Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Horizon For Cinema Journalism

Berlin 2006, Video journalism Awards

Berlin, 2006 in a cinema house, I'm showing a clip to a group who have kindly stayed over from watching a film I made called 8 Days.

It featured the UK's first regional newspaper journalists being converted to videojournalists.  It was a story in a story. For in the first case, it was a film about how they performed and secondly a film building on cinema Journalism.

I'd been invited to Berlin as a finalist for its International Videojournalism Awards. The outcome, me taking the top prize for an independent can still generate high pitch wheezes.

At the ensuing lecture - an ecosystem I often get too excited with -  I would talk about cinema journalism and the photojournalism praxis. Way back in 2006 I didn't coin the word but it was a regular theme in lectures. In 2007 in this article written by journalist Zoe Smith she partly reflected on a number of films I showed to express a contemporary visual language on the up.

Image from Second Genertion, 1999
It still is, talking in 2002 for  Flash on the Beach,  and in 1999 using a digi-beta to film and direct Second Generation - South African's young urbanites voting in their second election.

In 1994 I made first time voters for the BBC - a documentary whose greatest honour was that the South African Broadcasting Corporation aired it a day before their historic election.  No other foreign made documentary was aired on their domestic stations on the eve to end apartheid.

In 2005 as a videojournalist labouring with the Sony A1, one of the facets of cinema which is shallow depth was achieveble only via pushing the zoom to maximum. That is squeezing the aperture, but thus also limiting the field of vision.  The added complications was a loss in steadiness whilst going hand held,which would lead to a technique I would develop  built on NYPD's russian footstep - a name coined in Soho.

That changed in 2009 with the 5D.  Now the 5D is synonymous with cinema, when oxymoronically cinema is much more complex than that. You might even phenomenologically see it as a state-of-mind. We could have a five hour chat abut that.

a fifth of tape collection
Film is not just my profession, which was crystallised around 1994 as one of the UK's first officially recognised videojournalists, but also a hobby. It's also become a new mission in an intense five year study in which a number of figures have generously given their time for me to explore a canvas I so look forward to sharing with you.

This all came to the fore today looking at the thousands of tapes Beta, DVcam, DV sitting in my garage which I'm about to digitise. It's a sort of living experience shedding light and context on factual film making and the concept of cinema journalism.

There is an interesting junction we're approaching which taps into Documentary scholar and Emmy Winner Brian Winston's notion debunking technological determinism.

By that I mean as we pay heed to less and less what the equipment can do, important though it may be, we're begin to relive the 70s-80s - a period when ideas meant more than anything else.

The film makers amongst you will recognise it was a period when Cinema was losing its currency, ideas were on the wane and it would take a new breed of thinkers to turn that around.