I think we've come quite a long way since the beginning of semester, when we were still indecisive (haha, ironic!) about what we wanted to do or how we were going to achieve this. I thought that for my final assessment piece I'd do a bit of an informal reflection, talking about some of the different thoughts and processes we went through in creating this project.
In the beginning, we started with all of us sitting around a table tossing up ideas. What were we going to do? What could we possibly focus our energies on?
In the groups we had been put into (I was with Maddie Kilby, Paddy Hassall & Celine Choo) it seemed that I had the most experience with different online mediums, being the only group member to actively be using Twitter and Tumblr (alongside everyone's favourite - good old Facebook). For me, this project was not about learning the basic strategies of these mediums, but learning HOW to use them as a platform for this type of venture. In demonstrating the things I learnt, I find that it would be best (for the purposes of this assignment) to talk about how my knowledge of each medium changed, and how I tried to develop skills to adapt to each, and try and carry out our goals.
I had a bit of experience with Tumblr already, with my own personal Tumblr, which I'd been using since last year. This Tumblr (like so many other personal tumblogs out there) is full of 'found material', where I either reblog things I like or share things I have found on the Internet. Sometimes I add personal commentary or explanations, such as this post, which features the song "Less Cute" by the band "Say Anything". I had the song stuck in my head (from listening to it on repeat over and over again) and, in a bout of curiosity, decided to have a look online for anything the band themselves had said about the song. I did happen to find a quote from the songwriter, Max Bemis, and so made a blog post using these methods:
- I searched Tumblr for the song (by typing "Less Cute Say Anything" in the "Explore Tumblr" bar). By doing this, I could see if someone had already uploaded it which would save me from uploading the song myself. (Also, it's kinda illegal to upload music that isn't yours - so it was better that it was already done for me.)
- I reblogged the song that I found.
- While reblogging the post, I edited it to insert my own caption. I used 'blockquote' to format the quote by Max Bemis in a traditional style, so it could clearly be seen that these words were from another person. After this I wrote something about my own feelings and opinions, a personal reflection that my followers could either read and identify with or skim over.
Basically, what I'm meaning to do here, is detail the processes I'd go through for a post that was not part of the Integrated Media 2 project but instead a post for my own individual blog. This is simply to highlight that for me, at the beginning of the semester, Tumblr was not unexplored terrain. I had built up a collection of skills through using the medium that I could in fact share with other people, and even though I'm only an 'average' sort of Tumblr user with a quite minuscule amount of followers I still had quite a lot of knowledge about how the medium worked from looking at my favourite blogs and seeing how they built up followers. Blogs seemed to get followers through interacting with other blogs and getting them to promote them, and it helped if the blog had a 'cool' url name, which would encourage people to click on to see their blog and then perhaps follow them. However, because there were so many blogs on Tumblr that simply 'reblogged' found material, people were more likely to follow 'original' creatives rather than duplicates. For example, if Person A took awesome photos that Person B simply reblogged, you would technically be better off following Person A.
WHAT I LEARNT DURING THE PROJECT:
Even though I had used Tumblr before, I hadn't had any experience with single-topic blogs, which are more in tune with what the 'magazine format' requires. Single topic tumblrs focus on...well...a single topic. These can be as diverse as Boyfriend Replacement - a blog of delicious looking food, Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber - which is pretty self explanatory, and
The Starbucks Name Game - a collection of submitted photos of coffee cups with misspelt names on them from Starbucks. Creating a single topic tumblr is a lot different from a personal blog in that you have to stay on topic. People follow personal blogs (such as mine) because they are interested in the person behind them, so therefore you are 'free' to reblog anything that takes your fancy, and therefore allow for even more points of connection and interaction with your followers and fellow Tumblr users. Single topic tumblrs, such as what we aspired to create with 'Being Indecisive', are followed because people are interested in the TOPIC alone (generally speaking) and any deviation will therefore cause annoyance and 'unfollows'. For example, if you go to Mustache Disney, you expect to see pictures of Disney characters with mustaches stamped on their faces. NO exceptions.
I think one of the things we found difficult in the latter days of 'Being Indecisive' was that we were reblogging too much on the Tumblr, and choosing pictures that had more to do with 'love' and 'confusion' rather than our original goal of focussing on decision making DEVICES, such as the chatterbox.
