Archive for the ‘General Information’ Category

Movie Credits

I am putting up this quick post to highlight an appreciated editorial that just appeared by Emma Kantor, a writer and editor at Publishers Weekly: Why I Watch the Closing Credits of Every Movie I See.  This article provides a compelling personal viewpoint of why the author learned to take the time to know who is responsible for making the movie that she just experienced.

Throughout Moving Images, students learn about many of the jobs that are intrinsic to various types of media production, and in Chapter 8, there is a full overview of many of the key positions in motion picture creation.  Hopefully, students who have opportunities to explore media literacy through their educational experiences will develop their own reasons to pay attention to the many creators responsible for the movies and other media that they care about deeply.

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End of moviesWhat is going to happen to the experience of going to the movies?  Over the course of the global spread Covid-19, among the areas of human behavior most affected by the pandemic have been in the venues of the performance arts and the cinema.  Already, impacts of streaming services, home viewing, and related shifts in moving image culture had been causing widespread questions about the future of the experience of moviegoing through large screens in a shared, public venue.  There have been many analyses and editorials on the challenges facing the theatrical motion picture experience, from angles related to business, technology, sociology, creative expression, and beyond.  In addition, there have been many heartfelt expressions of the value and importance of motion pictures as a vital medium of creativity and human expression, and this topic can be a fertile area of dialogue in the classroom.  One such recent piece is by columnist Ross Douthat, titled Is this the End of the Movies? (New York Times, March 27, 2022).  

us jordan peeleIn this piece, Douthat investigates this question in a lively essay that concludes with some interesting suggestions for improving the current crisis of cinematic moviegoing and the viability and importance of feature films in our culture.  Most interestingly for work related to Media Literacy Education is this recommendation: “…Second, an emphasis on making the encounter with great cinema a part of a liberal arts education… at this point, 20th-century cinema is a potential bridge backward for 21st-century young people, a connection point to the older art forms that shaped The Movies as they were. And for institutions, old or new, that care about excellence and greatness, emphasizing the best of cinema is an alternative to a frantic rush for relevance that characterizes a lot of academic pop-cultural engagement at the moment.”

HUGORelated to the work being done by Media Literacy Educators across the country, this can be seen as quite a message about the importance of our mission, a call to renewal and reinvigoration and action, and a strong point of reflection on the key role of motion picture arts as communicative vehicles to understand, articulate, and share our experiences and expressions of the world. 

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I Fidanzati or The Legend of the Holy Drinker? - a tough choice!

I Fidanzati or The Legend of the Holy Drinker? – a tough choice!

For a bit of a different post today, in the wake of all of the picks we saw this past Sunday of last year’s “best movies” (well, at least the ones that got their angles right with the Academy voters), I was prompted by students to share a piece that I wrote a little while back.  Every now and then, folks will ask “well, what is your favorite movie?” and I can immediately answer “One?  Oh, I could never pick just one… but let me think about it and I can give you a few…”  So here is my answer.

Dozen Favorite Films  (in baker’s alphabetical order)

