Exciting News – Blank feature film greenlit and in pre-production

I am excited to announce that I will be directing my first funded feature film, going into production this May.  Produced by KenMor Films, founded by myself and Producer Rebecca-Clare Evans, and in association with Templeheart Films.

‘Blank’ is a Sci-fi/Drama set slightly in the future with references to the past.  Written by award winning shorts writer, Stephen Herman, it is a character driven story that is a drama at its heart, with some elegant sci-fi elements. It has interesting themes to be drawn upon, include disability and mental health issues. It also looks at fears surrounding developing technology and how society is becoming more and more reliant on a digital, connected world, as well as our fascination and potential fear surrounding Artificial Intelligence.

Logline: A desperate writer signs up for a fully A.I. operated retreat to cure her writer’s block, but when an unforeseen software glitch occurs, she gets trapped inside her unit with an unstable android and no communication with the outside world.

We have an awesome team on board for this production, which will create a great film addition to the sci-fi genre.

 

How might we make use of a collaborative map (google maps)?

Ok so recently I have been introduced to the use of creating a collaborative map in google maps.  Admittedly I have never used it before but since having a play I have discovered all kinds of interesting places/communities that I have been able to join.  I am currently focusing on the social media aspect so I can buff up on my knowledge and have joined three communities to see if I can garner any useful information about increasing my online presence, marketing myself effectively and so on.

 

Social media: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/103475999580662647081

Social media strategy: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/100354381402619402956

Social media today: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SocialMediaToday/posts

 

According to Rabinger (2008: pg 496), “Publicity is the key to getting your work seen and its maker remembered…most filmmakers hate stepping forward to publicize their work…”  Much as I don’t like to push myself in others faces (which I will try and avoid at all costs!), in order to make people aware of you it is important to put yourself out there.  Michael Rabinger’s book is an excellent resource for developing your work and managing your career.  Though it is focused at film directors, it is a useful resource for anyone managing a career in the media.  We aren’t marketing a company we are marketing ourselves and shaping our career.  The aim is to strike a balance.  Get yourself in the public eye, mediate what is seen and try and make it relevant.  I like to post a little about my personal thoughts and life too, so people get to know me, not just professional me…

 

My initial thoughts on the collaborative map is that it is a bit of a lengthy endeavor to get one up and running and make it look less ‘anemic’.  Maybe part of the reason for this is my particular chosen use for it, which I will come to shortly.

 

But first I want to point out one quite obvious use for the google map, that of using it as a place for online collaborators, distance learners, or those working on a project from different parts of the globe.  Eyal Sela puts it very well in his online article on the subject.  “More than ever, the internet has enabled us to work in global and distributed teams. Whether as part of our jobs, voluntary ventures, or joint blogs, working with people around the world has become part of life for many of us. Sometimes, it is so easy that we don’t even know where the people we’re working with are located. Shared, collaborative Google Maps can help solve that issue and improve the perception of proximity by creating a visualization of all the team members’ location.”  This is a great function for the map and one that I can see being very useful for people collaborating from far corners of the world.  According to Brindley, et al. “most online educators acknowledge the importance of creating learning environments that promote group connectivity and collaboration experiences that help students to acquire the skills necessary to create and effectively participate in learning communities and social networks.” (2009)  What better way to create this ‘group connectivity’ than with a google map, connecting students of distance learning though an online medium that can bring people closer together.  They can share knowledge needed for their course, use google hangouts for ‘face to face’ conversations, and have a ‘go to’ place for everything they need.

 

Now originally my ideas for the google map were leaning towards something important to me, but not necessarily relating to my research project, as I had some uncertainty as to which direction I would be going in with it.  Still i wanted to create a map and give it a whirl.  I wanted it to be something relevant to my field, that i knew i would come back to and keep developing anyway, as it was important to me.

