The New Potential of Documentary Film Making

Documentary film makers seem like the new bloggers, zine makers, and freestyle writers and publishers in general. I thought podcasts were the media with the most growth, freedom and potential. I am changing my mind as I look at the range of documentaries, in particular. Film making and documentaries are not new but there has been a lot of change since film went digital. For one thing, it’s pretty easy to use a camera you can keep in your pocket versus the video cameras you lugged around on your shoulder.

Tension

When I think of tension I think, surface tension. I remember a film about spiders which showed one sitting on top of the water in a glass. The hair on it’s legs created surface tension which kept it from getting wet in the water. It could just sit on the surface, due to surface tension.
I think it’s a great illustration for tension. Any change to the elements involved and the spider would begin to sink, need to swim or grab the edge of the glass to prevent itself from drowning. Tension is like that. The moment before, or the balance between, something else happening. Tension can change your story. As a writer I think you can use tension to develop your plot in ways you hadn’t planned on at the beginning. It brings so many new possibilities and reactions.
Tension is something about to change and that’s exciting.

Tension

When I think of tension I think, surface tension. I remember a film about spiders which showed one sitting on top of the water in a glass. The hair on it’s legs created surface tension which kept it from getting wet in the water. It could just sit on the surface, due to surface tension.

I think it’s a great illustration for tension. Any change to the elements involved and the spider would begin to sink, need to swim or grab the edge of the glass to prevent itself from drowning. Tension is like that. The moment before, or the balance between, something else happening. Tension can change your story. As a writer I think you can use tension to develop your plot in ways you hadn’t planned on at the beginning. It brings so many new possibilities and reactions.

Tension is something about to change and that’s exciting.

tension

Found on: Get Scribbling

Stunt Journalism

How far would you go to write a story that gets read? Is it still journalism when you are the story? At what point is it a journal, like a diary or log, rather than a news story? How far will a stunt journalist go before the story is about the danger of performing your own, untrained and irresponsible stunts?

When did journalism get so physically degrading?

Immersive journalism is not new. In 1887, the reporter Nellie Bly feigned insanity in order to be committed to a New York City insane asylum. Her stay resulted in a landmark undercover account of appalling conditions at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum. Eighty-odd years later, Hunter S. Thompson wrote a manic first-person account of the 1970 Kentucky Derby, which more or less invented the genre now known as Gonzo journalism.

If the modern stunt essay has a film antecedent, it’s Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 hit documentary chronicling his own attempt to gorge on nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days. However jokey it seemed, the stunt served the public interest in clear ways: Spurlock drew national attention to the obesity epidemic, and McDonald’s discontinued its Super Size option shortly after the film premiered. Less journalistic value is accomplished by ingesting nothing but alcohol for a week. Duy Linh Tu, the journalism professor, wonders whether the term “stunt journalism” is a misnomer. “I don’t think all of this is journalism,” Tu says. “I’m not making a quality judgment. It’s all content…. [But] you won’t be able to build a long-term journalistic organization pulling these stunts.”

This is an old journalistic instinct—don’t look for a story, be the story—funneled through new media channels. It’s not the recklessness that’s new (war reporters have long put themselves at risk) but the desperation. Still, what the stunt piece and the personal essay have in common is that the best writing stems from horrible experiences—and that neither of them are going away soon. The stunt craze is liable to change how would-be journalists go about breaking into the industry. Or maybe it already has.

Source: Are We Living in a Golden Age of Stunt Journalism?

What Can you do with an Old Film Camera?

oldcameraI still have my 35mm (analogue) camera from college. I began using it about 20 years ago. It was a big purchase at the time, my Mother helped me pay for it when I was starting college and needed the camera for the Photography part of Corporate Communications at Centennial College (Warden Woods campus, which is now gone).

I can remember the teacher in the class talking about the future of film and photography. Computers were still pretty new then. Most offices had them for word processing but they were many years from being used in every home. The Internet existed, but almost no one knew anything about it. I can remember thinking how great it would be to have a camera which did not need film to be developed. The camera itself had been expensive but it was the cost of developing film and buying more film which was really making it hard to keep from falling behind in the class work.

Even though I have not used that old film camera for many years, I can’t quite let it go. I still have it in the case with the Canadian flag decorated camera strap. I could re-use the old strap for my new bigger digital camera but that just seems so wrong. Like deconstructing an old friend. I did let go of my old photography text book a few years ago. But that is as far as I have gotten to leaving behind the age of film.

What can you do with an old film camera, assuming you get the point where you can let it go?

There are a few people who still use the old film cameras? You could look for them (groups of them) and see if your camera is collectible or worth saving for posterity.

You may find a charity which will take them and be able to find people who will still use them. Or, an artist who wants to work with retro or vintage cameras.

Look for ways to repurpose them. Can parts be salvaged for other projects or for use with your new digital cameras?  A repurposed camera could be an interesting steampunk project.

Curating Cuteness: Building an Affordable Camera Collection for the Analog Enthusiast

Toronto Star: A Nerd’s World reclaims beguiling visions of our lives from old cameras

Atomic Vision: The Pleasure of Collecting Old Cameras

Camera Mods –  Take a vintage film camera that no longer works and convert it to digital.

Analog Renaissance: Have you Seen your Last Typewriter?

