The Proposal

The following thread is a rough outline for my proposed short film for MEDA 301. The work is yet untitled, though for the sake of the post I am dubbing the series “The Dan Witch Project”. It will be constructed as a series of “Daily Vlog” style videos recounting the adventures across New South Wales of a group of young adults.

 

“The Dan Witch Project” is a series following our protagonist with his group of fun loving, young adult friends who are going on a trip across Australia to align their chakras, pop some “mad caps” and try to flush out all the negative vibes of inner city life. However, unbeknownst to him, this is all a front for blood sacrifices, demonic possessions and the coven’s actions to gain unrivalled powers from an unknown force.

Follow the team through shenanigans such as: the member responsible for packing food bringing nothing but sticks with her, disguising someone’s possession as a bad drug trip, reversed speaking through the walkie talkies, screaming in the forest at night and “the office” style reflections to camera.

The film begins with a group interview at home in front of the vehicles that they will be taking on the trip. The gang collectively states that the plan is to do a 6 day round trip through western nsw to escape the confines of city and suburban life

The basic travel rules are set (vehicles listed, seating arrangement and rough itinerary) this is intercut with B-roll of each stated aspect of the trip such as close up shots of the various vehicles being taken, camera gear etc.

Each character introduces themselves and states what they want to get out of the trip, this is framed within the protagonist’s understanding of the situation. No occult references are made during this opening scene.

The first incident will be the packing of sticks instead of food, this will happen way out in woop woop on the first day and will spark the suspicion in the audience.

As the first day turns to night, an obvious shift in tone is established, whether this be via camera movement (ideally having the camera locked on the leading vehicle do a 180 degree spin on its Z axis as the sun sets) and the groups actions become more ritualistic. This is to remain subtle until the protagonist goes to bed sand the true nature of the trip shows itself with some form of satanic ritual.

The scene will end with an axe swung towards a sacrifice’s head, transition to a shot the next day of the group splitting watermelons. As the trip continues, small issues arise such as the main character finding blood on one of the cameras, but through the day the events mostly fall in to the Casey Neistat/ Peter McKinnon upbeat travel vlog.

Another two conflicts may arise through a scene where the walkie talkies transmit in reverse tongue, and a member of the group identifies a location where everyone screeches to a halt to perform a minor ritual. The following night involves a possession that the group tries to pass off as a drug trip, the main is becoming more and more suspicious and on edge through the trip.

On the second last day, the main finds a huge clue (item pending) and causes a huge confrontation. The group have no malice towards the main character, at no point should they belittle him for lack of powers or suggest him as a sacrifice, he just kind of flips out as the rest of the group look sheepish. This then ties in to the aforementioned “The Office” style interviews that add depth to each character, ending with the protagonist stating that it was a bad idea to come on this trip.

Ideally by the last day, the main character realises that it is 2018 and he should not be prejudice towards his mates for their beliefs and the group pack up for the trip home.

 

 

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The Process

Bringing the focus of the blog back to creating a short film based on the “Vlogging” format, the working process that best relates to the content I would like to produce is the professional daily vlog. These videos fuse the small team, quick turnover nature of daily vlogs with professional grade production value and storytelling. Examples harken back to my previous blog post discussing the works of Casey Neistat (Neistat, 2018), Peter McKinnon (McKinnon, 2018) and Sara Dietschy (Dietschy, 2018).

However, creating a meaningful art piece can not rely solely on the hope that a story may emerge from a day of filming, well constructed narratives, shot-lists, character arcs and cohesive content is derived from a more classical form of film making. Think “The Screenwriter’s Bible” (Trottier, 1994) or Herzog’s Masterclass (Herzog, 2018), which teach the importance of a well thought out and executed pre-production scaffold over the “run and gun” nature of daily vlogging. The challenge then arises of how can I create a piece that is convincing in its format, but as well though out as conventional cinema?