 

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/0/edit?mid=zz9sPSHIJz9E.kB4o3D3SBMT8

 

The first map I created was “Film Events”.  I had this idea because there are some great independent film events in Manchester and beyond and unfortunately not many people seem to know much about them.  I aim to include location, websites and basic details so people can select events to attend or even submit to, finding what they need in one potentially humungous map! I have started working on this but it looks to be a long-term development and I will be looking to get the right sort of people on board (already got some creative lovelies in mind).  These events are a great opportunity for people to meet, and collaborate on future projects together.  Plus they can be great places to see upcoming talent, original ideas and you do sometimes get well established media professionals in attendance.  These film/creative events are something that I believe all people developing their filmmaking (or other) talents should be in attendance of.  Too many people sit at home waiting for things to happen and not getting out there and seeing what actually is happening right now!  Ok, so you may be sitting and editing, or writing or whatever, but you have to get out there, trust me on this one.

 

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/0/edit?mid=zz9sPSHIJz9E.k9pYaOUqOUPI

 

As I have developed my idea now for my research project, I have also just begun another map entitled simply “8mm film” with a description telling people what sort of things to add.  I have just started sharing it and will hopefully get people adding their own 8mm films or favorite ones they have seen, interesting essays or articles, film processing places and so on.  It is in the early stages but I hope it will become an interesting and informative community, as there are some hardcore 8mm film fans out there and I would love to see what they have to add to my map.  My questionnaire and research assignment will go live on here soon so for those of you interested it is an 8mm film versus 8mm vintage iPhone app.  More info coming soon.

 

Why not try one with your friends from far off places if you wanted to have a go at making one yourself.  Or even with your fellow classmates.  As we can see from Brindley’s comment above, it is a useful academically as well as socially.

 

Here is the link so you can go and make your own:

 

http://www.google.co.uk/mapmaker

 

References:

Books:

Rabinger, M. (2008) ‘Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics”, Burlington; Elsevier, Inc.

 

Journal Articles:

Brinley, J.E., and Walti, C. (2009) ‘Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment.’ The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Vol. 10, No. 3.

http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271

 

Web References:

Accessed 25/11/13

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-create-shared-collaborative-google-maps/

Webpage.  Eyal Sela web article ‘How to create shared collaborative google maps’ (1st October 2009)

 

Everything is a Remix

Ok, so I watched parts one through four of ‘Everything is a Remix’and must say I enjoyed it.

http://everythingisaremix.info/blog/everything-is-a-remix-part-1

It got me thinking and I found some really useful and interesting stuff online that all related to it.  Really, we kind of already know that current works take from those that preceded, sometimes taking a marginal influence, and other times directly lifting from previous sources.  The saying “nothing is original” has always rang true with me, so watching this program got my mind racing.  Before we even got to part two I was thinking, “Tarantino!”  He is the master of pop culture, taking influence from what came before and manipulating it within his own work to create something that has been successfully received by both critics and audience alike.  Manohla Dargis (1994: 8) says ‘A Pasticheur and pop-cultural relativist, the 31-year-old Tarantino is as at home with Elvis as he is with Steve McQueen, Pam Grier and Shakespeare.  And even more than with Resevoir Dogs, his screenplays for True Romance (directed by Tony Scott) and Pulp Fiction are scattershot with references to movies and TV (“Riddle me this, Batman”)’.  Dargis also goes on to say that, ‘Tarantino shares in his generation’s cheerful bad taste and prodigious appetite for the good, the bad and the idiotic.’  Tarantino speaks to a generation and his films see film reference after film reference, yet he has spun it in his own unique way, being known especially for his dialogue.  Not only was he greatly influenced by what he saw on screen, but by popular literature, including for his film, Pulp Fiction.  ‘Quentin was particularly attracted by the idea of making the same characters move in and out of different stories.  He wanted to work on a large movie canvas, using literary rules.  He was particularly influenced by the writing of people like Larry McMurtry and J.D.Salinger (author of Cathcher in the Rye) both of whom tended to have characters float in and out of their books.’ Clarkson, W (1995: 191).  His films are so stylized that the term Tarantinoesque has been added online in the Collins Dictionary to describe something ‘referring to or reminiscent of the work of the American film-maker and actor Quentin Tarantino (born 1963), known for the violence, style, and wit of his films’.

