Introduction To Film

Introduction To Film
Maya Deren

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Video of the day December 3rd

Video shot by Amy Lithimane on December 3rd.
Edited the same day on her phone
While we made our films the hard way.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Final Film Proposals

I would like to see/hear your final film proposals next Tuesday in class. I expect a paragraph description   of the film. Connect the film to something we have seen in class. It can be from the blog, a DVD I have shown or a classmates film. Keep it simple.  I will interview you about how you will do it so you should be ready to take notes while we talk.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


5 rules for filmmakers

Rule #1: There are no rules. There are as many ways to make a film as there are potential filmmakers. It’s an open form. Anyway, I would personally never presume to tell anyone else what to do or how to do anything. To me that’s like telling someone else what their religious beliefs should be. Fuck that. That’s against my personal philosophy—more of a code than a set of “rules.” Therefore, disregard the “rules” you are presently reading, and instead consider them to be merely notes to myself. One should make one’s own “notes” because there is no one way to do anything. If anyone tells you there is only one way, their way, get as far away from them as possible, both physically and philosophically.
Rule #2: Don’t let the fuckers get ya. They can either help you, or not help you, but they can’t stop you. People who finance films, distribute films, promote films and exhibit films are not filmmakers. They are not interested in letting filmmakers define and dictate the way they do their business, so filmmakers should have no interest in allowing them to dictate the way a film is made. Carry a gun if necessary.
Also, avoid sycophants at all costs. There are always people around who only want to be involved in filmmaking to get rich, get famous, or get laid. Generally, they know as much about filmmaking as George W. Bush knows about hand-to-hand combat.
Rule #3: The production is there to serve the film. The film is not there to serve the production. Unfortunately, in the world of filmmaking this is almost universally backwards. The film is not being made to serve the budget, the schedule, or the resumes of those involved. Filmmakers who don’t understand this should be hung from their ankles and asked why the sky appears to be upside down.
Rule #4: Filmmaking is a collaborative process. You get the chance to work with others whose minds and ideas may be stronger than your own. Make sure they remain focused on their own function and not someone else’s job, or you’ll have a big mess. But treat all collaborators as equals and with respect. A production assistant who is holding back traffic so the crew can get a shot is no less important than the actors in the scene, the director of photography, the production designer or the director. Hierarchy is for those whose egos are inflated or out of control, or for people in the military. Those with whom you choose to collaborate, if you make good choices, can elevate the quality and content of your film to a much higher plane than any one mind could imagine on its own. If you don’t want to work with other people, go paint a painting or write a book. (And if you want to be a fucking dictator, I guess these days you just have to go into politics…).
Rule #5: Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”

via Werner Penzel. Danke!

Thanks filmkoop wein

Monday, October 21, 2013


Bahar Yurogaku
Looking aT a space versus into a space,
Moving through the space (camera and body)
Creating layers of space with multiple planes of light or multiple exposure.
Reflecting on a moving space.
Exploring scale with lens and camera.
Generating distance in film space

Here are some quotes from Gason Bachelard's book The Poetics of Space.

“Here is Menard's own intimate forest: 'Now I am traversed by bridle paths, under the seal of sun and shade...I live in great density...Shelter lures me. I slump down into the thick foliage...In the forest, I am my entire self. Everything is possible in my heart just as it is in the hiding places in ravines. Thickly wooded distance separates me from moral codes and cities.”
― Gaston BachelardThe Poetics of Space
“Sometimes the house of the future is better built, lighter and larger than all the houses of the past, so that the image of the dream house is opposed to that of the childhood home. Late in life, with indomitable courage, we continue to say that we are going to do what we have not yet done: we are going to build a house. This dream house may be merely a dream of ownership, the embodiment of everything that is considered convenient, comfortable, healthy, sound, desirable, by other people. It must therefore satisfy both pride and reason, two irreconcilable terms.”
― Gaston BachelardThe Poetics of Space

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


We are now just past the middle of the semester. The thematic film assignments this semester are:
Object- one minute
Person -one minute
Place - one minute
Final Project 2-5 min
These are the thematic film project assignments. I expect you to be experimenting and expanding on these themes in your films. It is possible that you might want to emphasize one theme over others. This is fine as long as you engage the medium and the forms of film in an imaginative and creative way.
You should have at least one film in final form by Thursday in order to be somewhat on track for the end of the semester.

