Documentary Diary: Bill Cunningham – Mediating the real

The documentary, ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ makes no apologies for its bias towards its subject. This biographical documentary uses a number of narrative resources, including examples of photographs taken by Bill for his ‘On The Street’ segment in ‘The Daily Star’, some of which date back to 1978. It also makes use of archive film and footage captured by the director as he supposedly ‘stalked’ Bill. These are used to paint a favorable portrait of this enigmatic photographer. All of these elements are pieced together as evidence to further the subjective view the filmmaker aims to present to the audience. They highlight Bill’s dedication to his job and his humble nature. However, to understand the full impact of the documentary one must look at the interviews, the way in which they were conducted and perhaps more importantly who was chosen to feature in the film and why; whilst also observing how these ‘casting’ decisions mediate the ‘real.’

James McEnteer (2006) states that: ‘ Grieson defined [documentary] as ‘the creative treatment of reality.’…every nonfiction film is a form of propaganda, trying to persuade us of something.’ In the case of this film, the filmmaker’s agenda is to promote his point of view of the subject, Bill, and leave audiences with an understanding of the importance of his work and an appreciation of his contribution to the fashion world. Due to information presented in the interviews, the documentary unveils an underlying narrative, Bill’s pending eviction from his home in Carnegie Hall. This was backed up by the evidence of news coverage, so the audience becomes aware of the ‘scandal’ caused by his landlord wanting to place him in a larger apartment with a Central Park view, as opposed to his tiny box apartment. There may have been issues related to the terms in which the director and crew were allowed access to the subject. There may also have been certain topics or potential interviewees that were listed. Other people may have refused to participate. The terms of access given to a crew can affect the reality presented to viewers.

To look at a list of contributors of the film would be like looking at a Who’s Who guide of the fashion world. His colleagues at ‘The Times’ and his neighbour, Editta Sherman feature in the documentary as ‘Insiders’. They are believed to have an in depth knowledge of Bill’s life, but as Bill himself is unforthcoming about his personal life, how much do they really know about him? And what authority do the interviewees have on the subject? The possible unreliability of their contribution is highlighted when they’re asked about Bill’s upbringing and family life. They make assumptions that he is from a wealthy background based on what they know of him. Later in the documentary, these conclusions are proven wrong. Bill states that he is from a working class family who had very little when he was growing up. This example shows that the contributors’ knowledge of Bill may be lacking, thus distorting the truth.

The documentary also features ‘experts’ from the fashion industry. Whilst these well-known names give the film a sense of credibility, it highlights the issue of the contributors’ motivation. Firstly, whilst these people may work in the same industry as Bill, there is no evidence of them having any relationship with him beyond featuring in his photographs. Secondly, it is questionable how neutral their knowledge of the subject is. All of the people interviewed for the film benefit in some way, from the publicity of the production and/or Bill’s photography or other means.

The film is edited in such a way that it puts forwards an entirely one sided perspective in which no one has a bad word to say about Bill, which fits in with the director’s agenda. However, several questions arise regarding the subjectivity of the interviews. A number of contributors describe how Bill’s time at ‘Women’s Wear Daily’ came to an end, over a dispute about an editor changing his copy and humiliating Bill’s muses. Annie Flanders, the creator of ‘Details’ magazine places the blame entirely on the editors of the ‘Women’s Wear Daily’. She tells the story in an evocative way, causing audiences to feel sorry for Bill. This use of emotional content could possibly displace the truth. Comments from the magazine editor on the issue do not feature in the film, nor does Bill’s view on the matter. Everyone commenting is basing their judgment on hearsay. Having not been present themselves, nor having video or photographic evidence, the reliability of the interviews as evidence is debatable.

There was an extremely brief indication, during the footage of Bill on the street, which showed that not everybody appreciates the way in which Bill operates. Two women are shown shouting angrily at Bill because he was taking their photograph and asking him to stop. This is a natural reaction to being followed and then photographed by a man they don’t know. However, this viewpoint of Bill’s work fails to be fully explored in the documentary because it conflicts with the director’s narrative.

