Thursday 1 May 2014

Fencing: an examination of the sport and an exploration of the documentary medium

Fencing is a short documentary and reflective wiki that I co-created with my colleague, Thomas Wiltshire, for our final year BA (Hons) documentary project. The project was orchestrated from October 2012 to April 2013.

The project is comprised of a six minute documentary, a 40 second trailer and a 40,000 word wiki chronicling and reflecting on the process of formulating the documentary; in addition to deconstructing and reflecting on the documentary medium as a whole.

I have now migrated all of the material from the wiki onto this blog and I have arranged it into the following 10 blog posts:

This provides an overview of the true breadth of the project by providing an overview of the wiki materials and explains how they have been translated onto this blog

This post is a repost of the fencing and documentary research page I compiled on the wiki.

This details the practice character study we undertook before undertaking the main documentary.

This post demonstrates how we took all our research, practice and prior considerations and drew it all together into a plan of how we were going to tackle the filming of the documentary.

This details how most of our planning went out of the window, while we discovered to true discovery and reflection process of documentary filming - really, it is just another research period.

This is a repost of the highly detail editing log we update on the wiki and it really does demonstrate each step taken and new decision made in the editing process of actually shaping the documentary from the plethora of footage that we had shot and the prior considerations we had voiced. 

I am very proud of this, because you can really see how Tom and myself collaborated over every aspect of making the documentary and assembling the final cut. 

It's long, but it is definitely worth its weight in filmmaking gold.

Two further concerns that we had to contend with and finally solve in postproduction. This also offers an explanation for why we elected not to colour correct the final cut.

Just a compilation of all of the photographs I took throughout the process of orchestrating the project; they offer an alternative view point on that overall process and demonstrate how my POV and visual style evolved throughout.

My final reflection on the process of making the documentary, my experience with the module and with exploring and, ultimately, understanding the documentary medium. 

This makes for an interesting read because, unlike the other pages of the wiki, I put more effort into its writing, but also because it demonstrates just how ignorant I was towards the possibilities of the documentary medium before I started the documentary module and how I had my POV expanded accordingly.

This post collects togther all of the POV posts and video material I generated for the module that explored my POV as it existed and as it evolved. 

Together with my final reflection, a reflection on fencing, filmmaking, duality and deceit, this makes for a very interesting and revealing read. Furthermore, this is another reason for why I have elected to include all of this material on this blog, because it is very much about something inside (even more about something to do with film) and very revealing of where I want to go in life and in my artistic pursuits. 

Following the links for the 10 posts above will take you to each respective post. Alternatively, you can read through them all in a linear fashion by moving onto the next post by clicking on the title link at the end of each post.

The wiki overview page.

While the documentary and trailer formed one half of the module's mark, the wiki comprised the other. The overall project was awarded a First, with the wiki being the highest marked wiki of the module! 

The documentary provides an examination of fencing as a sport and a hobby as it exists in the modern idiom. Combating assumptions about elitism and identifying challenges to both professionals and amateurs. Culminating in a thoroughly entertaining, charming and interesting experience that will leave the viewer with a respect and admiration for a sport that truly deserves it.

Within in its first week being public on YouTube, the documentary had received over 1400 views.

With the film formulaic presentation of the documentary we endeavoured to be progressive and experimental; in particular, we experimented with was the inherent theme of duality inherent in the film and with each of our approaches while making the film.

The documentary was produced with the assistance of the Bath Sword Club and we are hugely grateful to the club for allowing us to tell their story.

In addition to increasing my theoretical and practical understandings of documentary making and filmmaking as a whole, it was a highly enjoyable experience to undertake.

"You reflect deeply and incisely both on the page and in spoken commentary [see reflective commentaries above]... As I read through the various pages of the wiki, then onto your [EYES of a Storyteller] blog I can't help but feel your careful consideration and reflection has developed formidable power. I wish that all my students had a fraction of your application and drive to dig deeper"

- Mike Johnston, module tutor

To view all of the edits and video reflections that were produced for the project, have a watch and/or scan through of the playlist below.

I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project - it expanded my mindset greatly - and I look forward to creating further documentaries and other video content.

"Documentaries present more than truth - through the indirect – a lie – they present a deeper and a more fundamental truth about human consciousness – we need lies to give truths their values. 
Lies are an essential component of humanity. As much as there is a paradox at the heart of every human being, there is a paradox at the heart of reality and in our knowledge of that reality.
It is only through documentaries and other cinematic fiction and their cognitive abilities to closely mimic our own cognitive functions that we are able to glimpse and even to understand this underlying paradox, this underlying truth that can only ever be accessed via a lie... Cinematic fiction takes the cognition of reality and contextualises it in a narrative – the narrative translates the hidden truth of actuality for us"   
- my reflection on fencing, filmmaking, duality and deceit
To understand the full breadth of the fencing project, just have a look at the wiki overview...

Fencing HQ: the wiki of Fencing

or just skip right to the end, have a read of my final reflection and find out how the overall experience and process of making the Fencing documentary completely re-configured my lack of appreciation for the documentary medium...

Documentary - from problematic to paradoxical: a reflection on fencing, filmmaking, duality and deceit

Additionally, if you would like to have an exploration of the fictional focused filmmaking study and practice I understood in the academic year previous to the one explored here, check out: Planning and Making a Film: The student filmmaking experience 

Finally, while co-creating Fencing I was creating another film-focused project - a web series concept proposal package that I created for my Creative Enterprise Project module, a practical dissertation project that was awarded the highest mark of the module: EYES: a web series concept proposal package

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