The Kino Paper Vs. the Digital Paper Vs. the Video Essay … An evolution in digital writing

Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy Issue 3 2021

David Moore: Producer, Researcher
Film: The Kino Paper Vs. the Digital Paper Vs. the Video Essay … An evolution in digital writing
Length: 16.24 minutes
Year: 2020

RESEARCH STATEMENT

In the world of academia, knowledge has traditionally been reduced to text – but with the rise of creative practice research in recent years, there has been a growing movement pushing the boundaries of what knowledge looks like and how it is consumed. This short film represents an early stage in my screenwriting/screen production PhD in progress, exploring a form of knowledge production and dissemination that I entitle the kino paper – a medium to push through traditional boundaries of research, in a form that evolves from the video essay to encompass an intersection of artful intentionality of imagery whilst simultaneously exploring my research.

As I commenced my doctoral research in 2019, I recognised the need for a testing ground and the kino paper was conceived as part of the reflexive process. It formed part of the praxis in a playful exploration of what it means to use improvisational screenwriting techniques and apply it to found-footage film as new knowledge. The notion of the Kino paper was the conflation of several iterate digital forms, namely filmmaker and academic Kathryn Millard’s notion of the multimodal screenplay, which incorporates text and images (Millard 2014, 62); and film academic Steven Maras’s notion of scripting (Maras 2009, VII) being the same as Millard’s concept but including sounds as key to its interactivity. The Kino papers inspiration came from filmmaker and academic, Catherine Gough-Brady, building upon her proposition that the digital paper is an evolution of the video essay.

Gough-Brady notes there is a distinction between her term of digital papers and that of the video essay, as she states, “Using the audio-visual medium expands and changes the way I, and others, can communicate research, what we communicate, and, I argue, may also influence the nature of the research” (Gough-Brady 2019, 185). I have sought to extend Gough-Brady’s concept with the kino paper.

While editing my first experiment which focussed on exploring the dialogue between my praxis and Maras’s notion of scripting through the integration of sounds and images, it became obvious I was producing more than a simple video essay, and even more than a digital paper – it became a work of art embedded with academic intention. And as a filmmaker, I was acutely aware of academic Laurel Richardson’s statement, in reasoning that it is valid to develop a method of exploring research visually [that] can ‘relieve qualitative research from the acute and chronic passivity making the research boring and irrelevant’ (cited by Smith & Dean 2009, 127).

I argue within the kino paper resides the process of the multi-modal screenplay developed through praxis, with its application of theory to build a methodological approach that interrogates one’s subjective creative inspiration from a narrative perspective. This supports my filmmaker intentions in making the media engaging and entertaining whilst fulfilling the linguistic needs of the academy in an integrated and engaging manner that evolves from being more than a simple video essay.

 

REFERENCES

Gough-Brady, Catherine. 2019. “The Methodology behind Digital Papers.” Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media no. 17: 179–187. https://doi.org/10.33178/alpha.17.12 Accessed 08/01/2019

Maras, Steven. 2009. Screenwriting – History, Theory and Practice. United Kingdom: Wallpaper Press.

Millard, Kathryn. 2014. Screenwriting in the Digital Era. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Smith, Hazel and Dean, Roger. 2009. Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts. United Kingdom: Edinburgh University Press

Stoneman, Rod. 2017. “Screen Production Research: Creative Practice as a Mode of Enquiry.” Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media no. 17: 215-220.  https://doi.org/10.33178/alpha.17.16 Accessed 07/09/2020

 

PEER REVIEW 1

David Moore’s alternative to the traditional video essay, the kino paper is presented in this chirpy video presentation. Thekino paper is proffered as a new and improved way to present creative practice academic research. Moore’s embedded example is also the framework for his argument for considering a new audio and visual form beyond the video essay yet appears to be adhering to tropes that the academy would find familiar – voice-over, graphic quotations and ‘found’ footage.

The static frame for the changing content in Moore’s video work is TV as a window to fragments of images, which he explains originate from personal and public archives. These images combined with Moore’s voice and graphics lay out his reasons for this new way of delivering research in the academy. At first, the idea seems well-grounded but the output naive. Especially in light of how advanced credible factual filmmaking now delivers complex information coming out of university researchers.

How the kino paper was going to be ‘less boring’ than the video essay was not explained. What are the rules, and what does an academic wanting to utilise the kino paper technique have to adhere to? Is it a template or prototype one size fits all proposition? Is it researchers trying innovative techniques to better connect with their audiences through music, images and voice-over using cinematic devices and storytelling perhaps? Is it about equipping scientists in labs with camera and editing skills? Academic research outputs from which disciplines would most benefit from adopting the Kino Paper?

I have issues with Moore’s production, separate from his primary intent to explain his PhD research. His use of the form, to explain his new proposed form, isn’t very easy on the eye.  A tiny TV with an ever-changing and unlinked montage of images, music and continuous voice-over.  This new way of delivering research seems rooted in the old way of presenting research. It’s an essay, spoken, with visual stimuli. I’m struggling to see how this is an innovative way of telling the story of research in the academy, but I agree with Moore that telling the story of an academic’s research beyond the electronic essay should be considered.

