Hands-on

Starting to really REALLY do my documentary now. I’ve got some interviews on the way, and have already taken some photographs for my documentary. So far, so good…. but I think post-production is going to be a real killer!

Anyway, I realize I haven’t been blogging much about my documentary progress so far, so here’s an introduction, and some updates on my documentary and the community and conflict that I will be focusing on …

In August 2009, the Government introduced a legislation to Parliament to amend the Liquor Control Reform Act, proposing three new categories for liquor licenses i.e. late night, restaurant & cafe, and major events, and for each category to appropriately provide the necessary authority (e.g. security guards or bouncers) depending on the ‘risks’ associated with each category. With these new amendments, higher fees would be introduced, not including the new need to hire ‘necessary authority’. These details can be found in the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), and replaced the previous Liquor Control Reform Regulations 1999 which expired on 15 February 2010.

In short, the new laws required venues featuring amplified live music to have a minimum of two security guards. The Tote, an iconic music venue in Collingwood has, since the 1980s, had a reputation for showcasing new and emerging independent music artists and when they closed down in January 2010 due to the inability to keep operating financially under the new liquor laws, the music community in Victoria stood up for action (source).

On the 17th of January, about 2,000 people rallied outside the Tote. Call for action spread on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, and dozens of groups were created to spread awareness and gain members in a call for action against the new liquor laws that were threatening not only the Tote, but other music venues as well. On February 23, when the new licensing laws were announced, up to 20,000 people gathered in front of the State Library for the S.L.A.M. (Save Live Australian Music) rally. Among them were famous musicians Tim Rogers, Missy Higgins, and Paul Kelly:

….Kelly summed up the sentiment by saying “you don’t learn how to write a song at school or RMIT. These venues were my university”.

(source)

Independent musicians and music lovers alike joined in to sign a petition – ‘Fair Go 4 Live Music‘ – and 22,000 signatures were collected. The petition was brought up to Parliament on the 1st of April 2010, and now venues can appeal and apply for a reversal of the restrictions… but applications will be dealt with one-by-one. So far, the George Hotel in Hamilton and the Lomond Hotel in East Brunswick has had their licenses reviewed and the high-risk security conditions rolled back. The Tote’s previous owner has had to sell the venue to pay off debts, and the new licensees are waiting for their own review to be approved (source).

I wish I was there during the rally, but at the time, I wasn’t even in Melbourne! I learned about it later on from friends in the scene, and from reading the news. It was quite inspiring reading about the SLAM rally and the events that followed it… learning about how 2,000 people gathered because of their love and loyalty to the Tote, and later on learning about how 20,000 people came together to protest against the laws that were threatening their love for music, their culture, their ‘home’ (small music venues are typically the only places where new independent artists have the chance to showcase their talent) was really moving and just left me in awe. 20,000 people is a LOT of people, and that is a LOT of supporters, and that creates a very big and united community.

Hence, conflict is not necessarily harmful to integration. In this case, especially, it has built stronger identities within a community, and has built unity and integrity among a community of musicians and music lovers previously dispersed across Victoria. It has even sparked the formation of new groups and new alliances, and until now, the community is growing strong and gaining more support.

I’ve contacted someone from SLAM & Music Victoria, and I’m so grateful that they’re being so helpful with my documentary. I haven’t got a hold of Bruce Milne (the previous owner of the Tote Hotel), though, but hopefully he’ll agree to appearing in my documentary. For now, I’ve drawn up a lot of ideas for the documentary and have asked some friends for permission to use their photos or music (for background music, maybe?) for the documentary, and am excited to see what my interviewees have to say about the music scene!!!

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Looking at The Revolving Door

This documentary wasn’t what I thought it would be. “The Revolving Door” documents the journey of a prostitute (who got into drugs, I think, but not much was said about that although on the main page her ‘diary’ is titled ‘Confessions of an Opium Seeker’…) named ‘Gillian Colby’, and is an interactive documentary where you can view/listen to her diary in her own words, her journey, some animation on a ‘typical night out’ where cops stopped her, and looked at her ward file (she was admitted to some sort of girls’ home after an abusive episode at home). It was really touching, actually…

I think it was kind of a participatory documentary where they interviewed the subject, and used archival film to retrieve some history (of St Kilda as a red light district, etc). There wasn’t any diversity of viewpoints in the doco. It mainly contained biographical information from Gillian – on her childhood, why she became a prostitute, what happens, etc. – but also a copy of her case file (from when she was in the girls’ home) and some historical information on the red light district in St Kilda… but that was it.

