Bit of Free Writing Brainstorm to Stir Up Some Ideas…

May 24, 2010 — 1 Comment

Disembodiment in documentary:

There is a simple formula of combining audio/voice, observatory footage, and a sound design that fits aesthetically, but appears thematically a bit odd, that creates a sense of disembodiment for the viewer. I first came across the technique in Chris Marker’s Sunless. It’s a reflexive technique as it draws attention to the aesthetic of the film itself, and re-contextualizes the subject. I tried my hand at creating the feeling of a strange interpretation of reality in my Food Not Bombs documentary for Transient Spaces. The question that arises is could this be applied to my main project, and if so how could such an effect benefit the biography?

What have I learnt through the production of the Food Not Bombs doco?

The characters aren’t defined individually, they are more anonymous representations of the human activity and human struggle within the story. In this case, gleaning food for the lesser advantaged of society. I think this effect adds to the conflict and the dramatic feel as it unsensationalises the story, at the same time making it feel a bit more real, at the same time a bit more like a dream. In biographical documentaries, however, the character has to be well defined and explicit. Is there any way of bringing these two things together? Perhaps the more disembodied aesthetics could be used for re-enactments of memory, like dream sequences.

The aspect of the Food Not Bombs doco that I liked was my editing style, which was based mainly on rhythm and feel. I shot the footage knowing only that I would need long shots, and was quite free with the camera. With lots of camera movement I was able to find good rhythmic edit points to cut from one shot into the next, quite often in the middle of a movement/action shot. This is a great way to shift time and space temporal locations, as it has a smooth, natural rhythmic effect, but a conflicting jolt and jump in time and space.

Summarizing Question:

By drawing attention to the filmmaking process, how does reflexivity effect biographical documentary and the representation of the experience of memory?

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Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Marker & Varda | BLUE - September 9, 2013

    […] of Film Theory), James Thompson has a cracking blog. Of Chris Marker’s Sunless (1983), he neatly summarises¬†his method as a sense of ‘disembodiment in […]

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