Many high school Art students (such as those studying AS or A2 Level Art & Design) must present a Coursework or Exam portfolio that shows development. Students are sometimes confused about what the term ‘development’ means in this context, and are uncertain about how they should go about achieving this. This article endeavours to answer these questions and provides a process by which students can ensure their work develops sufficiently. This is intended as a broad guide only, and should be used only in conjunction with advice from your teacher.
If you are told that your work must show development, your teacher is telling you that your work must change a little (both in use of media and composition) from one piece to the next. In other words, an A Level Art Coursework portfolio must tell a visual story: with a starting point, a conclusion, and a journey in between. It is not acceptable, for example, to show the same things drawn or painted from different angles over and over again, or to execute the same composition first in pastel, then in paint, then in charcoal and so on…or to submit paintings of many different items that have no visual or thematic connection to each other.
‘Development’ means systematically working towards better artwork: trialing, refining and exploring compositional devices and technique, demonstrating to the examiners that you have gone through a learning process and arrived at a successful final piece.
As an example, the following process was undertaken by my A Level Painting students (this process could be easily modified for Graphic Design, Photography or Sculpture) during the course of the year:
1. Select an original, personally relevant, visually complex, readily-available A Level subject or theme that can sustain your interest for a year (see the accompanying guide: how to select a good A Level Art theme);
2. Complete 4-10 drawings of your chosen topic in your A Level Art Sketchbook, using a range of black and white and coloured mediums such as graphite pencil, Indian ink, acrylic, coloured pencil, watercolours, oil. The level of realism achieved in these drawings will be dependent on your own drawing style and preferences. Mix and layer mediums as appropriate. Include photographs if desired. The drawings may be semi-incomplete and can merge into each other. At this point, do not worry so much about what you are achieving in terms of composition. You are merely conducting visual research and exploring your topic.
3. Fill gaps around the drawings with notes discussing your theme / issue / message…why this is personally relevant to you; what appeals to you visually about the subject; how the subject matter might be composed in order to support or convey your ideas. Look carefully at what you have drawn and make notes about how the visual elements (line, tone, texture, space, colour etc) interact… For example, are there strong contrasts between highly detailed areas and sparse areas? Are the negative spaces as interesting as the objects themselves? Are there repetitions of certain shapes and colours? Are you exploring frames within frames? …In essence, establish what you are dealing with visually.
4. Select an artist model whose work relates to your subject matter and inspires you. Research this artist. Complete several pages in your A Level Art Sketchbook, including composition studies, imitations and pastiches of their artwork, using a range of mediums. Fill spaces around the illustrations with notes explaining/discussing their technique/s (mark-making methods); use of media / materials; style; composition (i.e. the relationship between the visual elements: line, shape, colour, tone, texture and space. Discuss how these elements form ‘visual devices’ that ‘draw attention’, ‘emphasise’, ‘balance’, ‘link’ or ‘direct the viewer through the artwork’ and so on). Write notes about the ideas, moods and subjects explored within the drawings and how all of the above relates to your topic or theme. Your comments should show evidence that you have researched your artist (using proper terminology) and should also contain your own thoughts and responses. Under no circumstances should it appear as if you are just regurgitating information from a textbook. Learn from this artist and establish how this artist is relevant / useful for your own project.
5. Complete 10 – 15 drawings and paintings that show a smooth transition from your original artworks to images that are influenced by your first artist model.
Do not leap in and copy everything the artist does. It may be, for example, that you simply copy the way a particular artist uses foreground, mid-ground and background, or the way in which they apply paint onto a scratched, irregular surface. The purpose of this exercise is to learn particular techniques or compositional strategies – not to copy their work in its entirety. The result should be a series of paintings which show gradual changes and exploration. After each one you should have a discussion with your teacher about what you can do next to help convey your ideas more successfully.
6. When you have learned all that you need to from the first artist, select another artist and repeat the process. Once you have learned from this artist, repeat again. The intention is that by the time you get to your final piece, your work is a beautiful combination of your own ideas and the influence of several others. Your work should look absolutely original – a beautiful mixture of wisdom gained from a multitude of sources. It can be good practice to choose a range of artist models – ie. national / international, contemporary / historical etc…but this is not always necessary. The best outcomes occur when students choose artists whose work really moves them. It can be typical for an AS student to have 2-4 artist models and A2 students to have 3-10 artist models.
