Screen Production Research: The Big Questions
Tuesday 5 July - Thursday 7 July 2016
The University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT, Australia
Dr Susan Kerrigan, University of Newcastle
Dr Kath Dooley, Curtin University
Dr Bettina Frankham, University of Technology Sydney.
Welcome to the refereed proceedings of the 13th annual ASPERA conference, Screen Production Research: The Big Questions.
Dr Tim Thomas from the Faculty of Art and Design convened the conference, at the University of Canberra from 5-7 July 2016.
The conference, Screen Production Research: The Big Questions, attracted new faces, with a strong turnout of research degree students and new academic staff from the Northern Territory and the UK attending for the first time. These new peers brought fresh perspectives on screen production research and education that greatly enriched discussions in the Australian Screen Production Education Research Association (ASPERA) community.
The ASPERA research sub-committee was delighted with the success of the first Research Bootcamp, as a pre-conference event. It was well attended with robust discussion and sharing of ideas and tips on screen production research publications. Many who attended have submitted papers to the conference proceedings, which will build individual and collective research track records in the discipline. The research sub-committee is committed to offering opportunities such as the bootcamp and blind peer-reviewed conference proceedings as part of the association’s focus on building research capacity and developing scholarly rigour for screen production globally. More research sub-committee activities and details can be found on the main research page of this website.
There are thirteen papers in this year’s proceedings, representing a wide range of research perspectives. The conference theme, Screen Production Research: The Big Questions, provided scope for projects that explore screen production as a research tool, as a practice, as screen works, through screen audiences, and as pedagogy. Topics include virtual cinematography; immersive cinematic sound; narrative comedy writing; creative moments in screen performances; explorations of movie genres; attracting mainstream audiences to gay-themed films; and smart phone research. For those who teach screen production there is an international online collaboration and a study on career success factors for the Australian screen production sector. Creative practice in screen production is addressed through fictional screenwriting; teaching screenwriting craft; an overview of Australian and UK filmmaking research; and by opportunities presented in the multi-camera television studio.
As editors we hope you will be able to use these papers as your own enquiries into research, practice, teaching and research degree supervision.
Finally, we are very grateful to the following peer reviewers for their assistance with this year’s refereed proceedings:
Associate Professor Pieter Aquilia, University of Newcastle; Dr Dallas Baker, University of Southern Queensland; Associate Professor Craig Batty, RMIT University; Dr Debra Beattie, Griffith University; Dr Stuart Bender, Curtin University; Dr Leo Berkeley, RMIT University; Dr Marsha Berry, RMIT University; Susan Cake, Queensland University of Technology; Dr Damian Candusso, Charles Sturt University; Dr Helen Carter, Flinders University; Dr Adrian Danks, RMIT University; Dr Kath Dooley, Curtin University; Dr Kerreen Ely-Harper, Curtin University; Dr Gregory Ferris, University of Technology Sydney; Dr Bettina Frankham, University of Technology Sydney; Bruce Gater, Charles Sturt University; Dr Smiljana Glisovic, RMIT University; Dr Helen Goritsas, Academy of Information Technology; Iain Hart, University of Sydney; Dr Trevor Hearing, Bournemouth University; Dr Michelle Johnston, Curtin University; Dr Patrick Kelly, RMIT University; Dr Susan Kerrigan, University of Newcastle; Margaret McVeigh, Griffith University; Dr Michael Meany, University of Newcastle; Dr Alex Munt, University of Technology Sydney; Steven Murdoch, Swinburne University of Technology; Professor Duncan Petrie, University of York; Dr Craig Rossiter, Griffith University; Dr Mark Ryan, Queensland University of Technology; Dr Keith Russell, University of Newcastle; Dr Michael Sergi, Bond University; Sarah Stollman, AFTRS; Dr Tim Thomas, University of Canberra; Dr Marilyn Tofler, Swinburne University of Technology ; Dr James Verdon, Swinburne University of Technology; Dr Simon Weaving, University of Newcastle.
Emerging visions: career success factors in Australian screen production
A long-term career in screen production is elusive for most. An analysis of feature film and documentary credits by Screen Australia over the last 40 years suggests that only between 5 and 10 per cent make more than five feature films in their career.
The project based nature of the production enterprise, the uncertainty of project outcomes, and SOMETHING ELSE means that career paths are non-linear and generally unstructured. As the Australian industry has grown and developed, formal training through film schools have also grown in popularity. Australian tertiary institutions produce over 7,000 media graduates each year (Metro Screen, 2015), not including those produced by vocational education providers and registered training organisations. Census figures indicate only 22% of those employed in the media graduated in media studies.
Evocative moments with smartphone cameras
Photography and video making have become entangled with mobility and mobile social media as experienced in everyday life. This, in turn has affected how smartphones and applications influence contemporary everyday aesthetics. Romance, memory, nostalgia, playfulness and epiphany all play a part in the desire to create evocative still and moving images that capture creative moments. Nonrepresentational theoretical concepts provide a way to grapple with the dynamic and intricate relations between creative practices with smartphones and the corporeal messiness of everyday life. This paper aims to capture some of the more-than-representational, the more-than-textual, multi-sensory aspects of visual creative practices with smartphone cameras. It provides a braided account of the dynamic relations between smartphone assemblages and embodied mobility that contribute to current discussions in creative practice research.