Tarantino is a music lover, a film geek and has carved out a vastly successful career for himself.    Just because an individual takes influence or even direct references from previous works, does not mean they will have success.  It is about the combination of materials, the content, the timing, the look and so much more.  Tarantino has done something that works and dare I say it… there is a lot of originality mixed in with the pop culture references and nods to the past.  It is the combination of ideas that works.  One might say that he is a remix master!

Next I come to Led Zeppelin, who I cannot help but mention after seeing them so prominently featured in part one of, “Everything is a Remix”.  When I watched this for the first time I must say I was surprised.  Not being born when they were around I had never heard much about their career at the time they were rising prominently in the public eye; only hearing their music on CD at home or with friends.  Seeing that they had been classed as rip offs was a shock, because as far as I knew they were highly regarded and considered rock and roll legends!  Hearing the micro clips of others songs they had taken from made me rethink the band initially.  I decided it better to go and listen to these tracks for myself and make direct comparisons with The Led Zeppelin versions.  I searched for the song “Bring it on Home” both the Led Zeppelin version, and the Sonny Boy Williamson track.

The opening of the Led Zep version was pretty much exactly the same up until almost two minutes in.  Then it became a whole new track taking influence from the first but carved into their sound.  When questioned they stated they did it as a tribute but as they didn’t give the proper credit at the time it doesn’t look good, however the style of the song and the shift makes me think this could be true, or they liked it so much they wanted to merge the two together, taking part from one and becoming something else.  Remixing.  At the end of the day, Led Zeppelin were popular because of what they did, their own branding and form of music, the way they used music and the way it was put together, their look, energy and so much more.  They were popular, not because they ‘stole’ from others, but because of what they represented and presented at that time.  In my opinion I think it is fair to say that they weren’t a huge success because they lifted parts from other peoples songs, but because of the overall package that they provided.

The remix culture can be found everywhere, as the very title states “Everything is a Remix”!  According to Russo et al, ‘Remix, even moving image remix, is hardly a new phenomenon.  Indeed the buzzword has gathered such momentum in cultural discourse that it begins to seem retrospectively that everything is a remix.’ (2012: [1.1])

Remixes advance on ideas that have previously been expressed, making comment on what has come before, and even directly taking from one or more things, to make something new.  As Russo discusses in her journal article “Fan/remix video (a remix)”, ‘emix has been present for a long time, way back to the Renaissance and notes, ‘culture always builds on the past’ (2012: [1.1]).  It’s nothing new, yet in an age where we have access to so much through the Internet, the remix culture seems much more prevalent in society today.  According to Russo, ‘we are in the midst of an explosion in vernacular creativity that appropriates, celebrates, critiques, and transforms commercial entertainment.” (2012: [1.2])

Remix videos are an incredibly popular example of what is available today (and lets not forget song remixes!).   They can be used for entertainment purposes, social commentary, or something else entirely.  For my Internet search on this topic I found two interesting videos by the same person (on the youtube channel, Diran Lyons) that I felt were good examples to include in this blog.  The first is called, “Harry Potter vs Darth Vader (project 12, 7/12)”.

It is a great example of a remix for entertainment purposes, taking two incredibly popular films in Harry Potter and Star Wars, and remixing it perfectly, crossing over two famous characters from two different worlds and making it one.

The next video, “Death and Taxes (project 12, 5/12)” took a much more serious note.

Death and Taxes has a political message that it gets across by using works that are already in the mainstream media and are well known to the general public.  I particularly enjoyed this video, as I liked the fact that it had something to say.  I would strongly recommend this youtube channel, as there are some great examples to be found here. (Find links at the bottom of this article)

I’ll leave you with these final thoughts on the topic.  At the end of the day, it isn’t what artists take, it is what they do with the material.  Though someone takes from another resource, it doesn’t mean they can then be successful with it.  They take influence, and sometimes even direct ideas, images, sounds, words, looks etc, and make it into something new.  People love the past, we are nostalgic and like things we are familiar with, so seeing these ideas, characters, images that we love so much presented in new and refreshing ways is surely a big appeal.  Finally, for those who might turn their nose up at remixing, think on this.  This blog can be classed as a remix.  I have taken ideas from others, mixed them with my own, taken quotes from others articles to highlight my point, remix!!!!  Books are a remix, articles, journals, everything that people do right now takes influence from something else and they take it in their own direction, with their own ideas.  When you write an essay you are expected to cite other references to ground your ideas in with the ideas of those around you.  For it to be considered credible, you have to reference others work, remixing!!!  It’s everywhere…

References:

Books:

Clarkson, W. (1995) ‘Quentin Tarantino: Shooting From The Hip’, London: Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Ltd.

