CIU111.3 Why criticism is important?

Criticism is one of the concepts that is often misunderstood or undervalued. Many people consider critics those who just want to rip your work apart without even being in the industry — so basically the concept is perceived only in its negative connotations (our recent discussion in the university on this topic only proof my thoughts about it). However, I personally believe that critics are important and their work is valuable for a deeper understanding of a piece of art.

I’d like to narrow the topic and explain what I mean by the example of film criticism. So why is film criticism important? One of the most known American film critics Roger Ebert gave a very simple answer — “Because films are important”. And in their turn, films are important because they have a great influence on the society and the way people think (FoundationINTERVIEWS, 2008).

It is vital to bear in mind that film criticism exists not because it is meant to tell the audience what to think and feel — it has a greater purpose of putting the films in the cultural context, giving a better understanding of the decisions made by filmmakers (Fischer, 2015). Familiar with the film art much more than a general audience, they can reveal more details that can provide a deeper understanding of what the film crew intended to say including subtexts, allusions and so on.

Considering all this, we should value film criticism — and criticism in general — as it analyses the piece of work within its cultural context, looking closer at every creative decision that contributed to the final product. And in order for people to realize this importance, we should get rid of that ridiculous negative perception of criticism and focus more on what we can learn from it and how we can get better.


References

Fischer, C. (2015). The importance of film criticism. University Observer. Retrieved 22 April    2018, from http://www.universityobserver.ie/otwo/the-importance-of-film-criticism/

FoundationINTERVIEWS. (2008, December 30). Roger Ebert on Film Criticism – EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FCVlQ_5aSI

CIU111.3 The Motion Picture Patent Wars

Copyright is something at least barely familiar to everyone. We know that intellectual work is protected by copyright, we know we should not break these rules because in fact it is considered stealing, plus if we want our intellectual property to be protected then we should respect others’. In fact, it doesn’t always work like that, but what interested me more during our Copyright & Contracts lecture was if all these copyright laws are actually made just right to manage all the challenges of intellectual property.

So I started digging deeper into the issue. I won’t be able to cover the topic properly considering the word limit, however, I’ll try to at least briefly cover the issue. So, first, I’ll talk about the effect of patent and copyright on the early development of filmmaking industry in Hollywood. After inventing a working camera and the projector by Lumber in 1895, the patent holders for making and distributing movies including but not limited by Jenkins and Edison formed the Motion Pictures Patent Company, a cartel known as the Film Trust (Khairy, 2010).

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Members of the Motion Pictures Patent Company 

 

After that, the organization considered themselves the only ones who were allowed to make and distribute films, suing everyone who tried to produce something on their own. “Illegal” movies were distributed in nickelodeons — and the confrontation between the Film Trust and their opposition (who would later become Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. and others) led to an actual war which was fortunately won by those who fought for freedom of filmmaking (Wu, 2010).

Nickel-Ext

Nickelodeon — a place where the films used to be distributed

Copyright laws might be very important, but even nomads some of them stop the progress and the development of creative media industries. No doubt, we should obey the copyright laws. However, we all should be aware that sometimes they might be changed for the industry to move on.


References 

Khairy, W. (2010). Film History: The Motion Picture Patent Wars. The Cinephile Fix. Retrieved 21 April 2018, from https://cinephilefix.com/2010/05/22/film-history-the-motion-picture-patent-wars-2/

Members of Motion Picture Patents Company [Online image]. (2018). Retrieved from https://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft3q2nb2gw&chunk.id=d0e16683&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e16474&brand=ucpress

Nickel-Ext [Online image]. Retrieved from https://www.pghfilm.org/about-us/history/nickel-ext/

Wu, T. (2013). The master switch. New York: Vintage Books.

CIU111.3 Why social media is important for your career?