I think the animations and photos helped a lot in putting a sort of ‘face’ (albeit an animated one) behind the voice. The short animated reenactment of the cops pulling ‘Gillian’ aside and interrogating her was beneficial to the doco, in a way, as one would feel more involved and empathetic, I think, to Gillian, but also it was weird because the animation was set so that the viewer was in the cop car, and uninvolved. I wasn’t sure why there was an animation specifically for this part of the documentary and not for the other parts, but it was good because it worked well, giving it some sort of context, rather than having this part in audio alone.

In a way, I think I did make my own conclusions about Gillian and the prostitution issue… the documentary wasn’t being very specific in directing one how to think about things. Instead it gave viewers the chance to explore and click around, and look at things as they wish. Listening to Gillian’s diary in her voice was engaging, though, and a bit emotive as well.

I don’t think I feel very manipulated… I do feel some sympathy for Gillian and prostitutes… but mainly because her story was a sad one, and because in the historical part of the doco, they talked about sex workers getting killed and at high risk of getting mugged/abused on the streets… is that considered as manipulation? Oh, maybe I have been manipulated then.. :\

Looking at the Art of DeTouch

Have always been into image manipulation and did some assignments on image manipulation used in the media, so the doco “the Art of DeTouch” was definitely one to look at…

I think the style of the documentary was probably… poetic? It is kind of poetic, or abstract because it just showed images of the before/after photos in different formats (pixels, threshold, etc…) and.. well that’s about it, really. No information, other than the brief introduction on the homepage.

In a way, there was a diversity of viewpoints on how the images were altered in the different formats, the before and after pictures, and the diversity of how the photos were altered (some on skin, others on body shape, on hair, on facial features, on colours, and on different people – celebs, models, randoms, and from various companies/websites).

In a way, this documentary was showing reconstructions, i.e. reconstructions of the alterations done on the before pictures. I noticed that (on the homepage) it said the visualizations of the alterations were generated…so basically everything from 2% to 99% is actually computer generated… and not the real process of what goes on in actual photo manipulation (e.g. in Photoshop). That doesn’t make much difference, I guess…

But in case you don’t know what goes on in Photoshop, you can watch some videos on Youtube haha! It’s pretty insane. Here’s one on photoshopping just the face, and this one’s on the body (it makes really extreme changes!).

The documentary was really ambiguous, in a way, because all I could do was look at the images. So I did have to make my own conclusions about it. Personally, it led me to think about the prevalence of photo manipulation in the media (I guess ‘cos I’ve done some assignments on that myself) and just how it’s everywhere we look. EVERYTHING is digitally edited now. It also led me to think about how unbelievable it is that everything normal and human, like wrinkles and eyebags and stray hairs and body fat, are made into imperfections that need to be erased away for commercial purposes – to manipulate people into buying products to give them flawless skin, like the celebs do, or buy diet pills or exercise machines so you’ll be flab-less like that model in the billboard – and it’s all unrealistic and unachievable because literally nobody looks like the people in mags/billboards. Then consumers just keep buying and buying to achieve something unattainable.

So yes, this documentary did encourage me to make my own conclusions. What were yours?

Looking at techno!

I was really excited to check out this ABC documentary called “Sounds Like Techno” because of my interest in music, and sure enough the documentary did not disappoint! I definitely had a lot to learn from it as well.

I first viewed it in HTML, which wasn’t as great as the Flash version (which was awesome and really engaging!). They transcribed the audio files (which play automatically in the Flash version) so there was a lot of text. But they interviewed a lot of people who were from the industry and were involved in the techno scene themselves, which made for a lot of diversity of viewpoints and a lot of good, reliable information. Plus, they included short biographies of the people they interviewed, and a lot of extra links for viewers to explore, so that was pretty informative.

It was definitely a participatory documentary… they interviewed subjects, and in a way retrieved, or reenacted history with the categories and timeline sort of documentary.

It didn’t seem like the documentary allowed me to make my own conclusions. It was informative to the extent that it was really thorough, covering a lot of aspects of techno music from its roots in Detroit to how it came to Australia, to the technology used to create it to its future. So there wasn’t a lot of space, or need, to make my own conclusions about anything. But I guess interviewing others about it made it subjective, but also realistic in a way, and hence I felt like in conclusion, I could trust what they were saying and just believe them. I guess in that sense, the documentary did feel a bit manipulative but in a ‘honest/reflective/insightful/trustworthy’ way instead of an ‘evil’ way… so I’d call it influential, but not manipulative… because the word ‘manipulative’ just makes it sound like they’re making me think evil things haha

Where do I begin?