Finding a vlogger’s artistic inspiration and drive will be paramount on creating g a piece that is faithful to the genre. If I were to imitate the style while embracing only the process set by conventional filmmaking, the guise of a daily blog would be unveiled. But if I produce my film with only the scaffold of the daily blog to guid me, the film will undoubtedly lose direction and focus. Marrying the ideals, goals and drive that pushes daily vloggers with a more rigid storytelling process will help form a film true top genre.

So what are the ideals of the vlogging juggernaut? After watching countless episodes and how to’s over my 2-3 year long fascination with the genre, I feel like the core drive of the daily blogger is best summarised by Casey himself in his 2017 short “HOW TO VLOG LIKE CASEY NEISTAT by CASEY NEISTAT” (Neistat, 2017). In the video, he states that “The idea of using your life as a narrative for a daily series”. This means that an episodic recount of the daily struggles, commutes and interactions no matter how trivial, should be used to tell a professional story. Neistat puts emphasis on this story over almost everything else, when you are the character, and who production value is minimal, all a daily vlogger has is a great story. The best example of this is his piece titled “MY ALL TIME GREATEST!!!” (Neistat, 2016) which perfectly lines up a three act story, while remaining spontaneous and organic.

Other key points on creating a cinematic daily vlog are outlined in the aforementioned video such as using the best camera your character would have at his or her disposal at the time (handheld shots are regularly done with a point and shoot, where professional dslrs are used for locked down talking head portions). Though putting emphasis on his core drive is what will go furthest in creating this genre based work.

References

Dietschy, S. (2018). Sara Dietschy. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/saradietschy [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

McKinnon, P. (2018). Peter McKinnon. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/petermckinnon24 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

Neistat, C. (2018). CaseyNeistat. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/caseyneistat [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

Trottier, D. (1994). The screenwriter’s bible. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press.

Herzog, W. (2018). MasterClass | Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking. [online] MasterClass. Available at: https://www.masterclass.com/classes/werner-herzog-teaches-filmmaking?utm_source=Paid&utm_medium=AdWords&utm_term=Aq-Prospecting&utm_content=Brand-%2Bmasterclass%20%2Bfilmmaking&utm_campaign=WH&gclid=Cj0KCQjwy9LVBRDOARIsAGqoVns4z2tZU-ILsAlu4MG1xS0qfIQ5P__SCL0zwdyUNOhAXqe0WCTKQJUaAg_hEALw_wcB [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

Neistat, C. (2017). HOW TO VLOG LIKE CASEY NEISTAT by CASEY NEISTAT. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q980C74SdYQ [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

Neistat, C. (2016). MY ALL TIME GREATEST!!!. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrcMDnPTdBU [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

The Opportunity

When presented with the question of what opportunities are available to me post graduation, I often think back to the hundreds of times my worried father has asked me when I am going to get a job relevant to my degree, or when at the very least, the Uni will begin discussion this pathway. I always seem to get caught up on this question (much to his dismay) but after procrastinating this question for over a week. I think it’s time to tackle the issue head on.

So what do I plan to do after uni. Ideally I would love to spend the rest of my days traveling around the world, living out of my car and taking photos worthy of six foot tall prints. However, the further I research, the more I realise that I am going to have to put in some serious work to get there, so what are the small steps I can take this year, to set myself to retire to photographic hermitage in the future?

The most influential pathway mentioned last week was the University of South Australia’s STEMSTAG scholarship (Unisa.edu.au, 2018). This year long international arts scholarship is available to any Australian student either studying arts at university or has graduated from an arts degree in the last five years. The opportunity for me would mean that I could broaden my cultural artistic horizons, gain valuable international connections, create more engaging content for my current followers (social media being a huge tool for artists in the 21st century) and forcing me in to a more focused artistic direction, devoid of the distractions of my “Real Life”.

Apart from this scholarship, the next step I would likely take towards being a photo hermit would be to form an artists’ conglomerate in order to support local producers seeking work in the corporate space. Ideally, this group (dubbed Handmade Media) would source work for local talent in order to create more professional content for businesses working in the Illawarra. Using the funds created to not only pay the team, but to also fund passion projects and gallery spaces.

