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Kino-eye by Dziga Vertov talks about this idea of “cinematography” as being corrupt because it takes away from the real beauty and magic that the simple art of cinema portrays on camera. Vertov strongly urges to get rid of “cinematography” because it tampers with the truth in cinema.  Vertov encourages a revolution of film production towards improving the use of the camera to help capture things that can’t be seen with the naked eye.  In Vertov’s passages titled “Kinoks: A Revolution” he starts off by getting our attention though the repetitive use of the word “you” to refer to the various producers, directors, theaters and spectators who view film. He says that these individuals, which include ourselves, are “waiting for something that will not come” and that the “wait is pointless “(11). This idea of waiting Vertov refers to is the idea that the audience and the makers of film are so caught up in what we wish to portray and what is being portrayed on film that we fail to comprehend and over look the truth behind the work of film as a whole.

Vertov goes into talking about the transformation of film. He believes that by taking out the themes in a work of film no matter what its composition, as long as one leaves the captions, one is still able to change any work of film by replacing it with new illustrations while keeping the film’s original “literary skeleton” (12). He says that “this situation will not change” and the “the correlation is the same” (12).  Vertov is also a strong advocate towards the experimentation of film, and encourages filmmakers to stray away from the norm. He states that there has been a “strong technological lag” and “a loss of active thinking” (13). Vertov directly states “Cinema’s system is poisoned with the terrible toxin of routine. We demand the opportunity to test the antidote we’ve found upon its dying body” (13). When Vertov says this he means that cinema has become so bland and uninspiring due to its repetitive routine that in order to correct the problem there is a need for change and testing of camera work to solve this issue.

A line that I found interesting that Vertov states in this expert is “the situation on the film front must be considered inauspicious” (13). When Vertov is saying this he is directly telling the readers of his work that one should view film as something more than what is portrayed on its surface. One shouldn’t completely trust what they see on the screen and instead look beyond. “We cannot improve the making of our eyes, but we can endlessly perfect the camera.” In Vertov’s manifesto he also spends a great deal advocating that the human eye is “weak” (16). Vertov says the human eye is unable to perceive everything and therefore one should use the camera to capture what the naked eyed can’t see. The machine he repeatedly uses at the end of his excerpt is the camera. The camera, Vertov states, has an eye of its own which he refers to as the “mechanical eye” (19). The camera he believes, should be separate from the control of humans. The action that the camera captures should be something that unfolds without much interference.

There is an idea of being in the middle of the action and not just simply seeing what is present on the screen. There is a direct relationship between the audience and the characters of the film that the camera is involved in showing.  The camera should carry the “film viewer’s eyes…in the most advantageous sequence, and organizes the details into an orderly montage study “(16).  There is no need for “painting, theater, cinematography, and other castrated outpourings” Vertov proclaims because “Radio-ear” and the “Kino- eye” hears and sees (18).  “Within the chaos of movement, running past, away, running into and colliding- the eye, all by itself, enters life” (Vertov 18).  When Vertov says this he means that the eye is able to see through the camera and link the “montage” of images together to come up with one’s own interpretation of a piece of film. The need for “cinematography” isn’t needed because through the camera, the spectator is able to enter the world of the characters in the film without the need for special effects and continuous editing.

I think Vertov is trying to prove that the average human is already equipped with the necessities of interpreting film on our own. The use of cinematography therefore is unnecessary in helping us to do so. The reality is that the use of editing tricks and manipulation of cinematography hinders its truth and the potential of what the camera can truly capture without the use of it. I really enjoyed reading this piece of writing by Vertov. I like how he used words like “you” and “we” because it made me feel as if I was directly part of his work and he was talking to me. I also loved his use of metaphors and similes. The tone of his writing was serious yet enjoyable and exciting to read. I was certainly convinced  and persuaded by his writing.

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Enjoy! (I absolutely despise working with Windows Movie Maker.) :)

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Throughout Sharon R. Sherman’s writing piece titled “Projecting the Self Filmic Technique and Construction,” she explores the idea of how film construction is used to manipulate the viewers understanding and take on a certain film. She mentions multiple directors and their opinions on using some of these techniques to make their films. She explores editing tricks, the recreation of individual actions to that of an act, and the use of sound in film.  Sherman talks deeply about the idea of narration and how some filmmakers have embraced it, while others cursed the use of it. Encompassing her knowledge on film and through her research and interviews with various directors she supports her argument that making films is a manipulation by the director to convey what they want the audience to see on their behalf.

Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay” is applied throughout this piece of writing. There is a clear understanding in the first page of the chapter where Sherman starts off with a quote by Sontag stating “Film is always a construction. Film “truth,” whether it be ciema verite, kinopravda, or observational cinema, is a misnomer because film is never objective….” This is the basis of Sherman’s thesis because throughout this chapter she explores these various ways of constructing a film and the idea of portraying what is “reality” in film. She talks about the usage of sound, with or without narration, sound over and sync-sound, manipulation of acting, recreation of actors and editing of films to show the reader that these techniques affect our understanding of a topic. This is also the motive of Sherman, to tell us through writing that the ideas of film are never objective due to the director’s manipulation through various film techniques. Sherman provides many instances of evidence and sources throughout her passage. She interviews various directors, uses their quotes and their take stance on each of the elements of film that I’ve mentioned above. She evaluates and analyzes both sides of the argument between the use of certain significant techniques through the habit of citing multiple quotes and passages from those directors to help support her thesis. She frankly states their view points, whether they oppose a certain type of technique or they favor it in their use of producing a film. The structure of her passage, in my opinion, was well written. She started off with a relevant quote in the beginning of her chapter and then used that quote to explore multiple view points of directors who choose to use or object the usage of certain film techniques in making their film.

Reading this passage gave me a good understanding about incorporating Harvey’s elements of the academic essay and it taught me that film can be very biased as well as expressive. The various directors that Sherman mentions in her article and what they believe appears to be appropriate or not for a film were very interesting to read. For example, narration was one of the techniques that Sherman explores intimately. Hawes uses narration, however only to the extend he says that “Narration should not be used if the person in the film explained his or her own behavior, but that rules for filmmaking should be based on the needs of the individual project” (214).Ferris and Cohen both aren’t inclined to narration because they believe it may create additional problems. Cohen writes “Too often the narration sets both the mood and the direction of perception and gets in the way of communication between film and viewer. Narration makes it too easy for an audience and can remove the element of challenge from viewing by offering easy explanation instead” (215).  While this can be the case sometimes, Sherman herself states that she uses narration for purposes of analysis only. She says “For films without any narration, future audiences will be at loss to interpret the actions of the people, for example, what certain ceremonies are and what they mean. Allowing the action to dominate the structure of the film will alleviate some problems with narration. Of course, film is a representation. The filmmaker uses narration to show openly what that representation is. In doing so, the narration represents the filmmaker as well” (216). I think this line from Sherman summaries her take as a director very explicitly. She states that the making of film is influenced by the director. Whether the director chooses to have narration, sound or color in their film is based completely on their vision of what they believe is best for their film. Initially the product of the film reflects the person as a whole, and I believe that by understanding this, the creator of film and writing can take these components and for themselves decide on what is best for their final product in carrying out their vision.

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In the beginning of today’s class, we talked briefly about that happened on Wednesday. Professor Ferguson encouraged us all to sign up for an appointment to go to the archives because it would supplement us with our assignment later on in the semester. Those of you who hasn’t of made an appointment should contact Natalie or Annie at (718) 997-3650. Professor Ferguson also talked about staying on top of assignments and turning in work in a timely fashion. Furthermore, he made the class a checklist on the blog of assignments that needs to be completed up to this date.

We spent a good amount of class time comparing Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay” to our class list of elements in making a film. As a whole, we made some adjustments to the list. For example, one of the elements we changed was cast and crew, and how a well put together cast or crew can make a film spectacular. This isn’t necessarily the case. We also tried to find similarities of our element, cast and crew to Harvey’s elements. We found that cast and crew was somewhat related to source, which is the use of raw material to make the film, as well as the information the film works from. Another thing we talked about was the difference between plot and thesis. As a class we came to a conclusion that the plot is a sequence of events that leads to the conveying of the central idea to a piece of work. A plot requires evidence, and structure. We also talked about Orienting. An example of this element at work would be when we have to briefly describe our art work for our epistolary essay. Motive was another element we talked about. We said why having a motive is important. Motive is the reason behind the writing and is used to persuade the audience into what the director or writer wants the audience to think. Elements of style and key terms are also important in a piece of writing or film to help support one’s central idea. At the end we learned that writing essays and producing films overlap each other.

