World’s Most Wanted

Content: HD

As always, great. Guests were excellent (the choice to include someone from overseas working in Australia was brilliant – would not have thought of that) and some of the topics of discussion really spoke to me. Great early career insight – “faking it until you make it” as Ange concisely put it. None of the other seminars really addressed entry level positions. The point on false bubbles of praise such as in the case of that film festival was fantastic – I have encountered this a lot. My only real issue with the content is that they never really explained how they got into international work – it was always some miraculous internship etc, which is a little unrealistic.

Approach: HD

See above. Early career insight, varied guests. Questions were well presented, prompting deeper discussion – the tangent on women in the industry, though perhaps somewhat irrelevant, was good, for example.

Theme: D

Aesthetically, Most Wanted’s theme was quite strong. The image of the paper plane was consistent and gave the seminar character. It was also well applied, and prevalent throughout the seminar itself – along the wall upon entry, stuck to the seats and around the seminar room. However, I find it hard to see where the ‘Wanted’ theme fits in. A plane hijacking act would have probably been a little offensive to some. Almost a HD.

Staging: D

Oof, I really want to give them a HD here, too. They probably deserve one, but I’m too pedantic. My first impression was very positive: the three little coloured lights were simple but very effective – gave the room some flavour. The set itself was fairly minimal, but worked well. However, they used LEDs to light the speakers. Apparently nobody else sees this, but, as with the TV seminar, I think this made them look awful. They aren’t bright enough, and the blue light, while looking fine through a white balanced camera, makes their skin look very unnatural to the naked eye.

Promotion: C

The weakest part to what is otherwise my favorite seminar thus far. They started pretty late, and I did find it quite irritating when they did, as they had to dump quite a lot of information over the course of just a few days. Otherwise, the design of their promotional material was top notch.

Seminar Retrospective

Well, forgot all about continuing to write these seminar updates on account of going all out on organizing the seminar itself, but here’s some retrospective thoughts on what went down.

Seminar itself was more or less a disaster, to my mind. This, I think, was largely because I myself bit off more than I could chew, juggling, as the technical director, lighting, sound and camera. The lighting, my doing entirely, was quite bad – with the guests looking pretty uncomfortable, what with the two thousand watts of focused light shining in their eyes – something I did somewhat anticipate but assumed I would have more time to fix. Had no time at all to give audio a proper once-over and spot any of the issues we had in the first half of the seminar. Camera should have mostly been fine (though one of the camera’s back focus was off – had no time to fix that at all). Should have appointed separate people to each of these three roles, that would have solved everything. Instead, I had to run around trying to tell people what to do whilst also trying to sort things out myself; didn’t work out too well.

On this note, working with a large group was difficult, though I imagine this would be less of an issue in the real world, where people would have their own particular specializations and things would be a lot more streamlined as a result. Still, one of our biggest failings was we didn’t establish clear (and forceful) enough roles from the get-go, resulting in people kinda just milling around not making much progress. I was only supposed to be the camera/equipment guy, dammit!

On the other hand, technicalities aside, I think these seminars more or less run themselves by virtue of the guest. Ours were great, and they really held it together.

Meeting

Had out major group meeting. It was a bit of a disappointment to me. We definitely made major progress, switching gears with our seminar’s primary focus and moving forward in regards to our guests. Still, I had intended to also use it as a chance to, step by step, go through EVERYTHING on the agenda, but I had to leave early to conduct a PNR interview and we did not get a chance to do this. Oh well, guess it’s up to the marketing people to actually get to designing our marketing!

Breaking In

Content: HD

Great. Very informative, good guests and surprisingly, quite on time. Delivered a good insight on rising through the ranks as well as a solid (though indirect) overview of the current state of the industry and its future.

 

Approach: D

Certainly not bad; the way most questions were framed really encouraged a more practical, almost anecdotal insight into the industry and how it actually works – what the experiences of the guest speakers have actually been. I was, however, pretty troubled by the ‘Who Am I’ segment, which I felt added next to nothing to the seminar. It was a little fun, I suppose (the actual comedy element was great), but got old very, very fast.

 

Theme: HD

Loved it, as I see Breaking Bad as being thoroughly emblematic of ‘good television’. May just be because it was one of the first of these HBO-style dramas I got into. Nevertheless, this was tied into the presentation of the seminar exceedingly well. Blue meth rock candies? Great! Well, they tasted pretty bad, but definite points for effort.

 

Staging: D

I’m in two minds about this one. On one hand, the use of stage props really did wonders for spicing the otherwise quite boring lecture room up. They were actual TV props from RMITV, I believe, and really made it look like a TV show – very good. But on the other hand, I really was not a fan of the lighting. There were a lot of mildly distracting shadows and the colour temperature of the LEDs didn’t look great. Oh, and one of the lights was actually pointed right at the projector screen – there wasn’t all that much on it, so this wasn’t really an issue, but still.