You might consider setting up a grid to keep track of your assignments that has the following stages listed across the top.
               planning/    shooting/in the can/     raw footage/     assembly/     edit/     final/

By listing each project in a column on the left you can track the status of each of your projects as the semester goes on. This will allow you to move between overlapping projects or plan production or editing around the status of each project.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Adjusted Outline

Since we only had three films to look at on Thursday we will be looking at your assembly or edit of the  OBJECT and PERSON films on Tuesday. The labs are closed this weekend so you will have to find some way process your film before class on Tuesday.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Two films related to PERSON assignment

Titicut Follies  Frederick Wiseman, 1967

Here I Am  Bruce Baille, 1962

Althought they may prove difficult to watch, these films both represent a commitment to the unsentimental consideration of the lives of others. They address the concept of personhood in a way that demonstrated how what people do can reflect a sometimes completely original way of being.
Norman Rockwell, 1943

Sunday, September 29, 2013

next assignment; PERSON - one minute film. NOT a portrait.

a dead relative

person is a being, such as a human, that has certain capacities or attributes constituting personhood, which in turn is defined differently by different authors in different disciplines, and by different cultures in different times and places. In ancient Rome, the word "persona" (Latin) or "prosopon" (πρόσωπον: Greek) originally referred to the masks worn by actors on stage. The various masks represented the various "personae" in the stage play.[1]
The current concept of person was developed during the Trinitarian and Christological debates of the 4th and 5th centuries in contrast to the word nature.[2] During the theological debates, some'philosophical tools (concepts) were needed so that the debates could be held on common basis to all theological schools. The purpose of the debate was to establish the relation, similarities and differences between the Λóγος/"Verbum" and God. The philosophical concept of person arose, taking the word "prosopon" (πρόσωπον) from the Greek theatre. Therefore, Christus (the Λóγος/"Verbum") and God were defined as different "persons". This concept was applied later to the Holy Ghost, the angels and to all human beings.
Since then, a number of important changes to the word's meaning and use have taken place, and attempts have been made to redefine the word with varying degrees of adoption and influence. In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there are further questions about personal identity: both about what makes any particular person that particular person instead of another, and about what makes a person at one time the same person as he or she was or will be at another time despite any intervening changes. The common plural of "person", "people", is often used to refer to an entire nation or ethnic group (as in "a people"). The plural "persons" is often used in philosophical and legal writing.

Western Philosophy[edit source]

