Friday, October 05, 2012

Pushing the visual and video journalism envelope

Mark Cousins, behind the Epic Story of Film, the book and Channel 4 Series,  described by the Telegraph as the Cinematic Event of the year has a new film out - What is this film called Love.

His previous multi-faceted work includes the must-have book on documentary written with his friend the Oscar winning documentary/film maker  Kevin Macdonald Marley (2012), Touching the Void (2003) and One Day in September (1999) .

Mark's influence on my work, and I many other cinephiles, has been deeply rewarding.

I first came across on screen him when he presented a series on the BBC in the 1990s interviewing some of the greatest directors and actors in the world. e.g. Scorsese, Tom Hank's etc.

Three years ago I had one of those rarest opportunities to share a space with him for a week. Such is his vast encyclopedic knowledge that he deconstructed my work and offered his own critique, which I intend to eventually use for a book.

Interviewing Mark Cousins
What Mark offers is a philosophical probe and language of film. But and it's a big BUT, not philosophy in a manner to complicate or muddy affairs, but to experiment and bring clarity. Film is soup, which does not have fixed meaning.

We create meaning through a negotiation between what the filmmaker offers and how we ourselves perceive the text. One aspect of this is a Wittgensteinian model. The strength of images and text is not fixed and that film based on fixed language of meaning is not fixed.

Because then the limitation of language pens in ideas. If you're five years you'll use language in a certain way. If you're twenty with a greater language vocabulary, you'll have a greater use. But even at  twenty you might end up limiting yourself because you believe, say for instance, meaning in the English language is all encompassing.

Were that the case, then French, Iranian, Cuban and Chinese films to name a few would be prescriptive to our English language of film  mode. But all the aforementioned have all redefined film.

Film in effect is a universal language, with multiple syntaxes and grammars, and Mark whether its in his documentaries or in his latest film seeks to discover how standing on the shoulders of giants he can himself enhance his understanding.

Forever learning ")