The Apartment: Billy Wilder

A Canterbury Tale: Powell & Pressburger

Children of Men: Alfonso Cuarón

Dr. Strangelove: Stanley Kubrick

The Fiancés:  Ermanno Olmi

The General: Buster Keaton

Gigi: Vincente Minnelli


And Vertigo? Of course…

The Great Race: Blake Edwards

Hearts & Minds: Peter Davis

The Mirror: Andrei Tarkovsky

Night of the Hunter: Charles Laughton

Princess Mononoke: Hayao Miyazaki

War Requiem: Derek Jarman

When I was asked for one favorite, it had to be five, then ten; in the end, it was a dozen.  I decided that I wouldn’t choose more than one film from any director.  Tomorrow, the list will be completely different.  In fact, it will be five minutes from now.  A memory will surface, seeing a seat in a theater, recalling an instant of passion or creative sparks.  A righteous stirring, an inspiring leap, a deep wash of red or green or blue, a whispered line or angry burst – films by Jean Renoir or Frank Borzage, Preston Sturges or Wes Anderson, François Truffaut or Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang or Carl Dreyer, Max Ophuls or Kenji Mizoguchi, Akira Kurosawa or Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh or Bill Douglas, Michel Gondry or Alexander Payne, Jacques Tati or Roman Polanski, Larisa Shepitko or Tenguiz Abouladze, Ingmar Bergman or Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda or Bertrand Tavernier, Delmer Daves or Dimitri Kirsanoff, Yuri Norstein or Ladislas Starevich, Aki Kaurismaki or Federico Fellini, Louis Malle or Ken Loach, John Cassavetes or Ousmane Sembene, Stanley Donen or Alexander Mackendrick – through the swell of music married with dissolve to close-up, or the shades of black and white as they sear upon our cornea, or the flow of a camera moving across a magic hour landscape as we travel across our own fields and back yards; and smiles, chomping popcorn and sipping a soda in the dark, overturning a chair with laughs or gripping it with white knuckles; then, a face slides upon the screen, and we connect with it for that instant, more than we can comprehend, until we may turn to one that we truly know and suddenly be seized by a moment of understanding, sliding outside of our selves in suspension of awareness, of holding the angle of their gaze, of the contour of their soul, until it abruptly slips, and we are once again in the familiar perspective, but with this sacred memory.

Mine for 2013

Winner for 2012

Now that I’ve just posted this, it makes me want to produce some lists – yeah, I know they’re everywhere these days with the digital-crunching brave new netverse obsessed to convert everything to some hierarchy of numbers, but… they’re still pretty fun.  So maybe there could be some for sound design, musical score, cinematography, acting… and so forth.  And what is your favorite movie?

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Baxter WallIn the photo at left are Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (who is also a title designer), who won the last TWO Oscars for Editing for David Fincher’s The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  

Here is a very brief review of digital tools for media educators, notably those who are novices with editing and moviemaking in general.  In particular, those who might be asking “where do I start?”

Adobe Premiere Elements (now at 12 in 2014) is the most widely used digital editing software available and is a more accessible consumer version of Adobe Premiere Pro.  There are references available for Adobe Creative Suite 6 and through a new edition of Debbie Keller‘s textbook for digital moviemaking programs: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, and Encore.

Final Cut Pro is one of the most popular programs for educators across the country, although after some early progress with professional uses about a decade ago, they have dropped significantly from the professional world (thanks to the release of FCP X), although they are still trying.   For starters with Macs, most folks are familiar with the basic Apple program, iMovie, which has developed significantly over the years.  Oh, by the way, Baxter and Wall edited their Academy Award-winning movies with FCP7.

Avid Technology  is highly used by professionals today and is a solid bet for educators (it is the platform of choice at many universities).  Among their products, Media Composer is the basic editing program and it is important to note that Pinnacle is a division of Avid.

Sony Vegas remains quite popular with students, although I have found it is less used by educators — is it the name?

For an overall look at the landscape, here is wiki page for video editing software that provides a table-based overview.

For some classroom ideas, of course there are the interactive exercises and projects with my Moving Images textbook.   Here’s another: you can find editing resources on the Thinking Film site.

william goldenberg oscar argo zero dark thirtyAnd what’s in store at this year’s Oscars in the editing department?  There are some interesting stories: William Goldenberg has two nominations — for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty — so he is competing partly against himself, which hasn’t happened since Walter Murch in 1990 (for The Godfather, Part III and Ghost).  And he is competing against his mentor, Michael Kahn, who is nominated for Lincoln.  Here is a very thoughtful, interesting interview with Goldenberg by the site production Apprentice.

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The Tenth Annual Northeast Media Literacy Conference at the University of Connecticut on March 16, 2012, will feature the theme of “News Literacy in a Digital Media Age.”  I will be making a presentation designed around that theme in which participants will investigate the development of integrated units that foster analytical and creative skills, project management, and media literacy through non-fiction and promotional platforms using classroom cases.   In particular, the work associated with documentary and news media units such as those featured in Chapter 6 of Moving Images (Recording and Presenting Reality), will be highlighted.

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