Director, Richard Press, has openly admitted to manipulating the interviews he shot with Bill during the edit. The interviews were conducted with three crew members in the room. In order to make the film easier to follow for the audience, the producer would rerecord the questions so it sounded like a single voice interacting with Bill. On the film’s website, in the director’s statement, Press wrote: ‘This also made the need for any clarification or exposition in any part of the movie easy—I simply recorded Philip’s [the producer] voice making a comment or asking a necessary question.’ The nature of this editing is manipulative. Although it may not read as a contrivance, by reconstructing the questions asked to Bill the original meaning of the content could be altered significantly.

Along with New York City itself, the film reveals Editta Sherman, a fellow photographer and Bill’s neighbour, as one of his greatest muses. Editta’s ‘character’ acts as a foil for Bill. She was clearly chosen because she is comfortable in front of a camera and holds no qualms when talking about Bill and herself. In the instance of this documentary, Editta showing her self-appreciation reveals more about Bill and his unusual modesty and humility. This juxtaposition of the two friends, who have the same level of professional success, shows that they live two completely different lives. Their contrasting apartments, Editta’s being significantly larger than Bill’s overfilled box room without its own bathroom, shows how little Bill cares for material object. These images highlight the positive things about his character. They make him more endearing to audiences which is the essence of what the filmmaker wanted to capture.
The interview with Editta is conducted very differently to the others – which are seated and lit precisely. The interview appears more Ad Hoc and unpredictable, as if the, or a, truth is unfolding in front of the camera. The hand held camera follows Editta as she navigates around her roomy apartment, talking about the importance of the building and the memories she created with Bill.

Editta’s hand held interview creates a very different effect to the other interviews

The film lies somewhere between the boundaries of the observational mode and the interactive mode. This is because the documentary deals with the past as well as the present. The observational mode works well for action unfolding in front of the camera in the present day, but with missing footage this cannot be done with subjects from the past. The interactive mode allows the filmmaker, by means of interrogating the contributors, to unveil stories from the past to paint a full picture of Bill’s life. The filmmaker remains hidden behind the camera at all times. He uses live, synchronous sound and since the camera is rushing to keep up with the action, particularly when Bill is on the street, it is often shaky. This gives it an aesthetic style not dissimilar to that of cinema verité films such as ‘Grey Gardens’. This familiar aesthetic can, as Partricia Aufderheide (2007) states, ‘convince viewers that they are present, watching something unconstructed and uncontrovertibly real.’ As cinema verité has made its way into the default language of documentary, and other forms, audiences have come to associate this visual style with greater reality.

More Stagnent camera and better lit interviews

The filmmakers allow Editta and Bill to interact with each other as the camera just observes. The presence of the camera itself affects the way in which Editta holds herself. There is certainly an element of performance within this observational mode, much like the behavior little Edie in ‘Grey Gardens’ exhibits. Editta thrives on the camera’s gaze and puts on a show, thus exaggerating the ‘real’.

However at times a voice is heard asking questions, prompting discussion. This would fit more into the interactive mode, which welcomes and acknowledges the filmmaker having a direct impact on the event being recorded due to an engagement with the subject. Unlike other participatory filmmakers such as Michael Moore and Louis Theroux,  Richard Press does not show himself on screen. His immediate presence in the film is limited to an off screen questioning voice.

Bill Nichols (2001) argues that all films are, in a way, documentaries. Fiction films are categorised as ‘wish fulfilment’ and non-fiction as ‘social representation’. He groups fiction and non-fiction in such a way to comment on the similarities and crossovers these two forms have. There are many cases of documentaries using techniques commonly associated with fictional texts. Director, Richard Press said of the production of Bill Cunningham New York: ‘ I approached the movie’s structure less like a documentary and more like a narrative with a strong protagonist surrounded by a menagerie of characters…with narrative threads that slowly builds…a portrait.’ The interviewee’s interpretation of the truth is captured by the director, who then manipulates the footage according to their creative wishes. The information presented to audiences in the film is mediated not only by the filmmaker but by all who feature in it, as they, perhaps, selfproduce their contribution.

Patricia Aufderheide (2007) states that biographical documentaries ‘reveal the same choice making that reveals all historical work to be an interpretation.’ This means Bill Cunningham New York cannot capture the whole truth about this ‘unsuspectingly important’ man. As a biographical documentary, it is ‘character driven by definition but the filmmaker must interpret that character for the viewer.’ Since the director had to make so many choices in the production process, such as its interlocutors and selecting archive footage to use, the nature of the documentary is personal and subjective.

