Thursday, 25 April 2013

Sample Reflective Analysis

Aims and Context – ‘LIFETIME’ 
  • Short independent film with experimental techniques 
  • Shown to a film festival audience, however could also be shown in art gallery 
  • Influences – Mike Figgis (Timecode), Darren Aronofsky (Pi), Andy Warhol (Chelsea Girls), Maya Deren ( Meshes of the Afternoon). 
  • Target Audience – Male or female, possibly older generation if art gallery. Also, could appeal to film students. 
  • Cinematography – documentary style similar to Timecode – continuous takes 
Reflective Analysis – Experimental Film – ‘LIFETIME’

I have produced a short experimental film called ‘LIFETIME’ based around the philosophy of French thinker Michel Foucault. His philosophy provides two focuses to the film’s themes. The first - nobody knows where or what we really do, the second being the idea of the student and his master. With these themes in mind, I also tried to combine this with influences from both mainstream and experimental filmmakers. This meant that my target audience covered quite a varied field: both mainstream film festival audiences and art gallery audiences. In this evaluation, I am going to cover the influences for my film as well as how it appeals to its target audience, commenting on the themes and stylistic features.

My main influence for ‘LIFETIME’ was filmmaker Mike Figgis. His use of split-screen in the film ‘Timecode’ captures a sense of realism, covering four different perspectives of the same scene. In my film, I attempted to re-create this idea, using four separate screens to depict four different interpretations of time: each screen shows the repetition of a life’s work, slowly dying out when the ‘lifetime’ ends. The visual metaphor here is the four screens becoming like a clock, gradually going around and around until they stop. Combined with the split screens, Figgis also uses a continous take : the four screens are all one long handheld shot, in one take. I attempted to re-create this, however it became difficult to direct the actors for such a long period of time.  As well as the use of split screen, Mike Figgis’ work also inspired me to combine narrative and experimental techniques, in order to appeal to both filmgoers and art-goers. The hard-working professor back-story to the central character is quite a mainstream narrative element and combined with the experimental visuals, provides a viewing experience for a wider target audience.

The second of my more mainstream influences was Darren Aronofsky’s film ‘Pi’. The film inspired me to use a narrative, one that also combines experimental and mainstream elements. This links to the master-student Michel Foucault philosophy: the relationship between Max and his teacher inspired me to do something similar, instead with a younger version of the same character. However, this did not work as successfully as I had hoped: the flashback scene is too short and does not clearly indicate the message I was trying to express. As well as this, the use of high contrast black and white in ‘Lifetime’ was inspired by ‘Pi’, as it creates a clinical feel to the film. The repetition and dull nature of ‘Lifetime’ fits well with its black and white imagery. It also gives an ambiguity to the film’s contexts, the locations all look non descript and bleak and therefore could be anywhere.   

As well as mainstream influences, the two experimental filmmakers that inspired me were Andy Warhol and Maya Deren. Andy Warhol’s use of split screen in ‘Chelsea Girls’ inspired me to use a similar technique. His use of split screen in the film tends to highlight each figure : the contrast in black and white imagery and colour imagery suggests something about the characters themselves. I attempted to incorporate this into ‘Lifetime’, during the flashback sequence, by using a soft blur on two of the four screens. In the same way as Warhol, this allowed to separate the two events, showing an element of split personality : it is the same character split between sanity and insanity. Despite this, I found it difficult to maintain a split screen throughout the film, partly due to time constraints and also due to the visual impracticalities of having four screens constantly visible. Warhol mamages to avoid this by using two screens – as it is not as visually imposing or demanding for the viewer.

Finally, Maya Deren’s film ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’ was also an inspiration for my film. Within the film, Maya Deren’s physical performance was something I attempted to re-create. Unlike many other films of that time, Deren does not over-act or emphasize facial expression, thus creating a more subtle experimental performance. As there were four screens in my film, I wanted to make sure that one did not dominate, and the way to achieve this was to use realistic and subtle acting. This creates a feel of watching from four different angles, almost like a CCTV camera. Maya Deren’s film, inspired me to use a similar experimental approach to directing actors : both her and Hammid’s performances are toned down, often presenting the viewer with a question or ambiguity.                                

To conclude, it is clear that the influences above helped me to create a film that fits its target audience and genre. However, I do feel that my film could have included and used more elements in order to give it a clear focus. The issue I found was that the film does not fit into either experimental or mainstream film-making. Although this was my original intention, upon reflection I would have filmed and produced the film to be more experimental.

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