The special place of fiction in creative practice research: a screenwriting approach
Creative practice research has become a staple of many university research cultures, and is core to the work of many members of the Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association community. We know of its potential as a site of knowledge production and dissemination; we know of its fabric and guiding principles; and we know how to articulate it to others, such as in the form of accompanying research statements that distinguish it from professional (or commercial) practice. Little, however, has been written about the form that this type of research takes; specifically, why one might choose fiction over non-fiction to express, embody or otherwise perform research. In many ways, non-fiction screen works are straightforward to argue as research, usually because the research is explicit in its content. But what of fiction: of film, television and web drama screenplays set in imagined worlds?
Rethinking genre theory for screenwriting practice: using Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of discourse
Screenwriters are frequently encouraged to use genre as an approach to developing their cinematic storytelling, but—with a personal interest in creating a feature length film noir film—I was concerned that applying genre conventions might result in a highly clichéd screenplay. In order to better understand how genre can be used in practice as a screenwriter, I realised that I would have to revisit both the nature and function of genre in detail.
Narrative comedy screenwriting: the role of critical reflection in creative practice
Larger classes, reduced class contact time and increased use of casual staff pose challenges to holistic, project-based approaches to teaching screenwriting in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. This paper examines the impact of critical reflection on the process and artefacts of writing a narrative comedy series “Fighting Fit”. It is argued that script writing, as creative practice-led research facilitates a transformative learning process. Transformative learning (Mezirow 1998) refers to a type of learning specific to adult education in which epistemic assumptions are challenged and revised, leading to increased individual agency.
Looking in a mirror or through a window: mainstream audiences and gay men portrayed in film and television
As 21st century LGBTI emancipation continues apace, screen representations are following suit. But all too often gay-themed films attract only gay audiences, and so tend to “preach to the converted” rather than supporting that emancipation by attracting mainstream, heterosexual audiences.
The immersive cinematic sound space: audience perspectives
The changing materiality of moving images and picture sources is a crucial aspect of the space in which screen stories are told. Technologies that capture and present moving images are responsible for our understanding of what we see as audiences; and as makers, how we create reality on screen.
Sci-fi movies 101: an international online collaboration and research-led production (starring robots)
This paper discusses an example of global media production in an educational context that is also a model for online intercultural exchange. We investigate the process of an international, research-led film production project between two universities, RMIT University, Melbourne Australia and the State University of New York, Oswego campus, USA (SUNY Oswego).
Transformative meeting: the creative moment in screen performance
In this paper the creative moment in screen performance will be examined. An encounter theory of modern cinema will be introduced and the connectedness of the process of screen performance in filmmaking and its reception explored. The encounter perspective, reflecting an interpretation of creativity based on a traditional romantic view of art, will be exemplified through a thorough case study analysis and critical review of the scholarly literature as it pertains to director-actor collaborations. Influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s treatise “What is Art?” in which Tolstoy argued that a real work of art destroys the separation between the spectator and the artist, this paper will analyse transformative meeting in screen performance. Konstantin Stanislavski’s acting system—that advanced naturalistic techniques to encourage actors to create believable performances, exerting such a profound influence upon method acting on screen—will be deliberated upon, as will the similarities of an aesthetic of impermanence in traditional Japanese Noh, which demands a total identification of the actor with their role. The radical and innovative theatre director Jerzy Grotowski, who considered encounter to be the core of acting—a self-revelation requiring an emergence from oneself, opening up infinite interpretive possibilities for the viewer—will also be appraised.
The scholarly studio: developing a new aesthetic of the multi-camera television studio as an academic research tool
This paper examines the potential to develop live multi-camera screen production methods as a scholarly form of communication. Drawing on experimental work in broadcasting in the 1970s and early 1980s, exemplified by The Journal of Bridget Hitler (Saville 1981), and recent developments in multi-camera live-streaming online and to cinemas the paper asks if we might develop a novel screen production method as a tool to research, review and disseminate knowledge across a range of academic disciplines.
The filmmakers’ research perspectives: an overview of Australian and UK filmmaking research
Filmmaking research is part of the broader practice research paradigm – known as practice-led, practice-based and creative practice research – where films are created as research outputs in fiction, documentary and hybrid forms. Filmmaking researchers’ enquiries into production practices, techniques, modes and genres used in cinema, television and online have been successfully conducted using filmmaking as a primary research method. This paper sets out to explore the approaches used in filmmaking research that have been adopted in Australia and the UK, to identify the similarities and differences between the two research environments by looking at nine sample research projects.
Finding the lightbulb moment: creativity and inspiration in the teaching of the craft of screenwriting
The writing of a screenplay requires inspiration and its development via the processes of creativity and the tools of craft. This paper explores a practical integration of creativity and craft in The Creativity Workshop for Screenwriting, a workshop intensive where university screenwriting students were encouraged to seek inspiration through a structured series of creative exercises and develop an awareness of their own creative process in the writing of the proposal for a screenplay.
Virtual historical reality: verisimilitude and the history documentary
“There are two ways to conceive of the cinema of the Real: the first is to pretend that you can present reality to be seen; the second is to pose the problem of reality.” (Morin, quoted in Lee-Wright 2010)
The close relationship between film form (the style of a film and how it is made) and film content (the script or narrative) has been long discussed in reference to truth and authenticity, especially in documentary film production. The argument Edgar Morin presents suggests documentary modes such as cinéma vérité (literally ‘truth cinema’ in French) are perhaps idyllic constructs for a medium in which the very nature of itself is a lie; a presentation of still pictures as believable motion. The Méliès brothers present a divergent view from early cinema. One creating the earliest special-effects films, the other seeking to represent the truth in his documentaries made throughout the South Pacific.