All films, documentary or otherwise, involve making a myriad of ethical decisions. Simply pointing the camera onto something mediates the pre-existing reality. Therefore no film can be classed as purely objective. Documentary filmmakers have a responsibility  towards their subjects to treat them with respect and present an honest representation of the truth as they see it. However, they simultaneously have a need to produce interesting content so that audiences will engage with the ‘truth’ the filmmaker puts forward. ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ shapes the real, forming it into an interesting narrative carried by the interviews, in order to present to audiences the directors admiration and respect for Bill. It features people who are well known in the fashion industry, whether or not they have an in depth knowledge of Bill and his life. Their names will attract audiences and the purpose of using them as contributors is to gain publicity. People will be interested in the opinion of these figures and so will want to watch the film. This ultimately means that the documentary and its subject will reach a wider audience.

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Lena Dunham’s Girls: Representation of Race and Gender

Home Box Office’s (HBO’s) Girls follows the lives of four sexually liberated and educated young women as they deal with living away from their parents, getting careers and finding love. Although the series may not be ground breaking thematically, as the programs predecessors often dealt with the same themes, the manner in which it depicts youth and womanhood sets it apart from the rest. This paper will explore the importance of Girls, taking into account the vast cultural impact it has had, polarizing viewers and sparking discourses on a range of topics such as race, representation of gender and aesthetic.

When Girls premiered, in spring 2012, there were several other female led sitcoms dominating the American television season, some even had ‘Girls’ in the title (2 Broke Girls, New Girl etc…). The way in which women were represented on television was changing. Conventionally attractive, young white heterosexual women had a voice and were being represented on shows such as Sex and the City (HBO, 1998 – 2004). These programmes helped pave the way for Girls. They made audiences accustomed to women talking openly about their sexuality in a frank and humorous manner.  What is so significant about a woman in her twenties having complete creative control of a HBO show? According to data from the Writers Guild of America, women have never exceeded twenty-eight percent of working writers. Whilst there are numerous other female centric shows on air most of them are written by and/or show run by men.  The Hollywood Reporter releases an annual list of the top 50 show runners. In 2013 only twelve of the fifty were women and half of those women were co-running a show with a man.  Men who write female parts are more likely to struggle to understand the way women think and react to situations. This is why it is so important that there is a female presence in the writing rooms of shows.

Television’s convergence with newer forms of media such as social networking sites and video sharing platforms such as Youtube have changed the way in which audiences access television content. ‘Viewers are already accustomed to watching television in non-traditional ways.’ (Bignell pg. 282) HBO took into account the way in which the television landscape was changing by making the series’ pilot available on Youtube before it was aired on its own channel. The show’s pilot was premiered as a piece of media intended to be watched when viewers wanted to, and then to be shared around the World Wide Web.

Gone are the days of talking to colleagues about last night’s television shows around the water cooler. It has been replaced with social media communications such as Facebook and Twitter. Audiences can share their views on the show as they watch it. This is important feedback for the programme-makers because ‘this network activity measures success, since it demonstrates impact…It is likely that social media activity will affect programme scheduling.’ (Bignell pg. 64) The pilot was posted on the websites of magazines, fan’s personal Facebook pages and blogs all over the world. The show has always been closely linked to social media. As well as being available to view on Youtube, it showed characters taking the time to compose the perfect Tweet and discussing the ‘Totem of Chat’, a method in which they ranked types of communication. This encouraged active viewers to share their opinions of the show on their blogs and on social networking pages. The programme-makers uploaded teasers, trailers and photographs from production to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages to draw attention to the series. Lena Dunham’s own rampant use of social media also brought multifaceted attention to the show before it was even aired.

Bignell says ‘A key advantage of interactive television and its convergence with the internet is the possibility for viewers to respond to programmes, to criticise what they see on television and occasionally to contribute ideas and audio-visual content that becomes part of the television experience’(pg 24).Girls is a contemporary example of this, audiences are engaged with what they see in the series either on television or via the internet. The show demonstrates the ever increasing power the internet has on audiences today. Girls developed a network of connected fans that share their opinions. The relationships between the viewer and the characters on television programmes are changing. No longer are storylines limited to thirty minutes on a television screen. Social networking sites are created for the fictional characters, either by the programme makers or in some cases fans, and devoted viewers are interacting virtually with the characters created by the writers.

