Sunday, 14 October 2012

First week of University (8/10/2012-11/10/2012)

This blog will now be an ongoing log of my activities and evaluation of said activities during my time of studying film at Middlesex University.

First week-

Monday: We began with a lecture, watching the 1962 short film La jetee, a sciene fiction tale that deals with a post apocalyptic world where people have been forced underground and used in time travel experiments. Among them is a man, a former soldier, who survives the early trials and is sent back to Paris, meeting up with a young woman and having a relationship with her. Eventually, he outlives his usefulness and is killed in Paris, his younger self witnessing it (as the man remembers the death of someone in his youth) and thus bringing events full circle. The film is composed entirely of black and white photographs, with narration and sound used to tell the story, giving a sort of surreal quality, especially some of the photographs of the underground world, such as the scientists with large, black glasses, giving them an alien, nightmarish appearance that fits the dark tone perfectly. Additionally, the actors have to really entirely on body language and facial expression, given the storytelling style, and they pull it off rather well and you believe in the relationships and tribulations that the characters go through.

Then we went to the seminar, our first 'storytelling for the screen' session, where we met with David Cottis, our teacher, and, after a brief icebreaker where we talked about some of our interests, we examined creation and Fall myths, such as the Zoroastrian (Persian) version and the original creation story from Genesis, which included several differences from later versions of the tale, such as the snake that tempts Adam and Eve not implied to be Satan and the mention of several asian rivers such as the Euphrates where the creation and the actual garden of Eden take place. Through examining them, we discussed Manichaeism (Good vs Evil in black and white/basic terms, and how it's a very western idea, as opposed to the Persian myth which is more ambigious (grey) with who is in the right) and the idea of Felix Culpa (the happy/joyous sin, akin to the mistakes people make in the journeys of their lives) and how some believe that, without it, we wouldn't need Jesus to redeem the world and perhaps, the serpent helped early man gain knowledge and that the Fall of Adam & Eve was a good thing.

We went to the the first seminar on 'Communicating in Film and Television' and began by going over some of the basics of film/Television analysis, such as Cinematography, Narrative, Editing, Lighting, Sound (and sub-categories like costumes, props (which relate to Mise-en-Scene) and themes). Then, we broke up into groups and assigned categories (mine did Cinematography) as watched the 'kitchen-sink' drama 'Wasp'. Observing the film, we (my group) noted the entirety of the film was shot handheld, giving a raw, rough, almost documentary type of feel, which with the council estates and working class characters of the story, as well as the opening shots using a tinted lens to emphasis the filth and grime of the council estate. Additionally, we noted the film used a lot of over-the-shoulder shots, where we would see the scene from behind someone or something, such a book rack or one of the children, making us feel more like we're there in a more physical sense, and frequently used tracking shots, following the characters around, again, emphasing the camera as sort of an invisble eye/unseen observer.

Today, we did our camera induction as part of the first workshop on 'Film Language and Production 1', where we were introduced to our first cameras (which took SD cards as opposed to video tape_ and began testing them by quickly shooting some footage of us asking each other a question about something that we couldn't see in that person. Coming back, we then analysed the footage and noted issues with lighting and colour balance, as well as sound quality. After, we were showed the buttons and switches on the cameras that controlled the white levels and exposure of the footage, as well as practising with the special microphone for the cameras to improve and focus sound. After class, we were sent off in groups of four to shoot a short 2-5 piece dealing with the motion of an object within a static shot and then show in next week's session.

Conclusions: The first week went rather well, I felt. The groups I were with were well behaved, friendly and did not come off as stubborn or difficult at all, in fact, some seemed very keen on their respective subjects, bringing up ideas and information I wasn't previously aware of! As for the lecturers themselves, they came off as knowledgable, commited to their work and not closed off or distant from their students, and the activities presented did give a good taste of the course and posed an interesting challenge, especially the 'Storytelling' session where we discussed mythology, which fascinated me.

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