Here is a well-developed A Level (A2) Painting portfolio by Nikau Hindin, a talented A Level Art student from ACG Parnell College. Her A2 Coursework portfolio achieved 98%.
Still unsure? Viewing our Featured Art Projects will also help you understand how to develop your ideas within your work.
FM3 Creative Project: Aims and Context
Aims and Context
Students need to provide an aims and context for their 'Creative Project' at A2 (FM3) which outlines the techniques and approaches that will be employed in their production. For assessment purposes a series of bullet points on a coversheet highlighting the following is sufficient:
• genre of film (or equivalent - type/form/movement)
• film/script/step outline
• whether it’s a short film or extract (and if so, whether it’s opening, climactic sequences etc)
• target audience - arthouse/film festival/mainstream
• key stylistic elements of sequence (cinematography, editing etc)
• candidates may refer to film issues raised during their studies at AS.
• if working in a group (moving image only) state role in the production: Director/Camera Operator/Editor etc
The example below gives a hypothetical example and includes reference to film issues raised during AS & A2 studies.
The 'Reflective Analysis' should be approx 1,000 words
'Farewell my Maltese Lady from Shanghai' - film/video production
• Comedy film noir short.
• Target audience of 18-year-old, middle-class males, knowledgeable about film.
• Apply cinematography techniques developed for film noir.
• Explore codes and conventions of genre and apply theoretical work on gender.
• As director, try out directing techniques (from writers such as Michael Rabiger).
• Use Mike Leigh’s improvisational technique with actors.
It should include/discuss:
- How successful the work was produced in terms of meeting its aims and context. Themes, issues, style and music should be assessed in terms of appealing to its target audience. (Refer to key films and filmmakers/screenwriters whilst also highlighting and defining your intended means of exhibition - arthouse/mainstream/film festivals etc)
- How well you utilised certain styles, techniques and methods of production in your work. What was successful, less successful and/or unsuccessful in your intended aims (refer to your aims and context: be critical of your own work).
- Give a critical account of exactly what your role was in the process and discuss; difficulties encountered in production (technical or group dynamics). Assess your own abilities; strengths/weaknesses. Refer to elements that you have altered to meet its aims.
- A discussion of what you have learnt about the filmmaking process and the difficulties that may be encountered by undertaking this practical exercise and a critical reflection of the whole process.
Full Screenplays can be found through this link:
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Creative Project 1
‘Paintworks’ Reflective Analysis (1,000 words)
I have produced a low budget experimental, art film titled ‘Paintworks’. Throughout the production of the film I tried to incorporate as many techniques from my influences as possible. This is in order to ensue that my piece would be appropriate for my target audience. This would include art lovers/students and is likely to be shown in galleries.
One of my main influences for this piece would be artist, sculptor and experimental filmmaker Len Lye. After having viewed an exhibition of his, at the Ikon art gallery, I was able to see how a moving image piece worked in its own environment. I tried to incorporate his ideas of experimenting with colour and movement into my work. In particular, his 1935 film, ‘A Colour Box’ was very influential with its use of abstract paintings of patterns. Lye painted these abstract images directly onto the film itself, which is a technique I could have tried for my own film. I, however, chose not to adopt this technique as I took influence from Albert Irvin for my painting idea.
Albert Irvin is an expressionist painter, whose work is often described as having a ‘restless energy’. I tried to imitate this energy in my film by using similar techniques, such as using bright colours and adding occasional brush strokes. Another influential aspect of his work is his use of layering (screen prints). I took this idea of over-laying images into account when editing my film; I mimicked this layering technique in the editing process of my film. I used several over-lays throughout my film, which actually distorted much of the lighting of the image. This did in fact have a negative effect on some of the film by making them seem somewhat faded. This, in particular, happened more than once towards the end of the film. However, despite some of the problems this caused, in parts, it worked very well. For example, with the slowed down clips, it does create quite a hypnotic feel to the film. Despite the obvious differences in layering film and screen prints, the principle idea does remain the same and creates a good effect. A further reason for taking on board the work of Albert Irvin would be to add appeal for my target audience. Had I only used the influence of filmmakers I may have missed may target audience of artists.
It is in this artist research that the planning for my production began. As I had chosen to film, what essentially became a series of paintings, I planned what it was I actually wanted to present. The final painting or the process of the painting? I feel that the decision to create a film that showed the process of the painting ended successfully as it gave me a lot more footage to work with. It also added more opportunity for the audience to add their own meaning to the film. Finally, it enabled me to experiment with more techniques typical of an art film, due to there being many different shots to look at.
