Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I don't know what movie we should go see. None of them are really calling to me, and I probably can't go anyways. But ha, I remembered to post.
And that is all.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Really late testimony of NAMAC right here:

So going to Texas was pretty darn awsome. I did see my share of cowboy boots and hats, but Austin was shockingly artsy and full of unique stuff. Appareantly Austin is the most liberal city in Texas, they've got this bridge where bats live, and at dusk al 3 million or so come flying out like crazy, searching for BLOOD.... or just bugs and fruit.
The entire convention was amazing. There were youth like me from Kentucky, Baltimore, the Bay Area, Minesota, and then local texans. The texans were cool. We had a 24 hour film project (like superfly) where each group was given a prop and genre to make a short out of. This was at the Austin Studios where the Austin Film Society first got started by Richard Linklater. Who infact i got to meet personally and give my portfolio DVD to (props to kubo). If any doesnt know this, Linklater directed Fast Food Nation, A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life, and other cool stuff. He was very laid back, and down to earth.
There were a couple Flash Animation workshops that i went to (new animation possibilites?? i think yes.)
Blah BLah Blah, thats all for now folks. time for bed.

-- the kubmeister

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I had a similar conversation with Reid as she put on her blog.
I have some personal views to share.
I feel like the "Gaze" is really only a tool used to point out a male dominated industry. If we, females, had the same amount of influence in the mainstream film category I think there would be just asmuch female gaze as there is male gaze now. It would be alright if there was an equal amount of gaze from both sides, male and female, at both sides, male and female. I bet we wouldn't even be bothered by it if this balance was achieved.
What does everyone else think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

not convinced.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee. I saw it. It's the latest film by Jamie Babbit, the director of 'But I'm a Cheerleader.' The movie, for better or worse, is filled with, um, 'the male gaze', as has been coined the objectification of women on a movie screen. They dress scantily, the are all thin, they dance, they do sexy things, etc. Only, it's a lesbian made film. It's about lesbians. It's a lesbian movie. Again: made for by and about lesbians. It goes on the shelf of normalization of sexual identity films. At the cinerama, a theatre with 1000 something seats, sat tons of women gazing those two hours away, biting their lips and sinking into their chairs over the hot images.

Can we talk about the female gaze?

I'm not convinced this is a bad thing. Humans are attracted to one another. This is what has always bothered me about Mulvey's article. Women gaze at women too. Is there an okay gaze? I mean, is there a line between appropriate and not?

And in response to Maile's post - I don't think Cheryl is subverting the male gaze. I think that is perhaps giving her too much credit. That film is FILLED with gazing. Especially all the comments her co-worker throws out about women they walk by or that come into the store. If anything, she makes Yvette's character foolish and awkward just to make herself look cooler as the protagonist. I disagree that Yvette is the only one that is trying to look sexy. Perhaps in a 'conventional' sense - but there are all kinds of sexy. Maybe the other characters don't seem so sexy to us in their 90s way, but they are trying to be sexy in their own defined ways. And those ways are looked at and admired by other women.

More to say, not enough time. I want to explore this further. Any takers?

Oh Canada

The only thing I watched this week was an episode of "Degrassi." I thought about my lovely Reel Grrls and was looking for the "male gaze" and am happy to say I didn't find one. I thought about why, and thought back to our little chart of movie genres. I think that Degrassi fits into one of the few genres deemed "girly." Maybe its the abstence of the classic male gaze that has a lot to do with the forming of the genre.There was a shot from a girls point of view checking out a guy (the whole slow motion while he smiles and flips his hair) which I thought was pretty funny.
With what we were talking about with people liking movies and TV because it lets them explore uncomfortable or untalked (if that's a word) about ideas. Movies try to appeal to guys by subjecting the women in the way that they can enjoy her on a shallow level and don't have to feel bad about it. Which is sad. If we say these things aren't ok in real life, why are they ok in film? And why do they exist in real life to? Can we then attribute them existing in real life to media, then the media to appealing to real life in some kind of weird cycle.
So I'm confused, but pretty rightfully so.
I don't know, maybe it's just because Degrassi's on Canadian TV. And they're much cooler than us.

- Sami

PS - I'm doing my homework last minute on the bus right now. But internet, on the bus. Which means my bus has wifi on it! How rad is that???

I'm pretty sure these random musings have something to do with Laura Mulvey

Gee, it sure is a little lonely 'round the old Blog these days... Maybe it's like a dancefloor, and if I just bust out my best written funky chicken, others will feel the rhythm and join in. I'm willing to give it a try, anyway...

