from Kim, selected items from around her room (books, dvds etc etc) which I felt reflected her identity the most, and spread them all over her bed.

The input she did give was helping me compose the shot, as photography is a forte of hers. She suggested putting it down low so the objects at the front were in focus and the ones at the back blurred. This didn’t work very well because I specifically wanted to see ALL the objects very clearly and spread out. I didn’t actually tell her that I specifically wanted it shot from above, but it was interesting trying different positions and such.

She felt kind of awkward when looking directly into the camera when lying on the bed. She didn’t really know what to do with herself…

So I suggested that she closed her eyes instead, as if she were asleep. This turned out to be a bloody masterstroke, because it gave the image a kind of eerily serene feel, an edgier atmosphere. Almost as if she is either as peace with her stuff, or it subdues and pacifies her…

We set the camera so it took a black & white and a colour photo for each shot. I much preferred the colour shots because it emphasises the bright and garish nature of all the different forms of media around her. Anyway out of about 20 odd shots I chose the one of her ‘asleep’. I did suggest doing some with her naked but she wasn’t into that idea for some reason.

Oh and using Kim’s own camera to take the photos? It did not lack for poetry.

Post-production

You’ll see that I photoshopped the final photograph as opposed to just leaving it as it is. I gave the chosen photo a ‘Glow’ effect and richer, darker tone overall, to emphasise it’s dreamy-serene-eeriness. You can see the other photos I took on Flickr.

But taking the image was just half the story. The next and just as important half is uploading it onto Flickr and tagging it! And I did just that. I really enjoyed tagging it – and made sure to make them extra cross-overy to make it look more cubist and Hockneyesque. And it does look pretty darn cool with all the overlapping squares and rectangles – it really accentuates her being drowned in stuff.

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It’s actually a kinda cool way to explore who she is, or at least who she wants us to see who she is… It’s fun to hover over each section and see what lies beneath. And for extra exploration, you can click on the centre square to find a link to her own Flickr profile, and in turn look at her own work!


Feedback
from the group was generally positive. They seemed to get what it was about, they liked how she had her eyes closed – some saying she even looked dead. (Don’t think I’ll tell Kim that)

It was suggested that I could utilise the fact is was online even further, by maybe linking it to videos of Kim speaking, or flash animation of photographs etc. I do like the idea of this, it does have a lot of potential. I would like to do something like link to an online diary of Kim’s, so people could read her thoughts and what she’s doing. I doubt she’d let me do it but it’s an interesting idea.
Doing flash animations also intrigues me, it would be a good excuse to get to grips of how to do it. But at the same time, I like it’s simplicity. A lot of the time less is more, which I think is the case here. But I can see the potential and maybe I’ll come back to it later on and see what I can do.

Overall, it’s another success in my book!

MEMORY (9) Boxville, USA

Whilst thinking about the subject of my photograph, Kim, I remembered that she herself is a keen photographer. She enjoys taking random snaps with her fancy camera, and then she uploads them not only onto Facebook, but also onto Flickr.

Flickr allows users to upload and share their photography to millions of other users all over the world. Kim loves trawling through hundreds of photographs on there, and because like other social networks each user has a profile, they can all share and interact with each others work.

I reckon it would give more depth to the piece if I posted the photograph of her onto Flickr, as it’s closer to a specific passion of hers, it’s part of her identity, and it’s also a large online social network. It basically ticks more boxes than an automatic box-ticking machine at the International Box-Ticking Convention in Boxville, USA.

I searched through Flickr for photographs on identity, and the one below stood out the furthest. It’s simple yet effective, encapsulating the subjects ‘truths’ about who she really is in a very stark and unflattering way. I also like how she’s literally covered herself with the lies, clearly showing that she feels she hides behind them, and in turn who she really may be…

 

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But what also intrigued me about this photo and Flickr in general was the tagging. When you tag someone on Facebook, the tag name simply appears in a solitary little grey box. But on Flickr the tags are clearly visible in these boxes around the thing you’ve tagged. This actually creates a really cool little effect, especially when the boxes overlap one another- creating almost a messy little collage on top of the photo.