I like to think that I have a clear direction in life, that I am making all of the right moves and seizing every opportunity that comes my way, but this lifestyle takes a lot of work to create, and I am only starting my struggle towards the goal.

 

References

Unisa.edu.au. (2018). Apply for the Scholarship – University of South Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.unisa.edu.au/Business-community/Samstag-Museum/Samstag-Scholarships/Apply-for-scholarships/ [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

The Past

After some heavy discussion with fellow course mates, I am firmly seated in the idea of producing a short film which uses ancient folk tales to tell a more contemporary story. The work will most likely centre around dark aspects of witchcraft and the occult, combined with the airy, carefree genre of internet vlogging.

Ideally, the piece will be constructed like a modern day “Travel Vlog” bearing the trademark tropes such as: casually blending behind the scene footage with well constructed cinematic footage, B-roll establishing the locations, an emphasis on handheld first person shots and natural dialogue mixed with satanic ritual, powers and intense demonic imagery.

Past inspiration for my piece can be categorised in two groups, with minor overlap. You have the conventional vlogers such as Casey Neistat (Neistat, 2018), Peter McKinnon (Mckinnon, 2018) and Sam Kolder (Kolder, 2018) connecting to movies such as the Blair Witch Project (The Blair Witch Project, 1999) and The VVitch (The Witch, 2015) through cult internet videos similar to Marble Hornets (Marble Hornets, 2009).

Using these examples to form the medium, I am hoping to produce a professional Narrative based piece, working with others from Media 301. The examples provided utilise low budgets and small crew to make a story which feels organic, spontaneous and true to the character’s real life experience. These concepts will be the driving force of the piece and will hopefully help form a film that is faithful to the genre.

 

References

Neistat, C. (2018). CaseyNeistat. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/caseyneistat [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

Mckinnon, P. (2018). Peter McKinnon. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/user/petermckinnon24 [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

Kolder, S. (2018). KOLD – My Year 2016. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJbpJQscn9E&t=8s [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

The Blair Witch Project. (1999). [DVD] Directed by D. Myrick and E. Sanchez. The University of Central Florida: Haxan Films.

The Witch. (2015). [DVD] Directed by R. Eggers. Canada: A24.

Marble Hornets. (2009). Directed by J. DeLarge. America: THACC.

The Passion

When asked what my preferred art practice is, the easiest answer would be analog photography. Film in all its form takes up so much of my life that it verges on an obsession. From my personal hobby, to my professional workspace, through photography and cinematography I can’t get over Celluloid stocks. However, beyond the medium; my artistic practice can be broken down in to an abstract visual story telling.

With idols such as David Lynch, Ansel Adams, Broken INT and Dali I find myself constantly asking myself “How can I tell this story in a way that hasn’t been told before. whether it be through in camera techniques, post production, performance or through sound, I have found a passion in finding age old platforms, stories and concepts, and pushing them to their limits. So where is my drive leading me to create next?

 

It’s a vague idea in it’s infant stages, but I have always loved the old folk tales of beasts in the forest. Werewolves, Zombies, Witches, Vampires and Demons. Using these traditions, I would ideally love to use classic lore to create a work which comments on humanity and our current culture. Whether it be the predatory lifestyle of a coven, the seclusion and ostracisation of some creature or the mass influence an immortal vampire could have on society, where monster stories were told to the youth of old in order to teach manners and respect, I would love to re-tell these stories to today’s adults to help them have a better understanding of the world around us.

 

A short film format would be the most direct form of story telling, however, the possibilities are endless. performance, photographic, sculptural or audio artworks could tell the story in interesting ways. In the coming weeks hopefully I will be able to better clarify my artistic direction.

 

Mystery Box Reflection

Mystery Box is my latest installation which is intended to expose the frustration of the audience when placed in an interactive gallery and told not to approach or interact with a mystery box. Using non-physical barriers such as signs, tape and the stigma of touching other’s work, the audience is put in a mind space of questioning intention and their own actions.