During one of the lectures in this trimester, we covered how social media presence may affect your career development. We discussed the role social media plays in self-promoting and establishing a certain community in your field. Personally, I believe that social media is more than just a mean of communication. It is a medium where you present yourself similar to how you do it in the real world. Moreover, your social media presence affects your career and can either boost it or sabotage it.

social media.jpg

It is a well-known fact that your potential employer might check your social media before hiring you to get to know you and your values a little bit more. According to the survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, about 70 percent of employers scan social media of their potential employees and this number is growing really fast (Salm, 2017). That’s why it is extremely important to pay attention to your online activity and make sure that it truly represents your attitudes and beliefs. This also affects creative media industry as people within it pay more and more attention to social media. For instance, I have been told a story when a filmmaker did not get funding just because she had less than eight thousand followers on Instagram. Apart from that, social media is a perfect tool to establish contacts with people within your industry or with those who are interested in your work. Strong social media presence may help people to get to know you and start appreciating your work (Jozeph, 2017).

All in all, social media might be advantageous or disadvantageous for your career — it depends on the way you use it. This discussion made me change my mind about my approach to my social media presence and pay more attention to establishing my own brand via this medium.


References 

Joseph, S. (2017). If You’re Serious About Your Career, You Can’t Ignore Social Media. Forbes.com. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/shelcyvjoseph/2017/12/26/if-youre-serious-about-your-career-you-cannot-ignore-social-media/#53845c4c7ceb

Salm, L. (2017). 70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles | CareerBuilder. Careerbuilder.com. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017

Social Media Icons [Online Image]. (2018). Retrieved from http://b1039.com/2018/02/16/social-media-can-help-prevent-mass-catastrophes/

FLM110.3 “Let’s better watch it at home” — How we can engage with the film and become an ​active audience

As for a film student, movies are for me a much more important thing than just entertaining. For quite a big part of the general audience going to the movies is a way to spend a night out and to have fun. However, I believe that watching a film as a passive audience member — someone who notices only the basic actions without digging deeper into the meanings — is just not worth it. But how we can engage with a film to be active?

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First, many people consider that one can get a proper engaging experience while watching a movie only in cinema. Personally, I don’t agree with it — and it’s not only me. Nowadays, people don’t go to the movies that often because the audience lost the basics of etiquette. Those who come to the cinema to watch a film are being highly distracted by popcorn-eaters, phones, people talking out loud right in the middle of the film. The problem of losing the interest to the cinema is not because of the increasing popularity of streaming and downloading — it’s because of those who surround us (Hudson, 2018).

So, I’d prefer to watch a film at home. But it is also about how you watch it. In order to be an active audience member, you need to focus a lot on the details to be engaged with different meanings of the film and get your own perception of the presented ideas. Trying to understand characters’ motivations and analyze the relationships between everything that is included in the frame (A Word on Film, 2018).

I believe that no matter where you watch a film, you need to try to be as active as it is possible in order to get a proper personal understanding of this piece of art.


References 

A Word of Film. (2018, April 12). How to Be An Active Audience Member. Retrieved 2018, April 16 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuCzgTBdRUQ

Hudson, P. (2018, March 28). Popcorn pigs and mobile phone callers – people don’t go to the cinema any more because of other people says Polly Hudson. Retrieved 2018, April 16 from https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/going-out/people-dont-go-cinema-any-12268001#comments-section

Movie Theater [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.talkfilmsociety.com/articles/why-i-stopped-going-to-movie-theatres-the-death-of-etiquette

Film form of the opening sequence from “City of God”

Film form includes multiple aspects of the film language, including cinematography, editing, sound, lighting and color, and mise-en-scene (SAE Film and Media, 2015). Analysing the film form of the opening sequence from “City of God” (Meirelles, 2002), it is vital to pay attention to editing used while creating the sequence. First of all, the high paced editing has been used in order to present the world of the film. The editor uses a lot of cuts, showing the audience the life at the Brazilian slums. Parallel editing technique is used to show different actions happening at the same time: the chasing of the chicken and the main character walking down the street. When the main characters meet each other, the editor uses slow motion to enhance the dramatic effect.

Talking about the sound, many diegetic sounds – “sounds whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film” (FilmSound.org, n.d.) – are used in the opening sequence, including sharpening of the knife, playing some Latin music, chickens being killed, shouts and gunshots. Apart from that, a non-diegetic music appears during the chasing of the chicken.