The show’s writer, Lena Dunham’s distinctive voice and the credibility that came from her low budget independent film, ‘Tiny Furniture’ (2010) makes Girls more than just a media text for women to enjoy. Each of the lead characters has their own flaws, whether it is being a little bit shallow, judgemental or rude, but they remain likable and audiences are still able to side with them. HBO’s dramas have a catalogue of flawed anti-heroes and Girls fits in comfortably amongst them. The mumble core aesthetic of ‘Tiny Furniture’ was adapted for the series. Staying true to the subgenre, the show tries to encapsulate the low budget feel, the relatively unknown actors and naturalistic, and at times improvised, dialogue. These elements combined to create a unique aesthetic and pace for a television drama.

In her paper ‘Becoming a woman: A Post-feminist feminism on HBO’s Girls’ Nancy Lee argues that if “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” (Beauvoir 1949, p. 281) then Lena Dunham uses Girls as a platform to explore what one must go through to ‘become’ a woman. The program provides a social script for viewers to follow in regards to their friendships, relationships and work life. Audiences are able to recognise the character’s flawed choices and empathise with them, having felt similar embarrassment or rejection themselves. It enables them to try to avoid making the same mistakes in their own lives. So in a way the series could act as a cautionary tale for audiences to consider the possible negative effects their decisions could have.

One of the reasons Girls is so culturally significant is because of its unapologetic display of the female body. There is a huge social pressure on young women in today’s society to constantly improve their bodies, generally by losing weight. The pressure to be thin is often blamed on the media because the women featured in magazines and on television tend to have a very low Body Mass Index. In contrast, Lena Dunham’s untoned and overweight body appears throughout the series, presenting an alternative but still attractive female form. There are not many women in the media who do not possess the bodies of catwalk models and seeing Lena Dunham with such confidence is important for female audiences. It is also of equally valuable for male audiences to become accustomed to seeing that a woman’s body can come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. In Game of Thrones (HBO April 17, 2011 – present) a show which came out around the same time on HBO, the female form is shown in an overtly sexualised manner, purely to attract the voyeuristic gaze of its male audience. Girls has a very different approach to nudity, in that it is self critical. While the nude scenes in the show may not cause a body revolution it is a step in the right direction for young women to accept their bodies.

The unapologetic fashion in which the female body is presented in the programme lends itself to its non romanticised sex scenes. These scenes tend to be gritty and awkward but at the same time capturing the discomfort of the characters. This is done by the heavy use of close ups and slow editing pace. They are included in the show to highlight flawed relationships that tend to lack real romance and intimacy.

Girls is empowering for women because it introduces bodies that are larger than we are used to seeing on the screen and celebrating them. The lead females are still reliant on finding the love of a man to resolve their story arc. The relationships in the series lack closeness and each episode could be seen as an exploration of the characters and perhaps modern women’s inability to love. Although the girls may not have strong loving relationships with the significant men in their lives, it appears they experience true intimacy and a spiritual connection with each other. The slow tracking shot of Hannah (Lena Dunham), and Marnie (Allison Williams) at the start of the pilot may have led audiences to believe it was a man and woman in bed together, until the camera tracks along their legs and it is revealed that it is the two friends. This moves the show into uncharted territory as it challenges our preconceived notions of gender, intimacy and sexuality

In some ways HBO’s Girls is a rebuttal of its predecessors. Programmes such as Sex and the City have undeniable similarities to the series. The protagonists, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Hannah Horvath, are both writers living in New York City. Despite these similarities the series seems to have a more realistic take on relationships and work life from the perspective of a heterosexual, white, educated woman. These differences, along with a lack of conversations about designer clothes and shoes, reflect the introduction of a new generation, the much maligned ‘twenty-somethings’ from Sex and the City. This younger cohort of women feels more of the pressures of austerity than their forerunners. The Manolo Blahniks the women of Sex and the City splurged on cannot be afforded with the soaring real estate prices in New York and elsewhere. Girls is culturally significant because it is a microcosm of today’s economic struggles and the über competitive job market.