In philosophy, the word "person" may refer to various concepts. According to the "naturalist" epistemological tradition, from Descartes through Locke and Hume, the term may designate any human (or non-humanagent which: (1) possesses continuous consciousness over time; and (2) who is therefore capable of framing representations about the world, formulating plans and acting on them.[7]
According to Charles Taylor, the problem with the naturalist view is that it depends solely on a "performance criterion" to determine what is an agent. Thus, other things (e.g. machines or animals) that exhibit "similarly complex adaptive behaviour" could not be distinguished from persons. Instead, Taylor proposes a significance-based view of personhood:
What is crucial about agents is that things matter to them. We thus cannot simply identify agents by a performance criterion, nor assimilate animals to machines... [likewise] there are matters of significance for human beings which are peculiarly human, and have no analogue with animals.
Others, such as American Philosopher Francis J. Beckwith, argue that personhood is not linked to function at all, but rather that it is the underlying personal unity of the individual.
What is crucial morally is the being of a person, not his or her functioning. A human person does not come into existence when human function arises, but rather, a human person is an entity who has the natural inherent capacity to give rise to human functions, whether or not those functions are ever attained. …A human person who lacks the ability to think rationally (either because she is too young or she suffers from a disability) is still a human person because of her nature. Consequently, it makes sense to speak of a human being’s lack if and only if she is an actual person.
Philosopher J. P. Moreland clarifies this point:
It is because an entity has an essence and falls within a natural kind that it can possess a unity of dispositions, capacities, parts and properties at a given time and can maintain identity through change.
Harry G. Frankfurt writes that, "What philosophers have lately come to accept as analysis of the concept of a person is not actually analysis of that concept at all." He suggests that the concept of a person is intimately connected to free will, and describes the structure of human volitionaccording to first- and second-order desires:
Besides wanting and choosing and being moved to do this or that, [humans] may also want to have (or not to have) certain desires and motives. They are capable of wanting to be different, in their preferences and purposes, from what they are. Many animals appear to have the capacity for what I shall call "first-order desires" or "desires of the first order," which are simply desires to do or not to do one thing or another. No animal other than man, however, appears to have the capacity for reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in the formation of second-order desires.
The criteria for being a person... are designed to capture those attributes which are the subject of our most humane concern with ourselves and the source of what we regard as most important and most problematical in our lives.
—Harry G. Frankfurt
According to Nikolas Kompridis, there might also be an intersubjective, or interpersonal, basis to personhood:
What if personal identity is constituted in, and sustained through, our relations with others, such that were we to erase our relations with our significant others we would also erase the conditions of our self-intelligibility? As it turns out, this erasure... is precisely what is experimentally dramatized in the “science fiction” film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a far more philosophically sophisticated meditation on personal identity than is found in most of the contemporary literature on the topic.
Other philosophers have defined persons in different ways. Boethius gives the definition of "person" as "an individual substance of a rational nature" ("Naturæ rationalis individua substantia").[14] Peter Singer defines a “person” as being a conscious, thinking being, which knows that it is a person (self-awareness).[15]
Philosopher Thomas I. White argues that the criteria for a person are as follows: (1) is alive, (2) is aware, (3) feels positive and negative sensations, (4) has emotions, (5) has a sense of self, (6) controls its own behaviour, (7) recognises other persons and treats them appropriately, and (8) has a variety of sophisticated cognitive abilities. While many of White's criteria are somewhat anthropocentric, some animals such as dolphins would still be considered persons.[16] Some animal rights groups have also championed recognition for animals as "persons".[17]
Another approach to personhood, Paradigm Case Formulation, used in Descriptive Psychology and developed by Peter Ossorio, involves the four interrelated concepts of 1) The Individual Person, 2) Deliberate Action, 3) Reality and the Real World, and 4) Language or Verbal Behavior.  All four concepts require full articulation for any one of them to be fully intelligible. More specifically,  a Person is an individual whose history is, paradigmatically, a history of Deliberate Action in a Dramaturgical pattern. Deliberate Action is a form of behavior in which a person (a) engages in an Intentional Action, (b) is cognizant of that, and (c) has chosen to do that.  A person is not always engaged in a deliberate action but has the eligibility to do so.  A human being is an individual who is both a person and a specimen of Homo sapiens. Since persons are deliberate actors, they also employ hedonic, prudent, aesthetic and ethical reasons when selecting, choosing or deciding on a course of action. As part of our "social contract" we expect that the normal person can make use of all four of these motivational perspectives. Individual persons will weigh these motives in a manner that reflects their personal characteristics.  That life is lived in a “dramaturgical” pattern is to say that people make sense, that their lives have patterns of significance. The paradigm case allows for nonhuman persons, potential persons, nascent persons, manufactured persons, former persons, "deficit case" persons, and "primitive" persons. By using a paradigm case methodology, different observers can point to where they agree and where they disagree about whether an entity qualifies as a person. [18] [19]

American Law[edit source]

A person is recognized by law as such, not because he is human, but because rights and duties are ascribed to him. The person is the legal subject or substance of which the rights and duties are attributes. An individual human being considered to be having such attributes is what lawyers call a "natural person."[20] According to Black's Law Dictionary,[21] a person is:
In general usage, a human being (i.e. natural person), though by statute term may include a firm, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers.
As an application of social psychology and other disciplines, phenomena such as the perception and attribution of personhood have been scientifically studied.[22][23] Typical questions addressed in social psychology are the accuracy of attribution, processes of perception and the formation of bias. Various other scientific/medical disciplines address the myriad of issues in the development of personality.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bolex Demonstrations

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Course Description and Syllabus

Introduction to Film Making
Ph 299
Ethan Berry, Instructor
This course is designed to introduce the student to 16mm filmmaking through hands on training. It covers the necessary skills needed in the production of a non-sync film (a film where sound and image are separate elements) from concept to completion. This includes screenwriting; working with the Bolex or other 16mm camera; choosing film stock for the project; knowledge of continuity, coverage and composition; lighting; working with the laboratory; analyzing the success of the dailies screened in class; logging footage; editing; sound editing; and preparing the negative or positive for the final print. Students must develop, write, shoot and edit a    short non-sync film outside of class time, using equipment reserved by the students through school. Students are expected to work together on each other’s films. Prerequisites: Photographic Media I or Permission of Instructor Fulfills: Photography Elective (Photography Students), Time-based Media Elective (Photography Students); Studio Elective

This course is focused on the basics of filmmaking. The camera, the film material and the construction of films from that material. The primary point of departure is experimental and Avant Garde and Experimental film practice from the 1900’s’ until the present. This practice is relevant because it parallels the development of major ideas in modernist and post modernist art making.

The medium we will be exploring is 16mm and to some extent, super-8 film. These materials have had a robust life in the art world especially in the hands of artists. Film is tangible and durable, it is rigid and at the same time it is flexible and responsive to hands on actions.