First of all, I really want to share with you this article Adrienne, one of our board members, forwarded me the other day. It seems very apropos:

Unfortunately, I don't have the article in a format that would allow me to post it here in a legible way, but I do have an electronic copy that I can email out and there is also a paper copy floating around the office.

Anyway, I think it ties in rather nicely with everything we discussed re: genre/gender last week.

And I am really looking forward to discussing Watermelon Woman with y'all today, because I think it also dovetails really nicely with everything we talked about last week. Kind of the antidote to the male gaze, eh? I'm sure I'll bring this up this afternoon when I see you, but what did you think about the scene of Yvette's karaoke performance? It definitely recalled similar moments featuring characters like Jessica Rabbit in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? clip we saw last week (I still have a burning desire to wash my eyes after seeing that) - don't you think? According to Mulvey, it's easy to indulge a really overtly male gaze in a film when a woman is performing - that way the camera just perches alongside the diegetic male spectators and shows us what they see, which is usually a sexualized spectacle of some sort. It's amazing how many films do this. Last week I watched Strange Days, another feature directed by Kathryn Bigelow (director of Point Break), and one of the female stars is, conveniently, a singer, who performs in barely-there bedazzled costumes for all the world to see. Or, more appropriately, for the male lead to watch voyeuristically, since he is not supposed to be in the club where she performs, and we the cinematic audience get to share his voyeuristic male gaze. But I digress...

Isn't it sort of surprising to see a film like The Watermelon Woman basically do the same thing? And at the same time - it's not quite the same thing, is it? Yvette's performance definitely does not make her desirable - not to Cheryl, not to others in the karaoke bar, and certainly not to the film's spectators, be they male or female, gay or straight, black or white. This stands in stark contrast to the performance of Jessica Alba in Sin City, or Jessica Rabbit in WFRR, or Juliette Lewis in Strange Days, to name a few. I think Cheryl Dunye was definitely trying to subvert that cliched cinematic moment that demonstrates the quintessential male gaze, but why did her subversion have to be at the expense of the Yvette character? In other words, it's great to subvert the male gaze, but do you have to make a woman look foolish to do it? And what does it mean that Cheryl Dunye chose to cast Yvette in such a light? She is the only character who really tries to look sexy in the movie (well, besides the Watermelon Woman herself, in those glamour shots), and she fails miserably. Is Dunye trying to tell us something?

Can't wait to talk to y'all about it soon!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Invisible Style

One of the main purposes of the invisible style is to hide the bias and view of the director. The audience will connect with the film more if they are viewing it through the characters eyes instead of some unattached floating perspective. As a film maker I know this in the back of my head but it was helpful to be reminded of this factor. This is a typical Hollywood technique, and there is a reason it works, but don't be afraid to experiment. As long as you are aware of how the angles in your shot affect the audiences perspective you can do whatever you want.


So there's this scene. It's in this movie called Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It's a love scene. One love, we'll call him "Boy", plays guitar while getting his eyebrows plucked by his lover. They talk about whether or not true love exists. Hedwig, the plucker, says, "love creates something that wasn't there before." They listen to a woman in the apartment across the ally singing "I will always love you" by Whitney Houston. She is singing the song pretty well. Guitar playing lover finally hits the note he was trying for in the song he is singing. He stands and leads Hedwig through a room of clothes hanging to dry. They stop and start to kiss. This is the first time that they have kissed front to front. It's a big deal. The actual song by Whitney Houston is playing now, louder and louder. They get a little heated in their kissing. The boy reaches, for the first time in their 9 month relationship, down the front of Hedwig's skirt. He discovers that he has remained ignorant to the fact that this woman he has loved has ambiguous genitalia. "What's that?!" he says. "It's what I have to work with," she says. He says he has to go home. She calls him a sissy. "What are you afraid of?!" she says. Things get heated in a different way, with Hedwig yelling and throwing things. The boy leaves the trailer.

What is so great about this scene is the invisible editing that drives your emotions just the way the words and motions do. The guitar and plucking part is edited with reverse angle conversation/reaction shots. The shots are longer and further away to begin with - they are setting the scene with length, establishing it just like an establishing shot. When their conversation gets more intimate, the shots become closer and shorter. When Boy stands up and leads her through the clothing, the shots are quick and close like heart beats. They kiss - the shots intensify and the music intensifies and the audience intensifies. When Boy discovers the angry inch, everything pulls away. You know, kinda like when the record screeches and stops when someone says something awkward at a party. The shots pull out and last longer.

