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About Film Development

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  • About Film Development

    “Film Development” is what we at filmtank.org are calling the process of thinking about films with the idea that the films themselves are thinking. Very simply: What is a film thinking about, how is it thinking about that, and what may be the value of that thinking?

    For example, let’s begin to examine the film WALL•E in this manner. What is WALL•E thinking about? Pretty obviously, it is thinking about one possible future for humanity and the Earth as a whole. In doing so, it is clearly concerned, among other things, with the possibility of environmental catastrophe. What, however, is it specifically thinking about such a possibility? What does the film warn may be the source of such a future? What, according to the film, would humanity suffer as a result? What responses does it suggest would be available to humanity if such a future were to come about? Given this thinking about such a possible future, is there anything we could or should learn from WALL•E? Might some of its thinking about the possibility of future environmental collapse, and the possible consequences of such a thing for humanity, be wrong or misguided? Does WALL•E just educate us and our children about the dangers of over-exploiting the Earth, or might it reproduce and reinforce some aspects of our culture that encourage such exploitation?

    WALL•E is a particularly attractive film to use for an example of film development for several reasons. One is that it is so clearly thinking about something. Probably because it is aimed as much at children as it is adults, the larger contours of its thinking are pretty obvious. It is, however, and this is also attractive about it, not a film without subtlety. Although its larger thought may be readily apparent, more careful examination reveals more subtle thinking, thinking that makes it a film worth thinking about. Another reason WALL•E is an attractive example for the illustration of film development is that it obviously advances its thinking in ways that are unique to film, and that make film thinking so powerful (perhaps more fully like our own thinking than any other media). Even children notice that much of the film is without human speech or language, calling the viewer to recognize that films significantly advance their thinking through a variety of means that are purely visual and aural, an important point to emphasize for those wishing to take the thinking of films seriously.

    The world a film creates for us to view, what students of film often refer to as its mise en scène, is in many cases as large and as important a part of its thinking as are the events or characters that it contains in that world. Another way of putting this is that the thinking of a film is not just created out of what things, people, and events it shows us, but also of how it shows them to us. Does it present its world in bright colors, muted grays and browns, or in black and white? Does it put its characters together on the screen or mostly show them one at a time? These are just some of the elements of the thinking in films that one must pay attention to in order to examine its thinking fully.

    Before having a go at developing your favorite films, please take a look at the film development tutorial (coming soon) here on the site. It will have much more concerning the varieties of ways films think in general that you might attend to in developing particular films. The articles posted in the journal portion of the site (coming soon) will provide particularly good examples of film development and should also be given a careful look. After that, it just takes time and practice.
    Last edited by Steven Brence; 10-15-2009, 03:42 PM.
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