 

Promotion: D

Again, I was definitely aware of the seminar’s existence, so it was effective. However, I feel like it was a little excessive. It may just be because I am a member of all the groups and pages it was advertised on on Facebook, but I was actually bothered by all the notifications I kept getting. Still, they were pretty well delivered, and neatly kept with the Wanted theme.

Taking Charge

Okay, looks like it happened again. We’re behind due to people being too passive.

Thankfully, I’m more or less not very busy at this stage, so time to start being forceful, give tight deadlines, as well as actually get things done myself. Already got staging and equipment more or less set, now we just need guests and a finalized seminar structure and we’re pretty much ready.

Non-Fiction

Content: D

All in all, especially for what it was, the content of the seminar was quite solid. The guests, Geneveive in particular, were a treat to listen to and had a lot of valuable insight to give on the documentary industry. The section on funding was great in that it addressed the whole “You can’t make money in documentary” issue nicely. My main issue with content was that it didn’t feel 100% complete. A lot was covered, but I didn’t come out of it with this big image and understanding of the film-documentary industry.

Approach: HD

All in all, I think their angle was a good one. Despite lacking this grand, ground-up overview factor, they were very to the point in tackling key points of discussion, and segments flowed nicely (though they were, of course, behind schedule, something I am aaaallllll too familiar with).

Theme: D

Non-Fiction’s theme was certainly very stylish, with well designed type and a strong consistency across all aspects of their marketing and the seminar itself. The branding on the trail mix packets, in particular, really impressed me, very nearly bringing my mark for this up to a HD. However, I was quite bothered by the fact that they made extensive use of imagery from Pulp Fiction for no readily discernible reason. That isn’t a documentary! I understand, however, that they would probably run into issues with imagery from any given documentary film not being easily recognizable.

Staging: HD

Veeery nice. Lighting was very good, and it really showed in their photos. Only complaints here stem from the fact that the room was so small; lights were slightly in the way and there was a camera right into the middle of the single aisle. These did not, however, end up actually getting in the way, so no problem. I doubt they had any real alternatives.

Promotion: HD

Again, quite good. Encountered multiple instances of marketing across multiple media and was very much aware of the seminar’s existence. I have by no means memorized the order in which the seminars will go, but I firmly knew that the documentary one would be this Friday, commonly coming into contact with their Facebook promotion and posters around campus.

Hunting Down Guests

The beauty of being in the Film group is that most of my PNR contacts will probably be good guests for our seminar. As such, I’m making some solid progress on getting some candidates together.

The Ball

It is now officially rolling. Got a preliminary structure together in today’s tute and got our roles sorted; I’ve been assigned event AV and I guess working on the promotional video, which will likely be a recut version of a movie trailer (to be filmed by us) we are using as part of the seminar. Pretty comfortable/happy with that. Now to get into the nitty gritty of it.

Getting Started

Aaaaalrighty, here we go.

List of things we need to do is thankfully smaller than I expected. Going to try to keep the group motivated by posting deadlines and checklists on our communal Facebook page (Facebook is a great collaborative tool, because it’s so hard to ignore), as I have had issues with this in the past.

Shooting a short film over the next two weeks, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to contribute as much during this time, but after that, on account of only having three classes this semester, I think I’ll be able to put a lot into this project.

The Screening

Oh my. Interview heaven. I must say, I hoped to see more conceptual stuff. Our own film was like that too – it seems as though interview driven documentaries are just the easiest way to go. In many cases, a topic will just naturally gravitate towards being most efficiently told through interviews, as it did in our case. That said, I don’t think I can really say that any of the films were outright bad – there was some really good stuff that, if I weren’t so bitter and judgemental, I could have really like. And some of it I did, indeed, really like.

 

Hijra – Interesting ethno-centric insight into, I guess, what it is like to be someone else. I thought it felt a little “formal”, not in terms of atmosphere, but in that it was just, straight up, people talking about their experiences with not that much else there. I realize, however, that “something else” would be quite hard to come up with. Had some great moments, particularly the bit where she’s talking about being black (without actually being black).

Sea Shepherd – I really wasn’t too engaged by the subject matter in this one. Again, very direct and, again, with some great moments. Guy talking about his own death and how he will not be remembered, and still sounding very happy, was excellent.

Able & Game – Yet again, subject matter. It felt very trivial to me, as though it was not something I really needed to know about. Regardless, I think the style of the greeting cards was well captured within the film itself – it was very high key and carefree, and the relationship between the couple was shown in vivid detail.

Generation Why – Interesting contrast between the two characters, who you’d expect to be treated as being in opposition with one another. Instead, we got a shot of them both together in the same frame, which I found quite striking.