The camera we use is the hand wound Bolex camera which can be used with a variety of lenses or none at all. We will edit the film itself and also transfer it into digital form for editing with digital editing software.

You will learn about planning a project, photographing and generating images, organizing those images, and presenting those images in time. You will reference other films, poetry, literature, popular culture, photography, writing, sound, dreams, games, stories and theories. You will make short films (around one to three minutes) to try out your ideas. You will make one film that is generated from one of these shorter films and is a further development from it. or expansion on it.

You will often work in teams trading roles. You will also work by yourself on projects.

We will present the films you make in real space by projecting them either alone or with other images and  objects. We will look at and discuss a lot of films by a variety of filmmakers. We will create a context and a language through which we can talk about these films.

In the end you will have had a significant encounter with your own ideas, the critical language of film and the material of the film itself.

Criteria for Credit.
Grade for assignments take into account the degree to which you successfully apply film tools and technology to the realization  of your ideas. The degree to which you have engaged the idea of the assignment, and the timely-ness of the completion of your assignments. 

You are expected to complete all of the assignments.
You are expected to be at every class. (More on this in class)
You are expected to work between classes (homework).
You will make a presentation to the class about a film and a filmmaker.
You will be expected to attend film screening outside of class time.
You will be expected to contribute to group projects
Emphasis will be placed on the inventive and creative use of the film medium.
Class participation is essential since you will be working collaboratively.

Course outline

Week one Film Viewing -Notes on Marie Menken. Discussion of the camera as a tool.

Week 2  Film Viewing- Stan Brackage Naomi Uman, Gordon Nelson. Discussion; The Handmade Film.
            Studio;The Exquisite Corpse- a group project shot and processed in class.

Week Three Film Viewing,  Ernie Gehr, Michael Snow, Tara Nelson, Discussion; The Structural film. Student Film Critique
Studio; Organizing, Editing and Digitizing Projecting film.
Sound for film.
Sync. Sound Demo
Week 4 Film Viewing Maya Deren, Dimitri Kirsanoff. Paul Turano, Hollis Frampton. Saul Levine.
            Studio; Lighting for film, Studio Project films.
            Evening film showing

Week 5 Film Viewing Student Film Critique. Moholy Nagy, Hilary Harris, Shirley Clarke. DzigaVerov Discussion; City Symphony
             Studio;The Moving Camera, Camera Supports.
            Other 16mm cameras

Week 6 Studio Project Films continued, Film Viewing Bruce Connor, Naomi Uman, Luther Price. Jody Mack, Discussion; Found Footage, Experimental Animation.
             Studio: Handmade and Found footage Films.
            Studio; found Footage, Handmade Films.

Week 7 Student Film Critique; Found Footage, Handmade films.
            Studio; bleaching, contact printing rephotographing.

Week 8 Final Project proposals due; Titles, text and copy work.
            Copy stand collaborations, x3
Studio; Continue collaborations
Group Portrait Assignment

Week 9 Project meetings, Studio Work.
            Studio; Projects, Collaborations,
 Multiple projections.
            Presenting sound

 Week 10 Student Film Critique
            Studio; Collaborations
            Group Portrait shoot.

Week 11 Film viewing and Critique
Studio; Collaborations,
            Group portrait
Final Projects

Week 12 Film Viewing and Critique
            Studio; Portrait
Week 13 Last Class presentation
            Evening Film Festival. TBA

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Our marathon make up class starts Friday at 9a.m. and goes until 9p.m.. Be prepared to shoot your 30 second piece of the collaborative project. Also be prepared to crew for the other shoots as well. I will provide dinner.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Required Viewing

Those of you (everyone except Vince) who missed the Luther Price films are required to watch this video and be prepared to discuss it next Friday.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Revised Course Outline

For friday's class I would like to catch up on past assignments. 

I want to see these assignments;
Your "POEM" film.
Your found footage project (2 minutes).
Your Handmade film in 16mm (1 minute).

You should be ready to present the work to the class at the beginning of class.

I am lookin to see you demonstrate these skills,
Camera- Shooting and developing black and white film.
Editing- Structuring your poem film for meaning and comprehension, editing of your found footage film for altering or construction of meaning.
Invention, Originality- How you employ the means and materials of the film medium to discover or carry out your ideas. I am looking at your overall approach to the medium and how it might relate to your process in other forms of expression. Be prepared to discuss this.

