Reflection on the Creative Practice
The final project explores the traditional Chinese culture, the connection between the Chinese manner of meditation known as Zen and Kung Fu in particular. The movie lasts for eight minutes and consists of three parts. The current paper will analyze the decision-making process, the achievements of major aims, strengths and weaknesses, and the teamwork review of the project.
The genre of the project is a documentary that is beneficial since such movies are highly popular among the viewers who are constantly interested in something they do not know or lack understanding and information (Rea & Irvin, 2010). Documentaries are desirable among people as they have an individual connection to the subject matter or an interest in obtaining additional insight. Therefore, the choice of the movie genre can be viewed as an obvious strength. Moreover, the fact that I am acquainted with persons having solid and profound background in the concepts of Kung Fu and Zen provided the possibility of shooting and interviewing masters in both spheres, who cannot be easily reached. The movie aims at proving that Kung Fu does not make sense without Zen since martial arts and Zen form the best combination of ultimate harmony (Seng & Maynard, 2015).
I made most decisions regarding the project by myself. I have decided that the original idea and major concepts discussed in the project required the crew to be Chinese for the work facilitation. First, that option helped me omit possible language problems. Second, it alleviated the process of video production as Chinese people possess more knowledge regarding their culture thus liquidating the necessity of cultural differences explaining. Nevertheless, the issue was the lack of the Chinese professional musician. Therefore, I decided to ask the Australian composer to create the background music and soundtracks for the current project. In a form of a pre-production process, I demonstrated numerous Chinese movies, particularly documentaries, similar in kind and auditions of Chinese background music compositions in order to explain the type of music necessary for the film. Music is essential for the documentaries as these are among the movie industry’s most emotional and compelling films (Shyles, 2007). The mood and the atmosphere are of the outmost importance for my project. Regardless the actual subject, documentaries are supposed to be connected to an audience and provide the viewers with knowledge of particular issues, concepts, and humans (Owens & Millerson, 2012). Therefore, I specifically explained my composer which music should sound during the practice and dialogues in order to stress on their importance using music and soundtrack accents. Music is an important constituent, which assists in bringing the aforementioned elements to life and at the same time, allowing them to stand on their own (Owens & Millerson, 2012).
It is likely that the flaws of the film stem from the approach to do everything on my own. The analysis of the project shows that one of the greatest weaknesses is that the three parts of the movie are not smoothly connected with each other. The first rough cutting vividly revealed that issue requiring its immediate solving. Nevertheless, it has been overlooked during the pre-production period resulting in the absence of footage for it. Thus, the editing detected the importance of inserting stock footage and the need for additional footage to represent the story properly (Cartwight, 2012). Moreover, I believe that the movie ending cannot be viewed as successful since it seems that it is weak and makes audience stay with the feeling that the film has not finished yet. The ultimate aim concerned the profound explanation of the state and condition of the Chinese Zen medication nowadays though the objective seems not to be achieved. Thus, after the project analysis, I decided to switch the order of the existing three sections to make the film ending more completed. The third weakness is that despite all attempts, the background music is not perfect. The most important issue regarding the music utilized in documentaries is the smooth change of the dynamic range as the passages are too soft or too loud (Cartwight, 2012). However, in the project, some passages sounded too loud even despite covered talking voice, while other were too weak being not sufficiently expressive or even obviously faint for the scene.
As a director of the current project, I preferred to adhere to the individualist style of creative practice that required me to operate by myself rather than explaining all necessary and existing ideas to other people and asking them to help during the filmmaking and film-editing processes. The work on film revealed that documentaries featuring cultural subject matters and concepts could not be viewed as easily produced, especially due to the existing huge gap between the Chinese and the Australian cultures and the vivid East-West dichotomy. Nevertheless, the project analysis shows that when selecting the topic, it is necessary to involve in the production as many professionals as possible.
In addition, the main characteristic of the individual style was the attempt to make the audience forget the medium of the film altogether. It is known as the film director’s invisibility technique, requiring the latter to utilize cuts and shots, which are familiar to the possible film audience and are not even felt to be a technique. Therefore, I required the camera operator to film all dialogues from behind the shoulders in order to record the face of the speaking character. I also asked him to switch back and forth for the future audience and me to be capable of following the evolving dialogue. It was highly necessary for me as my individual creative style aimed at producing ‘natural’ picture, footage, and shots, providing a realistic human perspective. Such individual technique provides audience with the effects, which feel natural even for the experienced viewers of the movie. Therefore, my individual style can be characterized as artistic-aesthetic control.
I have sufficient experience in the sphere as I had worked in China as director’s assistant for the Shanghai TV station for two years. Therefore, the project was finished beforehand that provided additional time for the analysis of the raw product, review of the existing footage, and making necessary changes in case it would not satisfy the project objectives and aims. In fact, the production process of the filmmaking has been accelerated in order to complete all tasks and to check the details since the working team underwent unpleasant experience during the filmmaking process. For example, despite arriving in the airport two hours earlier, a team member forgot his luggage and had to return to take it. We have not been late for the flight, but the level of nervous tension was very high. Thus, I made all efforts to omit such situations in the future. Inner misconceptions required solid discussions thus helping enhance the teamwork. They contribute to the understanding that pre-shooting analysis of the working team style is a significant element for building up a team, as some people just cannot work together. Inner debates, cross-purposes, and misapprehensions can result in the failure of the project or a vivid retardation of the project schedules.
However, due to the presence of comparatively small crew team in form of only one cameraman, it was necessary to explain the steps and requirements and stimulate the team cooperate and adhere to determined aims and objectives. In fact, the previously mentioned conflict helped to find a camera operator for the second shooting, which was in Adelaide. This choice secured appropriate cooperation with necessary detail discussions, backup plans, and appropriate advices required for the completion of the project. Beyond doubts, the second shooting was without debates and arguments adhering to the predetermined steps thus allowing finishing the project earlier than expected.
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To my knowledge, other film practitioners did not encounter such issues. The crews were more connected, encountering minor problems thus resulting in better understanding among team members. Therefore, their productions seemed smoother. Moreover, the majority of directors cooperated with editors, allowing them to analyze the existing footage and cuts during the actual process of filmmaking. In addition, other directors adhered to a more democratic leadership styles, allowing all members of the team to participate in decision-making process. As other teams were different in people and in ideas, the projects seem more complete with sufficient beginning, middle part, and ending, which are combined fluently. The reason is that the higher quantity of people allows the discussion and analyzing of higher number of discrepant ideas, all of which might be crucial for the appropriate project development. As the director is the leader of the team, the major role is not only being in charge of every team’s member but also listening to other people’s ideas and selecting the most suiting, appropriate, and creative one.
The analysis vividly demonstrates that the current project has many issues, as more attention had to be dedicated to the pre-production process. It requires the analysis of existing footage in order to timely reshoot the scenes, which lack smooth transitions. In addition, the project helped me realize that teamwork is of outmost importance. The reason is that if people cannot cooperate properly in a crew, the project will fail or be entirely unsuccessful. Nevertheless, all weak points of the project can be taken into account in order drive important lessons for the next ones.