We also found it hard to get followers as we didn't 'beg' for follows or ask to do cross promotion. However, I think this maintained the integrity of our blog. One of the things I've learnt about Tumblr as a medium is that there are a lot of snobs and elitists who don't take too kindly to people begging for attention. (I am one of these snobs, just without thousands of followers. )
I was already quite familiar with Facebook (as most people are!) but I think even in this arena I made a few mistakes. For example, we made both a Friend page and a 'Like' page for Being Indecisive - through this, we attempted to have the best of both worlds, but I think it may have become unclear and confusing for the people we were interacting with. Still, we did get quite a lot of feedback on our facebook page - the only problem was that people began to want US to solve their dilemmas, when in reality we were trying to get THEM to use devices such as the chatterbox THEMSELVES. This could either be through a lack of communication, or through a bit of laziness on their part (but I'm actually going with the laziness for the most part).
One good thing I learnt was how to ask questions as a page, which I showcased the answers to <a href="http://raws.adc.rmit.edu.au/~s3284806/blog2/?p=488">here</a>. This allowed us to adapt our content to our audience and include things like 'flipping a rubber' which is what people found the most entertaining and reliable decision making device.
One interesting thing I did learn from Twitter was that there are plenty of people out there that claim to #followback (and I found this through looking at the hashtags) but don't actually do so in reality. I'd never just SOUGHT out followers before (as I am perfectly content to talk to NO ONE on my personal account) and so this surprised me - that people would be manipulative enough to try and get followers without sticking to what they'd claimed to do. (Sometimes I severely underestimate people.) Nevertheless, I did find some places that actually promo-for-promo (that is, share your name with their followers if you share their name with yours) and we got some followers through this, but I soon realised that this was hardly a good way to get followers. There are so many people out there who are so desperate to be 'heard', to 'get their numbers up', to have some sort of validation as a human being (or what have you) that they will follow anyone and everyone in a desperate attempt to gain another follower. The problem with this is that they will probably be following so many people that any updates of yours will be quickly lost in the constantly flowing stream of the mindless garble of the people they follow.
I see Twitter as a useful tool for connecting people, but you have to put the time and effort into it - alas! it is not something that just 'magically' happens. Sometimes you may get lucky, but you do have to slog away at it for a bit, and be genuine. I learnt through this that there is no 'easy way', no 'cheats' or shortcuts, and it's better to just be yourself and work on producing genuine content.
I think that last statement rings true across the board for what I have learnt this semester. Be genuine and work on the content. If you've got fabulous stuff, you'll attract the right kind of people, not just ANY kind of people. Above all, that's the biggest thing I've learnt this semester in IM2.
I haven't been posting as prolifically as I may have been earlier, and I apologise for this. My brother (who moved in with me a month ago) capped the Internet (which belonged to my ex-housemate) and I've been sort-of-housebound for more than a week with either the flu or limping around because of my foot. (These are petty personal things, I know, and more to explain things to myself than anyone else.)
So what's been happening? Lots. We've started interviews as research - so although we're not recording them with the camera yet, we do have more of an idea that our topic is in fact accurate and relevant.
I've contacted the writer of the Harsh Browns blog and she's really happy to be involved. We've planned to use one of her poems ( Where are you from?) as an anchor throughout our film - although we do plan to "remix" it and change the order and words around, or get different people saying different lines that they agree with. (I'm really thinking extreme close ups of faces, mouths, eyes, noses...mmm)
I've also popped up a Facebook event specifically worded to provoke debate, which people have been giving (including my old english teacher!). If you're reading this blog now, check out the Facebook event and share your opinions. Yes, you, kind stranger! Oh, not you, spambot! NO!...
All of us have contacted people we know who are willing to be interviewed. There's now a lot of work underway but I know we can do it.
Cinema studies has also given me heaps of ideas about Aboriginal Australians, but I'm not sure how we could incorporate this...Still, by not referencing it at all, even though we are talking about non-whiteness, we may be overlooking a big thing. I'm not sure. I'll bring it up with everyone else later.
- Suspension of disbelief has a particular meaning when it comes to documentary - there is a relationship between documentary and audience, rooted in the 'power of the photographic indexical image' - people take the photo as 'real' even though it may be edited - in this way, they see documentaries as portraying the truth.
- The filmmaker often stands in to represent the 'mass', or 'common people' - this is seen in the long history of exposes and scandals. Michael Moore is a well known example of this.
- Ethnographic films often have the filmmaker speaking FOR a group of people - representing people who can't represent themselves. For example, in Nanook of the North, a white Western filmmaker talks to white western audiences about Inuit people. It pushes the case that the fur trade was good for the Inuit people, but it was also funded by fur trading companies, so it represents their interests in a political sense. A film can represent a group in the way a lawyer can represent a client - with a heavy hand, stridently pushing their case.
- Should the people we film be given compensation? Should they be able to 'block' certain things from appearing in the film if it portrays them in a bad light?