Jehova Who – I must admit, I got some kicks out of this one. The start had me expecting something that worked to vindicate them, but it was pleasantly neutral. I did not come out of this one with a very good impression of the participants – especially the old guy, for obvious reasons. Raised some interesting questions in regards to documentary ethnics, too. They presumably wouldn’t want people to have a negative impression of them, but on the other hand, these are their beliefs, and they do stand by what they say.

Behind the Bean – Some really nice cinematography here. The first shot of the roasted beans was amazing, as was the lighting/grading for the interview in the cafe. Subject matter was a little niche, but if I was interested in coffee, this would probably be one of my favourites that night.

Circus Stew – Quite liked this one. Very much a film built around the archival footage, it had a nostalgic, almost inspirational quality. For me, there was a very poignant contrast in the slick, professional presentation of the footage shot for the film itself and the rough, almost sloppy texture of the archival stuff; the latter was the “better”, in that it captured things many would never see.

Strands – Took me a while to realize that that guy was a cross-dresser. Was pretty shocked when I finally decided that he was. So for me, it became a film about him. Not sure if this was intended or not.

An Eye for an Eye – I liked the use of archival footage; contrasted nicely with the very serious nature of the interviews. I’d heard pretty much all of this before, so to be honest, I dozed off a bit.

At the End of the Day – Which one was this? I’m afraid my dozing off may have taken a while to wear off. Was this the guy-goes-to-concert one? Really didn’t understand what the point of that one was. It was off-puttingly simple – or maybe I just didn’t understand it. Had a very constructed feel, which I thought was a good thing. Didn’t get in the way of verisimilitude or whatever, nor the actual truthfulness of the documentary.

Alternatives – I don’t think that this – my own film – was bad. It was certainly very pretty, and I’m definitely going to use it as showreel material, but it’s not really something I’d, personally, want to watch, mostly because of, again, the subject matter. Or maybe it’s just because, at this point, I’m super polarized towards it.

CRPS – This one was great. Very confronting look at something many will not have heard of – certainly never thought about. Could have been better if the participant was more eloquent, because his account of the sensation felt very subdued, even when he was describing that other person’s description of it – the point where the film really struck home.

Compartment – This one, I also liked, though I can’t help but feel that the subject would be better if told through a fiction film – a crisscrossing web of subtle relations between characters etc. The whole split-screen thing felt a tad obnoxious in the rough cut screening, and I think it was toned down to just the right degree.

Blue – Very unusual “topic”, but I think the separate stories did flow fairly well. A lot of the same appeal as CRPS; similarly confronting. Very nice.

Arcana – Participant was great. He is a showman, and it shows.

Client Liaisons – I… actually can’t remember which one this was. I’m sorry, Client Liaisons.

Last Wave In – Again, subject matter really didn’t grab me. By no means bad, however. The guy getting up to answer the phone was great, very memorable.

More or Less – Used the characters it presented to great effect. Yeah, what I saw in the rough cut was pretty much the essence of what this would become. Unlike Kielwoseosi Ksiesieiwl, it felt less like it was less about society as a whole, and more about these different personalities.

Long Story Short – Intimacy is something that I feel that a lot of the documentaries were lacking. Hijra and CRPS, for instance. This one had it in spades, and was one of my favorites because of it.

Just a Game – Veeery slick presentation. Felt very effortless because of it (in a good way!). However, I wasn’t so keen on the actual argument. Was it said was definitely right, but it said it in a very one-sided, didactic manner, going as far as to make fun of “dudebro”. Felt quite militant because of it, and the gender reversal segment at the end, I feel, only further drew attention to this. Regardless, definitely a great film.

Albert Salt – More great use of character. Uh. Yeah. Good.

The Things that Nana Remembers – Character character character, this time refreshingly unique. It wasn’t some eloquent visionary, but a probably-senile old woman with a lot of stories to tell. A very simply concept, but surprisingly compelling.

Henry the Magpie – The start to a great finale (ahemnomoreinterviews). Narration was spot on, really gave it a lot of character and warded off any damning proclamations of “DRY”. My rough cut advice pretty much said that this film was riding on what the narration would be like, and it pulled it off spectacularly.

To be a Poet – Definitely my favourite out of the lot. Again, character based, but not through interviews (shock!) The concept is very simple – man recites poem – but there is an overwhelming richness to what he is saying that pretty much sums him and his life experience up. It was short, and I think would suffer greatly if it had much else to it. Funnily enough, contrary to what Paul and Robin apparently think, I reckon it was better off with more music, as it was earlier on. It made it just that much more inspirational, giving it a rousing, uplifting quality.

Colourcrux – Excellent subject matter, very thoughtful, beautifully shot. This is stuff I have, myself, thought about on multiple occasions, and I think the topic was presented, visually, in a great way. It makes you think through both words and imagery.