Contentious/contemporary subjects

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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ned c
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Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by ned c »

Elsewhere John Simpson and Dave Watterson have commented on how rarely British n-c film makers address contemporary or contentious issues. Some years ago a film was made that addressed how religions start. It was scripted by an excommunicated Mormon with whom I co-produced, filmed and did the final edit (and unwisely played a RC priest). The judges comments were more concerned with technical matters and treated the film in a slightly jocular fashion. One could feel their embarassment at being faced with what may be some form of sacrilege. It wasn't particularly well received in this area either for obvious reasons but the discussion was about the content rather than the technique.

I suppose my film Last Lines could be viewed as slightly contentious but it got a very good review from the Judges and a better rating than expected.

Finally: I was cameraman/editor on a film that caused real contention; The Sister Wives, this was made under the SAG short film agreement so was disqualified from BIAFF. It is on my Vimeo site.

ned c
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Howard-Smith
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Re: Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by Howard-Smith »

In 2009 I made a thriller called PERCEPTION which I’ve recently uploaded to Vimeo. It won an award at the final AMPS and the final Guernsey Lily Festival. This film was quite controversial, featuring as its main character an outrageously racist BNP candidate who murders two young black people who are blackmailing her son. It was the kind of theme that most amateurs would shy away from. I was very irritated when one of my neighbours suggested that I must be a racist to make such a film. I pointed out how ridiculous it was to suggest that. I told her that I’d made other films featuring an armed robbery, a murder, and a wife-beater, and would she suggest that this was an indication that I might be sympathetic to any of these kinds of criminal behaviour. I said I was just telling stories. She backed down and sort of apologised!
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John Simpson
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Re: Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by John Simpson »

I was briefly in a marketing class, and we had to make a powerpoint presentation, mine was quite good but I could not help making it all a joke, sending the whole thing up because I knew it wasn't a real sales pitch. I was slightly reprimanded by the tutor. It is always worth exploring what motivates us to make the films we do. Why are so many holiday films made?
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Howard-Smith
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Re: Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by Howard-Smith »

Good question regarding holiday films. My holidays usually consist of travelling around France with an old mate of mine. And guess what... I never take my cameras with me. I like to enjoy the holiday, take a break from filmmaking and come back with good memories. If I went with the intention of making a film it wouldn’t be a proper holiday.
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TimStannard
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Re: Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by TimStannard »

Why wouldn't you make holiday films? People like to have memories recorded. Just don't inflict them on other people.
(I tend only to take phone footage, upload it to hard drives when I get home and then never touch it again)
For some people making a documentary or travelogue while on holiday is a thing - but I don't think that's what you're talking about, is it, John?

However, it is quite possible that when on holiday one can capture contemporary/current affairs themes. My stepson and his girlfriend were in Hong Kong when the riots took off in 2019 and shot some phone footage from his hotel entrance of protestors vs police. It would hardly make for a contentious documentary on its own, but would certainly place the holiday video in time. (I like to think, had I been there, I'd have tried to get interviews with the protestors - and even tried to get some official comment, but I suspect I'd have just hidden in the hotel)
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
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John Simpson
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Re: Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by John Simpson »

TimStannard wrote: Sat May 22, 2021 8:18 am Why wouldn't you make holiday films? People like to have memories recorded. Just don't inflict them on other people.
(I tend only to take phone footage, upload it to hard drives when I get home and then never touch it again)
What I'm thinking about is: motivation. What is it that motivates people to make the films they do? The question is to myself as much as to anyone else. Is it it try and convince myself/and possibly others that I'm a worthwhile person? Is the making of Horror and Thriller films something to do with exploring the depths of the psyche? There is pleasure in making a film that truely seeks to entertain others, on a good club night that can be what happens
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John Simpson
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Re: Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by John Simpson »

Of course there are many "current affairs topics" represented on YouTube but most not in the half hour documentary format. When I first joined a Moviemaking club about 6 years ago I was surprised there was no internet connectivity, and then when I spoke of YouTube it was as-if I was talking about something forbidden. Members would write articles condemning young people for not knowing what they were doing making films on their mobile phones. How times have changed, where would the last two BIAFF Festivals have been without the internet?
Michael Slowe
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Re: Contentious/contemporary subjects

Post by Michael Slowe »

About a year ago I had a piece published in our magazine entitled "Why Do We Make Films?" It is a question that I often consider and the answer as far as I am concerned is two fold. The first reason is to experience artistic satisfaction and the second is to entertain anyone who views the film. That includes gaining success at a festival because that means that the film was approved and that more people would be viewing it. As to content, it does seem that the more successful films (particularly in pro festivals) do address Contentious / Contemporary subjects. My type of documentaries, whilst mostly enjoyed by viewers, are dismissed by documentary judges as lacking contention, protest, and social conscience. These ingredients appear to be essential in a documentary today. Also, and this has been pointed out to me by a respected IAC film maker, a good documentary has to have a narrative and lead to some sort of conclusion. Quite right I'm sure, but the purely observational fly on the wall type are my favourites.

Howard is very brave to feature all sorts of terrible things, but these are drama and that neighbour of his was being ridiculous in attacking him for those representations. I agree with Howard in that you either have a holiday or you make a film! I made two on my last Caribbean trip but then I was on a familiar island for three weeks and the films were nothing to do with the holiday!
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