Filmmaking in the Academy 2017
Sightlines Journal, Issue 2: 2017
Welcome to the second issue of the Sightlines Journal, featuring a range of films that screened at the Sightlines: Filmmaking in the Academy event in late 2016. The Sightlines Journal is primarily an audiovisual publication designed to showcase films made in a research context within the higher education sector. The filmmakers are usually academic staff or doctoral students, often but not always based in the screen production discipline.
Creative practice research in screen production has grown noticeably in recent years. It can be argued that this is a sector whose scale and significance deserves more visibility and recognition, both within the academy and in relation to the broader screen production industry. Within the academy the further development of screen production as a research activity requires a proportionate level of funding, which we hope will occur as the quantity, quality and impact of the research being undertaken becomes more evident. With reductions in government and other support for emerging and innovative filmmakers that have occurred over many years, a case can also be made that the university research sector is one of the few sites that exists for experimentation and inquiry into the creative use of screen media. An increased focus in this area would, of course, be consistent with the function of university research in many other fields and industries.
The films in this issue of the Sightlines Journal come in a range of formats and styles, including documentary and drama, multiscreen and mobile works, mainstream and experimental, and films produced for a range of audiences and purposes, from commercial exhibition to personal expression. But they all seek to use enquiry through the production of a film to investigate questions relevant to the screen production discipline or society more broadly. The Journal is also designed to encourage debate in how research in filmmaking can be undertaken and evaluated. Both filmmakers and peer reviewers were asked to address this issue in their research statements and peer reviews, which are published alongside the films. You will see a mix of responses (and in some cases some strongly expressed views) that reflect the diversity of perspectives in what is clearly an ongoing area of debate. Our goal and hope in this process is that through open dialogue this emerging research community of filmmaker/academics can develop a coherent and consistent position on what is required to meaningfully evaluate research in this field.
The peer review process raised the contentious issue of the extent to which one can identify and evaluate research by watching the finished film. It is clear that in many cases the reviewers felt that a supporting statement of some form was necessary. In our guidelines to the filmmakers, we left it open to them to decide on the nature of the supporting material provided. The responses varied from an audiovisual essay, to a short research statement and the equivalent of a full journal article. However, it is clear that, in most cases, the way that this supporting material is written or presented has a significant bearing on how a peer reviewer can evaluate a film as research.
Along with the films in this issue of the Sightlines Journal, we are publishing the filmmaker’s research statement, the two peer reviews and an (optional) filmmaker’s response to the reviews. Peer reviewers had the option of having their name published or withheld. We have also included the guidelines sent to filmmakers and reviewers. I hope you enjoy both the films and the supporting written material presented here. If you take the time to explore it, I believe it presents clear evidence of the development of the field of screen production research.
Name: Gerda Cammaer
Length: 12 minutes
The main idea behind Mobilarte was to translate the experience of riding a tuk-tuk in Maputo into an experiential video. As an avid traveller I have lots of experience exploring foreign cities by foot, as I did when I was visiting Maputo the first time in 1999. Returning to Maputo in 2012, I found the city completely changed. It had made a big leap forward straight into the 21st century looking much more like any big city in the western world.
A Portrait of Judith Buckrich
Name: Catherine Gough-Brady
Length: 5 minutes
Catherine Gough-Brady is a PhD candidate at RMIT University
Catherine Gough-Brady’s A Portrait of Judith Buckrich is an engaging 5-minute documentary that explores the way visual and audio elements combine to create a complex narrative and character study. The visual element is restricted to a single, static wide-shot of Buckrich, a historian and activist with a Hungarian-Jewish background, resting in her home study. This 5-minute long take is the basis of a work that Gough-Brady describes as ‘the almost still wide portrait’.
Name: Dominique Webb
Length: 7 minutes
According to the UK Film Council , a ‘no-budget’ film is any film made for less than £50k, although having anything more than a few thousand pounds for many independent filmmakers is quite a rare situation to find oneself in . As an academic filmmaker, sourcing a notable budget to create the fiction film is a continuous dilemma.
The Empty Throne
Names: Dominique Webb & Philip Stevens
Length: 17 minutes
The Empty Throne is a film installation. This project was born out of a wider Arts Council funded project called ‘1215. today’, launched on the 800 year anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Only four original copies of the Magna Carta remain – held at the British Museum, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.
