Thursday, August 16, 2007

defining and applying aesthetic concepts

To springboard this week's lecture discussion centering on aesthetics, we watched part of a documentary on John Wojtowicz (whose life was the basis of the film ‘Dog Day Afternoon’). If nothing else, watching this excerpt really hammered home the prevalence and centripetal nature of sound in documentary filmmaking.

The music, to begin with, was the most emotive aspect of the production. Whether to elicit suspense or create ambience, sound was the inherent vehicle upon which every internal reaction in the audience could be solicited. The phone call audio used at the very beginning was also a powerful tool, as it gave a feeling of authenticity and curious uncertainty - the audience were cast almost as voyeurs, listening in remotely on someone's private calls. Implicating viewers in such a scenario is the ultimate tool of engagement here, one that the filmmaker had obviously thought about well in advance.

I guess the most defining aspect of describing any kind of aesthetics is to be 100% familiar with its treatment of style. In the case of our own documentaries, we are aiming to produce a very experimental, boundary-cutting work. Given the nature of our subject and his own colourful existence, we can only do him justice by having our production style mirror the contagious idiosyncrasies of his character.

There will, of course, be some strict adherence to convention as well. Although it will structurally retain a clear beginning, middle and end, Amazon will not only portray a fusion of character, but also a fusion of styles. On one hand, it aims to give an overwhelming degree of visual continuity – that is, to have shots smoothly dissolve into one another accompanied by seamless voiceovers (i.e. to make viewers feel as though they are literally ‘turning the pages’ of a biography). However, to compliment the more complex natue of his personality, we wish to utilise several effects in post-production to manipulate the relationship between time, space and what it seen, giving our documentary an aesthetic edge. This will be done strategically and where appropriate to compliment the content of the subject's accounts.

As with the docmuentary on John Wojtowicz, the overall intention is to produce a technically cogent program to elicit a wide array of feelings, ranging from excitement to suspense (where necessary). Given that the notion of appearances will be thoroughly explored, his costume will be given significant treatment - though most certainly not at the expense of the aural component of the production. We intend to use several sounds – both diegetic and non-diegetic, each being employed to fill their own unique purposes. Sound montages will accompany visual montages, with calmer parts of the background music accompanying the still images, and more rapid bits of film being entwined with the faster beats.

The transition from 'guy to goddess' will provide viewers with a hands-on account of what it is truly like is to go from one persona to another. At the documentary's end, he will transpire as being much more than merely a 'boy in a dress'.

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