- Should we be able to recreate scenes? Every documentary CLAIMS that their is an external world operating without the camera - that the world would continue in the same way if the camera wasn't there. We are claiming an element of truthfulness.
Cunumulla (2000) - very controversial film, 7 year legal battle. The media furore over it displays the tension between the filmmaker's desire to 'tell the truth' and moral and ethical standpoints of the subjects involved.
Release forms are more for the protection of the filmmaker rather than the subject - therefore they can be seen as UNethical
The onus on documentary filmmaking is even greater than news reporters (bound by code of ethics that stipulates truthfulness) yet there is this expectation that it needs to be truthful.
Since we've gained a few 'likes' on Facebook (66 now!) I decided it was time to pose a question and gain some audience participation at the same time.
Facebook has an option that allows you to directly question your friends and the public, and I used this to ask the question below.
Since doing this project I've changed my privacy settings so people can now see my 'likes' and have my Facebook activity come up in their newsfeed and most recent. This makes it easier to promote our page as I don't even have to directly mention it in a status for it to be seen.
After answering the question myself, this method meant that other people who were online saw the question pop up and answered it themselves too. However, to speed up the process, I decided to invite some other people to answer it, by using the button 'Ask Friends'.
However, I have over 600 Facebook friends. Should I spam them all? Who should I ask?
One of the things to remember about Facebook is as the news feed is based on an algorithm, not all of your friends may be seeing your activity. Direct invitations ensure that people are presented with a message (but whether or not they choose to respond to it is up to them.)
But who to choose? I didn't want to spend ages clicking on everyone's picture, especially when they may not even respond.
I found a quick and easy solution through opening Facebook Chat - I could clearly see who was online and who wasn't. Then, I 'asked the question' to only people who I saw were online, as it was late at night and I reasoned that if they were bored enough to be online right now, there'd be a chance they'd answer my question.
All in all people started answering and also adding their own options, which was good.
Through this we realised that a lot of people liked the 'flipping the rubber' idea, and that we should probably create videos incorporating methods like these to make it even easier for them.
I have just written the following for my section of the draft treatment we're presenting:
In our documentary we aim to explore themes of identity and belonging by interviewing Australian citizens of migrant or mixed descent who have been born here. By incorporating ideas found in the Harsh Browns blog, the documentary will pose the argument that non-white Australians will, to a certain degree, be treated as a visitor, tourist or curiosity simply because their appearance marks them as different, when in fact the Australian culture is the only one they are familiar with or can call their own.
Our main aim as filmmakers is not to attack or fabricate issues but rather approach these issues in a way that compels the audience to think about situations in their own lives. Due to this, we will employ performative, interactive and observational documentary techniques as we wish to include the stories and words of the interviewees, but at the same time make a vibrant and visually interesting piece, and symbolically illustrate certain aspects or themes such as colour difference, isolation and cultural dysphoria. Through this we will create a series of vignettes linked together through the stories of the interviewees and harking back to Harsh Browns “Where are you from?” poem as a reference point, parts of which will be included in our film. The poem’s inclusion in the film will not only lead to a unity of argument but provide a performative framework that will lend itself nicely to reenactments or symbolic shots, while including talking interviews will add a sense of grounding and reality to the argument.
As we are questioning elements of our own society our primary goal would be an Australian audience. However, instead of aiming it towards Australians from ‘other backgrounds’ who probably would have already experienced these issues in their own lives, we are aiming it towards ‘white’ Australians who may not have considered or thought about these issues before, but who may take more note of them after watching our film. Because we want to be thought provoking and inspire change we are also aiming it towards a younger demographic of 10 – 40 year olds, as older people may generally be less willing to change their point of view or question their own society and the underlying racism that prevails even to this day.
I feel sort of excited about this. Who will our target audience be, really? I'm being honest when I can say that I see us putting in enough good work for this vision to extend way beyond our class - I'd really like to make a quality film that we can submit to film festivals (ideally) or just publish ourselves to the Internet and be proud of. The documentary is in no way just autobiographical, but we certainly are dealing with an issue that's quite close to home for me, so I think I'll really be able to help shape it as a director (as I've said before), and I also have an absolutely amazing group to work with.
I think it's good that we've changed the focus from just WOMEN to both genders, as this puts greater emphasis on the racism/colour difference and less on the femininity of the subjects. (Not that I'm no longer interested in the specifics of women - I am...but the ideas changed after discussion and debate within our group and I feel the direction we are taking is stronger for it.)
We've been discussing a few implications and shortcoming of our topic in our Facebook group. As this is not accessible to the public, I took a screenshot of the discussion here.
