Shift my visual paradigms
June 24, 2006 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Please point me towards new trends in cinema, with an emphasis on narrative stuff.

Basically, I'm looking for any interesting new technical directions for film. Machinima and Digital Video would both fit the bill, for example. Journals, blogs, etc., are most welcome, as well. Not looking for new buzzwords, but rather actual new ways of telling stories.
posted by signal to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What's the connection between machinima/DV and narrative? I don't understand the question.
posted by bingo at 12:58 PM on June 24, 2006

Response by poster: bingo: Narrative as opposed to Documentary.
posted by signal at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Okay, but I don't see what that has to do with the technology used to make the movie. It's like asking about new directions in ink, with an emphasis on poetry.
posted by bingo at 2:33 PM on June 24, 2006

Stories that stretch across various media. For instance, "Star Trek"'s TV narrative continuing in movies (and isn't "Star Wars" going to do the reverse?). "The X-files" did this, and I think it's going to happen with "24." There was recently a novel that extended the plot of "Lost." "Lost" and "A.I." were extended by web-based games.

I know that there have always been tie-ins, but the "Star Trek" think is a different beast from, say, "The Odd Couple" movie and TV-series. In the former, it's an actual narrative that is shared between TV and the Big Screen.
posted by grumblebee at 2:35 PM on June 24, 2006

New ways of telling stories, but still a film? How about the series of shorts released on the internet to promote Serenity?
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2006

And of course the tie-in with the web itself, movies like Requiem for a Dream, A.I. and Blair Witch Project all had narratives that were enhanced (to different degrees obviously) by websites . . .
posted by jeremias at 3:20 PM on June 24, 2006

Similar to Orange Gobin's: Doctor Who has its tardisodes: little web previews with extra content released for promotion.

Battlestar Galactica had podcast commentaries on the episodes. In some cases, as in the naming of characters (like the Caprica- and Galactica- prefix) they took things the fans were saying on the boards and incorporated them into future episodes.

Both TV rather than film, but I think mainstream TV is more innovative than mainstream cinema right now.

There was Dinosaur Comics strip where he pointed out the use of "extended takes" in polemical documentaries, which seemed new to me. The documentary maker asks a question, then after it's been answered keeps the camera pointed at the subject for a while. The subject then fidgets around and looks shifty.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:41 PM on June 24, 2006

Dinosaur comics link
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:43 PM on June 24, 2006

What about Timecode and similar films? Because it was digital, it could be shot in one take. Or rather, four. How was Russian Ark done? That was all in one take, but not digital, I think?

And it seems almost to obvious to say, but DVDs have alternate endings, extra scenes and so on, which can make them into a kind of choose-your-own-adventure, and DVD also means that a director can film a scene, knowing it won't make it into the cinema release, but will be in the extended edition/extras for the "true fans". I'm sure Peter Jackson's approach to filming the Lord Of The Rings took all that into account -- he knew from the start he'd be making at least two versions of every film.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:46 PM on June 24, 2006

The Memento web site added some back story and clues.

The Animatrix series of anime complements the Matrix movies.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:56 PM on June 24, 2006

The most interesting new technical direction for me is digital distribution, which I suspect (hope) will soon be fully realised. The combination of cheap Non-Linear Editing systems like Final Cut and Adobe Premier, cheap, powerful PCs, with plenty memory and cheap high-quality digital cameras means the means of production are now very much in the hands of the willing amateur - what is lacking is an effective means of distribution. With the recent success of sites like YouTube, and the inevitability of paid downloading Hollywood movies, I confidently predict a lasting movement in film not unlike the trend in music from garage bands to punk to home electronica to MySpace. In short, a massive surge in the creation, distribution and enjoyment of amateur films. Cheap amateur films with mainstream popularity like Blair Witch should become far, far more common, and ultimately the distinction between amateur and professional will be blurred or erased.

Also, the Swarm of Angels idea (discussed in the blue) and does Dogme 95 count? It isn't a very new idea, but fits with the above mentioned amateur approach.

AmbroseChapel, if I recall correctly, Russian Ark was shot in HD using a specially rigged portable hard disk system.
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:36 PM on June 24, 2006

Good stuff will be on TV and bad stuff in theaters.
posted by zackdog at 8:47 PM on June 24, 2006

The most interesting new technical direction for me is digital distribution.

To me, the most profound thing about digital distribution will be the fact that movies need never be finished. You may go see an opening on Monday and then go back two weeks later and find new scenes or scenes missing that were there before.

I can see good and bad aspects to this -- mostly bad -- but I think it's inevitable. This has happened for years in smaller ways: movies are shown to test audiences before their final release. But once movies are beamed to theatres via satellite, why should they ever be finalized. Studios will keep messing with them, trying to make them sell better.

This already happens in the world of software. A release of Windows or Photoshop is never done. Software companies keep tinkering and releasing patches and upgrades. I predict this will soon happen with film.

In theory, it's a good thing. I do this as a theatre director. I keep tinkering throughout the run. But my concern is that it won't be the artists who do the tinkering. It will be the studios ("we need a little more sex, some more product placements, two minutes off that boring dialogue, more explosions...") And sometimes even the original artist, given license to tinker and tinker, will screw up their own work.

This digital universe we're in is quickly creating a world in which everything is continually "under construction." Too bad, because often art is aided by deadlines by which stories must be complete.
posted by grumblebee at 2:15 PM on June 25, 2006

Also, as more and more movies are watched on the web (or other non-traditional devices), our sense of time while watching may profoundly change. I wrote more about this effect here.
posted by grumblebee at 3:42 PM on June 25, 2006

Strangely appropriate for this topic -- Kevin Smith has released a commentary track for the theatre.

It's suggested you download the MP3 and listen to the commentary track on your iPod while you watch the movie.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:26 AM on June 27, 2006

In terms of new ways to tell stories, reach into your pocket and look at what is in your hand. It's my current obsession: Handheld devices lend themselves to a whole nother kind of storytelling. Forget for a moment the technical limitations that currently exist and the kind of repurposing that is happening with TV shows (the auxiliary content stuff is very cool, enhancements for shows that you can only access on-line or through your phone, but some folks think that 3 minute clips of pre-existing TV shows are the obvious choice for mobile content, which is a limited concept indeed) and imagine completely interactive, multi-media narrative stories that the user is actually a character in. Paradigm shift? You betcha. I think this is probably the most exciting iteration of the current evolution of narrative storytelling.
posted by Elle Vator at 1:32 PM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

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