Monday, December 12, 2011

A final summary.

The Engaging Shakespeare event on Friday was a great success. I enjoyed seeing the other groups presenting and talking about their final projects. I was surprised how keen I was to know more about their motives behind certain choices they made and ideas they came up with. During the question and answer sessions, it seemed like the rest of the class shared a similar interest as it was us that asked a lot of the questions.

For me, my improved knowledge and interest in Shakespeare became apparent on Friday night as I could distinctly see my own investment in the conversation compared to some of the others in the audience who were otherwise not as informed on the subjects.

I was also really impressed with our work and felt that the most obviously when we were watching our documentary. I only say that cause I didn't expect people to laugh so much. I guess after seeing it so many times while editing, you forget that there were a lot of funny moments. It seemed like the audience was impressed and appreciated it.

Learning outcomes:

1. Gain Shakespeare Literacy
2. Analyze Shakespeare Critically
3. Engage Shakespeare Creatively
4. Share Shakespeare Meaningfully

In creating the documentary, we realized that a lot of practical skills were going into our final project. So while we might have been filming others engage and learn about Shakespeare, our project did not require us to be so involved in Shakespeare's text. Because of this, we tried to think of ways that we could be critically engaged in Shakespeare. One way we thought of doing this was looking at the story arc of Shakespeare plays. Though it may seem like an obvious creative choice, we did consciously decide to make the documentary like how a play would play out in chronological order. The beginning saw footage of them just talking about their final and reading through lines in the classroom. We then shifted gears into the rehearsal space which was slowly introduced to the point where they were semi in costume and really using the performance space rather than just sitting and lounging around in it. TO make a full complete 'performance' of the documentary with the end being wrapped up by the final performance -and not wanting to spoil the performance for the actors and the audience on Friday night, we finished on an image of the lights being projected on stage. This lent the documentary to be like a pre-cursor to seeing the performance and did not spoil anything for the live audience.

I also looked at incorporating text clips into the doc so that we could see how Shakespeare related even to the act of storytelling in a documentary form. We chose not to include Shakespeare text in the final version we posted on the internet but played around with it. I think it didn't work simply because it was becoming very wordy as we were hearing Shakespearean text from the actors on screen and then adding more of it to read just seemed a little over-bearing. We wanted the screening to be enjoyable and easy-going and very accessible for those who were only being introduced to Shakespeare.

Creatively, we were constantly thinking of ways to tell the story. On set, I was always trying to frame things well and capture the whole scene as well as individuals and their up-close emotions. I think the end-product shows this -a story aided by close ups of telling-images and emotions from the actors. This blog post was part of discovering the different shots we wanted to get and what we could accomplish with those different shot. Editing wise, we tried out a lot of different little segments to put it that completely changed the feel of the story and how everything was depicted. Having full creative freedom in the editing room, allowed all of us to have our own input and decide together the best possible way to shape the story.
In pre-production we had to think of appropriate things to ask our subjects that would be best when editing and what would really bring out the most emotion from the actors. These are what we primarily came up which was added to along the way as we realized there were other important things we needed sound bites of while on set. 

Along the way, we shared Shakespeare meaningfully by posting a couple preview videos (this one and this one) to the public. together, those two videos have over 100 views now I believe. It allowed others to see what we were doing in class and see the passion/anxiety etc felt by those performing it.

Loves Labours: A Documentary

Here is the final documentary Christa, Lauren and I created!

We picked our songs from the music library - one which was paid for and the other was free. As stated on the presentation night, we wanted to incorporate more than just the footage we captured of the group rehearsing and talking. Sooo that is why we incorporated the other footage we grabbed from youtube of other Shakespeare performances. Similarly with the screen captures of Avrill's blog posts.

One problem I think we ran into while editing, was finding good footage of a continuous scene that was a really poignant or telling moment in this process of rehearsing and putting on a short play. The music helps us smoothly transition from one cut to another as we see the different moments during rehearsal, however I would really have liked some crucial moment to have been depicted that was our inciting incident or climax. But this group hardly argued! Everything went so smoothly.

Overall, I am very please with the documentary and the mood it evokes. I think while we were shooting, we definitely felt the jovial nature of the group and how much fun it was for them to perform and form the relationships you see in the documentary.

OT: Our Town

This is part of some research I did for the documentary by watching a similar doc that follows a group of high school students performing for the first time. The other girls in our Shakespeare doc group also watched a commented on this film. It helps us visualize a little of how we wanted our piece to look like and the possibilities that were available for editing, visualization, character development etc.

OT: Our Town

First thing I noticed about OT: Our Town, was the style of the filming. Given that it was shot in 2001-2002, the quality is still somewhat poor and almost all of it hand held. The high school kids claim their town as ‘the ghetto’ and so the grainy and low quality look creates a grittier feel that compliments the on screen action.

With this sort of feel for the entirety of the film, I felt like the relationship between filmmaker and the subjects, was very personal and non-intrusive. When the filmmaker was filming the students in a round table –classroom setting, it felt like we were part of the discussion and everyone could- and was being natural in front of the camera. The camera was just a part of what was going on. It was acknowledged by the high school kids and put into the environment like another character.

I cared for these subjects because the story was told through the kids and not as much through any authoritarian figure. While the teachers were also interviewed, it was the kids that drove the plot forward. With the interviews Kennedy did, I was impressed with how much the kids revealed on camera. The relationships I think, were key between filmmaker and subject. It made for a more meaningful film because it was like the filmmaker was a friend to everyone rather than stranger watching.

A really good editing choice in my opinion, was the idea to have ‘Our Town’ the film version of the play, being interjected between shots of the kids rehearsing their own version. Juxtapositioning these two different performances added meaning to the changes that kids were making themselves to their play. It showed a stark difference in the passion that these kids were putting into their play and what is means to them to be residents of Compton, California.

I do wish that most of the story-telling could have been more observational rather than based on the narration of interviews of the kids and the teacher. After doing some research on the film, it looks like the filmmaker is/was actually involved romantically with the teacher. This explains why perhaps the kids felt comfortable with Kennedy the filmmaker because I imagine he would have spent quite a lot of time with his subjects.I think a lot of the success of the film can be attributed to this: the relationship between subject and filmmaker. I could tell that he cared about these kids and if they succeeded or not. While I don't think that Kennedy was probably living or grew up in Compton or 'the getto', he definitely had something to say about accepting and loving the good and bad about our own town's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

King Lear act 5, death death death.

Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all?
-Lear (seeing Cordelia's dead body)

Why do the 'good' and virtuous characters also die? While I don't mind at all the Goneril and Regan die, it makes an interesting image to see Cordelia lying alongside them with another seemingly more pure character like Gloucester. I strangely don't feel thematically satisfied as I imagine all of them lying on the stage together. It's like in war, while we may see a side as 'the goodies' or 'the baddies', it's always more complicated than that. There is always onslaught and bloodshed on both sides and that is the nature of it. It get's messy and that is why we don't like war. The innocent die.