Response to the work was overwhelmingly positive. Having experience various levels of frustration experienced by the audience from anger to nonchalance. The audience also varied in their interaction. I witnessed total refrain, extreme hesitance, determination and uninterrupted physical contact with the piece. One of the greatest pieces of positive feedback was the perception of how the art work only became effective because of the casual and interactive nature of the gallery it was show in. Had the piece been featured in a space where interaction was not encouraged, the responder stated that they would not find the work interesting at all.

My work’s intention was mostly achieved. Ideally, the piece would capture a wider audience and record the reactions of the participants. To achieve this, I am thinking of adding audio incentives within the Mystery box, either via Arduino and speaker or via bluetooth and using pen and paper, as well as a time-lapse camera to capture the reactions of the audience. This will hopefully create a longer lasting meaning to the piece in being able to qualitatively study audiences reactions within the gallery space.

Another issue with the piece is that some participants were not desired by the signage and proceeded directly to opening the box. Though I can not force audiences in to any specific state of mind, I can add factors which cause the piece to deserve more reverence. The two major changes aesthetically that I would like to shift is having the plinth be more decorated, either with a cover or lights, and to introduce a surface within the marked off area such as a rug to further alienate the space.

Overall these are minor changes and are easily achievable by the due date, I am stoked that I had this chance to test the piece seeing as it relies so heavily on the reaction it gains from others.

Closing Time 2017

And here it is, my final blog post of this semester. After 13 weeks of research, production, analysis and crying I’m ready to hand in my final projects. This final instalment will look in to my reflection in producing my “Love Letter to Analog Photography” analysis of the medium’s relevance ion 2017.

Though much of this reflection is going to analyse how i ended with the lecture topics in my research, It is important to also look back on my communication on my progress throughout this semester. Sadly, this was an element I found myself unable to fully produce. The final report, though cohesive in its argument and conclusion, was for the most part a mystery throughout its inception. Had I known the target audience for my piece, and dressed said audience in my blog then the project would have been for naught. The analysis of film photography’s relevance was as much a look in to how important the medium was as to who the target market for this technique was. Which is why my posts one the matter have been sparse and vague.

As aforementioned, this post also seeks to analyse my engagement with the lecture topics in regards to writing my major work. Notes open these topics include:

Curiosity

Curiosity was the core driving force in my research topic selection. Analog photography is my greatest passion and I am aspiring to turn this hobby in to a profitable business.

Reflexivity

However, researching such a subject infers a level of subjective analysis. I note this in multiple occasions within my final report. Stating my aim in not forming a bias, though alerting the audience to the inevitability of a subjective analysis in my quantitative research.

Socially responsible research design

This topic takes up an entire chapter in my report. Working with focus groups can raise many ethical dilemmas which I noted and resolved before proceeding with primary research.

Critical judgment

Regardless of my aspirations as a film photographer, I set out to accurately define the influence of the medium to businesses in 2107. This meant being critical towards the craft and forming unbiased conclusions.

respect, Integrity, negotiation and flexibility

These were all values which I exhibited when working on primary research. I showed respect, negotiation and flexibility by changing the recording structure of the focus group, while showing integrity through my privacy statement before commencing.

creativity

I tried to structure this report in a creative manor to engage wider audiences. The avid use of screen grabs and other people’s photographic work helps move the narrative forward in an engaging and more exciting manor.

Insight

De-cyphering and analysing primary and secondary qualitative data is where I showed the greatest level of insight.

communication

Was the only topic I lacked in. Outside of the required blog posts, I kept most of my work hidden from online audiences. Only discussing my work in class. This was because of the shifting in my project’s conclusion as my research grew.

professionalism

Though this is a piece made for use by businesses and artist alike, I feel the homeliness of the report grounds itself in professionalism. Structure, analysis and transparency are all ways I expressed professionalism within my work.

If i was to further this research, I would put more emphasis on other formats such as 120 film and motion picture film. I would also look further in tot he current state of analog film, exploring events such as Fujifilm halting production and Kodak pushing for more movies to be shot on film. I exercised precision on this report so as to deepen the research in to the specific motive of the piece and to open up the possibility of further research on the matter branching off in to these other facets.