Although the programme is based on the lives of the four girls, it is interesting to examine the way the men in their lives are depicted. The two main men, Adam (Adam Driver) and Charlie (Christopher Abbott) are polar opposites of each other. Adam is what most people would recognise as a stereotypically masculine alpha male, who is a sexually aggressive, unemotional and competitive individualist. In his relationship with Hannah it is he who seems to have all the power because it appears that her feelings for him are significantly stronger than his feeling are for her. On the other hand, Charlie possesses traits commonly associated with femininity, such as being emotionally open and loving. Whilst Marnie is talking about her boyfriend Charlie to Hannah, Hannah says “I think you need to admit something to yourself, which is that you’re sick of eating him out. Because he has a vagina.” Girls seems to empower women, showing them it is okay to defy what society is expecting of you, however the series puts forwards the idea that the same standards do not apply to men. Girls seems to put forward an archaic view that hegemonic masculinity makes a man more desirable to women.

The limited presence of women in television and film is a systemic problem. The Bechdel Test was created and popularised in 1985, the name of the test comes from cartoonist Alison Bechdel. In a comic strip called ‘The Rule’ a character explains her rule about which films she watches.  It became a benchmark for female presence in fictional media.  In order to pass this test, the text must meet the following criteria: It must include at least two women with names, who have at least one conversation which is about something other than a man or men’ Lena Dunham’s Girls meets all of the criteria to pass the Bechdel test.

In the pilot the girls talk mostly about their financial situation and their careers.  The Bechdel test can serve as an indicator as to whether or not women will be properly represented in the programme/film however it is only a quantitative measure, accounting for the text actually having women who interact with each other within it. The Bechdel Test does not take into consideration the context of the female characters in the text. Feminist writers and critics have thought about other tests that could be used to assess the qualitative value of female representation in the media. Feminist music critic Ellen Willis developed a way to assess if a song was derogatory towards women, it was her 1971 essay ‘But Now I’m Gonna Move’ that inspired the test.  ‘A crude but often revealing method of assessing male bias in lyrics is to take a song written by a man about a woman and reverse the sexes.’ The same test could be equally applied to film and television texts. If the gender roles were reversed, would the narrative still make sense? Although Girls is tailored to a generally female audience it would not pass this test because of its unusual representation of men. Girls raises questions about the equality of representation in the media. Women are told to embrace their differences and imperfections while men are scrutinised for possessing more feminine traits.

A lot of media criticism came regarding the show’s racially monochromatic world. It seemed strange that a show based in New York City following the lives of people living in the most diverse generation in American history still featured no ethnic minorities. There was only one coloured person in the pilot, an extra portraying a homeless man, which is not the representation people of colour were hoping for. Ethnic minority audiences complained they were fed up of empathising with the four well educated, privileged young women and the situations they found themselves in when the only person with their heritage was living on the streets.  ‘Working towards an anti-racist common sense will depend on more than the construction of ‘positive’ media images of black people. These may be refreshing correctives to ‘negative’ images, but are based on too simplistic a view of the role of the media in ideological construction.’ (Daniels, 1998, pg 138)The portrayal of a whitewashed New York City is unfortunately something audiences have become accustomed to but Girls seemed to be unfairly singled out by critics and audiences for its lack of people of colour. Due to the large amounts of press coverage the show was getting, people were engaging in debates about the series across the internet and reading about it in print media. Although Girls failed to represent women of colour itself, it made audiences and critics really think about whom they wanted to represent them and their expectations. Dodai Stewart wrote an article exploring the supposed racism within the show arguing that ‘Girls was meant to be different from what we usually see on TV: Highly current, thoroughly modern. But the casting choices are not different.’ The steps the show made to provide representation for women was significant; it is because of the show’s potential and positive impact in other areas that there was such a media outcry. Cable News Network (CNN) took the time to dedicate a whole segment to dissecting the racial makeup of the show’s cast. The issue of the under representation of ethnic minorities on Girls would only be apparent to HBO subscribers but the coverage the show received on CNN took this criticism and made it have national importance.