The production of the kino paper video work is naive  – which might be deliberate. The information is clear and the pull quotes useful. David’s research is a provocation to bring academic research outputs into the modern age of niche content for niche audiences yet it adheres to established tropes in how academic research is delivered already.

I would like to understand better how a kino paper differs from a video essay from the audience perspective. There are already universities collaborating with prestigious content platforms in an effort to gain more visibility for their research. In 2020, the Platform Newsroom in New Zealand made a series of short films showcasing academics specialising in water research at the University of Victoria (directed by Magnolia Lowe) which had a parallel pod-cast series and articles. I’d like to understand better how David’s Kino paper will be closer to the video essay but yet be more dynamic and engaging.

 

PEER REVIEW 2

Which aspects of the submission are of interest/relevance and why?

This background paper is foundational research for a possible methodology but the method still requires more conceptualisation and experimentation.

Does the submission live up to its potential?

The author clearly sees this model of the kino essay as a prototype for his own research. Its applications are described but not proven.

How does the submission expose practice as research?

This research question needs to be narrowed down. Define the field in which you are investigating. Is this an academic paper or a creative output or the presentation of a screenplay? The purpose of the research should be explicitly stated. What are the options for presenting a multimodal screenplay, or the options for exploring creative practice research? What are the benefits and limitations of the methodology?

Is there evidence of innovation (in form or content for example)?

The author raises important questions and hypotheticals around the potential ways of presenting the screenplay.

Is the work contextualised within specific social/artistic theoretical fields?

Yes, the author covers research in this area well.

Is there evidence of new knowledge, interpretation, insights or experiences?

The kino paper is presented as both artefact and research but more processing of these ideas are required to really understand the potential of the kino paper as identified in the literature review and methodology. It does evidence that the author is attempting to prototype a new model of investigation.

This was a novel investigation of the kino paper as a methodology for creative practice within the academy. The paper introduces the kino paper as a methodology for creative practitioners to study their creative practice. This is an early research investigation, and it may present a useful model for critical reflection of the creative artefact, but at present needs a clearer sense of purpose.

In its current draft, it is a background paper for further research. That’s fine but make it clear in the introduction what you set out to do in this paper. It introduces an interesting concept and a new process that can be measured against the video essay.

The structure of the kino paper needs more balance. The introduction and literature review need to be condensed. The introduction extends 4-6 minutes with the hypothesis at 6.30mins. The literature review is good but perhaps a deeper analysis of the key references would help draw out its beneficial characteristics that you can return to in the conclusion.

The long lead-in doesn’t give much time to discuss the finer details of the benefit and limitations of the methodology and how you can use this methodology in your creative practice.

I think the creator has a great handle on digital papers/video essays/essay films and their own concept of kino paper, but I would have liked to see it applied to a creative project.

Apart from the opening few minutes and random intervals through, the relationship between image and sound is sometimes tenuous and linear rather than extending meaning. It would be good to see a greater integration of media and text.

The conclusion of the essay is strong. I love the summary of the screen idea, the musings on audience or reader and sound diegesis as a key characteristic of the kino paper. What are the downsides?

This is an idea that is worthy of further development and work.

 

RESEARCHER RESPONSE

I am indebted to the Peer reviewers for their astute observations of this statement and my presented film and would like to take this opportunity to respond to their comments.

Reviewer 1 notes that the kino paper is a ‘chirpy video presentation’  This statement I immediately warm to as one of my goals as a filmmaker and academic is to entertain as well as inform, so I appreciate the gesture. As to the suggestion that this Kino Paper is being proposed as a new preferred improved methodological approach to creative practice research presentations – if this was the message I conveyed I believe it’s a bit too ambitious of me to suggest. Rather, I imagine that there is very much a continued place for the video essay and Gough-Brady’s digital papers and my intention was to propose that the Kino Paper is an alternative artistic approach that could be utilized and speak to of the more artistic concerns, I address in the film rather than replacements for the latter modes described.

Similarly, the observation made in which the kino paper presentation is naïve and lacks technological rigour is deliberate (as noted by the reviewer). The imagery used addresses my needs to engage with found-footage films as part of my research, and not to shoot any new footage with my goal to use and re-use media for new narrative contrivances, as part of my improvisatory screenwriting research. Likewise, the format I present the kino paper (through the window of a retro TV) was intentional to address the files sizes of the footage and thematically tie the imagery together from a certain era, but after feedback as the impractical size of presenting through a small TV for mobile content, but I have since dispensed with the retro TV in the final version. Likewise, one of my supervisors also made an early analogy to viewing one of my Kino Papers as to why wouldn’t we just consider this format a ‘pimped up version of power point’ – ouch, drive an academic knife through my heart – but I saw his point and if I was shooting new materials I could produce something much more modern and technological. But this is not within the goals of my research and also not clearly articulated in my research statement or within the film. I believe that retelling new stories through old footage is as challenging as it rewarding in presenting something familiar and new simultaneously. Subsequently, though, I did ‘pimp out’ my found footage film a little more to add some aesthetic value to the final presentation.