This experimentation with colour used by Irvin, is also a technique used by filmmaker Stan Brakhage. My use of movement and light was also something that came from viewing Brakhage’s work. His work is often described as being ‘moving, visual, thinking’. I liked the idea this idea of creating s very aesthetic film. After further research of Brakhage’s work I found that the way in which his films are formed can often be quite hypnotic. I tried to recreate this effect in my own film by adopting some of his techniques, such as a small amount of hand-held camera work and also fast paced editing.
Using the technique of hand-held camera work not only referenced Stan Brakhage in my film, but also added to the hypnotic feel I wanted to take from looking at his work. I feel this is definitely a technique I could have used much more throughout my film, as the majority was shot with the use of a tripod. Although, this enabled me to focus on what was being filmed, making the extreme close-ups work well, I feel the hand-held pieces added much more to the strange atmosphere of the film. Especially with the combination of over-laying and altering the speed of the original film. By experimenting with these techniques, I feel that I achieved a fairly atmospheric piece.
I also adopted Brakhage’s experimentation with light by using a mixture of lighting techniques. I found that the most successful was the use of the torchlight. I shone the torch onto the paintings that were being filmed to help add to the atmospheric mood I was trying to create. The light seemed to add more depth, making it more appropriate for its target audience. The selection of non-diegetic sound adds to this extra dimension, creating a stronger feeling of intensity.
This use of atmospheric music can be linked to the works of Derek Jarman. This experimental filmmaker has been described as ‘A master of evocative sound and music’. In particular, his film ‘Sebastine’ has a score that creates an intense mood. I chose to adopt this style in order to add to the hypnotic feel I was aiming to achieve. Once again, this technique helps to ensure that my film meets the appropriate, more high brow, audience. By cutting and editing my film to the music chosen, it creates a smooth finish to my film. I chose to edit it in this way, as opposed to fitting the track around the film, simply because I felt the piece of music had the perfect mood that I wanted my film to have. Therefore, I did not want to alter the track so that this mood was not disrupted.
STUDENT WORKCreative Project 2
Reflective Analysis (1,000 words)
I created a short film titled “Untitled 4” which was influenced by Stan Brakhage and Zineb Sedira. Abstract work such as these types are for an art house audience and would therefore be seen in galleries. This would be the most appropriate place for screening as the work is essentially intended as an ‘Art’ installation and would be appreciated here.
My influences from Brakhage and Sedira are very different. Brakhage painted ink on glass to create very atmospheric and aesthetically pleasing films such as “Black Ice“, whereas Sedira created a structured narrative for her film, which was then time-lapsed, called “Don’t do to her what you did to me.” In both films the artist uses ink therefore I used these techniques to create an avant-garde film by pouring different coloured ink into a jar and filming the results. Sedira used this technique to present a story whereas Brakhage used techniques that physically have ink on glass. I used Sedira’s idea of ink submerged in water, as I was already very intrigued by the movement and flow of the ink staining the water.
I was influenced by Sedira’s use of close-ups and still shots therefore I adopted these techniques by filming the jar and allowing the colours to slowly change and merge in a shot. All of these techniques together helped me create a mesmerising film. Brakhage often used atmospheric still images accompanied by non-diegetic music that is very ambient making an audience think by using sound and visuals. This is the impression I wanted to create for my film and I therefore used non-diegetic sound to create similar results by making my film more ‘dreamlike’.
I was inspired by Brakhage’s use of colours in his films and wanted to inject that into my work through editing, I made the colours more vivid by using the solarise tool on final cut, this then makes the colours change as the film progressed. I feel this effect produces a more thought provoking atmosphere, because it’s more dreamlike and out of context, the audience would not recognise this or would have seen before. Derek Jarman has made experimental avant-garde films where he has used a layering effect in a number of his works (such as ‘The Queen Is Dead’); I was influenced by this effect because it gives different depth of field to the pieces. I decided to add this effect into my film to make a more art house film and create confusion in an audience as to what they are looking at.
The concept of Brakhage’s film is to be aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking such as “Black Ice” is reflecting the flash of lights and colours we see when we close our eyes, this makes an audience think differently and create a different mind set because it’s something we have not seen before. I found this quite inspiring because it’s so imaginative, thus I wanted to make my film on a object that people have never seen before from my own perspective of something that relaxes me. I’m inspired by the original ideas that Brakhage has shown and wanted to make a unique film of my own by using effects such as colour enhancer and solarise creating bursts of colours reflecting space that create a thought about the universe as a whole. This then makes my film have a philosophical meaning that is very deep and hopefully provokes an audience to reflect while being relaxed and mesmerised.