The ‘whiteness’ of television is not an accurate representation of reality but then why is it that so few shows actually depict a multiracial and multicultural society? Perhaps, in the same way that men may struggle to write fully developed parts for women, white women may be fearful of tokenism and causing offence through misrepresentation. The chances of causing accidental offence are higher with a show like Girls as some of the scenes are less than flattering about the stars and their bodies. More ethnic diversity is needed in the television industry in order to resolve the racist ideologies that appear on the small screen, such as having the only black minority ethnic character portraying a homeless man. But does this mean that every worthwhile television programme has to have a multiracial cast?

When someone in a creative industry does something that goes against the status quo, it is done for the purpose of provoking thought and causing controversy. This is exactly what Lena Dunham’s Girls did with the show’s overt nudity and graphic sexual scenes, taking a small step towards acceptance of the female body. This, along with the issues the show has raised about the racial and gender diversity that is so desperately needed in the industry, makes Girls an important show and as she so rightfully proclaimed in the series’ pilot, Lena Dunham is ‘a voice of a generation.’

Love it or leave it.

Israeli singer-songwriter, Asaf Avidan, has caused quite a stir this week with the release of his new video ‘Love it or Leave it’. It features several men and women doing an interpretive dance to the track wearing nothing but a Papier-mâché mask in the shape of the singer’s head. This memorable piece was directed and edited by the singer and is completely different to the other videos he has released.

What I found particularly interesting about this video was how much emotion can be portrayed using the medium of dance alone. There are hints to the vulnerability of the singer in the nakedness of the dancers and the men and  women both wearing an ‘Asaf Avidan’ mask could be seen as him trying to show that men and women aren’t really that different. That both of the sexes experience the same euphoria and the same heartbreak in a relationship.

I’ve shown this video to a couple of my friends and they all seemed to have the same response. Once they got over the initial embarrassment of watching a 3 minute video of naked people dancing, they loved it. The ‘shock’ of the video leaves a lasting impression on it’s audience and will be an effective tool in bringing the artist onto everybody’s radar.

Unfortunately though, the video hasn’t yet passed the YouTube test. Nakedness still offends too many, even when it’s not in a sexual context. The video for ‘Love it or Leave it’ is far less sexual that most of the mainstream music videos on MTV today it’s just a shame that even after the watershed I doubt we’ll be seeing Asaf Avidan’s video on the music channels any time soon. At least for now, it’s still available to view on Vimeo.

So give it a watch and let me know your thoughts. Is this video too provocative? 

Shoreditch Fashion Show

On 27th April, Offbeat and Made in Shoreditch magazine took over the Hoxton Docks for ‘The Shoreditch Fashion Show 2013′. The industrial warehouse space was transformed with unique illustrations, projections and installations on every wall of the venue producing the perfect ambience to host a festival encompassing an array of creative outlets.

The Shoreditch Fashion show 2013 was about more than just innovative fashion; it was a celebration of  live music, art and the work done by some of Britain’s best young designers. Each of the 10 independent designers showcased at the event were selected by a panel of judges (including Eliza Doolittle, Mischa Barton and Oliver Proudlock from Made in Chelsea).

Peyote provided the live soundtrack for majority of the catwalk show, their seductive rock’n’ roll sound was the perfect accompaniment to the models as they strutted their stuff across the stage. The four-some, originally from Bath, are definitely a band to watch out for. Check out their video for ‘Dirty Little Mind Games’.

Bands including an old favourite of mine, Deaf Havana and a new favourite The Thirst also graced the stage. The Thirsts’s performance really stood out with their electric groove sound and impeccable cover of the incredibly popular new Daft Punk track ‘Get Lucky’.

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 17.54.52Rufio Summers and James Craise, who headlined the last Made in Shoreditch Issue launch also played once again. Rufio captivated audiences with his soulful allure as he brought a modern twist to Blues and James Craise seemed to bare all of his emotions as he performed his originals and an awesome acoustic cover of Jessie Ware’s Night Light. 

The event was an incredible success, paving the way for future events of this calibre in Shoreditch.

Production Update..

I haven’t posted in a while because I have been preoccupied with University applications, open days and interviews as well as the BFI Film Academy WM but now that that’s all coming to an end I will be devoting my time to production and blogging. BOA TV have been very busy as of late. We have been working on a few exciting projects which are now coming close to completion.