Reviewer 2 raises other valid questions in that this methodology is new, unproven and experimental and this should be articulated more clearly throughout the film’s production and simply put, yes you are correct and I have tried to address this in the final version. But the further questions as to the purpose of the research being addressed, I had hoped that discussion about the multi-modal screenplay would illuminate this. As to what is a multi-modal screenplay? Again, this is part of my research question, but in using the adage of ‘show don’t tell’ I was hoping (possibly naively) that the benefits and limitations should present themselves visually – like the film’s introduction… In the beginning… being a visual analogy for the beginning of screenwriting – but I accept that within academic dimensionality it should be more clearly articulated. Therefore, the benefits are that audience (the reader/viewer) engages with the topic at a level of understanding and persuasion. The limitations being that in order to utilise the methodology the screenwriter needs to engage with non-linear editing technology.

The comments about the balance of the information presented within the kino paper are also a very astute observation. Should the kino paper respond to the rule of structuring an essay? The kino paper is being proffered as an academic document as well as an artistic artefact, so how does an academic and an artist balance these different tensions?

In conclusion, I was torn about altering the film to address these relevant and perspicacious observations, as the kino paper applies the rule of improvisatory processes, and if I were to correct these errors, it is, by the very rule of improvisation, no longer improvisatory. But I decided that in this case as the writing of kino is not improvisatory, only the scripting, that suggested alterations/additions would enhance the finished result and I thank the reviewers for the opportunity to address this.

 

REVISED RESEARCH STATEMENT

In the world of academia, knowledge has been reduced to text but with the rise of creative practice research in recent years, there has been a growing movement to push the boundaries of creativity conflated with academic intention. This short film explores the kino paper and how researchers and PhD students such as myself, can utilise this medium to push through traditional boundaries of presenting research in the form that evolves from the traditional video essay to encompass new research presented within an engaging methodology. In doing so, it is situated as an artistic artefact whilst also addressing the rigorous requirements of the academy.

As I commenced my research in 2019, I recognised the need for a testing ground in exploring theory through praxis, resulting in practice, as part of my PhD. Initially, the kino paper was conceived to be part of the reflexive process in documenting what I was experimenting with from the learning as part of the discovery of what it means to use improvisational screenwriting techniques and apply them to found footage. The notion of the kino paper was the conflation of several iterate digital forms, namely filmmaker and academic Kathryn Millard’s notion of the multimodal screenplay which incorporates text and images (Millard 2014, 62), and film academic Steven Maras’ notion of scripting (Maras 2009, VII) being the same as Millard’s concept but with the addition of sounds as key to its interactivity.  But the inspiration for the kino papers came from filmmaker and academic, Catherine Gough-Brady who proposed the digital paper as an evolution to the traditional video essay with the distinction between her term of digital papers and that of the video essay in that she states: “Using the audiovisual medium expands and changes the way I, and others, can communicate research, what we communicate, and, I argue, may also influence the nature of the research” (Gough-Brady 2019, 185).

And yet I have departed – or evolved – from Gough-Brady’s concept even further with the inception of the kino paper for whilst editing the first praxis experiment it became obvious it was more than a simple video essay and even more than a digital paper. It became a work of art conflated with academic intention. But as a filmmaker, I was acutely aware of the statement by academic Laurel Richardson, who reasoned it is valid to develop a method of exploring research visually [that] can “relieve qualitative research from the acute and chronic passivity making the research boring and irrelevant” (cited by Smith & Dean 2009, 127).

Therefore, I argue that within the kino paper resides the process of the multi-modal screenplay developed through praxis, with its application of theory and research for the findings to build a methodological approach that interrogates the subjective creative inspiration from the narrative perspective, as part of the creative practice research. This process supports my filmmaker intentions in respect to making the media both engaging and entertaining whilst fulfilling the linguistic needs of the academy in an integrating and engaging manner that evolves from being more than a simple video essay.

 

REFERENCES

Gough-Brady, Catherine. 2019. “The Methodology behind Digital Papers.” Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media no. 17: 179–187. https://doi.org/10.33178/alpha.17.12 Accessed 08/01/2019

Maras, Steven. 2009. Screenwriting – History, Theory and Practice. United Kingdom: Wallpaper Press.

Millard, Kathryn. 2014. Screenwriting in the Digital Era. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Smith, Hazel and Dean, Roger. 2009. Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts. United Kingdom: Edinburgh University Press

Stoneman, Rod. 2017. “Screen Production Research: Creative Practice as a Mode of Enquiry.” Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media no. 17: 215-220.  https://doi.org/10.33178/alpha.17.16 Accessed 07/09/2020

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