Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My POV: for the fencing documentary and in general

Visual silence, repulsion against the shackles of boredom, the compartmentalisation of a person, narcissistic appraisal, old in young, young in old, suspicion of structures/institutions/traditions, the paradoxical self, a hatred of complacency, the central drive of anger, a yearning for knowledge and an appreciation of the intellect.

Defining your point of view is always an incredibly tricky business, but if you want to be successful in your approach to any endeavour  - gaining a thorough understanding of your own motivations and inclinations is paramount! 

Presented here are all the POV posts that I generated for the documentary module of the final year of my BA (Hons); in which I co-created a short documentary about fencing and a reflective wiki with my colleague Thomas Wiltshire. The project was orchestrated between October 2012 to April 2013. For a more detailed overview see Fencing: an examination of the sport and an exploration of the documentary medium.

"The impression I get from you Pete is that you want to change peoples' points of view." 
- Mike Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Creative Media Practice

While I did find my POV quite daunting to define - objectifying yourself is never easy - gaining that knowledge has ultimately proven to be invaluable in all of my creative and non-creative pursuits.
Something to do with Film is very  much about my POV, even though it has taken me a number of years to realise that fact.

I was immensely pleased with the reflective POV material I generated and, looking back at all that material now, one year later, it is amazing how integrally it still holds true. 

If you are interested in defining your own POV, then what I have presented here may be of some use.

My POV post is comprised of the following:

  • my POV in visual form - a short video montage using my photography to demonstrate my POV.
  • my creative identity profiler results - an exercise devised to define your POV in relation to your creative inclinations.
  • My Land of Puddings - another short video montage demonstrating my POV in regards to juxtaposition and my national identity.
  • a few bullet points provided a slightly more thorough explanation of my POV.
  • a conclusion that sums up my overall POV in regards to the fencing project and how my POV has informed my approach to making the documentary.

If you want to understand my POV, this post is a pretty thorough explanation...

My POV - my point of view in visual form (1:26).

My creative POV a.k.a. my creative identity

This is actually the third time I have gone through Rabiger’s Creative Identity profiler (see Directing the Documentary by Michael Rabiger) so my answers should be pretty conclusive! I apology if my summary seems a bit abstract, but I felt the best way for me to draw together my creative Identity was through stream-of-consciousness writing.

My Creative Identity Summary

  • The themes that arise from my self study are visual silence, repulsion against the shackles of boredom, the compartmentalisation of a person, narcissistic appraisal, old in young, young in old, suspicion of structures/institutions/traditions, the paradoxical self, a hatred of complacency, the central drive of anger, a yearning for knowledge and an appreciation of the intellect.
  • The changes for which I want to work are an illumination of the intellect and an understanding of the subtext.
  • The kinds of subject for which I feel the most passionately are one’s that offer self-reflexive viewpoints and that expose the underlying pulse of a situation or establishment. Conflicting ideologies/institutions/temperaments is another area that offers me much intrigue; as does the subject of juxtapositioning completely different ideas to create a result that represents something greater than the original constituent parts, and which forces the spectator to question their own assumptions and beliefs.
  • Other important goals I have in mind are to maintain the visual imperative of telling something that should be told visually and not to be fearful of using a lie to represent the truth. If a film lies then it is only presenting a truth of reality - everyone lies!

My POV on Great Britain: My Land of Puddings

"This exercise experiments with music editing and meaning/association and ironic images counterpointed against them. Find or shoot images that contrast it’s lofty ideals with an alternative ironic reality. 

Use found footage/stills or shoot your own. Edit to the beat points in the music. Work with ironic juxtaposition 

If you want to music edit the verses so that you can work with less familiar verses/sections, then do but you might find the edit tricky." 

- Mike Johnston, Short Documentary Making tutor 

With this exercise we had to use the Land of Hope and Glory backing track, as performed by Clara Butt, to produce a video montage that experimented with juxtapositioning images and ideas of the British national identity; in relation to our own POV of Great Britain.

I have always found the subject of the British national identity a tricky subject - mainly because it does not actually exist.

This country has been invaded so many times throughout its long history that, in terms of genetics, the "British" people of today are European. Additionally, pretty much every cultural tradition that is practised in this country was at one point "borrowed" from another cultural and country - we acquired the cup of tea from China and I have even heard some people refer to the curry as being British!