I love that.

It's a mini story arch within a larger story arch. Beginning middle and end set with not just words and actions but with the playing of our emotions with shot length and distance. So tricky those movie makers!

Someone told me once that he learned how to make movies by watching scenes over and over and reverse engineering them. It's one of the best exercises ever. Watching each clip and writing down whether its a medium, long or whatever shot and timing each shot's length. Make a graph and see if it makes a story-telling pattern. For example, long in the beginning, short and quick at the climax, and long and far at the end.


You CAN have your cake and eat it too.

Late last night I watched the film "Point Break" in my room at the old frat house. I couldn't stop myself from internally crying out about "What a guy movie this is!" and then wanting to lecture all the guys down the hall about their dangerous levels of testosterone. But eventually I began to calm down and notice things. Ok, so yes this film is a contemporary and somewhat outrageous story about a bunch of surfing bandits robbing banks. And yes, this film is also about the poorly talented Reeves heroically chasing these bad dudes down (always looking hot, duh) while really only wanting to fall in love with the feisty surfing babe Tyler (I know, cute right?)

But here is where some elements of Classic Hollywood Cinema (CHC) as outlined in our readers by Robert Ray come into play: the surfing Ex-Presidents indeed embody classic examples of an outlaw hero. While they may not be a “cowboy or gunslinger,” they are all outlaw heroes juxtaposed against the “official hero” Utah. Reeves also may not be a “politician or family man” but as a FBI agent he does represent the “objective legal process that superseded private notions of right and wrong” (16). After I understood that Bodhi was behind the bank robberies it became harder for me to like his character in the same ways as before. However, I still understood and was in awe of his sense of freedom from “the system”. I couldn’t help but melt just a little while yearning to become a fellow outlaw surfer when Bodhi becomes passionate with his group about how they show the American public that the human spirit is still alive. Even though I believe the group’s way about showing the human spirit to the public is violent and wrong, they do in their own ways speak to the “American imagination valuing self-determination and freedom from entanglements” (16).

What really gets me though is the ending! OF COURSE Reeves gets the girl. Doesn’t Classic Hollywood Cinema tell us that we can have it all? OF COURSE he finally catches up with Bodhi for the final confrontation and resolution between their two characters. OF COURSE Bodhi in the end fails as an outlaw (and as participant of society for that matter). Utah throws his badge into the ocean at the end of the film in a moment of self-realization symbolizing his final separation from the story and its past. Everything pretty much wraps up hunky-dory. Why? The answer is simple. Hollywood was just doing what it does best: fulfilling “its self-appointed role as public comforter” (14).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Turk wins bet... dances.

The Omnipresent Invisible Style

So I set myself to finding an example of the Dominant Hollywood "Invisible" Style that we learned about last week... and realized that it's hard NOT to find it. These conventions, that were established decades ago, are everywhere. Commercials, music videos, reality TV... It's weird how even in so-called "reality" shows, the editors use shot/reverse shot editing to create a conversation where there may or may not have been one. I tried to find an example of this on YouTube, and wound up going down a rabbit hole of America's Next Top Model and Top Chef clips that nearly swallowed me for all eternity... and I still didn't find a really great example (or, more specifically, a really great example that wasn't somehow degrading, insulting, or otherwise irritating). Anyway, here is a pretty tame example from Scrubs - a show that is often pretty creatively shot, with a lot of carefully choreographed camerawork, traveling monologues, etc.

The beginning of the clip is slightly less conventional, but the end moves right into the shot/reverse shot "invisible" style we talked about last week.

So, Reel Grrls: I was wondering. Have you tried to emulate the invisible style in your work in the past? If so, were you aware you were doing it? Have there been times that you have broken Dominant Hollywood style "rules" in your work? If so, do you think it worked in the end, or did it look amateurish? And finally, in future work would you like to try to master this style, or are you more interested in countering it - taking inspiration from Godard, perhaps?

This isn't a quiz, I'm just interested in what you're thinking.

Oh, and Kubo, safe travels to Texas! See you there! Try to post us an update if you have a moment.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another example of discontinuous editing

Hey all,

Check out this clip from Japanese master cinematographer Yasujiro Ozu's 1951 film "Early Summer," in which he blatantly crosses the 180 degree line. Dominate Hollywood Cinema style says that this type of cut confuses the viewer. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dominant Hollywood Cinema & "The Invisible Style"

So yesterday I taught my first class in the new Reel Grrls thesis program, and I don't know about yall but I had a blast! I was really excited by the responses to the homework we assigned last week: Grrls watched the classic film "Casablanca" and did readings on film sequence analysis and a summary of the Robert Ray book, "A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema."

