Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy 2022

Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy

Conference DateIssue 4 2022
Conference LocationAustralian Screen Production Education and Research Association
Conference ISSNISSN: 2653-1801 (Online)


Craig Batty, University of South Australia
Marsha Berry, RMIT University
Kath Dooley, University of South Australia
Bettina Frankham, University of Technology Sydney
Margaret McHugh, University of Technology Sydney
James Verdon, Swinburne University of Technology

Issue 4 submissions

Welcome to issue four of Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy. This is the second of two journal issues that have been published in follow-up to the third Sightlines Conference, held at RMIT University from 2 to 4 December 2019. As with issue three, we feature a range of screen works as well as three screenplays that interrogate, as research, a different aspect of screen production. While some of the featured works were previously presented at the Sightlines conference, others were not, this being the result of an open call for contributions made in June 2020.

Following on from issue three, the 14 moving image and screenplay works in this issue provide further evidence that creative practice research in these areas has matured. This enables a broader range of experimentation with formats and approaches, as well as more rigorous discussions around methodology, engagement and impact.

For the screenplay contributions, Tom Carter’s Into Dust, seeks to break new ground as a record of a British screenwriter writing for mainstream Korean cinema. Part of Carter’s PhD in progress, while the screenplay stands alone as a creative work in and of itself, it is the product of ongoing practice-based research that investigates the complex negotiation of cultural, geographical and language considerations in transnational screenwriting.

Through the writing of the feature film screenplay Flying, Charles de Salis explores the adaptation of his own novel of the same name, an act that questions the validity of the ‘traditional, hierarchical source/palimpsest model of the adaptive process’. The draft novel employs modernist tropes that present challenges for the screenplay writer, such as the translation of characters’ interior worlds for the screen.

In Golems Inc, Maxine Gee explores the ways storytelling is used as a defining feature of what it means to be human in posthuman noir science fiction. Taking as its departure point the idea that humans use storytelling to make sense of the world around them, to construct and project their identities, and to interact and connect with others, this screenplay examines how a posthuman character can employ storytelling abilities to successfully pretend to be, or simulate being, human.

In terms of the moving image works, Keith Marley’s fleur de sel: étude numéro 2 examines experimental techniques within documentary, aiming to foreground expression, particularly pattern, over exposition. This is a research experiment that unashamedly privileges sensation over cognition.

Exploring the social and individual tensions around reconciling religious faith with LGBTQI+ identities in Brazil, Márcio Andrade’s documentary, Prayers out of the closet, presents a moving account woven from the insights of his own experience and those of three other young, thoughtful and devoted people of faith. The piece is structured around the director’s poetic voice over, addressing his mother regarding his own struggles, journey and identity.

Short documentary Between the Tides by Dr Aaron Burton and PhD candidate Madeline Goddard considers the relationship between science communication, documentary practice and bricolage media production during a pandemic. The dynamic between documentary storytelling and scientific information is explored through the parallel narratives of Darwin based recreational fisherman Hiroaki Nakamura and insights from environmental scientist, Madeline Goddard, on the mangrove forest ecosystem functions.

Nick Cope takes us to the roof of the world in his experimental triptych displaying Tibetan prayer flags, Sarva Mangalam! In collaboration with electroacoustic composer, Tim Howle, Cope has produced a compelling work that extends ideas of visual music into a form that the pair describe as electroacoustic movie making. This is an ethereal piece exploring the elemental aspects of wind, sun, sky and earth, treating the moving image as material that can be engaged with through audio composition frameworks.

In Characters, Interrupted, Catherine Gough-Brady explores the tensions associated with character portrayal in documentary, exposing her own thought processes as practitioner. This video essay probes the concepts of ‘transition’ and ‘performance’ to question the constructed nature of character.

Gwen Isaac’s documentary triptych, Tokyo Woman, exposes gender inequity in Japan through the lived experience of three Japanese women. Using participatory and observational documentary methods the film explores gendered challenges faced by Japanese women in home and work environments through a feminist lens.

Addressing key issues regarding how to make the lines of inquiry in creative practice research evident, Dominic Lees focuses on a ‘Design-Centred Mode’ of filmmaking in The Burning. One of three directorial modes explored by Lees in more detail through academic journal articles and chapters, a design-centred approach to direction means that collaborations with design departments, such as production design and wardrobe, become even more significant. The Burning is a demonstration of how this approach can manifest and its impact on other elements within the directorial toolkit.

Drawing together archival family images and sound with stylistic nods toward hallmarks of multi-channel video presentation, Fragments by Katherine Lorenzoni tackles memory as a construct by self and others. The work seeks to evoke and provide insights into the sensation of remembering lived experiences.

Nico Meissner engages with filmmaking culture in South-East Asia through a series of micro-docs titled Paths Untold: Sketches of South-East Asian Filmmaking Careers. In this series of 27 shorts (six of which appear in this issue of Sightlines), Meissner takes up the theme of screen industry careers outside of the global mainstream. He argues that these filmmakers have important lessons to share regarding resilience and determination in establishing sustainable creative careers.

A further two works explore emerging technologies and platforms for screen production research. Shuai Li’s Ice City: Harbin is an interactive video work for networked social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube and is composed of 15 videos in the city film genre exploring sights and sounds of Harbin. The work explores and contributes to mobile media storytelling forms and how these are constantly adapting within a dynamic mediascape and ecosystem.

Simon Weaving presents Entangled, a two-part VR work that explores the way that the 360-degree medium can best service dramatic storytelling. Weaving presents a narrative that places the viewer at the centre of unfolding events and gives them agency to choose their viewing direction, an approach that he has also explored in his screenplay construction.

Thanks go once again to Dr Kim Munro for her work in bringing the issue to fruition. We hope that you enjoy the contributions, and we look forward to continued conversation and debate going forward.

Issue 4, 2022

Into Dust
Tom Carter
Charles de Salis
Golems Inc
Maxine Gee
fleur de sel: étude numéro 2
Keith Marley
Prayers out of the closet
Márcio Andrade
Between the Tides
Aaron Burton and Madeline Goddard
Sarva Mangalam!
Nick Cope
Characters, Interrupted
Catherine Gough-Brady
Tokyo Woman
Gwen Isaac
The Burning
Dominic Lees
Katherine Lorenzoni
Paths Untold
Nico Meissner
Ice City: Harbin
Shuai Li
Simon Weaving

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