Critical Film Interaction: A First

For about 10 years of my life I was sure that I would “grow up” to be a painter (not including the first 7 years filled with digressions of ideas on being an astronaut or vet). This ended, long story short, when I was 17 and enrolled in an art intensive boarding school where I somehow decided that painting was dead. Fast forward a few years and I find myself as an MCC student minoring in Digital Art and Design. Unfortunately, making the leap from 10 years of rigorous painting into digital making has not been an effortless one, there have been many growing pains and often feels like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. In the last few years I have been trying to acquaint myself with digital platforms and the various backformations of digital media, enter: film. Film (and film making) is just one of those things I do not understand, and truthfully do not have any sort of deep-rooted interest in. Generally speaking, I do not watch film thoughtfully, I do not watch “meaningful” film out of my own accord and I definitely do not question what I am watching. I was never really confronted with this being a problematic matter until about two weeks ago when it dawned on me, I will have a video component element to my ecology – non-negotiable. Yikes.

When I was watching Metzler & Springer’s “Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea”, Josh Fox’s “Gasland” & “Gasland II” and Robert Kenner’s “Food, Inc.” I did so, probably for the first time in my life, with a critical eye and was really trying to keep my own ecology in mind. I realized that “Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea”, while interesting and provoking, was probably a little misrepresentational of the Salton Sea region dwellers and was actually portraying these people in a very thoughtfully scripted way in order to create their version of a comprehensive story. In my own ecology (Whole Foods vs. Greenmarket) video-making, I am really considering zoning in on the people who choose to fill those spaces and finding the contrasts in information and knowledge that they walk away with from each space. It is likely that much of this will come from interviews, and similarly to the way the Salton Sea documentary presented information, I will pick and choose based on what I want my project to represent. While I think this tactic is definitely manipulating the audience member, I think all of the films we watched did it to a certain extent and therefore I am going to say that it is also okay for me to do it (that’s how this works… right? J).

What I am most nervous about tackling is the actual editing process that my footage is going to have to withstand (R.I.P.) because I have absolutely no experience with editing. I think Josh Fox’s style of editing, particularly in the first “Gasland” was really interesting. If I had watched this documentary outside of this class I probably wouldn’t have even noticed all the steps he takes in order to make this video seem like a first person conversation with the audience. The shakiness of the camera, the abrupt cuts between clips and even just the way he interacts in a sort of person-to-person way with the camera really molds the information that he is presenting. While I will not be including myself in any of my footage I think I will definitely be taking inspiration from Fox’s style of cutting clips together. Each of my locations have a very real affect that is garnered from various inanimate objects inherent to their locations that I really want to showcase and compare. For example, the buzzing of the open air refrigerators that showcase the glistening fruits and vegetables at Whole Foods versus the flimsy tables piled high with vibrant and variable fruit and veg on the backdrop of ambient city noise at the Greenmarket. Because both of these clips are not necessarily stimulating on their own, all of the contrast is going to come from how I choose to cut them together. Hopefully it will all just magically come together in the end.


~ by Anna Ruban on October 25, 2016.

2 Responses to “Critical Film Interaction: A First”

  1. I really liked your keen observations of the films, especially how you noticed Josh Fox’s style of editing and how that contributed to the overall theme of his film. What drew me in first was your initial story about changing career paths from being a painter to an MCC student because that was relatable on many levels. Really well written too! -Jenn C

  2. The most intimate and personable post!

    Right from the start of the post, you share about your early aspirations of wanting to become a painter, and you sharing your experiences about transitioning from painting to digital art and viewing films critically for the very first time is something very relatable. You made great points about the types of techniques you want to consider when filming and editing, so your ideas also gave me insight on how I should approach my ecology.

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