Magazines:

Dargis, Manohla. (1994) ‘Pulp Instincts’, Sight and Sound Magazine, issue 5, May, pp. 8.

Journal Articles:

Russo, Julie Levin, and Francesca Coppa. 2012. “Fan/Remix Video (A Remix).” In “Fan/Remix Video,” edited by Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 9. doi:10.3983/twc.2012.0431.

(Really useful, interesting and informative, highly recommend reading the above journal)

Web Links:

Accessed 08-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs5G3WL5KOk

‘Bring it on Home’ performed by Sonny Boy Williamson, youtube video.

Accessed 08-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ioIuI_W16o

‘Bring it on Home’ performed by Led Zeppelin, youtube video.

Accessed 12-11-2013, http://everythingisaremix.info/ ‘Everything is a Remix’ website, Kirby Ferguson.

Accessed 12-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/user/kirby1/videos Kirby Ferguson’s YouTube videos page.

(A great one to check out for more interesting videos)

Accessed 18-11-2013, http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/tarantinoesque  Collins dictionary web page, Tarantinoesque.

Accessed 18-11-2013, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tarantinoesque

Urban Dictionary web page, Tarantinoesque.

Accessed 19-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcI5vZEGBSI

‘Harry Potter vs Darth Vader (project 12, 7/12)’, youtube video, Diran Lyons.

Accessed 19-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdG0fi90sCM

‘Death and Taxes (project 12, 5/12)’, youtube video, Diran Lyons.

Accessed on 19-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/user/DiranLyons/videos  youtube channel, Diran Lyons. (Some great videos on this channel)

Accessed on 21-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4le3EDDAIQ

‘Everything is a Remix: Kill Bill’ youtube video, Kirby Ferguson.

Accessed on 21-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/user/kirby1/videos youtube channel, Kirby Ferguson. (View some more interesting videos on the topic)

Accessed pm 21-11-2013, http://www.ted.com/talks/kirby_ferguson_embrace_the_remix.html

‘Kirby Ferguson: Embrace the Remix’ TED Talks website, video.

Online Collaboration: Taking advantage of the tinterweb

The Internet has provided the world with a wonderful opportunity … connectivity.  This can be used for a rather vast multitude of activities that allow us to do so much, all from our computer.  The world is quite literally at our fingertips!  I personally have found it to be a great tool both personally and professionally.  When I was in Finland for 3 months as part of my final year video project I was 1,685 miles from home.  Despite this distance I managed to see my family and friends through the magic of the internet, and the video/audio capability of skype where I could speak to them face to face 🙂  Facebook kept everybody up to date with my goings on, how I was feeling, pictures and so on, and I could keep an eye on them too so it made the time away so much easier.

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Apply this to business or academia and you can reach out to people across the globe in a meeting of minds.  You are not limited to those in your area; time is not a limitation as access can be instant.

The National Science Foundation (2002: Ch 5) notes, “Advances in IT have helped to reduce the geographical and cost barriers to domestic and international collaboration. E-mail greatly facilitates collaboration by allowing rapid exchange of information and eliminating the need for costly face-to-face meetings.” [1]

With tools available to ease the process of online collaboration such as google docs (for instant document collaboration and sharing), google hangouts (for chats across the globe), GoToMeeting (a great tool where you can video chat and collaborate on a document on a shared screen), and you can even collaborate online with video editing (such as we video, video test coming soon), the list goes on and on with all the tools for online collaboration, the mind literally boggles!

Right now you may be thinking “Rock on! Sign me up!” or perhaps you may be more wary and thinking, “So what? How does this benefit me and do I really want to be working online???”  Granted there are potential complications over ownership, privacy status and so on, but this can all be managed and may not be a concern depending on what it is you are working on or with.  Bear in mind it is up to you how far you take it and whether you manage to use this online network to your advantage rather than focusing on the negative potential.