This would look great with what I’m planning to do because they’ll be loads of objects to tag, creating a lot of overlapping boxes and therefore making it look even more like a collage. In fact it’s a lot like a David Hockney collage…

David Hockney

Robert Littman Floating in a Pool

Prehistoric Museum Near Palm Springs, 1982

What’s interesting to me about these collages is that each individual photo is a separate moment in time, a memory in itself, and yet despite being disjointed, Hockney manages to create coherent and visceral piece when looked at as a whole.

The collages are almost cubist, the way different images and angles and colours and lines and shapes all come together.

This is exactly the kind of cubist effect I want to create with my final piece using the tagging.

As I’ve said, the image I have in my head for the final memory piece is a my friend Kim lying on her bed, in her bedroom, completely surrounded by her paraphernalia, not just media-related, such as personal photos, diaries and toys, and of course magazines, dvds etc.

The best way to show this would be from overhead, looking down from directly above her. This will allow me to get all the items around her in the shot, but it also will evoke the idea of my perspective, my personal point of view of her, the way I perceive her through my eyes.

I instantly had the iconic image of American Beauty come to mind.

 

I would love if the viewers of the final photograph were reminded of this image in the back of their minds, because not only is it fantastic in it’s own right, but it resonates with Kim because the film happens to be one of her all time favourites.

I did some research on the cinematography of American Beauty, particularly for this image, and it became even more pertinent as the frequent use of roses throughout the film symbolises beauty. And the film as a whole has themes of finding the freedom to eschew material trappings to find an inner self. Which is like, really deep man. And also genuinely what I’m kind of saying with my idea.

 

MEMORY (8) Developmental

In the past decade, the online world has completely changed our relationship with the real world with the arrival of social networks. Of course in reality social networks are nothing new. MySpace for example is simply GeoCities nine years on. But with the added bonus of numerous Flash and WMV movies auto-starting as the page loads.

So GeoCities begat MySpace, and when MySpace got all clogged up with spam and adverts, it begat Facebook. Then Facebook begat Twitter. It’s a never ending chain of cybershit.

Essentially, social networks allow users to create a profile with their personal details on, details that range from their age to their sister’s best friend’s brother’s mum’s favourite singer’s album track. Users can also upload photos and videoclips; they post blog entries and links to other stuff and leave witty little messages for one another. And it all comes together to form a thriving social network.

But what’s interesting is that these profiles people can create are such a visceral, objective projection of themselves onto others. It fascinates me the way we can imprint these ideas of ourselves onto the entire online world, and consciously form our own identities.

Me

Note the ‘Edit’ button near the top. We can easily manipulate our idea of how people perceive us on the online world, and in turn the real one.

The most prominent way people define themselves these days is through what media content they consume. If someone you’ve never met says hello to you online, you can cross reference with their profile to see what their like. You ignore what school they went to or what the pet’s name is. No – you look straight at what their favourite TV shows are and you instantly judge their personality accordingly.

So for example a Battlestar Galactica fan is a geek, a Corrie and Eastender fan is a girly gossip, and a Buffy fan is an intelligent and good-looking hunk.

The Idea

What I want to do is represent this idea of the media defining identity, and in turn the way people project this identity. Using photography. I’ll take a photograph of my best friend Kim, and literally surround her with the items she surrounds herself with that help form her identity. I almost have this image of her drowning in stuff – magazines, dvds, clothes, toys etc.

But I want to take it a step further and actually publish the photograph(s) onto a social networking site. Very meta-media-art. This could either be great, or it could in fact create a sort of black hole in cyberspace.

I’m thinking about utilising Facebook in particular because of it’s photo viewing tech, which allows you to ‘Tag’ people on photographs. I could therefore ‘Tag’ the items surrounding her to let the viewer explore what they are.

I like the idea that it being on Facebook is part of the art, as it gives it another dimension to it’s meaning. Hopefully…

MEMORY (7) Banksy or Wanksy?

Urban artist Banksy is clearly an annoying git of huge proportions, yet he’s often called a genius. Why? Because his work looks clever to idiots. Me included. So being the cultured idiot that I am I went along to his Bristol exhibition this summer to see first-hand what a ‘genius’ he is.

When I got there the place was heaving. This was partly because it’s Banksy; but mostly because it was free admission. Anyway, on arrival you immediately get the idea: that he’s subverting the classical art that usually fills up most art museums, by ‘vandalising’ or altering sculptures and portraits etc.

One painting for example, depicts a busy Houses of Commons. But get this – instead of politicians on the benches, they’re monkeys!!!!!!! Tee hee hee, Banksy! You’re right! They are like monkeys aren’t they! Stupid bloody monkeys! You sure told them, Banksy. Well done.

After making my way through various paintings and installations, including a burnt out ice-cream van and a Stonehenge made of toilets, I then go into a large room full of cages with animals in them. Alas! My eyes deceive me once again, as on closer inspection they were not real animals – but in fact animatronics!

Little robotic chicken nuggets and hotdogs sip water from a bowl, and you smile and giggle as the cute mechanical bunny rabbit puts on make-up in front of a mirror.

Then suddenly WHAM! The message hits you like a bus: Animal cruelty and um… poverty and er… KFC and stuff. Blimey! In an instant, your world changes forever. Your eyes are opened. Mind blown, you stick your middle finger up at a Burger King on the way home. Nice one Banksy! You’ve shown us the truth!

Seriously though – it was actually the skill of the workmanship that’s gone into producing this stuff, plus the sheer quantity of work there that was what really impressed me – not the vague, pseudo-subversive messages behind them all. Brilliant details are lacquered onto every surface of work with care and well-crafted love. I found that side of it genuinely inspiring, considering how annoying he is.

Yet the detail and quantity confirm one thing: Banksy is clearly no longer a lone, onanistic graffiti artist walking the streets at night. These days he has an army of wankers, sorry – workers, giving him a hand (so to speak), making the rebel of Bristol as much of a heartless machine as the big corporations he tries so very hard to hate.

MEMORY (6) True & False

Development

I want to develop this idea of the falsity of memories, and question how well people really remember past experiences. Two years ago I found footage I filmed of the last day of high school, and quickly edited it to make it look grainy and put some cheesy music over it. Classic nostalgia. It got a huge response not just from the friends that were in my class (see comments below!), but from kids who go to the same high school now.

But I want to do the same sort of thing with photography for this theme. I had an idea which was to get a series of photographs from someone’s childhood, school days, holidays etc., and then underneath each one write the truth about what was really going on inside the persons mind at the time. Or maybe make it an audio piece and hear the truth.

An example would be something like this:

It could be almost like an installation piece, where I could put hundreds of photos on a wall such as this like a gallery. I was thinking instead of it just being that simple, the person viewing the picture had to do something to reveal the truth. Then I thought about writing it backwards, so that the viewer would have to use a mirror to reveal the real message, and in turn see the photograph in a new light, so to speak.

This use of mirrors making people see others differently was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’. If you look carefully, there are frequent and very specific placements of mirrors throughout Psycho which are there to visually reinforcement the idea that its main characters are living out multiple identities.

For example during her search of Mrs Bates bedroom, Lila steps toward the dressing table and sees herself reflected back and forth between two mirrors – creating reflections of reflections with the furthest showing the back of her head only, implying mixed identity. There are plenty of other examples throughout the film, and also other typically brilliant Hitchcockian usage of symbolism in it which I love to try and spot and deconstruct.

But looking at the reaction people gave to my video, or more specifically how they gave their reaction, gave me another idea. They posted them online. On a social networking site, which are a huge development in the way people construct and present their identities to others…