Week 13 – New Documentary: Revision

As well as revising the territory covered over the last 12 weeks, today I want to take some time to reflect again (as we did in week 1) on the idea of ‘new’ documentary.

Also with the subtitles now sorted out we’ll do a ‘take 2’ on Agnes Varda’s The Gleaners and I (2000)…..a classic documentary to end the semester!

1 Revision/Discussion – What we’ve covered in ‘New Documentary’

We began in week 1 by considering Jung Jake’s work and asked could this be considered documentary. Lets have another look at Jung Jake’s videos now we have the benefit of 12 weeks of immersion in documentary and ask the same question:



A few other questions as discussion points:

  • what have you learned about documentary?
  • Has your thoughts changed about what a documentary is?
  • What was your favourite work watched during the semester?
  • Documentary modes?
  • ethics?

2. Project update/viewing:
Please update the class on the progress of your project. Show us any rushes/footage you have, share any difficulties, anything you’re happy with etc.

3. Class Screening:
The Gleaners and I (2000)

4. Class Discussion:
– How would you describe Gleaners?
– What mode/s does it traverse?
– Any other thoughts?

5. Submitting your Final Project and your Process Journal

A reminder on the submission method….
The submission method for your final 2 assessment projects:

  1. Upload you final project (assessment 3) to Vimeo.com
  2. Copy the URL to your personal blog in a separate blog post
  3. Email me the link to your blog to petehumble@yahoo.com
  4. Make sure your blog contains your process journal (assessment 2) with entries from Weeks 5 through to 15 (excluding week 7)                                                        NB. That’s a total of 10 entries

Deadline: 11.59pm Monday 10th November

6. Recommended Viewing:
Here’s a list of films that in my ideal course (where we had unlimited time) I would like to have also included for viewing/discussion:

En Construccion
The Thin Blue Line
Good Woman of Bankok
It Felt Like A Kiss
The Act of Killing
The Look of Silence
Capturing the Friedmans
Soundtrack to War
Working Man’s Death
The Miscreants of Taliwood
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
The Subconcious Art of Graffiti Removal
Jesus Camp
Stories We Tell
Heart of Darkness
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Man on Wire
Grizzly Man

Ben Read at Dlux Media!

Ben Read from our class has had his work Waves (2015) selected as part of dlux Media Art’s Is This Art? Screenings at the Artereal Gallery in Rozelle on November 11.

Congrats Ben!

If you’re in Sydney on the 11th November come along. Or hell, why not make a special trip!
I’m sure Ben would be very happy to see you there on November 11.

Week 12 – Gleaning and more

Filmmaker Agnes Varda
Filmmaker Agnes Varda

Look at that camera!! Legendary French filmmaker Agnes Varda made the transition to digital cameras by making The Gleaners and I (2000)

The Gleaners, by Jean-François Millet, 1857
The Gleaners, by Jean-François Millet, 1857

The image which inspired Agnes Varda and provided the jumping off point for her reflections in The Gleaners and I (2000)

Week 12. Two weeks to go!

This week we’ll dive into your own projects and hopefully get to watch some rushes. Please bring what you have to show the class.

We’ll spend some time looking at some classic editing techniques, specifically track laying and J and L cuts.

I’ll also be giving you some time in class this week to work on your projects. You can use that time how you wish – either to edit or update your journal. You can even do shooting or audio recording if you can do it at uni. Let me know if you’d like to do this so we can organise equipment with Glenn.

And finally we’ll watch the classic French documentary which I’ve been threatening you with for some time now – The Gleaners and I (2000)

So, in a nutshell, the plan for this week as follows:

1 Project update:
Please update the class on the progress of your project. Show us any rushes/footage you have, share any difficulties, anything you’re happy with etc.

2. Tips for the Edit:
(i) Working with sound – Track Building, atmos, music
(ii) J and L Cuts

3. Project Work:
You have 1 hour to work on your project. This could be editing or process journal. If you’d like to do any production work (shooting or audio) let me know

4. Class Screening:
The Gleaners and I (2000)

5. Class Discussion:
– How would you describe Gleaners?
– What mode/s does it traverse?
– Any other thoughts?


Week 11 – Structuring the Documentary & The Sweetest Sound

Alan Berliner filming his father
Alan Berliner filming his father

This week I’d like to spend some time thinking about how we might go about structuring our films, which in the case of documentaries, takes place largely in the edit.