During the half term, we went to the 2013 BVExpo in London to take a look at some of the newest software and technology. It was a great opportunity to network with industry professionals and get some advice about kit and upcoming post-production packages. We filmed snippets of our visit to the expo and will be piecing it together soon.

A lot has changed in regards to my final major project; I am no longer producing a video for BRIC-ITT due to unforeseen circumstances. Instead I am working on a promotional video for BOA’s Eastside neighbour, Millenium Point. Having to totally rework my original plan was easier than expected and we had a shot list was complete within 2 days. We have also filmed the initial interview with Philip Singleton, CEO of the Millenium Point Trust.  We plan to use this interview as the audio base for our video and punctuate it with a narrative voice over. Today was the first day shooting at Millenium Point and the surrounding area of Eastside. The internal shots were far easier to capture than the external ones because of the severe weather conditions. The strong winds made it hard to control camera shake as we were using a shoulder mount and a fig rig but we took whatever shots we could to use as placeholders for the time being. Tomorrow we will correct these shots by using a tripod and keeping our fingers crossed for a brighter day with no snow. We will also try to get some of the Year Ten students to use the Science Park because we were not able to film minor members of the public due to consent issues. The project is running smoothly so far and we will turn over a 6 minute edit  as well as a shorter one for the Imagine BOA YouTube channel.

The Library of Birmingham promotional video is also in the works right now. We have just one interview left to record and a couple of pick up shots from the inside of the new building. The edit has been more challenging than usual as I have been learning to edit using Avid rather than what I usually use, Adobe Premiere Pro. It is an entirely different process but finding my way around the new software has been all the more rewarding. Tomorrow we have a meeting to show the edit so far to the client, just to make sure everything is in keeping with their vision.

These are the projects we are currently working on but we have a few lined up. For the latest updates of BOA TV’s work check out our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/BOA-TV

To see our productions check out the Imagine BOA channel http://www.youtube.com/user/imagineBOA/

 

All hail Lena Dunham…

Lena Dunham is taking the world by storm right now. The filmmaker turned actress, who has been nominated for four Emmys and is the winner of two Golden Globes, has a very open and honest approach to film injecting many of her own quirks and stories into her characters making them particularly relatable.

The multi talented twenty-something not only acts in her films/shows but she also writes and directs them too.  Her über realistic work shows that even the simplest story lines can be captivating and endearing. Dunham also listens to the constructive criticism fans give her, especially regarding the lack of diversity in her series. She had no qualms about speaking about the show’s race problems and even addressed it in her show with humour during a heated encounter on screen lover Donald Glover in which Dunham says ‘This is what you asked for.’ (perhaps a message to the viewers?) which receives the response ‘It’s about time.’ She stated herself that is was a clear statement that the creators were all comfortable and there wasn’t a political agenda against any race or sexuality.

Great things are set to come from Dunham, including a third season of GIRLS and a new comedy series is in the pipeline looking at the life of legendary stylist, Betty Halbreich. She also signed a $3.5 million deal to release her first book of essays called ‘Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells you what she’s Learned’.

TV Buddha: Nam June Paik

Korean-American artist, Nam June Paik is considered to be the first video artist and his work has been shown in museums and galleries around the world. He was a visionary and he basically brought Television and Video into art and stressed that they weren’t sculpture, nor paintings but ‘Time art’. He understood the power and significance of the media and television in particular. He was actually the first person to use he phrase ‘electronic superhighway’ and predicted the internet age.

Perhaps his most notable piece of work, and one of my favourite installations, TV Buddha (1976) shows an antique Buddha statue opposite a small camera and video monitor on a closed circuit camera, capturing an encounter between the Western Technological Media-orientated world and Oriental deity. TV Buddha was a last minute addition to his fourth show in New York and was simply produced to fill the gap on an empty wall.

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 15.10.13

The piece raises questions about self perception as well as the relationship between the past and the present, ever evolving technology society depends so highly on.

His ability to so effortlessly blend media forms with art and to have a complete disregard for language barriers leads to thought provoking, creative pieces that have left a significant imprint on the world even after his death in 2006.