Things YET TO DO;

Your research paper. A comparison of two films, one of which we have seen and one of your choosing. To discuss 3/23

A collaborative shoot involving the whole class as crew and talent. We can discuss this in class on Friday 3/23

Your final project. From proposal to finish. This is a 3 minute film which will be discussed through a proposal process.

Final Portfolio. A digital version of your projects for the class

Friday, March 8, 2013


I really don't like snow or the notion of being immobilized by anything. In this situation I try to get done those things that would go undone on a full and sunny day. Like thinking of Spring and the propagation of things.

Take a look at this film by Saul Levine called "A Note to Patti" It's about communicating with someone over time and space.

I also found this link to a blog that has more information about Bruce Connor, who's A MOVIE I showed earlier.

For all of you his work is relevant since he worked with pretty simple means and understood how meaning could be constructed through editing. I also mention this for Elizabeth's project since it lines up wth Connors's BREAKAWAY film from 1966.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Another Snow Post

Snow Day Makup project; Handmade films
This is something you can do at home today in the snow storm. Enjoy the quiet warmth of your home and make a film while you sip hot chocolate. Required viewing for  class.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Handmade Films and Analog Sound

Handmade Films and Analog Optical Sound

Optical sound constitutes the recording and reading of amplitude based on the amount of light that is projected through a soundtrack area on a film using an illuminating light or laser and a photocell or photodiode. As the photocell picks up the light in varying intensities, the electricity produced is intensified by anamplifier, which in turn powers a loudspeaker, where the electrical impulses are turned into air vibrations and thus, sound waves. In 16 mm, this optical soundtrack is a single mono track placed on the right side of the projected image, and the sound head is 26 frames after the picture gate.  Consequently, in editing the sound should be 26 frames ahead of the picture. In 35 mm, this can be mono or stereo, on the left side of the projected image, with the sound head 21 frames after the gate .[2]
The first form of optical sound was represented by horizontal bands of clear (white) and solid (black) area. The space between solid points represented amplitude and was picked up by the photo-electric cell on the other side of a steady, thin beam of light being shined through it. This variable density form of sound was eventually phased out because of its incompatibility with color stocks. The alternative and ultimately the successor of variable density has been the variable area track, in which a clear, vertical waveform against black represents the sound, and the width of the waveform is equivalent to the amplitude. Variable area does have slightly less frequency response than variable density, but because of the grain and variable infrared absorption of various film stocks, variable density has a lower signal-to-noise ratio.
Optical stereo is recorded and read through a bilateral variable area track, recorded using Dolby Stereo matrix encoding and Dolby noise reduction. Left, center, right and surround channels are matrix-encoded into these two tracks.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, optical sound Super-8 mm copies were produced mainly for airline in-flight movies. Even though technology was soon made obsolete by video equipment, the majority of small-gauge films used magnetic sound rather than optical sound for a higher frequency range.

Check out this handmade film workshop in Dublin Ireland. Or go to the "HOW TO" videos on the lower right side of this blog.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jennifer Montgomery Films on Friday

Jennifer Montgomery
Montgomery's films explore the complex psychological struggles with identity, control, and sexuality that are inherent in human relationships. Her recent feminist autobiography explores
"innocence of guilt and the guilt of innocence".
Artist Talk: Friday, February 1, 11:30a
Screening: Friday, February 1, 7-9p

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Extraordinary Spring Film Series at Montserrat

The Extravagant Shadows
A beautiful discourse on language and time, David Gatten’s award winning film shows the filmmaker painting a window with different pigments in real time, while literary excerpts emerge on the screen.
Screening: 2-6p, Saturday, February 23

Under Your Skin: The Artist Body in Film
Curated by Filmmaker Tara Nelson, Under Your Skin is a series of screenings and visiting filmmakers considering the role of the artist’s body and how it relates to moving image.

Jennifer Montgomery
Montgomery's films explore the complex psychological struggles with identity, control, and sexuality that are inherent in human relationships. Her recent feminist autobiography explores
"innocence of guilt and the guilt of innocence".
Artist Talk: Friday, February 1, 11:30a
Screening: Friday, February 1, 7-9p

Victor Faccinto
Faccinto’s films may have been described as psycho-erotic cinema, but the intention is not to alienate audiences, but to work as personal, psychological explorations.
Artist Talk: Friday, March 1, 11:30
Screening: Friday, March 1, 7-9p

Luther Price
Creating new works from old documentaries, snippets of Hollywood film and other cinematic detritus, Price ties the re-edited footage together with an often brutal electromechanical noise.
Artist Talk: Friday, April 19, 11:30a
Screening: Friday, April 19, 7-9p