If there ever were any true-born-and-bred-British-people, they no longer exist, genetically or culturally. Britain, or Great Britain, is just the name of a landmass that houses a vast multicultural collection of peoples and traditions that we have come to associate with the identity of "British" - Britain is and always has been a multicultural nation, embrace it and celebrate it!

My Land of Puddings (1:50).

As you would have seen from the video, my montage was quite dark and I intentionally made it so, because I knew everyone else would produce a highly positive portrayal of Britain and I wanted to leave a lasting impression.

While I think it is always good to have a positive outlook, it can lead to wilful blindness in regards to the more the negative aspects and I very much wanted to point out the fallacy of the "traditional-stiff-neck-British-national-identity" and the social problems we sometimes/almost always try to hide behind it.

I kept the subject matter quite current: 

  • the country was still buzzing from the London 2012 Olympics.
  • the Jimmy Seville scandal had just become public knowledge and was causing a mass condemnation throughout the UK.
  • the financial crisis was still causing ripples.
  • the 2011 London riots.
  • Baby P was still being discussed as a major example of how "the system" was failing this county. 

Additionally, I also touched upon some of the more deeply ingrained historical aspects of this country: Guy Fawkes and the crimes of the British Empire.

My Land of Puddings was very much about challenging the established and commonly held point of view. When we viewed it in class, it was evident to see that it made an impression on everyone who was present, there was silence and unease after my video ended. 

However, My Land of Puddings was also about reinforcing what is truly great about this country. This country may borrow from other cultures, but that is what make it great, because it is an amalgamation of so many different cultures and a strong promoter of multiculturalism. 

AND out of all that amalgamation, this country sometimes does bring something original to the table, which in this case is a Yorkshire pudding (or, sub-textually, the rather odd British sense of humour). 

Ultimately, through presenting a dark portrayal of this country I endeavoured to remind people of the small things that truly do make Britain great.

My POV (up until late 2012) explained...

Below I've attempted to explain some of the themes in My POV video, from way up above, I apologise if some are a bit abstract. 

While my explanations would probably be much clearer as a mind map, here I have recorded them via stream-of-consciousness writing...

Seeing and Visual Thinking

  • I’ve always been a visual learner/thinker and I think this is one of the reasons I tend to be quite plain-spoken. I don’t rate human verbal interaction that highly; to me, it distracts my attention from what I’m looking at.
  • I promise you, you will learn so much more about a person by watching them than you ever will by listening to all the stuff that spiels from their mouth.
  • My attitude has always been: show me you can do it, don’t tell me you can do it (anyone can say they can climb a mountain).

Films and visual storytelling

  • I love films! I appreciate them as they’re visual (the really good ones are) and, I suspect, I get my visual thinking from films, because I couldn’t really read or write when I was younger. Films were always there as a fixed frame of reference that I could always go back to, that I was always able to understand and they’ve always helped me to better understand the world.
  • At the moment, as they provide the most stimulating experience for the senses, films are one of the preferred means by which Humanity likes to indulge itself in stories. To me, like all means of telling stories, films are Humanity’s way of rationalising the world; If we didn’t have a means to rationalise the world – we would go insane. But, more important than rationalising the world, films allow us to escape the boredom of everyday life (which can also make you go insane). Therefore, I have a great respect for films and the power they exert over the Human race and I have always bee hugely interested in exploring how they have this power.

Photography and Contexts

  • Taking a photograph is the same as making a choice. Once you have a photographed a framed composition in a particular way you have locked it into a particular context. Likewise, once you come to a decision you have taken a set of pre-thinking that frames your decision in a particular context. Once you realise this, photography becomes a great way to open your eyes and become very open-minded.
  • When I take a photograph I do externally what my brain is visually doing internally. The rewarding thing about a photograph is, as much as it is a photograph of something separate from yourself, it is a photograph of something very familiar to yourself – your internal thought patterns.

