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Research Project Responses

You will read and respond to four of our colleagues’ research projects. Each response should be 100+ words that incorporates research. Your response should built on something that your colleague wrote in their project. You could also build on a previous comment. Please note: I have emphasized the word “four” because previously you have only had to write two responses.

In addition to incorporating research, at least two of your responses must include references to short films that are (1) available online and are (2) APA compliant.

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1.

Editing

The part of film making that interest me the most is editing the film. I view the producer and editor as a cinematic artist because they work together collectively to create a film so that it portrays or fits a certain narrative or perspective. This article here from The Hollywood News list Ryan Kavanaugh, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron, Ron Howard, and Chris Columbus as some of the most famous and still active Hollywood producers. The Indie Wire released a “75 Best Edited Films Of All Time”. According to them, the best edited film of all time is Raging Bull (1980) which stars actor Robert De Niro as he plays the character or boxer Jake LaMotta. This movie was directed by Martin Scorsese and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker. Some other all-time classics that made this list was The Godfather (1972), Jaws (1975), Star Wars (1977), Black Hawk Down (2001), Titanic (1997). So I think this goes to show that in order to produce a great movie that is worthy of being great or even a classic the movie needs to be edited properly and professionally

Producers and Editors have a really tough job and I bet there is many times where there is a fundamental disagreement over how to edit a film when they work together. You have the producer who is creating the movie from start to finish and adding their creative and discretion as they shoot scenes and films it. Nina Metz, from the Chicago Tribune, wrote an article called “What does a movie producer do ? No, seriously, who really knows?” in which it details how producers help with securing financing, write the script, film, edit and select characters (2019). The role of the editor is to take raw footage and help creative the vision the producer and director has envisioned. They need to make sure when they edit that the movie has a flow to it that makes senses and will keep viewers interested.

Here is an (ADA) compliant Youtube video called 13 Creative Film and Video Editing Techniques . In this video they discuss some of the common editing techniques such as the standard cut, jump cut, wipe cut, J/L cut, cutting on action, cutaway, smash cut, invisible cut, and etc. The New York Film Academy school offers this great vocabulary and meaning of a lot of the aformentioned editing techniques. Editor Alan Heim is a contributor in an article called “The Art and Craft of Film Editing” and he makes a great point by saying “Filmmaking is storytelling by group and a good editor has to be a mediator often between the director’s vision and what’s really on the film” (Chew, Richard Et. Al 2009). I think its amazing how these famous producers and editors have the vision and talent to constantly create all-time great movies. Imagine being able to produce and edit a movie so that not only you enjoy it and feel comfortable with it, but also that hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of other people agree with you as well ? A great analogy and the way I view movie editors is like a chef or cook. They take all these ingredients and make a meal from scratch. Then they taste the food along the way to make sure it taste right and add any missing items. They are making sure the food taste good to them and also for the people ultimately they are cooking the food for or serving it to.

There is a book called The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice and it goes over editing for particular genres, technology in editing, and various editing principles ( Dancyger, Ken 1997). I believe this is a good book to read because it is multi-dimensional and provides the long history of editing, the theory behind it and how to also apply it in films. It takes practice and a creative vision to be able to edit a movie. So I think it is important to do a historical review of how films were produced and edited in the past and the trends that we are seeing for the future. Most editing these days are done on a computer or some other electronic device. Editing in the past, especially when there was less technology was done by together with tape. This would physically tape two specific film reels or scenes together. When I use to work at a movie theater back in 2011, we use to have to splice movies together and also add the various previews onto the movies. Nowadays most movies are in a digital format and there is no more manual splicing of film and movies.

2.

The Trials and Tribulations of Adapting Video Games to Films

In the spring of 1993, fans of the popular Super Mario Bros. series of video games were gearing up to see the live-action film by the same name. This was one of the first movies based on a popular video game, and many fans were hopeful that the next era of Hollywood cinema would focus on their favorite pass time. After watching Super Mario Bros. (1993) however, audiences changed their tune very quickly. With the movie barely making half of its budget back in the box office, critics and audiences agreed the movie was a flop. It currently has a 21% critical score and 28% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. One writer on the film Ed Solomon would later say, “I don’t think anyone who worked on it felt anything other than ‘this is a giant swirling kaleidoscope and we have no idea if any of these fragments will form a cohesive picture’. I don’t think they did, but there were really interesting elements within that kaleidoscope” (Stuart). This was initially thought to be an isolated incident in the industry, as throughout the rest of the 1990s and early 2000s other video game franchises were brought to the big screen trying to succeed where Super Mario Bros. had pretty much failed. Many films would be made, but most would fail to gain critical or box office success. Only recently has the film Rampage (2018) based on the arcade game been able to break past 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, a first for the genre as a whole (Tan). Creators of these films run into similar mistakes like balancing old and new content, dealing with the limitations and strengths of the source material, and a general lack of passion or knowledge on video games.

One mistake that video game adaptations run into is not striking a balance between being faithful to the source material and creating something original. Movies like Street Fighter (1994) and Resident Evil (2002) were created to be generic action and zombie movies respectively, taking very little from the games on which they were based (Leitch 273). An original story can work and allows for greater creativity during production, but this raises the question of why these movies had to be attached to existing franchises, rather than trying to form their own identity as films. This could be a ploy to get more people to see the movie, as one Washington Post journalist states, “whether it’s a book, a comic book or a game, it already has a following, creating an immediate potential audience for the movie. Die-hard fans are likely to check it out — although those same fans can send the film to a quick death after opening day by panning it on the Internet” (Takahashi). Films like Assassins Creed (2016) on the other hand borrow too much from the source material to its detriment. “In the game, much of the action takes place in the character’s mind. Inaccessible memories are used to explain why you can’t explore certain areas. Desynchronized memories occur when you fail and restart a mission. This makes for interesting game mechanics but didn’t translate well to the big screen” (Tan). The difference in medium causes the strengths of games to be left aside or translated poorly, hurting the impact of the film. This begs the question of why games should be made into films if they can’t succeed in what they do best?

One main aspect of video games that can’t always transfer over to film is allowing the audience to put themselves into the mind of the protagonist and make the decisions that they want to see played out. Author Mark Wolf says in The Medium of the Video Game, that when playing a game, “rather than merely watching the actions of the main character as we would in a film, with every outcome of events predetermined when we enter the theater, we are given a surrogate character through which we can participate in and alter the events in the game’s diegetic world. It is still in the end, a vicarious experience but a more interactive one” (93). Interactivity is not something that can be produced for movie theater audiences across the world, but the streaming platform Netflix has found a way to bring interactive film to the homes of its subscribers. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018) is not based on a real-life video game, but follows a developer that is adapting a choose-your-own-adventure novel into game form. What seems like a normal film at first, is quickly revealed to be a choose-your-own-adventure movie, allowing the viewer to make decisions ranging from what cereal to eat, whether or not the character should do drugs with his coworker, or deciding to break the fourth wall and interact directly with the audience. Each decision made can lead to different endings that allow the viewer to experience and piece together the true story of the film. While this film nails interactivity it falls short on substance, according to Rolling Stone it “gives us an admittedly unique experience but little to hold onto after the fact” (Fear). Allowing the audience to take control could be the answer to creating good adaptations of video games, as it would play into the strengths of the source medium, but this again raises the question of why make it into a film at all? If making a film more like a game is the answer to achieving success, then keeping it as a game would make.

When creating films based on games, it should be important to have knowledge of and care for the game being adapted. Being dedicated to a faithful recreation should be the main goal, which is lost when the developers of games have to outsource to film studios or outside producers. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (2012) a web series compiled into a full-length movie was created to promote the game Halo 4, had heavy involvement from 343 industries and its parent company Microsoft. This allowed them to make sure that the project remained true to the game and serve its promotional purpose, while the writers and director could provide a quality narrative within the universe that fans and new audiences could enjoy (Bilibili). The dedication required to create films not only lies within the creators of the game but the fans who play the games as well, sometimes investing hundreds or thousands of hours into a single game or franchise. One genre of film making has been sparked from the interaction between fan and game, known as machinima. Using the games or software that games rely on–called game engines–players “found that they could transform themselves into actors, directors and even “cameras” to make these animated movies inexpensively on the same personal computers used to frag monsters and friends in DOOM or Quake” (Lowood). Surely if fans are dedicated enough to create their own art form out of a video game, then the fans could be the ones that create successful movies based on video games. In a video posted to the Extra Credits YouTube channel, the author likens the rise of video game films to the rise of superhero films. He explains how the creators behind comic book movie adaptations like Batman (1989), had a personal connection to comic books in their early years and cited them as major inspirations when adapting them to the silver screen (Portnow). Superhero movies have now become one of the most dominant film genres in recent years. A similar trajectory could be in store for the future of video game films, if creator and fan are one and the same then these films will be able to succeed.

While the history of big-screen video game adaptations has not been very successful in the traditional sense, it can be helpful to examine in order to better the future of the genre. It’s very important for studios to make films that add something to a franchise, rather than capitalizing on the name of a game to sell tickets. Not all aspects of a game will transfer between mediums, so creators of these films need to examine what makes a game great before stuffing a thin plot or bland characters into an hour and a half runtime. Dedication to the art of video games is evident in creators and players, so tapping into this connection could be the key to achieving a successful adaptation. Fans are eagerly waiting for the second attempt at a Super Mario Bros. movie which is slated for a 2022 release and they hope the creators can sidestep the problems others ran into last time, finally delivering a good video game film.

3. Evolution of Comedy in Film

Comedy. Defined as, professional entertainment consisting of jokes and satirical sketches, intended to make an audience laugh. Comedians. Defined as, an entertainer whose act is designed to make an audience laugh. When these words come to mind what do most think of? Plays? Comedy shows? Movies? Comedy in film is an ever-evolving subject in the movie world. Producers and content creators are constantly trying to keep up with current trends. But, how did comedy make its way to how it is in the present? And how is it different than what is popular now?

Comedy has been in the movie industry from the beginning. The industry started out by diving into the world of slapstick comedy. Slapstick originated in Ancient Rome and Greece. It originated by mimes who would use two boards to create the sound of a slap. Thanks to prominent comic actors of the silent film era, such as: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, it was used in almost every comedic film produced. Watering the Gardener, produced by Lumiere Brothers (1895), which premiered on January 1, 1895 is one of the earliest comedy films (Walker, Connor). This film relied mainly on the use of slapstick and burlesque techniques. Slapstick is one of the most popular form of comedy. It is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity which exceeds boundaries of normal physical comedy (Walker, Connor) Slapstick was used in the silent movie era, but it was made popular by The Three Stooges. The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy team from 1922 until 1970. The team is best known for their short subject films. There hallmark feature was physical farce and most importantly, slapstick. As time evolved films did stop using slapstick. It is a beloved technique, but as soon as sound was introduced into movies, it was retired and replaced by humorous dialog.

As comedic techniques grew, this forced the film industry to evolve as well. Different genres were implemented into the broad picture. Romantic comedies are a popular and beloved genre by all. In 1990 romantic comedies were being released. This encouraged other films such as Four Weddings (1994), Sliding Doors (1998), and Notting Hill (1999). When romantic comedies were introduced the comedy, world was mainly dominated by one gender, male. In the 1990’s romance always meant, one female and one male. So how was a female supposed to star opposite from a male? “Women are too sensitive, this has left them incapable of possessing a quality—humor—that many feels are dependent on “masculine” traits such as intellect and aggressiveness.” (Wagner, Kristen). This opinion was put to the test when the first romantic comedies premiered, stated above. But as females were finally being put into films they were being implemented as accessories; not main characters. They were always being used as the punchline or simply side characters. Females weren’t being used leads because most casting directors assumes they couldn’t hold their own next to a main male character. In the recent years this problem has slowly found a solution. Female comedians such as, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Amy Poehler…etc. From starting with romantic comedies, to females now being able to star solo in comedy films is game changing for the film genre. Blockbuster hits such as: Bridesmaids (2011), Easy A (2010), Girls Trip (2017) …etc. Have shown that females can hold their own alone, and with other males in comedy films.

On top of old school comedy and females in comedy there is also the aspect of famous comedians paving their way into the film world. In 1995 Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison (1995) premiered. In would soon become his first comedy installment of many. His work in the comedy genre allowed him to pave a path for many other comedians, such as Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, and others. He was able to take his platform and use recurring actors and actresses in almost all his movies. But with all his recurring themes and actors it soon became his trademark or his niche. His movies, which were almost all hits, started being made fun of by his audience. His audience was realizing they were paying money for the same humor, same actors, but different plot line. This would soon lead to people categorizing his movies. “All of Sandler’s movies always include one adult male who looks and acts like a summer camper.” (Schwarzbaum, Lisa). So, if an audience is able to divide and categorize his movies, how have they been able to be such a big hit all these years? The answer is in the quick one liners and witty humor. This is another part of the comedy evolution. Sandler doesn’t rely on slapstick, or other factors, he uses his content that he has been able to perfect over all these years. By doing quick comedy he is able to always keep the audience on their seats. This has led to many other movies that use the exact same form of material, such as Pitch Perfect (2012), or any Zac Efron movie.

The involvement of comedy in film has stretched back as far as one can think back. From the beginning of time with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd paving the way. With their use of slapstick comedy in silent movies, the only way to evolve was up. This is where romantic comedies were implemented into the picture. By romantic comedies taking over, females are their role in comedy films were put to the test. Over the year’s women were finally able to break out of their mold of being accessories to the male lead. This led to some of the best comedic Blockbusters of the current decade. After females were implemented into the comedy world, it was time for a new form of comedy to take over. One liners and quick wit won an audience over. Adam Sandler is a comedian who was able to do this correctly. This eventually solidified his place in the comedy world and film industry. The film industry, specifically comedy industry, is one of those things that is always changing and evolving. Seeing where the industry can go next is one of the best parts of film, can’t wait to see where it goes next.