Name: Marsha Berry
Length: 5 minutes
The coastal path winds over the top of the bluff through indigenous flora including banksias and sheoaks. The sky is bright blue — the shadows are sharp. The sea is choppy with white crests. I tread lightly, so many footprints — human and animal — piping seagulls, a counterpoint to the restless sea. A perfect moment — I posted photos of various details of sandy path on Instagram and Facebook with short evocative captions.
Name: Herman Van Eyken
Length: 21 minutes
Away (2014) was directed by Herman Van Eyken and is a tribute to his adopted country, Australia, seen through the eyes of its European director. In this poetic film infused with the landscape and characters of urban and rural Australia, Van Eyken pays homage to another European director, Wim Wenders’ and his tribute to America in Paris Texas. Away tells the story of a man who has to make a decision to right the wrongs in his life.
Name: Alan Nguyen
Length: 17 minutes
The short science-fiction revenge film Firebird (2016), was produced to explore the use of a revenge film in questioning the notion of vengeance as an effective and desirable means of obtaining justice. Various cinematic techniques within the scripting, cinematography, sound design and editing processes have been employed to portray the use of violence and vengeance in an ambivalent or critical manner.
Name: Allister Gall
Length: 46 minutes
Everything Imperfect is a forty-five-minute film that aimed to articulate my practice as research and was submitted alongside my PhD thesis as practice as research in 2016. While making the film, I ran a d.i.y film project called Imperfect Cinema: an open-access micro-cinema collective, which navigated the intersection between film and do-it-yourself punk. This film attempts to find a form in which to share some of the aesthetic, political and collaborative concerns of the research as well as documenting some of the participatory situations and experiences.
Ants in the Legs
Name: Danielle Zorbas
Length: 41 minutes
Set in Sydney, Australia 2016, ants in the legs is an absurdist alien pop image agency of decentered fiction science ‘healthy lifestyle choice’ scenarios, abstracting the mimetic image data economy.
This PhD video research project is inspired by the contemporary nexus of cinema, film and video art under the influence of the internet. The research involves an improvised deconstructivist approach to the moving image, addressing complexities surrounding identity as the site of exchange and consumption within the limitations of patriarchal capitalist linear narrative genre cinema and social media networked public mimesis.
Name: Dean Keep
Length: 5 minutes
Remembering Hiroshima is a film constructed from smartphone footage and archival images. Employing cinematic techniques such as slow motion, superimposition and split screens to visually represent the temporal gaps and shifts that exist between the past and present. Part diary, part documentary, Remembering Hiroshima demonstrates the ways in which smartphones may be used for auto-ethnographic research, while providing artists/filmmakers with the means for spontaneous and simple collection of visual data. It fuses analogue (archival photographs) and digital media technologies, and experimental narrative strategies to interrogate the ways in which personal and cultural memory may shape experiences of place.
Name: Diane Charleson
Length: 9 minutes
Over the last decade, my research has been led by practice, film and video installation production (Barrett & Bolt: 2014). This medium has been used to explore ways of revisioning memories to elicit personal remembering and storytelling in the viewer. Much of this research has concentrated on the role of found home movies with particular emphasis on the medium of Super 8 film. Such images, my research indicates have lost much of the personal and emotive qualities that they once had and by rescreening and reusing them I aim to regain their emotional value.
My Private Life II
Name: Jill Daniels
Length: 25 minutes
My Private Life II (2015) was conceived as an experimental documentary film to form the second iteration in a film trilogy. Cinematic strategies deployed in experimental documentary films vary and this offers a flexibility that may open a window onto distinctive and original ways of mediating historical events. My experiments in documentary filmmaking do not aim to provide the last word on a particular subject but make a contribution to its exploration. In the construction of My Private Life II I created a shorter split-screen version edited from the footage in my earlier 63-minute film, My Private Life (2014). In the third and final iteration, not yet created, My Private Life III will be an immersive installation piece located in an empty shop in a city high street.
The Making of Away
Names: Margaret McVeigh and Peter Hegedus
Length: 28 minutes
The documentary, The Making of Away (2014) directed by Margaret McVeigh and Peter Hegedus, explores the ‘behind the scenes’ of the production processes of the short film Away (Van Eyken, 2014). The documentary showcases the evolving nature of filmmaking in the academy by exploring the concept of on-the-ground mentorship of students by industry professionals during an actual production, thus introducing the concept of film collaboration to new generations of filmmakers.