Being Pragmatic and Realistic…

May 3, 2010 — 2 Comments

In last weeks workshop we heard from another PHD student and veteran of RMIT’s communications honours program. The main lesson he had for us was to always check yourself and make sure you are being pragmatic and realistic. When doing a larger body of research, such as in this course, it seems a fair position to stray far from the path, and out of context of what’s achievable and realistic. So, with regards to my own project and following my second meeting with Adrian Danks, I feel it is time to check myself, and figure out the next pragmatic and realistic steps. I can identify a few key problems with my project and research so far:

1.) When I drew a picture of what Honours looks like to me, I drew a computer screen with a non-responding Quicktime symbol (question mark). To one side of the screen was a Bill Nichols text, and on the other a collection of DV tapes. What this signifies is a problem of integrating theoretical research and the media project together. As I wrote the first draft of my research essay, it became evident that the research I was gathering wasn’t really going to help or inform the media production at all. After meeting with Adrian Danks it became evident that the research needs to come out of the media gathered for the project so far, as a response to it. I need to stop thinking of the theoretical research as a separate entity to the media production. Where to start however is a new problem.

2.) Secondly, I will now open my mind, and my vision for the project, to any reasonable outcome. Instead of locking into what I think should be done with the footage, (i.e a short documentary) I will now study the footage, find potential theoretical links and let a new result be developed that can be realistically achieved within the set time frame. This result may still be a documentary, but it’s form and style should evolve out of the new research direction. This will help the exegesis and project become integrated and to work together as a single entity.

3.) To get started and find some direction I have reviewed a previous years’ student project. The Seventh Castle by Ana Vas was a short film that explored the texts of Saint Teresa Avila, with an accompanying analysis of the post-feminist, philosophical writing of Julia Kristeva. What I see here are three topics/activities: the short film (creative), the textual analysis of St. Teresa Avila, and the textual analysis of Julia Kristeva. This seems to be really well structured, clear and concise. I will be looking to break down my project in a similar way, though the nature of my documentary does not point to any particular theory outright and so it may be a little more difficult to find the appropriate texts.

Breaking Down the Project

The footage and accompanying research was filmed and gathered together by DJ Mohair Slim and Nicky Bomba. There are video interviews, some footage of Kingston (Jamaica), photo’s, newspaper clippings and music recordings. I can see numerous aspects worth exploring: Mohair Slim as a character himself, Graham Goodall’s move to Jamaica from Australia in the 1950’s as a study in terms of broadcast history, and Lowell Morris (drummer for The Caribs) who now resides in Melbourne as a central character study. This is also a history of the Jamaican recording industry and Jamaican broadcast history.

On the theoretical side of things, the footage is essentially a series of people remembering past events. I could potentially look into notions of the essay film, filmmakers who deal with the theme of memory and image such as Agnes Varda and Chris Marker (perhaps even the movement they come from, around French New wave etc) and perhaps even the biography. At this stage I think I’ll abandon the found footage side of things, though retain certain aspects pertaining to the editing of found footage. Another potential outcome for my project is to create a script for a longer version of the documentary, accompanied by a short version and exegesis.

Perhaps I should focus on textual analysis of a selection of essay films. This textual analysis could be reflected in the making of my own documentary….

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