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Get a grip!

Agnes Varda making first feature “La Pointe Courte”

Couldn’t resist that title.  In Chapter 8 of Moving Images, students explore the positions that correspond to the filmmaking tasks for which they have been developing skills throughout their work with the textbook.  These jobs have been in a pretty constant state of flux for a number of years as the processes of the digital media pipeline and business of media production continue to evolve and transform.

Recently a very interesting piece by Cara Buckley on gripping appeared in the New York Times: What is a Grip?  The Few Women Doing the Job in Hollywood Explain.”  Check out this article to find some answers along with insights and inspiration.

On a topic related to a core theme of this article, mediateacher.net notes the deeply sad news of the passing of Agnès Varda, one of the most important filmmakers of this era and a truly inspiring creator and visionary.

And to continue with another follow-up (related to the earlier references in multiple ways!) to working in the movie industry, here is an interview with Jessica Lee Gagné, the cinematographer of the stunningly shot Escape at Dannemora, a Showtime 7-part miniseries directed by Ben Stiller, released a few months ago to widespread acclaim.  Amazing work both behind and in front of the camera.

Brie Larson stepping into the fray in Captain Marvel

Popular Culture revolves around so many factors, and simply being popular is certainly high among them. This generally requires appealing to a wide audience, and how a media creation can do so seems to balance on some pretty thin tightropes these days.  This article by Cara Buckley about how the release of the movie Captain Marvel has played out through digital media discusses the impact of critical platforms, trends in social norms, and trolling on the reception of movies and their place in our culture. Indeed, even their right to develop a healthy existence, or at least as much as the metrics and contributors to Rotten Tomatoes allow them to.

One year ago, a mediateacher.net post shared a Black History Month Interactive Resource, which can be a useful start to exploring many culturally and artistically significant related to this theme from film history.  As a follow up, here is a related highlight from this year’s Academy Awards ceremony: Spike Lee receiving the award for Outstanding Adapted Screenplay (along with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott) for BlacKkKlansman and delivering a passionate, dramatic acceptance speech that was rooted in his own personal history.  You can read it here.  For those interested in more about Ron Stallworth and the true story on which BlacKkKlansman is based, I recommend checking out this excellent Snap Judgment podcast.

By Sunday January 20, a whirlwind of events that could aptly be described as a nightmarish mix of cultural conflict and media-based miscommunication and distortion began to be seen as “a fuller and more complicated picture … of the videotaped encounter between a Native American man and a throng of high school boys wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ gear outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.” (New York Times, Sarah Mervosh and Emily S. Rueb)  For interested educators, here is a link to a highly developed lesson plan related to intersections between social studies and media literacy that concerns this controversial current event: from PBS Newshour’s Daily Video – Lesson plan: Covington Catholic incident through a media literacy lens. For another piece on media literacy related to how news can be distorted or how actual video sources of news reporting can skew reactions to events, you can also consult the piece Media Literacy and the problem with the term “fake news,” with NAMLE executive director Michelle Ciulia Lipkin.  Finally, for perspectives on how this intense encounter became a viral moment, check out this podcast from The Daily, The Confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial

What’s your Pick?

For some interesting discussion and debate, the end of the year is the time for lots of lists!  Create a framework so that you can have some healthy debate about what has been exciting, inspiring, moving, thought-provoking, or even repelling in this year’s media creations, from movies to series (TV or through other platforms) to various streaming formats. Seek out some other reference points too, whether critics, vloggers, or bloggers, and develop some objectives for the discourse.

In the meantime, here is an interesting piece for some historical perspective that might be eye-opening to students: a recent Washington Post piece in which critics  weighed in on the best year for movies. It’s fun reading and great for debate.  And for classrooms right now?  How about having everyone create similar lists or opinion pieces related to YouTubing or games or whatever types or genres of media that you want to target in order to share perspectives or opinions. Go for it as you might be wrapping up a course or starting a new one!

Infekted Minds

In an earlier post, mediateacher.net highlighted the New York Times teaching resource “Film Club.” There are many great shorts that they post along with discussion points and lesson plans, such as the recent post, Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible

For Media Literacy or Social Studies teachers, here is another exceptional new series of short videos that can be used as resources for debate of current events and  contemporary intersections of media, politics, and propaganda: Operation Infektion. These docs explore the longstanding practices of disinformation campaigns by Soviet and Russian secret services (such as the KGB) that have evolved over several decades and whose impacts appear to be quite substantial in America and many countries.  Below are links to the video series and an article by director and writer Adam Ellick.

Byte the Vine

Three years ago, on these pages was the post Snapchat 101. Haha, how quaint.  Right?  Heard about Bytedance lately?  Or Musical.ly?  (If not, check out this thoughtful piece by Anastasia Bell from Medium, if you hadn’t seen it earlier this year.) So what is the price of “meaningless stuff” — as some describe the content shared through apps like these?  We’ll be calculating these prices for a long, long time, I think.  Some things change, and some never will — like the elusive nature of trends and what new gotta-do-it twist will draw in teens and even younger viewers, and now creators, of media.  And while certain content of The Merchants of Cool might seem “old” by now — are the core messages of it really all that passé?