There are a few different issues we realised, but through this we're redefining our topic and moving it from general 'otherness' to being a little more specific - the feeling of displacement that Australian-born children of migrants (or simply descendants, as their family may have migrated here long ago) feel by being constantly regarded as a tourist, a visitor, someone from somewhere different. This concept is important as "Where are you from?" then becomes a loaded question, with "Australia" not being an acceptable answer, and the questioner having to pry further.
I've been watching this series: The Adventures of Awkward Black Girl and this month's episode focuses on the differences between 'black' and 'white' when it comes to dating, with society's prejudices and ideas of what's suitable and what's not.
Even this series is kind of exaggerated (although many comments on the facebook page describe it is 'true to life' for coloured American women) it still highlights something that our documentary also wishes to do, but in an entirely different way. This is a web series and comedy, but ours isn't intended to be funny, simply informative and thought provoking.
What makes documentary different from raw surveillance footage, or even photography?
Documentary IS about reporting the world, but also about moving people, and presenting an argument.
A Propos De Nice - Jean Vigo: put the 'way of life' in Nice on trial, an indictment of the city and not just a document.
Sunrise over Tiananmen Square: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thrT8hmh8CI
So okay, here's a video - On Directing, by Tegan and Sara, Canadian pop duo extraordinare (their most extraordinary feature to be the fact that they are twins and both gay, how about that!). I just really like the song (and them) and thought I'd just put it in here, because I enjoy blogging more when I make it more personal.
HOWEVER, all this does have a point - we've worked out roles that we're going to take for our documentary production.
Firstly, may I state again that I feel wonderfully blessed to be in such an amazing group (this is not just sucking up because I doubt any of them read my blog). Everyone seems to be on the same page, which is awesome. We've all got a vision that we want to work on, and because of this there's no tension or power struggle. I'm pretty sure I can speak for everyone when I say that in our eyes, this is our baby, a task we're undertaking together, and we're all willing to do the work when it comes to it and pull our weight, and help each other out!
That being said, we realised we did all need specific areas to focus on, just to make it easier, and to allow each of us to make certain decisions in different areas, as getting everything approved by an entire group would take too long. Also, if we have 4 minds working on 4 different things, in theory we should be far more effective than 4 minds spending the same amount of time simply working on a single area.
We had a chat and sorted different roles out. Ruth said she was happy to do sound again, something I protested against initially ("But Ruth, are you sure? You don't have to! You can do whatever you want!") because I thought she was just being nice and maybe doing a job she felt we would want her to do. Turns out she really likes sound though, so that was good. I feel like sound can make or break a film, and having someone passionate about it (like Steph was last semester, that was great!) really makes you feel secure. (Also, last semester I learnt that Ruth is 100% awesome. There's even a Ruth Richards Cheer Squad on Facebook. I'm part of it. What she did on The Jerk at Work was absolutely amazing and I'm pretty sure I'll be in love with her organisational skills FOREVER.)
Alene stepped up to do cinematography, and even though I've never worked with her before I feel really confident about this. She seems to know her way around a camera and be really adept at using one, as well as thinking about different types of shots and the colours and looks we should go for. (Plus she was part of Press One last semester which is such an amazing film. Automatic kudos for that.) Already she's started to present different ideas for shots we should incorporate that have looked amazing in other films, and since (we've decided) that our film should have a strong visual component, as well as the poem connecting it, this will be really essential in making a film with strong impact.
Celine's going to produce it which is also going to be great. Although we've only just met she seems really organised and neat and on-top of things - which, honestly, is probably the oppposite of me. Due to this I think we'll be a great team as sometimes I need a little extra grounding when it comes to some things. I didn't want to produce again because I found last semester pretty stressful, and felt like I had to do HEAPS of work, especially at the beginning. I want to make sure Celine doesn't feel this way (and that no one else does either!), but since we've had some experience with filmmaking now we can gauge what's ahead.
And as for me? I'll be directing this film, which makes me feel excited and incredibly nervous at the same time. I know in this way I can have a lot of input into the flow, and the paths we choose to dwelve into, and I also know that I'm an
alright pretty good interviewer. (Well, I have had a fair bit of experience at it! I can shut up and listen to people when I choose to, I promise!) I really wanted to have a shot at directing and I got it. I guess it's time for me to prove myself and that I can do this, as I do want to learn new things and become a more skilled and well-rounded media professional in the process.
It's not really that daunting because I know we'll all be working together as a wonder team. I actually can not wait to get started! I bought a buffalo journal from Typo to sketch down my ideas - unlined, please, so I can draw storyboards. Thank you.