1. Class Discussion:
What’s the best way to structure a documentary?
How will you structure your documentary?

2. Finding the Structure:
A discussion around one way of finding a structure for your documentary using a 3 pronged approach:

(i) The Paper Edit
(ii) Asking questions
(iii) Collecting B-Roll

3. Interviews from last week:
Please link your interviews from last week to your blog so we can watch.

4. Project update:
Please update the class on the progress of your project. This week I’d like us to make an effort to share with the class where your project is at. If you have any rushes/footage to show, any difficulties, anything you’re happy with etc.

5. Project Submission:
Today I’d like to confirm with all of you the final submission method for your projects.

6. Class Screening – The Sweetest Sound (2001) by Alan Berliner
We watched the first 5 minutes of this last week. This week we finish it off.

7. Class Discussion:
Thoughts about The Sweetest Sound?
What mode was it in?
What other techniques did the filmmaker use?

8. Homework:
Continue your journal entries for assignment 2. This week take some time to plan out the final stage of your project. Work back from the due date and make a list of all the things you need to complete and then schedule them in. Make sure you leave enough time to complete your editing and any uploading etc.

Week 10 – Lighting for Documentaries

Week 10

A big hands on week this week. As you know I’ve been threatening some lighting workshops for a few weeks now…..this week, we finally get around to it.

Plan for Week 10:

  1. Lighting workshops x 4
  2. Watch the remainder of Cunnamulla
  3. Project/Blog Updates

1. Lighting Workshop x 4

  • Shooting Outdoors
  • Shooting indoors with Natural Light
  • Shooting indoors with mixed light (natural & artificial)
  • Shooting indoors with artificial light

The Chiaroscuro Principle

The Basics

Our aim here is to investigate some simple lighting principals. (See the 2 attached docs above) This will hopefully hold you in good stead as you move in to the production stage of your projects. We’ll focus on getting the best images in the quickest time.

In any production, time and money is usually in short supply and with documentary production we often don’t have the luxury of being able to spend a long time setting up our shots. With this in mind lets focus on a few different shooting situations and put our efforts towards maximising what we have in each set up.

Certain principals carry through each of these shooting situations while at the same time each one presents challenges which you need to be aware of. We’ll be moving through each of these situations methodically and while we’re at it let’s make sure we’re capturing good quality sound as well.

Class Exercise: An interview portrait

In groups of 4 conduct an interview. Pick a person to be the subject and another to be the interviewer. This is about making the best quality interview portrait you can muster. The framing, the sound, the light, the composition of the pictures should be right, the editing smooth and “seem-less”. Within the short time of 3 minutes the film should give us a portrait of a person, especially the inner life interests of this person. Try to interview about the hobby, interest or secret passion of the person. Preparations may take a long time, but the film should be short and concentrated – an “inter-view” going deep!

When we complete the workshops lets now look at some well lit interviews and think about how they achieved the look:


2. Screening – Cunnamulla
Following from week 9 we’ll watch the 2nd half.

3. Discussion: Project progress
Please share with the class any updated information you may have regarding the progress of your own documentary projects. Any rushes to show?

4. Homework.
Continue with your blog entries; updating them with the progress of your project.

Week 9 – Welcome Kate Blackmore & Cunnamulla

Still from ‘Girls’ (2014) by Kate Blackmore


Still from Denis O’rouke’s ‘Cunnamulla’ (1999)

This week we welcome another guest into our midst, artist Kate Blackmore. I’m very excited to have Kate come and talk to us and present one of her documentary projects, the dual screen work ‘Girls’.

Here’s a blurb about Kate from her website:

Kate Blackmore is a Sydney-based artist, filmmaker and curator whose practice explores the intersections between contemporary art, documentary film and anthropology. Since 2007 Blackmore has been a key member of artist collective Brown Council (with Kelly Doley, Frances Barrett & Diana Smith) whose live performances and video works engage with concepts of spectacle and endurance, as well as the dialogue between ‘liveness’ and the performance document. Blackmore’s solo and collaborative work has shown nationally and internationally at institutions including Artspace (Sydney), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane), National Museum of Contemporary Art (Seoul), New Museum (Beijing), and National Gallery of Indonesia (Jakarta). Blackmore has undertaken international residencies at the Red Gate Gallery (Beijing) and the Australia Council for the Arts International Studio (Barcelona). In 2015 she will travel to India for an Asialink residency at Kriti Gallery (Varanasi) where she will work with the Gulabi Gang, a group of over 400000 female domestic violence activists.