The use of color also plays a significant role in the film form of the opening scene of City of God. Mostly the cold tones are being used in the main part of the scene. The image looks a bit desaturated, and the blue color dominates in the color system. However, during the flashback, the colors are rather warm, and the yellow color dominates in the color palette.


References

FilmSound.org. (n.d.). Diegetic Sound. Retrieved February 18, 2018 from http://filmsound.org/terminology/diegetic.htm

Ribeiro A. B. (Producer) & Meirelles. F. (Director). (2002). City of God [Motion Picture]. Brazil: Miramax Films.

SAE Film and Media. (2015, 30 January). Film form. Retrieved February 18, 2018 from https://medium.com/@SAEFilmStudies/film-language-1-film-form-914f72543b37

Soviet Montage Theory

Soviet Montage Theory was invented in the 1920s by Soviet filmmakers, and since then it has become one of the most recognizable techniques commonly used all over the world. It had a great impact on the way of creating movies in the early years of cinema development. Soviet Montage was a new language in filmmaking as it refused the standards of continuity system, trying to express ideas by combining and contrasting the images and breaking time and space unity (Berrance, 2014, para. 1-2).

The history of the Soviet Montage begins after the Russian Revolution and the rise of Bolsheviks in the USSR. Soviet filmmakers were looking for a new language in cinema, which could also be used as a propaganda tool to spread the revolutionary ideas among the working class. “Filmmakers like Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov thought the continuity system was ‘bourgeois’ because it faked reality. They believed in Marxist ‘dialectic’ which was about the conflict between ideas. Eisenstein wanted to use cinema to stir emotions and inspire the audience to get behind the revolution” (Berrance, para. 4-5). Eisenstein claimed that everything captured by the camera is just a raw material which needs to be edited in order to become a film (Renée, 2014, para.1).

Soviet Montage Theory was inspired by the Kuleshov Effect. Lev Kuleshov was one of the early film theorists who made a very important discovery and brought a new perception of cinema. He discovered that the way audience responds to the images shown in the movie directly depends on the shots that go before and after, and placing them in a different order can change how people perceive the ideas (Berrance, 2014, para. 3).

Kuleshov-effect

Kuleshov’s experiment

One of Kuleshov’s students, Sergei Eisenstein continued to develop his ideas. He approached to films in an intellectual way, and that’s how the Montage Theory was born. Eisenstein claimed that confines of time and space can be broken in order to effectively communicate the ideas. He created an innovative language that he used in his films including Battleship Potemkin (1925), making a great step in cinema development. Eisenstein used montage to evoke the emotional response from the audience, and he succeeded in it. Eisenstein approached to showing ideas dialectically, creating a conflict between two shots going after one another. The associations triggered by this conflict create a new synthesis idea in viewers’ minds. Eisenstein was mostly interested in intellectual, or ideological, montage, and contributed a lot to its development (FilmmakerIQ.com, 2014).

There is a lot more to study to understand the whole concept of the Soviet Montage. Dziga Vertov was another filmmaker who took part in the development of this theory, making the editing visible and even obvious to the viewer. Soviet Montage affected the way films are being made, and it is still used in modern movies. Soviet filmmakers contributed a lot to understanding the psychology of the film and made numerous extraordinary discoveries in this sphere.

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Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1925). Poster by the Stenberg brothers, 2012


References

Barrance, T. (2014, February 14). Soviet montage: how the Russian Revolution changed film. Retrieved October 21, 2017, from http://learnaboutfilm.com/soviet-montage/

Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1925). Poster by the Stenberg brothers [Online image]. (2012, October 26). Retrieved October, 21, 2017, from https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/movie-poster-of-the-week-battleship-potemkin-and-the-stenberg-brothers-at-auction

FilmmakerIQ.com. (2014). The History of Cutting – The Soviet Theory of Montage [Video file]. Retrieved October, 21, 2017, from https://vimeo.com/86462452

Kuleshov effect [Online image]. (2015, August 31). Retrieved October 31, 2017 from http://www.curatormagazine.com/michaeltoscano/kuleshovs-effect-the-man-behind-soviet-montage/