During filming I had the camera on a tripod and the camera tilted landscape with an extremely close up of the jar, only a part of the jar was filmed with sides of the background showing. I felt this was not correct because it wasn’t filling the screen and creating the correct thought provoking atmosphere. As well as that, an audience would be able to see that it’s ink in a jar, this then would facilitate an argument about its ‘highbrow’ positioning as it was shot without the correct care and attention that most artistic works are given. For that reason I decided to tilt the camera portrait and fill the whole screen with an extremely close up shot of the jar with the ink coming into the left, this then created a stronger atmospheric look on the film, because the close up shot is making the audience see something that they have not seen before adding a sense of confusion.
I made four films which then I made into a split screen to show how I would want the audience to see the film as a whole, because if my film was in a art gallery the four films would be projected onto four different walls, but because I haven’t got an art gallery I have created this split screen effect so the audience and see the film as I want it to be shown. To enhance the artistic atmosphere I decided to add non-diegetic ambient music to all four films and made the music start at different times, this makes the atmosphere more superior as the ambient music will be coming from different parts of the room if it was in an art gallery. I like my idea of making the music begin at different times and in different areas in the room as this adds to the disorientating effect upon the audience.
STUDENT WORKCreative Project 3
Screenplay: ‘It’s A Woman’s World’(1,800 words)
1. INT. INSIDE A CAR ON A NEW YORK STREET. DAY.
MAX looks out of the window of his car profoundly, and is constantly checking the time of his expensive watch.
2. INT. MADAMES DE L’AMOUR GENTLEMANS CLUB. DAY.
RENEE rushes around her small dressing room, adorned with vases of lilac and white lilies. Quickly checking her face and hair, she dashes out the door and through the dimly lit, skinny corridor to reach the side of the vast stage. She smoothes down her lilac sequined corset with fringed skirt, her signature colour.
3. EXT. NEW YORK SIDE STREET. DAY.
MAX chucks a 10 dollar note at the driver and dashes out of the cab, making a fast pace towards a rundown building, noting the poster on the side advertising ‘Viola, a beauty from within’, making a slight nod to the grubby looking doorman.
4. INT. MADAMES DE L’AMOUR GENTLEMANS CLUB. DAY.
RENEE enters the stage to cheers from her audience, a large amount for a daytime show. The room in which she is about to perform in is dark, coloured in deep reds and purples. The chairs adorn velvet covers, and the men that perch on them are just as dark and sultry as the room they sit in. The music kicks in, she is introduced as VIOLA, and she begins her burlesque act. The audience looks on, entranced by her.
MAX slowly walks into the room and instantly realises what the fuss was about. He takes a seat in a dim corner booth and is captivated by VIOLA, as she sensually dances to the music.
RENEE finishes her act to loud applause, and sashays off the stage to her minute dressing room. She slips out of her stage costume and quickly throws on a purple wrap dress, pushes her large tortoise shell sunglasses onto her face, and places the large black floppy hat on her head. She throws her black cape over her shoulders. RENEE picks up her handbag and briskly leaves the room, walking quickly towards the back exit of the club. As she is about to leave, she is approached by a man in a suit; the manager of the club, BURT.
BURT: Here’s your tips doll. You’re the hottest piece of ass I have managed to find in a long time, you’re bringing in the big bucks baby!
RENEE: Um, thanks.
RENEE accepts the cash, and watches him walk away before she leaves. She mutters to herself as she leaves the club.
(Note: This is an extract from the completed screenplay of 1,800 words)
Click the link below for the WJEC Guidance Notes
Screenplay Guidance pdf.
Screenplay Guidance pdf.
Film Studies: Screenplay Reflective Analysis (1,000 words)
For my Film A2 coursework, I decided to create a Screenplay based around two characters, Renee and Max. I chose to do the opening scenes to the movie, as I thought this would give the reader a taster to how the film would play out if further developed, and can really leave the screenplay open for exploration to the reader.