For more information visit her website

Also today, we may not get time to watch the complete film but I’d like us to watch Dennis O’Rourke’s film Cunnamulla (1999) in class.

Here’s a good article on it from Senses of Cinema: “The Troubles of Dennis O’Rourke” by Ian Stocks. Especially the mid-section in which O’Rourke explains his approach to documentary production – portraying it as a mix of aesthetic decision-making and patient, slightly wayward ethnography.

And some more reading around the film.

Don’t forget that your weekly blog entries still continue, discussing the issues raised in the film screening and readings. And of course writing about your process of putting your own short documentaries together. This is an assessable task towards assessment 2.

– – –

Plan for class week 9

9am – Project Work: students to work on own collaborative documentaries in class, any individual feedback or technical assistance
9.30/10am (approx) – Welcome Kate Blackmore: Screening & Discussion
11.00/11.30 – (approx) Break
12noon – 1pm – film screening – Cunnamulla (lecture theatre) followed by discussion

Week 8 – Welcome Richard Keys

Guest Lecture #1

This week I’m pleased to welcome Richard Keys as our first guest lecturer to CAOS205 for 2015.

Richard, (who happens to be the father of UOW Lecturer Nick Keys who some of you may have come across) has had an incredibly rich and varied career in moving image in Australia and overseas. He was a camera man shooting cinema newsreels in his youth and thanks to his access to the National Film and Sound Archive I’m extremely excited that we’ll have the privilege of viewing some original 16mm newsreels, some of which won Academy Awards.

Richard also had a stint as an animation cameraman in London, including with the studio that made The Beetles Yellow Submarine animated film.

Apart from the newsreels Richard has put together a program of other tasty treats and having Richard as our guide for this material is going to be a real bonus. I’m sure we’ll all get a lot out of it.

Apart from Richard’s presentation there’s a few other things I want to get through today….

1. Assignment 1 Results.

I have your results. Any comments on the process?

2. Screening –  Pitch films
Remember the Pitch doco from last session? Who finished it? Can you email me as a link or provide me with a copy

3. Discussion: Project progress
Please share with the class any updated information you may have regarding the progress of your own documentary projects.

And for my benefit can we confirm all the groups and subject matter?

4. Last weeks reading – The Essay Film

5. Tips for the Edit
(i) Working with sound – Track Building, atmos, music
(ii) J and L Cuts

6. Lighting for an interview – analysis and workshop prep
In a future workshop (most likely 2 weeks from now) I will run a hands on workshop in lighting for interviews. In preparation lets analyse some interviews in terms of their lighting as this is excellent preparation and learning source material.

To do this let’s look at this interactive doco: (Thanks Keegan for alerting me to this!): http://www.sbs.com.au/cronullariots/

7. Homework

Continue your journal entries for assignment 2


Alan Berliner Retrospective at Antenna

Week 6 – Project Pitch and the Essay Film

This week we move to the next stage of this subject where we start to focus more on our own documentaries. But first a few screenings…..

1. Screening #1

A screening of each groups ‘Nature on Campus’ part 2 documentaries.

2. Screening #2
La Morte Rouge (2006) by Victor Erice

3. Class Discussion

  • La Morte Rouge belongs to the tradition known as the ‘Essay Film’. Why might this be so?
  • Does it fit into any of the other ‘modes’ of documentary we have looked at so far?

4. Activity – Getting started on major project
Each student to bring up the subject blog, read the assessment guidelines.

Take 5 to 10 minutes to write a blog entry with any fragments or scraps that you think are relevant to your project:

  • what kind of ‘mode’ would you like to work in?
  • what size of group?
  • what sort of topic would you like to work on?

Speed Dating – Assigning groups to work together:
A ‘speed dating’ exercise where each person has 2 minutes to ‘pitch’ the idea for their major project.

At the end, people group themselves together to decide on who they want to work with – one person from each group to post the groups on the blog.

5. Activity:
[if any time left] – individuals or group to produce a 1.5 minute doco in which the idea is pitched – using whatever mode necessary to best portray the idea – upload to web tagging it “week 6”

6. Homework
Continue your documentary process journal. Update it with the latest information: topic, plans, your role, research etc.

Read the following online article on the Essay Film:
The Essay Film: Problems, Definitions, Textual Commitments