4. The Evolution of Animation

The concept of animation is more basic then some may think but the way it manipulates movements has revolutionized the film industry since the late 1800s. This idea was birthed by a French man named Charles-Émile Reynaud who would animate various archaic vaudeville type scenes with the different scopes he had created, a beautiful example here. They served as a flip book set up on a wheel with a flashlight element incorporated. This video perfectly highlights the original methods that are the foundation of all animation we know and love today.

Once the technology and the human ambition allowed for artists to draw or paint on a layered panel this concept brought into the game some of the best stories ever told. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (19378) Walt Disney’s first ever feature-length 2D animated film was birthed and started a long line of Disney princess films. This brought us the most archaic shapeless animation of all the Disney movies, the people of the early 200s claim. The timeless soundtrack and charming characters are what truly brought the film to life. Cinderella (1950) arriving in cinemas over a decade later gives so much more movement than it’s predecessor. This clipfrom the original Cinderella is a great example of how the Disney animation department adapted to taking advantage of various movements and perspectives that weren’t as detailed or exaggerated previously. This style of traditional 2D mildly shapeless animation carried into the early 2010s exponentially improving on itself until there was a bit of a plateau.

Frozen (2013) started an empire and a new finical dynamic in the entire Disney company overall. This girl power movie andTangled (2010) have an outrageously similar 3D style that seems to the way forward for the foreseeable future. Frozen (2013) taught young girls everywhere they don’t need a prince to sweep them off their feet. The bond of family is stronger than anything for good or for bad. In Tangled (2010) the family dynamic is too strong in a negative way in the form of an abusive overprotective mother. We need to embrace movies like Beauty and the Beast (1991) that celebrate smart girls who challenge the status quo and think with their heads before their hearts despite how it might make others feel. Mulan (1998) was another very influential movie that proved girls can fight dirty too. Despite how negatively your family feels about you challenging traditions that have been in place thousands of years sometimes you have to step out of place to step up and defend your own honor.

Every young child thrives when they see themselves in their heroes. That is one of the many purposes of cinema as a whole let alone animation is to encourage, motivate, uplift and inspire anyone who views it. Not until the film Alladin (1992) did Disney bless us with a prince and princess who weren’t of European descent. This was an amazing time to educate the masses on various cultural aspects of the Middle East we weren’t previously exposed to. Of course, when a culture that is different than your own when animated it won’t be a spot on a replica but is a great way to start a conversation for not only children but adults who view any of these films they might not necessarily see themselves in. Of course, Princess Tiana, Mulan (1998), and Pocahantas (1995) have helped us as a nation expand our mind as to who a princess can be and sets an example for future generations to come.

Princess and the Frog (2009) was such a beautiful look into the deep gumbo rich culture of New Orleans. I had never seen abeignet until I saw animated kings daughter Charlotte La Bouff geek out over one in the film. Dr. Facilier taught me the intricacies of voodoo in one of jazziest Disney tunes ever created but it could’ve used more crocodile on the saxophone. I fell in love with a lightning bug couple and the whole city of Atlanta just from this one Disney film. There are so many culturally dense areas of the world to cherry pick and inform the world about it is certainly an exciting time we live in.

Pocahontas (1995) painted native Americans in such a beautiful light. The colors of the wind and just beyond the river bend transport you directly into her shoes. Raccoons and trees are capable of wisdom beyond your wildest dreams. John Smith in real life wasn’t the greatest prince charming in the world which slightly discounts his role in the film but she carries it with such grace that doesn’t serve as a problem. This movie gives young Native Americans and anyone with a beautiful caramel color a voice and someone to look up to. The Little Mermaid (1998) is able to be interpreted in so many ways the most obvious of which representation for those who can’t walk or speak for themselves. She also made it ok to have your only friends be abnormal and to collect things that might be out of the norm.

There are few titans animation with the name recognition akin to Walt Disney who has a work with his name on it that has lived upwards of eighty years being Mickey Mouse. Anyone who wants to “make it big” moves to Hollywood but the move from Missouri isn’t necessarily the easiest scenario, especially in the early 1900s. Walt built an empire from several small failures which sounds like a common coming up story but proves to be extraordinary to this day. Alice in Wonderland (1951) was one of the first projects he had to put a pin in and release a couple of decades later. Living just under 70 years on this Earth Walt Disney’s legacy has and will far surpass him. Instilling hope in the child inside of all of us with at least half a dozen theme parks that help us embrace our inner children he is still working in the hearts and minds of so many to this day. With endless televisions networks including ABC and ESPN and giants like Starwars under your umbrella, there is nothing Walt can’t conquer from the grave.

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