My storyline was inspired by the film Belle De Jour, as I was interested in showing a glamorous side to an industry which is usually perceived as seedy and trashy. One part I was interested in was carrying a French theme throughout the film despite it being set in New York, as I am particularly interested by the French New Wave, and wanted my work to have some form of influence from this era, and from films such as Breathless. My audience therefore would be familiar with both the technical and narrative aspects of the French New Wave and understand the approach to the subject matter that I’ve used. Viewing my character from a more personal perspective is something that I wanted to convey and I believe that this has been achieved, to a certain extent, as Renee/Viola is never portrayed as one-dimensional, an approach that is a significant New Wave component.
The relationship between Michel and Patricia in Breathless was particularly inspiring, as it had a dark meaning behind it, and that was the kind of image I was considering when creating the character of Max, as I wanted him to be a mysterious, shady type of person. When imagining the character of Renee, I actually based her on both Patricia in Breathless, and Severine in Belle De Jour. I loved the idea that Renee would have similar attributes to Patricia, in that she would be a very aspiring and ambitious woman, yet easily seduced. My influence for Severine drew the idea of Renee’s stage name and alter ego; Viola. Viola is a much more classy version of Renee, an elegant and sexy woman. I was inspired by Severine as I feel Belle De Jour is a much more reserved film, more classy in its interpretation of women, and ultimately as escorts. My audience may see the similarities in the portrayal of these characters and would be able to appreciate the subtle hints and possible intertextual references involved in the narrative and characterisations employed.
I think one factor I feel could have been developed on is the fluidity of my screenplay. When read, my screenplay would have been quite a small section of the film despite the length of the text, as I chose to focus my screenplay mostly on the mise-en-scene, to ensure the script could really ‘play out’ in the readers mind, and so an image could be created from my screenplay rather than heavily featuring dialogue. I think that because of this however my script suffered in its fluency. I could have rectified this by perhaps adding more, short scenes rather than such lengthy ones like I did. This would have made my screenplay a lot more fluid, rather than written in blocks, which is how I perceived it. It would also have greater resembled a New Wave format in the way it progressed at pace. Nevertheless, as New Wave films are generally heavily spontaneously composed, when directed and edited these elements could be further enhanced.
I was happy with how I chose to focus on mise-en-scene throughout my text, as I think this really broadened my script. By focusing on the description and exploration of the mise-en-scene, I think that it helped give a deeper feel to the text, and contributed towards my text really being as detailed and intricate as I believe it is. Audiences would definitely be able to feel the ‘seediness’ I intended to include in the scenes to create a more complete atmosphere.
My intention for this script was to insert dialogue at the right moments, and I think this was important as a script without dialogue would have been unrealistic, and would have become more of an essay than a screenplay. I think that I used an appropriate amount of dialogue in my script, as it is enough to understand what is happening in my text, yet not so much that it becomes too much. The dialogue that is used is mostly between Max and Renee. I thought this was really important to ensure a connection is made between the pair right from the beginning of my film. This is also important as I did write this as if it would be a very long film, and it is important that the viewer would grasp the relationship and the chemistry between Max and Renee right from the very beginning. I think this has been achieved successfully as the scene and the language used function to set up their characters extremely well.
My mise-en-scene is used in the correct places to not only help describe the places in which the film would be set, but also helps create a persona for Renee, and really helps to symbolise what her character represents. I think that it contributed to presenting the character in such a feminine way, and by describing things such as the clutter of her house in so much detail, I think this helped to show how I envisaged the character of Renee to be, and how catastrophic and energetic her life could be.
Overall I feel I succeeded in creating a detailed yet fluid screenplay. Despite there being a few things I could have perhaps improved on, overall I am happy with how my screenplay has turned out.
Creative Project 4 (Film Only)
Small Scale Research Project 1
Here is an extract from a well structured Presentation Script (1,500 words) with good referencing and relatively sound argument. Use it as a guide to the way your own script should be submitted.
Dysfunctional families are a predominant factor in Haneke’s films. Does this make Haneke an auteur?
Projector: Image of Michael Haneke (Item 16)
Michael Haneke is an Austrian filmmaker, and has made many films in the languages of English, German and French. Anyone watching Haneke films will recognize a similarity in his dark, disturbing style and his strong use of dysfunctional families as well as his tendency to shock and confuse the audience with ambiguous narrative.
I believe that these things, which I will explain in more detail later, make Haneke an auteur. Auteurship cannot be given to all directors and in one premise of auteur theory is the “distinguishable personality of the director” and “Over a group of films, a director must exhibit certain recurrent characteristics of style, which serve as his signature” (Item 7).