For the rest of the class we focused on Aristotle’s three ways to convince or persuade an audience. These three appeals include: Ethos which is an appeal to character, pathos an appeal to emotion, and logos an appeal to logic. After understanding these three terms of appeal we watched a short clip titled “The Battle of Midway” by John Ford.  Our task was to find examples in this clip that convey these three elements. After a few minutes of free writing, we discussed some of the examples we found for each appeal. One thing we got in dept about was the scene with the birds. This scene was strange but after much discussion we came to the conclusion that the birds were a key term. It might have tried to explain nature verses technology. We also talked about how this scene could have been a turning point in the clip. At first the birds where calm, in the second scene the birds were acting crazy and just flying all over the place.

Class ended by briefly looking at Sharon R. Sherman’s writing, and comparing her writing to Harvey’s elements of the academic essay. We were only able to talk about one element which was stitching. Stitching is the use of words to tie together one’s argument. It is usually shown in transition words or by a recollection of earlier ideas that continues to be referred back to throughout a work. In the first paragraph we found a couple of good examples where this element was used. For example on the fourth line descending to the fifth Sherman writes, “The camera reflects the filmmaker’s view. Most filmmakers believe, however, that their manipulation creates a “greater” truth…” The word however in this sentence helps to bring the reader back on track to the argument and therefore stitching is one of many elements that should be used to enhance one’s writing.

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John Grierson writer of First Principles of Documentary describes the term documentary as a “clumsy” description of films made from “natural material.” He starts off by giving general examples of what is considered to be documentaries such as a shoot of a magazine item, newsreel item, educational or scientific film, to those of discursive or dramatized interests (99). He also says these films do not dramatize yet they describe and expose in an “aesthetic sense” that is hardly revealed (100). In other words he is saying that documentaries are an artistic way of revealing the truth that is usually hidden. Furthermore he goes on to talk about “Documentary proper.” Documentary proper he says is the only place where “documentary can hope to achieve the ordinary virtues of an art” (100). And once again he uses the term “natural material” to explain that making a documentary is composed of real life facts that have not been manipulated by mankind and kept in its original form.

In his first principle Grierson states that the simple act of going out and observing what you want to film is a new and critical art form. What makes Documentaries dissimilar to studio films is the fact that studio films “ignore this possibility of opening up the screen on the real world” (101). Instead, studio films use artificial backgrounds while documentaries would revolve on the natural and live scene of where the action is taking place. In his second principle he urges that by having original actors and the actual location where the event took place or is taking place, is more effective than having to train actors to act a certain way or build the set based on assumptions. In Grierson third principle he says “We believe that the materials and the stories thus taken from the raw can be finer than the acted article.” This means that having real subjects who have actually went through those particular events is more resourceful then having those who are pretending to be those people because things are no longer genuine. On page 101, Grierson bluntly says “My separate claim for documentary is simple that in its use of the living article, there is also an opportunity to perform creative work.” In other words I think he’s trying to say that documentary isn’t just observing and filming what is happening around you, however, through documentary you can experiment and focus on a variety of issues.  The beauty of documentaries is having the ability to inform and teach in the context of having real live references. In this article I think Grierson is also trying to say that as directors of film, we must side towards one side of the spectrum, whether it is either documentary or studio (fact or fiction), but one cannot go both ways.

On page 103 he talks about Flaherty, who in his opinion has succeeded better than anyone in achieving the First Principle of Documentary. Flaherty attains this by mastering his documentary on the spot and develops a relationship with the subject he is studying. Second he distinguishes between description and drama. “…It is important to make the primary distinction between a method which describes only the surface values of a subject, and the method which more explosively reveals the reality of it.” I think this quote means the audience should be aware of that they are watching and for themselves  interpret what they think is true and what is a biased way of looking at something. Grierson also uses the documentary Berlin by Ruttmann, as an example which in his mind is one of the most dangerous films to follow. The film uses “…tempo and rhythm…the large-scale integration of single effects, they capture the eye and impress the mind in the same way as a tattoo or a military parade might do. But by their concentration on mass and movement, they tend to avoid the larger creative job” (Grierson 106). In these couple of sentences I think that Grierson is saying that although this piece of work did a good job in its artistic creativity and capturing the audience, on the other hand, the film failed to address relevant issues, and support his claims associated to the documentary with further evidence.  Last but not least, on page 111, Grierson states “… as common taste is concerned, one has to see that we do not mix up the fulfillment of primitive desires and the vain dignities which attach to that fulfillment, with the dignities which attach to man as an imaginative being.” When Grierson says this he means that we shouldn’t force our beliefs and opinions on another person because not only is it wrong, but the thing that makes us all unique is the fact we all have our own point of view on things.

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