The process of keeping a blog of the academic research I have conducted as part of my M.A. in Film and Television has been an extremely rewarding experience which has helped transform my creative process, from being something solely instinctive and at times unreliable, into something much more reflective, with closer ties to my academic interests.
One example of this is how, at the start of my blog, I held a mixed-bag of vague misgivings about mainstream cinema methodologies which I felt might be somehow limiting the kind of film I could make. However, after time spent researching and writing blog entries focusing on the work of critical/film theorists, such as:- David Bordwell, Fredric Jameson, Louis Althusser, Mikhail Bakhtin, these initial misgivings and impressions have been replaced by a much clearer conceptual picture of an unconscious and potentially limiting aspect to cinematic production which I am now better equipped to avoid.
I have found, though, that as well as using my academic postings to confirm and boost my opinions and hunches, another extremely unexpected benefit of keeping the blog has been the way in which this period of sustained reflection and research has turned some of my cherished, half-formed beliefs on their heads. One example being how, at the at the start of my blog, I was very sure that my final year film would be made following the traditions and conventions of a Neo-realist approach to filmmaking, favoured by directors such as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Shane Meadows. However, after reflecting on my own earlier film work and by encountering film theories such as the ‘transcendental (film) style’ of Bresson and Ozu, as well as reading Paolo Pasolini’s concepts surrounding ‘free indirect discourse’ and ‘first-person film-making’, I have come to feel that a purely neorealist approach to filmmaking is potentially as restrictive as the mainstream approach to movie making I was looking to avoid.
As well as focusing on the work of theorists and academics I have found that having a place to store and reflect upon my own work has been hugely beneficial. I say this as often in the past I have had the tendency to dismiss the films and art pieces I have created as being the result of creative serendipity and chance. However, by sitting my past work side-by-side in the context of an academic blog, I have been able to detect themes that I was previously unaware of, which I can now develop as core elements of future film projects.
To conclude then, I feel that this excursion into critical and cultural thinking has given me an opportunity to assess the value of my own instincts and assumptions, ultimately acting as a consciousness raising exercise which has led me to a greater understanding of myself as a creator and filmmaker.
Bordwell, D., & Dawson. (2006). The way hollywood tells it: Story and style in modern movies (1st ed.). Berkeley, Calif;London;: University of California Press.
Alvarez, J. L., Mazza, C., Pedersen, J. S., & Svejenova, S. (2005). Shielding idiosyncrasy from isomorphic pressures: Towards optimal distinctiveness in European filmmaking. Organization, 12(6), 863-888.
Morson, G. S., & Emerson, C. (1990). Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a prosaics. Stanford University Press.
Jameson, F. (1989). The political unconscious: Narrative as a socially symbolic act. London: Routledge.
Marx, K., & McLellan, D. (2000). Karl marx: Selected writings (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pasolini, P.P. (1965) ‘The “Cinema of Poetry.”’ Heretical Empiricism. Trans. BenLawton and Louise K. Barnett. Washington: New Academia, 2005. 167-186.