According to Josh Bernhard in Reiss, J and Candler, S (2011), “There is a perception that the only people looking for content on the internet are pirates; that they only want things for free and they are looking to get away with something.  That’s an artifact of the thinking of people who are in traditional media who are used to doing things a certain way.  They can’t see file sharing as something to take advantage of…” [2]

Ever had a skype chat?  That is a form of online collaboration, sharing ideas with your colleagues/fellow creatives as you meet across the web.  I have had many meetings this way (and I’m keen to give this google hangouts thing a wiz!).  Saves a hell of a lot of money on travel costs, not to mention all that time saved, plus, you can do it all from the comfort of your own home, bonus!  I can even get the pj’s rocking and a nice cup of horlicks before bed, happily saving time and getting work done, raar!!!  Ever e-mailed?  Course you have (I mean, you must be if you’re reading a blog, right?)  Ok, so that said, have you shared documents, ideas, videos, etc?  Had feedback?  Great!  Sharing and collaborating, it’s all part of the process.

The benefits can outweigh the negatives depending on what is important to you and your ability to manage your own privacy and methods of dealing with these potential ownership issues.  I believe there are a lot of positives to be found.

“As the scale, cost, and complexity of attacking many problems have increased, research teams have become common, changing the structure of the research.” The National Science Foundation (2002: Ch 5) [3]

The way we work is changing all around us, and there will of course be positives and negatives to this, something that will need to be managed over time.  It is hard to deny that this is the way society is moving.  You can have meetings with people across the world, collaborate on ideas, have instant access to projects that multiple people can be working on and this opens up a world of possibilities, not to mention time saving, money saving, expanding your network, gaining access to some very talented collaborators, no matter their location worldwide, need I say more?  Without doubt I shall be experimenting with this in the coming weeks so expect some videos and thoughts in my future blogs on this very topic.  Give it a whirl, follow my progress and maybe give this online collab thing a try 🙂

 

References:

[1] & [3] National Science Board (2002) ‘Chapter 5: Academic Research and Development. Outputs of Scientific and Engineering Research: Articles and Patents.’  Science and Engineering Indicators: Volume 1. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2002 (NSB-02-1).  E-book, accessed 17 October 2013, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c5/c5s3.htm

[2] Reiss, J and Candler, S (ed.)2011, Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul, e-book, accessed 20 October 2013  from amazon.co.uk

 

Weblinks:

Skype: http://www.skype.com/en/

Google Docs: http://docs.google.com

Google Hangouts: http://www.google.com/hangouts

GoToMeeting: http://www.gotomeeting.co.uk

Wevideo: http://wevideo.com

Who am i: Where has all the time gone?

Time it seems, is not my friend, but it’s about time that I got on with the million and one jobs that I have building up.  This blog has been a long time coming and it’s taken my MSc in Digital Media at the University of Salford to give me the boot up the butt that I needed.  I remember I used to be a machine, taking on project after project, doing everything myself, yet since the birth of my beautiful son I have had to slow down, right down.  It’s been a hard lesson in life and one I am still learning, slowly but surely.  How do you go from being a workaholic insomniac, to a mother who has the heavy workload of being both a filmmaker and a student, all at once…. kicking and screaming it would seem.  But one thing I have learned over these last two years?  To appreciate those precious moments, to slow down (when possible), and to try and take it one thing at a time (yeah… still trying to master that one).

 

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Kino Shorts 2013 Trauma screening and interview 

 

On a professional level I am a filmmaker, a career that I am wholeheartedly pursuing.  My main focus is as a director, but I like to dabble and keep up to speed on specialties within my field.  I am a student, and realistically always will be, as we never do stop learning.  I am a teacher, something that I am developing and hoping to expand upon in order to help those interest in any aspect of the media.  To learn more about me take a look at any or all of my sites and you will garner knowledge and information about what I do if you so desire.  Share information with me, work with me, talk to me and lets help each other out.

Please take a look at my website to see links to my work and find out a little bit more about me:

http://nataliekennedy.wix.com/filmmaker

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Kino Shorts 2012 SHED screening and interview