The Visual Story Teller
By: Markus Lim
As we examine the filmmakers, and storytellers of this new generation I cant stop but think about the plethora on connotations and implications the filmmaker is given. While we search across popular culture their seems to be only extremes. At one side of the spectrum we see a starving artist with no support from the out side communities, and on the other end we see multi million dollar Hollywood productions. In this day and age the filmmaker has all of the support or none of it. Where are the lines that define the hobbyist and the professionals? Is anyone who picks up a camera a filmmaker or is there a difference? These questions made me ask myself why film is a premeditated act, as well as a spontaneous gathering of footage. Through my research I found different perspectives on the film industry, across movies like J.J. Abram’s Super 8, and Ben Affleck’s Argo. These movies support the spectrum of filmmaking, with relevance to filmmakers in Hollywood, across the nation, and the no-budget indie side.
Two legendary filmmakers J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg create the film Super 8, both filmmakers from a very young age. Spielberg’s previous work shows a pattern of nostalgic period pieces. These past time values are reflected in their hopeful rendition for hope in the next generations. In addition Abram’s has done interviews explaining his childhood shooting little Super 8 (camera) films with his friends. The joy and passions he had as a child most likely transition into the film. However, I have trouble viewing the film without a bias. Different demographics without a child hood with a video camera may interpret the film from the perspective of the Sherriff dad, understanding the art, but not the sacrifice the kids to finish their film. Regardless I think the nostalgia of the kids can be reflected in many eyes. These portrayals make me hopeful for the young filmmaker; Super 8 gives the young filmmaker an example of their art can be completed if they don’t give up. The obstacles the kids face feel realistic and possibilities for anyone in the given situation. I feel comfortable standing by the movie as a portrayal of continuing to film even when everyone tells you not to.
The Interview is hosted by a very reputable organization and they ask J.J Abrams questions about his filmmaking process and certain inspirations behind blockbuster films. Later in the interview Abram’s provides advice to new filmmakers and explains the difference between making films before and now.
An Interview by the British Academy of Film and Television was exceptionally helpful to understand the choices Abrams made while creating the film Super 8. Abram’s talks about his childhood making film on Super 8 cameras just like these young filmmakers. But, now his advice is to make your films because the ability is far more accessible compared to his time. This shows a shift in societies perspective of filmmakers, previously the ability to make film wasn’t readily available and it supports the magnitude of the children’s capability to make the film; this can be compared to the current perspective of young filmmaker.
Argo is a film that is a depiction of filmmakers in another light, which I do not relate to. Based on a true story, Argo depicts a team of CIA agents disguising themselves as filmmakers traveling to safe hostages in another country. However, this is an example of a film that has all of the support. There are allies in the government of multiple countries, and more money than I’d know what to do with. The film plays with power and influence of the film industry and has a fairly strong bias because the American CIA, filmmakers, and citizens are portrayed in a positive, savior light; the foreign countries are
depicted in an extremely negative and hostile light. Everyone on the opposite boarder to the U.S is depicted as enemies, while the American agents are the saviors, kidnapping and hostage and bringing him home. This can be seen as propaganda for patriotism, marketed as a movie ticket to support the America hero. The audience can draw the conclusion that America is a super power, and if you want to support your countries accomplishments you should watch the movie. The film was also marketed as a true story so audiences could feel like they are learning about America’s past. However, this can be dangerous if audience members walking away thinking they know the facts of the event.
“The Filmmaker as Historians” article is about filmmakers as historians. The article makes solid points about film being a reflection of conscious and unconscious values of the audience. The thesis of the article is to uncover whether or not film has impacts to public opinion from the past decade (1988). The devils advocate of the article is the validity of media holding any grounds for history, based on the assumption of compromised and stretched facts. This article holds many key ingredients to uncovering the validly of filmmakers in society, providing significant support for my Argo artifact. The Argo artifact focuses on the power of the film industry and society, looking at film a persuasive industry throughout the world. I’d like to use it as an example of how filmmakers have the ability to manipulate the facts, and it’s implications in society. Looking at how film affects its audience helps me understand my path and content as a medium of reflection.
Throughout the course we looked at many ways the media persuaded us manipulated our perspectives and I think that was the most influential lesson because it’s always interesting when something is hidden right in front of your face; once you see it, you can never un see it. In addition, I thought another lesson was when we looked at how the media only really shows us what they want us to see, and how we have to pay attention and analyze for the entire story from both sides. The news worthy information was an interesting tool we learned while analyzing articles because of how often the news gets cluttered with well presented filler news.
Where am I?
“Uh, Markus I think the rain is coming back” reluctantly uttered by a voice I could barely make out. “Perfect, okay I need you to put the plastic bag over the camera and lets go from one. Bryson I’ll queue you, but I need you to be ready, spray the blood on Jenkins right after Tully says his line. Lastly, don’t forget count to eight then, react to the explosion.” As the rush of little droplets descend constantly from the skies, I belted my final notes while taking position — huddled and soaked behind my cinematographer. Silence. Followed by a simple two-syllable word: “Action”. Then I simply witnessed and admired my friends as mortars and shots by 6.5x50mm Arisaka rounds bombarded them and praying to God they weren’t in the line of fire. It was a split second, but I stood there wondering what had happened to the hiking trail I had just walked into less then an hour ago, where had my friends gone, and most importantly; am I the only one who could see what was indubitably happening?
I projected a symphony of neurons, electrical impulses, and dreams aloud and in front of me. However, at the same time I created an environment where I could be the soldier in World War II, or I could simply be Markus. Being given the choice to live as myself or to live in the originality that circulates my brain is enough for me to find contentment. Then to receive news that my film had been selected to be showcased at the 33rd Hawaii International Film Festival, I felt validated.
As if every time I had the extra cup of coffee, had exempted myself from a social gathering, or had a “I’ll just shower in the morning” night, was now finally acknowledge by someone who has absolutely no correlation with me. A human no different from Adam or Eve saw the unprecedented sequence of events that went into everything leading up to that moment. It is a truly unforgettable place where my imagination can literally run free. Knowing that through a refraction of light going into a series of little lenses, anyone is capable of seeing glimpses and explanations into the conundrum of who Markus Lim is.
Although, “Who I am” is an important investment for me to hold on to, who I want to become is what empowers this environment. In reality I am no “super” hero: I am incapable of single handedly saving the world, or defending a city with iron suit made of money. Fortunately, I am an independent filmmaker and as a matter of fact I can affect history. I want to be able to channel this passionate place away from a hobby and into a lifestyle. If I can use film to portray a personal opinion–Then, one day I want to be able to embody a story of an individual’s achievement and perseverance through a cynical society. Through my vision in cinema I can elaborate on the seeded issues like self-importance, in hopes that one day, I can make my difference.
Affleck, Ben. Argo [Motion picture]. (2011). Paramount Pictures.
Abrams, J.J. Super 8 [Motion picture]. (2012). Warner Bros.
Guru, BAFTA. “J.J. Abrams: On Filmmaking.” YouTube. YouTube, 8 May 2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.
Toplin, Robert Brent. “The Filmmaker as Historian”. The American Historical Review 93.5 (1988): 1210 1227.
Wald, Malvin. “Profile of a Filmmaker”. Journal of the University Film Producers Association 16.2 (1964): 21–26.