Projector: Trailer of Funny Games (2007) – (2m 17s) (Item 19)
In this trailer for the US version of Funny Games you can see the characteristics of the film displayed in a clear narrative, which is contrasting to his style and the true ambiguous narrative, however it appeals to the audience Haneke wants to attack it was as in an interview he says Funny Games was “intended to be for a public of violence consumers” (Item 14). It also highlights the ‘perfect’ family and outsiders that pray on this perfection, a lot like the viewers of Hollywood films do.
Haneke remade Funny Games to make it identical to the original with the same recurring themes and interior meaning. When asked about the remake in a 2008 on-set interview (item 15), Haneke stated “when I did the first Funny Games it was intended to be for a public of violence consumers in the English-speaking world … the German language the film stayed always in the art houses and so didn't reach the public that it would need to have.” Thus showing that the intention of the film was not to entertain but for the purposes of highlighting our apparent acceptance of violence and death in films. Haneke says that he finds it irritating that “in this kind of post-modern view of life it became chic to make violence as an entertainment, even for the filmmakers and the critics, and this I find is a little bit disgusting.” (Item 15) It is this type of attitude that suggests that Haneke is an auteur, as “The way a film looks and moves should have some relationship to the way a director thinks and feels.” (Item 7).
Projector: Clip of scene where Georgie dies and Paul is looking in the fridge at 1h 1m 10s – (1m) (Item 2)
Creative Project 5
Reflective Analysis (1,000 words)
My aim was to produce a short ‘stop motion’ animated film for film festivals and film students. The audience would have knowledge and experience of surrealist themes and the particular cinematic techniques I intend to utilise.
Jan Svankmajer was a major influence on my aims as his unique style of stop motion mixed with real people in his films such as ‘Alice’ and ‘Food’ appealed to me. His particular style is recognisable due to the ‘jerkiness’ of the images and the surreal narratives and composition of shots. I was also heavily influenced by more mainstream directors such as Nick Park; the director of Wallace and Gromit (Aardman animations). He also works with ‘stop motion animation’ although producing more mainstream films such as ‘Grand Day Out’ with the characters Wallace and Gromit. These films inspired me due to the shared recurring themes of fantasy, myth and consumption. The Radiohead video ‘There There’ directed by Chris Hopewell also inspired as his style uses the same type of ‘jerkiness’ and surrealism that was created by Jan Svankmajer. I was also influenced by a Claymation film directed by Will Vinton, called ‘The Adventures of Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger’. This was due to the same ongoing themes throughout, such as the location, which is set in a fantasy world, and has themes of consumption and myths too. It also has religious connotations in it due to its on going scenes with the Devil in it, which can relate to part of the Minotaur sequence in my production film, as the location is set in the underworld (Hell).
When planning out my film, I decided to make animated mythical creatures out of plasticine, I did this because I wanted to create unique characters, such as Morph. The reasons why I chose to make Mythical creatures is because it comes from a classical tradition of storytelling, like ‘Alice’, a fantasy world where something does not have to make sense and is essentially surreal. I created models of mermaids, a unicorn, a Minotaur and a Cyclops because these creatures are taken from myths and legends and are regular features of fantasy films. ‘Food’ also inspired me narratively as I wanted the Cyclops character to enter each world and consume food. I did this by splitting the screen so it looks like the Cyclops leaves the last world and enters the new one in a unique way, which leads the audience to enter a new story but still as the same themes running throughout it, so it doesn’t confuse them. In the Minotaur sequence I wanted to give the world a dark and creepy look, like a nightmare, to create a contrast to the other worlds; I did this by using Jan Svankmajer’s jerky style.
In the unicorn world I decided to integrate moral and philosophical meaning into it, because God and religion can also be seen as a myth to people, because religion is like a story passed down to generations, just like a myth; The binary oppositions of the unicorn world, which is set in heaven and the clouds, to the mermaid world, which can be seen as the centre (Earth), and then the Minotaur world which is seen as underworld (Hell), shows the desire for temptation.
Creative Project 6
Small Scale Research Project 2
Here is an extract from a well structured Annotated Catalogue with good notes and good detail. Use it as a guide to the way your own catalogue should be submitted. (Some items have been omitted)
Male flawed characters with a goal are a predominant theme in Christopher Nolan’s films, does this make him an auteur?Films
Inception- (2010) director- Christoper Nolan
I chose this film as my focus film as it shows Christopher Nolans’ clear auteur presence as he deals with the theme that I am focusing on – a flawed male character, in this film the characters flaw is his emotional life and family that drive the narrative of the film. It also looks at his other auteur themes such as moral ambiguity, the characters and composers he uses and psychology. This film also explores the relationship between Chris Nolan and the genre of Crime films that has established his idiosyncratic style.