We discussed Robert Ray's point that what we think of as "normal" filmmaking techniques are actually a highly constructed and particular set of formal and thematic rules making Hollywood Cinema the Dominant filmmaking style by which all others are measured. We watched the scene that Ray analyzed and talked about it as an example of Formalist Film Analysis, then tried our hand at Formalist Analysis ourselves.

Then we watched some examples of alternatives to continuity editing (what Robert Ray refers to as "The Insivible Style" because its purpose is to "hide" the editing from the audience). I was surprised that the grrls were rather unimpressed by some of the French New Wave film clips we looked at, but they were blown away by the Russian style of Montage editing exemplified by Eisenstein (this is the clip we watched together, from his 1927 film "October": We also checked out "Ballet Mechanique" as an example of a film in which narrative is subordinate to style.

Reminder: If anyone is interested in some extra hands-on homework, check out a Reel Grrls camera and try your hand at creating a film that is not organized by narrative. How else could you organize and join your shots? By color, rhythm, pattern, shadows etc.?

Looking forward to reading all of your posts looking for evidence of "The Invisible Style" in a film or TV show of your choice and/or doing a short Formalist Analysis of the same this week!

Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm still alive

Crazy, I know. You might think differently, considering I haven't talked to or seen any of you for about a month. I don't really have an excuse, except that school plus work really sucks. Sorry to have missed you all last Tuesday. Blame Mr. Mitchell. I was filming, just with a group of boys instead of girls.
So I used to just kind of nod my head whenever we were dealt the "not enough girls in the film industry" shpeal. Reel Grrls having been my only film experience, all I saw were girls in the field. But I'm taking Live Video Pro after school now and out of the 20 students and 3 instructors I'm the one and only girl. So Malory... I believe you.
That's all for now.
I'm going to go do my math homework and then do an English project while watching Casablanca. Yes I realize it's already 10.

- Sami M.

And one more thing, why are mini bagels so much better than normal sized bagels? They're so good, but I don't understand why.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

RR stands for "Really Rad."


This weekend I turned 20. Um, whoa. Serious stuff people, serious stuff.

Currently though, I am sitting on a rug at my grandparent's hiding out from life and reading about The Enlightenment. I can say that I am thoroughly....well, enlightened. I wish though that I was watching Casablanca while eating chocoate--because that would be cool.

I have a really nasty cold. It's pretty gross. I plan on spending my time in one of two places the next few days: in bed or in class. So that is where you'll find me: in my bed or in class.....prolly wearing my pajamas and bunny slippers, sucking down orange juice as if it were the elixir of life.


P.S. Reel Grrls are rad. Really Rad.

San Diego Women's Film Fest

Hello grrrrrrrrrrls that are reel.. yeah so, just got back from San Diego, it was awsome, hardcore, infact it was the hardest of core. Rose, Jessica, Rose's Perents, and I went down together and met some other youth filmmakers from Mineapolis, Virginia, and LA. The youth films were screened 3 TIMES!! none of the other films in the festival were screened more than once, so we were given a huge honor, cause we're so cool, obviously, duh, yeah.
We met some other directors from other films that were being screened too. and the opening film of the festival (Nina's Heavenly Delights) was pretty smashing, i must say.
Long story short: It was most definately the hardest of core.

-- sami kubo, over and out.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Reel Grrls Thesis Program Kicks Off Today!


We are incredibly excited to be launching our first-ever Reel Grrls THESIS Program today! In response to popular demand from our ever-more-savvy-and-experienced grrls, we have created our most advanced and longest-running program yet.

You can read about the program HERE, but basically we are going to spend the next three months intensively studying film history, theory, and criticism - all from a Reel Grrls perspective, paying special attention to films made by women from around the world.

Starting in early 2008, the Thesis team will embark upon a five-month production schedule, in which grrls will take the reins on their most ambitious projects yet, hopefully inspired by and in response to the works and theories we will have studied together.

Along the way, grrls and mentors are going to blog their Thesis-inspired thoughts, feelings, and ideas here, so get ready for a much more active Reel Grrls blog!

Check in here weekly, and learn along with us. And start getting psyched to see the most amazing Reel Grrls work yet, coming this spring.


Maile and Lila