The Typosphere – A term for bloggers who collect, use, and otherwise obsess over typewriters and other “obsolete” technologies, including, but not limited to, handwriting, pens and ink, paper mail and mail art, knitting and fibre arts, film photography, chip-less combustion engines, and related ephemera.

Flickr: Anablogger Archives – “A repository of film photographs, doodles and drawings, pages hand- and type-written that appear on blogs.”

NaNoWriMo’s Typewriter Brigade – “This group is an online meeting place for members of the NaNoWriMo “Typewriter Brigade”. Also welcome are: those who are not yet members but are feeling that sudden, unexpected desire to pound out 50,000 words on an old-school typing machine, as well as those offering moral support, and gawkers of all stripes”.

Flickr: Typewritten – Post anything created on a typewriter.

Flickr: The Dead Technology Society

Retrotechnologist

Flickr: Lost to Progress

Flickr: Functional Antiquated Living

Ancient Industries

Flickr: iAnalog

I Dream lo-tech

Obsolete Skills

Strikethru

Travelling Type

Fresh Ribbon

Clickthing

Tlogging in the 21st Century

Adventures in Typewriterdom

Flickr: TypeSwap – “a forum for typewriter users, collectors, and businesses to buy, sell, trade, or pass along typewriters, parts, tools, manuals, and other typewriter-related materials and information”.

Flickr: Typewriter

Flickr: Writing Machines – “Typewriters, printing presses and movable type – anything to do with the mechanical reproduction or creation of the written word”.

The Classic Typewriter Page

Flickr: Typewriter Ribbon Tin Menagerie

Write a Minute Film

Hint Fiction, The Film

You have a camera.
You have a crew.
You have actors.
You have 25 words.
You have 1 minute.
Do you have what it takes?

Write and film a minute long movie based on the short stories selected on the site. Further details will appear in August when they are open for submissions.

Note – Hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story.

One Journal Does Not Cover a Lifetime

One very silly thing about journals/ diaries used in film are the fact that although the person has kept this journal for decades it is all still enclosed in just one book. I know this is just not possible. My books are collected in a box. I’ve been writing them on and off since I was a kid. But, in a couple of years I can fill a journal, page by page, quite easily. Even if I skip a few months, or years, there is no way everything could be contained in just one book.

Write about a real journal/ diary as used in a film. How do they explain it being just one book or do you allow for a real journal, with several books written over a lifetime?

Guest Post about Night Photography

Today I am publishing a guest post through My Blog Guest. Thank you to Sam for the photography tips.

Night Photography: A crash course.

We all love a good night photo. A beautiful cityscape, boats on a still harbour with their lights reflecting across the water…  These views themselves are works of art, and a good photo can even add another dimension to them.

But more often than not when it comes time to look through our photos at the end of a trip or night out, the photos tend to be blurry and grainy, if not completely black and unusable.

I remember being in Victoria, Canada, and trying to take a photo of the Royal BC Museum at night. If I knew then what I knew now, I could have ended up with something quite spectacular to show my friends, rather than the abstract mish mash of blurry lights and sense of frustration that I took home with me.

The difficulty with night photography is the lack of available light. A flash can do a great job of illuminating a close space (even if it can be a little harsh and unflattering), but the light drops away sharply at distance and by about 20 feet it is basically not doing anything.  The other big problem with a flash is it can wash out the natural ambient lighting of a scene. All the nice streetlights and sign glows will be replaced by a big dull white flash-light.

Essentially, for anything other than a group of people or a close, isolated subject, the flash needs to go. But then what? Your poor little camera has to try and deal with the low light conditions that the flash was put on the camera to negate in the first place.

There are two ways to naturally get more light into your camera. One is to open up the aperture, which basically increases the flow of light through the lens. The second is to use a longer shutter speed, which allows the film or sensor to be exposed to light for a longer period of time.

There is a third variable which may help you get the exposure you need, and that is ISO or ‘film speed’. Basically this describes how sensitive either the film you are using, or the sensor in your digital camera is, to light. In other words if your ISO is a higher number, then you need less light to get the same exposure.

With that in mind, how do we take nice night photos? Well generally speaking, with a point and shoot style camera, you should have the aperture wide open to allow maximum light to get to your sensor.  The only reason you would ever want to stop your aperture down would be to try and get a longer depth of field, i.e a deeper zone of area in the photo that is in focus, however this only really applies with bigger format cameras such as SLRs, as changes in depth of field are barely a factor in point and shoots.

The next step, and this is crucial, invest in a cheap tripod. Stabilising your camera allows you to use longer shutter speeds without getting the awful blurry mess we have come to expect from flash-less night photos. Shutter speed is really your friend at night. The one thing to keep in mind though is the movement of your subjects. Obviously if they are moving they will end up blurry at longer shutter speeds.

Another small tip that will make a huge difference when using very long shutter speeds, is to use the timer function of your camera. The actual physical process of pushing the shutter release button to take the photo can be enough to cause a blur at long shutter speeds, however if you have at least a 2 second delay the camera will have stabilized again before the exposure starts.

The only remaining variable we have to try and reduce that blur is your ISO, however a higher ISO will mean grainier, lower quality photos.

So to conclude, buy a cheap tripod, crank open that aperture, wind back that long shutter speed, set your camera’s timer and try and keep your iso as low as the situation permits.

Happy shooting!

Sam Matthews
Home Art and Furniture