Batman Begins (2005)- I chose this as my second film to look at as the theme I am looking at is explored in this film. The male character is also flawed with his emotional life as well as his fears. Other themes are also shown in this film such as revenge, power, psychology and moral ambiguity. This film is also in the crime genre and so many of the same conventions are used as in Inception.
Insomnia (2002)- This is a film by Christopher Nolan which also explores the flaw of a male character, in this film the character suffers from insomnia. Guilt is another theme in this film and is important in defining the role of morality and we see the protagonists desire for justice which is another theme found in the other two films I am looking at. Al Pacino plays a sympathetic protagonist with a degree of warmth. The genre of the film is also crime.
Empire online- This is useful as the article explains how the flaws of the main male character of Inception drive the narrative of the film. It also states that the character is “a bruised dreamer himself, grieving for his wife and driven to new lengths of dream larceny. “ As well as the emotional core of the film coming from Leonardo Dicaprio who plays the main character. Another article in this magazine suggests that in Batman begins the flaw in the main male character is that the reality of his life is very grim and extremely intense and it is this that motivates him to make himself extraordinary, this is purposely done for the audience to believe and experience the journey with him. Another flaw of Batman is the psychology of the character and the intense motivating rage he feels. The article states that throughout the film we're constantly finding out the purpose of his rage and what's happened to him, and finding out his purpose. The reason for the flaw in the male protagonist in this particular Nolan film is because Batman's mortality and his vulnerability are what distinguishes him from any other superhero. Another article in this magazine states that in insomnia Christopher Nolan required was a sympathetic protagonist, someone with charisma, a degree of warmth, who would draw you into the series of events with him
Item 5 ................................................................................
Guardian, Wednesday 15 June 2005- is a short interview that is interesting and useful as it gives an in-depth reasoning behind why Christopher Nolan enjoys creating philosophical meanings. It is an insight into the film Batman Begins, showing its central figure as a study in psychological damage. Batman is seen as a superhero but in reality he is just a human being with flaws. This theme is also predominant in my other films for example in Insomnia, Al Pacino suffers from Insomnia and in Inception Cobbs’ wife haunts his subconscious.
Item 7- Modern master award SBIFF 2011, 30 January 2011-
This item is useful as it explains that Batman is not an ordinary superhero but an ordinary man with money and with money comes power this can be seen as one of his flaws. As Batman is seen as an ordinary human being he is a relatable human being and Christopher explains that Batman is a relatable character with his desire for revenge. Revenge is one of the flaws in this film as Christopher Nolan states that it shows what revenge does to a person and the different ways to pursue it. Leonardo Dicaprio later on gives a speech and states that his films explore the frailty of the human condition and that there is always an intimate, relatable and honest character that shows emotional authenticity.
Item 8-WonderCon, 3rd April 2010 –
This is useful as in a question and answer session where someone asks him what inspires him Christopher Nolan replies saying real life inspires him and events in his life. Also directors such as Ridley Scott with his films like Blade Runner have fed his enthusiasm to make these crime/ film noir films. Another question that was asked was about all the male twisted characters that are featured in his films and if he would use a twisted female character and Christopher Nolan replied that in Inception Marion Cotillard plays an extremely complicated individual and gives a fascinating performance showing that the theme is not only in the male characters but has started to be portrayed in the female characters also.
Item 9- Christophernolan.net-
This is useful as in interview with Christopher Nolan on insomnia he tells us how the film is about responses to guilt, and two characters who deal with guilt in opposite ways. On thematic level the film says something about the role of guilt in defining morality or suggesting morality. Both characters in some sense have transgressed to cause their reacting to guilt. This suggests that in insomnia the characters flaw is the guilt he has and it is because of this guilt he suffers from insomnia.
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Item 11-Screemwritersutopia.com- 6th April 2002
This interview with Christopher Nolan is useful as he states that the protagonists performance is a guide for the audience so they don't get lost in the world and that it is important to have a point of focus for the audiences' sympathy and attention and this is done through the characters emotion and flaws.
