Saturday, July 06, 2013

How video journalism will be shaped by a future of journalism by Cinema

David Dunkely Gyimah of is a former BBC and Channel 4 News producer with media experience spanning 25 years. He is an academic and filmmaker currently competing his PhD. He has presented at ONA, SXSW and Apple. This article explores how one of the most prevalent forms of media making is up for grabs, but it will need a shift in our cultural thinking. 

It matters less whether its twitter, or Facebook, Tumblr or You Tube, important as they are because sharing comes after we have something to share in the first place.
What makes great content? An idea and then its execution.  Execution is how you go about creating and that itself is dependent on an array of influences.
Your approach comes from the environment you've grown up in, its cultures and what's in and out of vogue. The USA of the 1960s was a different creative environment to today. If you've grown up in China creative concepts, say in design our the polar opposite to western values. The West treats design as two dimensional, a space to be filled. Chinese through Origami see space as 3-dimensional and negative space as aesthetic.
It is no coincidence at all that middle class parents encouraged their siblings to go on gap years, take in the world, see new things, expand the horizon of their ideas. As a lecturer with international Masters students, I see it time and time again, how transformative entering a new society can be.
But creativity is also predicated on behaviour which is contradistinction to trends today. Creativity best comes from collaboration. The late Steve Jobs knew that, and any designer or great filmmaker recognises that too.
In an age of meism and self-aggrandisement, when we no longer wait on our peers to critique us, but believe in our own grandeur, we're prone to abandoning or not engaging with one of the most powerful assets we have as people.
We're social yes, but not as Twitter after thoughts. The idea though we're better of doing things ourselves is plainly flawed, though yes you could count individuals who have risen by their own will-power.
How Hollywood can teach us to communicate
David Dunkley  Gyimah
David Dunkley Gyimah
But sustainability is about a creative pursuit.
One industry second only to the US defence budget spend knows this all too well. They've developed a trillion dollar industry creating stories.
The manner in which they do this appears simple in the execution of an idea. Boy meets girl and they fall in love. The end.
But it's a complex matrix involving philosophies, creative thinkers, blaggers and knowledge that comes and decomposes. Yes it involves businesses too, but I'll park that to the side for the sake of this post.
Hollywood and other related international industries created cinema, stories that tap into our very psyche so that we respond in ways that are personal. We cry, laugh and get angry.
Great content comes not only from what's in the frame, which needs to be produced, but then how it plays out. Inside that rubric is the gem of cinema and its constantly mutating. Cinema is one of most dynamic non-systemised languages.
Cinema is different from the cinematic. The former is an internalised concept, the other is an add on. The story acquires a cinematic look because of the 5D you're using. It may induce the feeling of cinema, but not necessarily so.
Why ? Because the cinematic is dependent upon technology and related ideas to that technology. That 5D you have with its extreme shallow depth of field will be out of vogue in less than ten years time. It's happened before within the period of the 1930s to the 1950s and will do so again.
Cinema is deeper than that. It exists to be found, before the application of a recording device makes it available to others. Great directors see cinema, not as fictional entities but as symphonies of visual matter and sounds colliding in a doppler effect of the two-step.
Have you ever worked with an editor who tells you the cut needs three frames less? I have and there is a great scene in the making of Jaws where Spielberg marvels over his editor's choices of a couple of frames less to make the scene work.
Cinema's renewed zeal
For the last 6 intense years and tacitly 25 years within the media I have been working on this trying to explain cinema is a way that is exemplified through a number of essences.
That means how any content can acquire a sense of cinema and as things stand at the moment and its likely will be in the future cinema is the apotheosis visual and aural art. Note even Baudrillard's hyperreality could not escape the clutches of the framework that is cinema.
But why should this be important? Simply the power of cinema communicates ideas in ways that proven to be lasting. Yes, you still remember ET, or John Ford's Stage Coach and Ozu's Tokyo Story.  But do you remember yesterday's news? Or the CEO's speech? Or that lecture.
Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh puts it succinctly, cinema has nothing to do with the movies. It can be about movies, but not all movies are cinema. Just as when we say what we want are great stories, philosophers like Deluze might suggest you're referring to a specific visual and aural pattern.
Why does this matter even more? Because as video floods our social and private spaces, those who understand cinema, not necessarily theoretically, will produce artifacts that are eminently watchable and memorable.
The most shocking thing is this, many news managers will feel angered by this last comment. News, has a fixed and sustaining way of working. But in all likelihood,  traditional news structures while they'll be influential will not be able to guarantee audiences come to them.
Not with what lay ahead. If the web continues at its pace, the new cinephiles will usurp the constrained order of other forms.
Lest we forget, television came from cinema; video art from cinema; and documentaries from cinema. The last statement bears the scars of years of infighting over which came first. If you see cinema does that mean you're documenting it as well. If you're documenting are you making cinema. The two are not the same.
A firmer pedagogical understanding of how to match 21st century storytelling to the sub conscious lay in wait. It sounds like science fiction, but its here now and taking hold.
David is presently gearing up for training a new breed to cinema makers in Turkey. He's recently presented in Denmark to Journalists and photographers. This blog of his will soon migrate to a new home, together with a new website. You can find more of his work on his knight batten award winning site
David is available for talks and consultancies.
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