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June 2001, Week 1


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David Tetzlaff <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Jun 2001 12:21:34 -0400
text/plain (53 lines)
Now that wlt4 has provided the expected techno-centric response to
mike's 'intro filmmaking' course taught on video, let me offer a
counterargument. As signifiers, 'film' and 'video' represent
different aesthetic sensibilities which have relationships to certain
historical tendencies that developed around the respective media, but
have no necessary relationship to the way those media may be used
today. For example, a cinema verite documentary or a classical-style
Hollywood narrative are fundamentally 'filmic' in purpose and
reception codes whether they're shot on photochemical film or video,
and three-camera coverage of live events retains one form of 'video'
sensibility, even if shot on film and cut on a flatbed.

wlt4 misses something in saying "conceptually things like editing and
camera angles are the same". While some basic principles apply, as
these things have developed into the different cultures that have
come to be labeled 'video' and 'film,' different approaches to
elaborating these principles have developed -- diferent senses of
time, linearity, attention... There may be some technological biases
in these directions, but they are hardly determinate. Moving
image-making has evolved into different conceptual camps based on
different purposes and strategies of the members of the diverging
groups. If these cultural purposes and strategies are not PEFECTLY
translatable accross different technolgies, they are at least largely
so. To declare oneself to be 'video' or 'film' is a matter of
choosing a camp, a particular outlook, even more than a matter of
choosing a technology.

To avoid some of the controversy, I call my class 'Fundamentals of
Motion Picture Production'. But our little program is called Film
Studies, the students think of themselves as film students, call
their projects films, and so on, and that's the way I think it should
be, since that's what the curriculum is referencing: 'film' CULTURE,
not the practical aspects of Eclair magazines, Moviola flatbeds, etc.

There ARE problematic aspects of labeling a class taught with video
as 'filmmaking', but -- especially within a curriculum that dovetails
production with film analysis -- the connotations of rejecting the
label 'filmmaking' are much much more problematic.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

David Tetzlaff
Assistant Professor of Theater  "The spectacle is the sun which never sets
Box 5345, Connecticut College    over the empire of modern passivity. It
270 Mohegan Ave.                 covers the entire surface of the world and
New London, CT 06320             bathes endlessly in its own glory."


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