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Item 13- http://www.deadline.com/2010/07/nolan-says-hed-love-to-do-bond/
This is important as the James Bond films have hugely influenced Christopher Nolan. Their style can be seen in a lot of Christopher Nolan’s films. The James Bond films captured Nolan’s attention due to the infinite possibilities about the world they create, much like in Nolan’s films where he creates his own world in which the film is set and the narrative unfolds. This interview also shows how Christopher Nolan came to linking Inception with James Bond and how he naturally gravitates towards the Bond films because of the expression of cinematic potential.
Item 14- http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/49821542.html
A piece from Oh No They Didn’t!—titled “Does Christopher Nolan have a woman problem?”—has been circulating the web recently, and it details the questionable use of female characters in Nolan’s films. The article asserts that Nolan “fridges” the women in his films, meaning he kills them off “solely for the purpose of giving the story’s main male hero a reason to angst”. In this article the reasoning behind christopher Nolans' auteur style is explored finding the reasons for why the main protagonist is always male. It is stated in this article that for reasons that should be obvious, men are more capable at examining the psychological states of male characters, and conversely, women are more capable at examining the psychological states of female characters. It comes with the territory; people write what they know, and they know their own gender better than the other. Acknowledging this, it’s only natural that a male filmmaker would relate stories around male protagonists. The real problem is, there aren’t nearly enough women filmmakers, so the balance is too often tipped in favor of the male perspective.
Item 15- http://rachelmariemohr.blogspot.com/2010/07/deep-freeze-christopher-nolans-woman_31.html
This article is useful as one of Christopher Nolan’s traits is that he ............ He has been criticised a lot for this. Here the blog offers facts about how many of the characters out of all Christopher Nolan’s films cast were male and female. How many of those female actresses were given speaking parts and how many were still alive by the end of the films. This is important to use as it is evidence supporting my point that Christopher Nolan could be classed as an auteur due to his ........................
Item 16- nolanfans.com –
A forum on this site argued whether the male protagonist was a trademark or mere coincidence and one reply reported that there are many other themes in Nolans work such as: His films usually revolve around characters that are afflicted with some kind of psychological disorder- Al Pacino's sleeping disorder in Insomnia, Christian Bale's phobia of bats in Batman Begins. Characters in films often gain a physical or psychological handicap in the course of the film, in 'Insomnia', Dormer gets insomnia. His films often have obsessive protagonists with a troubled past, who are obsessed to gain justice by any means in life Al Pacino's character in Insomnia, Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. Cobbs' wife in inception commits suicide and Cobb is accused of her murder. Also his films' protagonists have mostly lost their loved ones &/or failed in love, a circumstance that causes them to turn into malevolent &/or apathetic forever- Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins and Cobb in Inception. Finally his main characters are usually men with a goal who face adversity.
Item 17 : https://theses.ncl.ac.uk/dspace/bitstream/10443/961/1/Hill-Parks10.pdf
This enables the reader to fully explore the techniques used that make his films so unique, and yet similar to one another, it is an interesting aspect of the auteur theory as It is a lengthy insight to all of Christopher Nolan’s films, giving him praise for his high standards in film making and comparing his abilities to strengthen a storyline by making them familiar to the similar individual films made.
Item 18- An Introduction to film studies
I am using this book as it states the auteur theory. This helps me understand what makes the director I have chosen an auteur and will enable me to argue about this in my presentation script. The auteur theory is described as a cult of the personality in which a film text under close examination might reveal the ‘essence’ of its director and hence invite the granting of auteurist status.
Film: The Dark Knight-
I rejected this film as I felt that the issues and themes in this film were very similar to that of Batman Begins. I chose to research into Batman Begins rather than The Dark Knight because of the fact Batman Begins was the first to be made and The Dark Knight is the sequel.
Book: Inception and Philosophy: Because It's Never Just a Dream (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series)
I first chose this book as it was about Inception. When looking at the description I thought it explored new insights into the nature of free will, time, dreams, and the unconscious minds rather than Christopher Nolans auteur presence.
Rejected this article as I felt it focused more on the life of Christopher Nolan rather than his films and the themes that are portrayed throughout all his films, therefore not all the information in the article is relevant and would not be any use to me in my research.
I rejected this item due to the fact it had no relevance to the auteur theory. It talks about Batmans’ character but does not explore the flaws in the character, only that he is a superhero because of his wealth not strength or powers. It states that the character has a psychologically interesting element, however this would not be sufficient enough to include in my research.