Structures and Compositions

  • Physical structures and architecture have always fascinated me. I like how particular arrangements of shape and form can be manipulated to generate specific emotions.
  • Even re-arranging already established arrangements can generate a greater effect, such as with Film Noir. Film Noir turns the conventions of lighting, shadows and framing on their heads to convey an impression that intensifies the story being told.
  • When I was younger I loved to play with Lego. For me Lego allowed to take these already fixed pieces of structure, which I could then add together and arrange into new compositions that we’re always more fulfilling than their base components.
  • Video editing taps into my appreciation of structures and compositions and it allows me to exercise this fascination. This is why I enjoy editing so much; it’s an adult equivalent of playing with Lego - it exercises the same mental discipline.
  • I've always been fascinated by the structures of trees and the pattern that their branches make. That pattern, it turns out, is actually a fundamental pattern of nature; its called Constructal theory and it's the reason trees, water tributaries, lung airways, lighting, brains, etc, all share the same basic pattern. It is argued, the reason for its continual recurrence is: "For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live), it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed currents that flow through it." I find this absolutely amazing (see Motivations and Subtexts).

Motivations and Subtexts

  • I’ve always been interested in psychology (it’s the one area I regret not taking academically). For me, psychology makes life much more interesting because it exposes the subtext and subconscious of everyday life. If I can’t pin down the psychology of a person, I find it increasingly hard to trust that person.
  • As much as I’m interested in psychology, I’m also interest in biology and how human biology interacts with psychology, and vice versa.
  • The nature of what reality is and each of us construct our own realities has always intrigued me.
  • Why and how things work has always interested me.

Knowledge and Studying

  • At the moment, my degree is the single most important thing in my life. Everything else is secondary and I am, literally, investing everything I have into my degree!
  • I hate not having anything to do or to work on and this is why I enjoy studying so much (as long as it is in an area that interests me). I just like to have things that I can pull apart and put back together again (see Structures and Compositions).
  • I respect the power of knowledge and the advantages of being open-minded. I wouldn’t say that I have always appreciated these, but I certainly do now!

Habits and Principles

  • I’ve always been absolutely stunned by how a person can pick a principle and then through determination of sticking to specific habits achieve what is seemingly an impossible outcome, such as Bruce Wayne does with Batman (the Nolan films perfectly demonstrate this).
  • I’m big on habits and on nurturing the better ones. Sticking to strong habits strengthens character, as I learnt from my swear sock. I went a whole month without swearing (well I swore 23 times) and, amazingly, I don’t swear at all now!
  • I can’t stand people who say they’re going to do something… and then they don’t do it. I have a strong principle of sticking to the things I say I’m going to do. Then If I’m not going to do something I let it be known, opposed to sticking my head in the sand.

Time and Favourites

  • There’s the saying that time flies when you’re having fun and, equally, you could argue that if you’re doing something very benign, such as walking down the road, time seems to slow down. But time doesn’t slow down or speed up; it ticks at the same rate regardless of the situation. Time is very important to me because we really don’t have a lot of it and you would be incredibly foolish to waste it.
  • I’m also interested in what time is and how it can be manipulated.
  • I can't stand the question: "what's your favourite...?" I try not to have a single favourite in something (I have forty favourite films); I think to have fixed singular favourites in every area of your life is to be very narrow-minded and will stop you from trying new things. However, when it comes to food I can hands down say that my favourite food is pancakes! I allow myself to have pancakes as my favourite food because there are SO many different things you can have pancakes with and, therefore, they don't stop me from trying new things.

My POV on fencing

A spur-of-the-moment recorded exclamation of how I viewed fencing (5:37).


  • I have a completely different POV to Tom's - I'm on the outside looking in and Tom is on the outside looking out. 
  • My POV is closer to the audiences POV and I am able to ask the questions the audience would ask. 
  • My POV has evolved as a result of filming the documentary. Observing and interacting with the subject matter has made me less ignorant towards fencing. 
  • My artistic approach on the documentary is also different to Tom's. I'm a realist: I'm interested in capturing the subject matter as it happens. Tom is a formalistic: he's interested in using the assembling of the film form to represent the subject matter and the themes of the subject matter. 
  • While making the documentary, I have discovered I have a deeper connection to fencing. For me, fencing has many parallels to skiing. Skiing is something I am very enthusiastic towards and which I want to refine. Through this parallel I am able to essentially identify with a fencer’s POV.

I'm sure there's more I could say, but this is all I'm going to say.

However, why not check out the rest of the Fencing documentary project that all this material was originally generated for...

No comments: