Thursday, April 12, 2007

From Filmmaking to Storytelling

When I first looked through the lens, I began a journey of discovery. From then on, there has always been the world I witness through the lens and ...my world.

As I met other filmmakers and saw their films, I became aware that there were two approaches, two camps that often faced off one to the other. There were those who used film to discover a world and there were those who invented a world they imagined. Both existed in documentary. By and large, I found the former more compelling.

With students, I discover through another mode as I engage with them on their journey. In the beginning we share ideas, we play with them, until slowly their first inspiration is transformed into a prototype and then into a demo and a thesis document.

What remains of their journey when the student leaves? The lab is a harsh environment designed for the present journey of discovery. Most demos land on the cutting room floor soon after the semester ends or the degree is granted. Sometimes this seems a pity but then I only need to be patient, to wait for my next encounter when I can scrutinize the student to glimpse at what remnnants of their early work in the lab are still about them.

Applause and commendation are often follow, which leads me to the recent publication of a CD by Kevin Brooks, "Kiss of Summer". As a PhD student in my group, Kevin honed his storytelling skills as he grew his computational system. When I heard about this CD, I immediately ordered it from CDBaby.com. As I put his CD on, Kevin's voice exploded through the speakers; I careened back in time to some of his early tellings. Today his style is more polished; he is able to lead the listener more comfortably, even languidly, into the sensuality of his world. As the words follow one upon the next, the sights, sounds, smells, touch, and feelings of a teenager growing up in Philadelphia come to life. Try
Kiss of Summer and support an independant storyteller.

Dave Tames, another graduate of Interactive Cinema, has more to say about this CD and other fun things that are happening in the digital arena on his blog Kino-eye.com

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