Renée, V. (2014, October 28). Video: The History of Editing, Eisenstein, & the Soviet Montage. Retrieved October 21, 2017, from http://nofilmschool.com/2014/02/video-the-history-of-editing-eisenstein-the-soviet-montage-explained

 

Conflict in Scriptwriting

A key to writing a successful story in general and particularly a screenplay is a great conflict which is the driving force of all the events taking place. First, let’s define this term in order to understand its importance. In storytelling, conflict “is the central struggle between characters or competing forces, such as man against nature, society, or himself” (Tucker, n.d., para. 1). In fact, a conflict can be represented in various forms, but it keeps being a vital part of a story. A protagonist tries to achieve his or her ultimate goal while different forces create obstacles to prevent the character from succeeding in it. By overcoming these obstacles this character develops —— in screenwriting, it is called character arc (Kram, 2016, para. 1-3).

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Conflict between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in Star Wars 

There are two main types of conflicts: internal and external ones. However, both of them can be present in one story. According to Michael Rabiger (n.d, para. 1), these are the combinations of forces that are commonly in storytelling:

  • Person vs. person, which is an external conflict.
  • Person vs. environmental or social institution, which is also an external conflict.
  • Person vs. a task he or she is supposed to complete, which includes both internal and external conflict.
  • Person vs. him- or herself (if the character suffers from a severe inner struggle), which is an internal conflict.

In fact, most of the films include internal and external conflicts at the same time. For example, such movies as The Silence of the Lambs, Whiplash, Moby Dick or Star Wars (Kram, 2016, para. 11-17).

In many films, conflict is expressed through the battle between what is right and what is wrong. “Stories devised on mythic, heroic or moralistic models usually frame conflict with the clear dichotomy of good versus evil” (Rabiger, n.d., para. 2). However, more realistic scenarios require creating three-dimensional characters with complex psychological motivation. When it comes to real life, it is usually difficult to define the right and the wrong ones. The same thing happens in realistic stories and screenplays, thus conflicts become more complicated (Rabiger, n.d., para. 3).

Why conflict is essential in storytelling? First, it drives the plot forward, provoking the protagonist to take action and overcome all the obstacles he or she faces on the way to achieving the goal (Tucker, n.d., para.3). Character needs motivation, otherwise the story just doesn’t make sense. Another important point is that conflict contributes to creating suspense and engaging the audience, allowing it to deeply immerse in the story. Finally, conflict drives the story towards resolution, which is expected by the audience from the beginning. Resolution is the final part of the transformation of the protagonist, and without conflict it would be impossible (Tuccillo, 2013, para. 7).

Conflict-vs-Resolution

Even though Conflict takes a bigger amount of screentime, its importance is equal to Resolution. Driving the story towards Resolution is one of the purposes of Conflict.

It is crucial to realize the importance of a conflict in scriptwriting as it is one of the key elements that can bring a story to success. Without conflict there is no drama, and vice versa.


References

Conflict vs Resolution [Online image]. (2013, June 24). Retrieved October 31, 2017 from http://nofilmschool.com/2013/06/conflict-resolution-put-characters-through-hell

Kram, W. (2017, August 02). Screenplay Writing: Conflicts & Obstacles. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from http://www.scriptmag.com/features/wendys-la4hire-great-screenplay-writing-conflicts-obstacles

Rabiger, M. (n.d.). Defining Conflict. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from http://www.masteringfilm.com/defining-conflict/

Tuccillo, D. (2013, July 24). Conflict vs. Resolution: The Importance of Putting Your Characters Through Hell in Your Screenplay. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from http://nofilmschool.com/2013/06/conflict-resolution-put-characters-through-hell

Tucker, K. (n.d.). Definition of Conflict in Literature. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from http://penandthepad.com/definition-conflict-literature-6503127.html

Star Wars [Online Image]. (2014, March 19). Retrieved October 17, 2017, from https://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/star-wars-episode-vii-set-30-years-return-jedi-filming-begin-may/