For me, starting on something is always the most difficult part. I take so long deliberating on what to do, that I procrastinate when it comes to actually doing it. And I guess this is what I’m experiencing now with the documentary :( But I’ve already emailed SLAM a few days ago to ask them for an interview, and I’m hoping for a response soon. They don’t have any phone numbers on their website, so my only option now is to wait for them to reply me.

I’m anxious now on actually conducting the interviews on screen. What do I have to wear? Should it be formal, or a bit casual? Where do I interview them? How do I ask them questions? How should I put everything together? Who else must I contact next for interviews? Blablabla. Small details and big details…they’re all making me a bit worried.

So… here’s my own little checklist to get things done, asap, without procrastinating…

☐ list interviewees
☐ contact interviewees
☐ list of questions for each interviewee
☐ contact again / reply interviewees & set up date for interview
☐ equipment check, consent form check
☐ production,
☐ …..

yeah…….will try my best to follow that…and start asap….:\

Meanwhile I’ve been bogged down by assignments. I don’t know how some people can take up to 5 subjects this sem! The workload is actually insane. I have blogging assignments every week for another subject, not just this one, and I have a presentation in 2 weeks, and an essay due in the same week, and then major assignments to start researching on and doing by next month. Postgraduate is crazy! I guess this is really a challenge on my time management skills….

This weekend I’ll be checking out some of the documentaries suggested by Jenny… I’ve browsed through some of them and have already set my mind to doing ‘Sounds like Techno‘ (because I love music!) and The Art of DeTouch (which explores photomanipulation). It will be super interesting to look at both of them because I have a interest in both topics but, difficult to emulate, I think, in terms of making my own documentary especially since I have no background at all in interactive media production. Well, it will be insightful nonetheless.

Have a good long weekend, everyone.

Urban communities

Looking again at my learning contract and theory of community to make changes on it. So now I’m reading Delanty’s e-book ‘Community‘ Chapter 3 on urban communities. (thank technology and the internet for electronic resources!)

In it, Delanty refers to the sociology of Georg Simmel, who established the foundations of urban sociology by emphasizing the significance of small groups (Delanty, 2009: 39). He talks about the notion of the city as a platform for new group formations, which arose from the idea of the city as an open structure where various social relations, forms of belonging and human creativity are built and enhanced. Simmel’s perspective of conflict is that it is not necessarily harmful to integration; rather, conflict can be the basis for integration, leading towards stronger identities within groups, as well as the affiliation of various affiliations that is not dependent on common values (Delanty, 2009: 39).

Moreover, one of the dominant themes in urban community is the defence of the community as a result of external threats (Delanty, 2009: 41). Barry Wellman argues that community are relatively small groups based on mutual interdependence and common forms of life, whose foundation is a sense of belonging based on shared experiences, a common language, kinship ties, and a sense of inhabiting a common spatial lifeworld (Delanty, 2009: 41).

In addition, Delanty talks about how social movements can give rise to new expressions of community (Delanty, 2009: 48). From participating in social movements, individuals can discover common interests, from which collective identities can emergy. He refers to Manuel Castells, who argues that urban social movements are processes of purposeful social mobilization. According to Castells, urban social movements have three main goals:

  1. urban demands on living conditions and collective consumption,
  2. the affirmation of local cultural identity, and
  3. the conquest of local political economy and citizen participation

(Castells, 1996, cited in Delanty, 2009: 48)

These goals can be combined in different ways to create a societal impact. The importance, however, lies in the meaning that is produced by the existence of the movement rather than its explicit achievement, for the community. Here, meaning emerges from the conflicts of interests of the different groups in resistance of the biased interests of capitalism, statism and fundamentalism (Delanty, 2009: 48).

All these ideas are, I think, very relevant to the community that I will be discussing in my documentary – the SLAM community which emerged from the independent music community in Melbourne, as a reponse to the new liqour licensing laws that were threatening the sustainability of music venues, which are important as well as sentimental to them as ‘homes’ for performing their music (e.g. The Tote).

Hmm.. ok. Going to finally edit my learning contract now!

Reference:
Delanty, Gerard (2009) Community (2nd ed.) Taylor-Francis e-library. (link from RMIT e-resources)

A response to Shane’s review

Shane‘s review of the documentary had some good points. He pointed out that “even bullies themselves are insecure and the only way to make them feel superior or more dominant is by bullying”. I think this is one of the points that should have been included into the documentary. Not having done so only made the documentary one-sided, as myself and Mei have pointed out. I have some knowledge of psychology, and it is true what Shane said, that bullies bully others because of their own security. There is a ‘cycle’ of bullying that is common in many cases – a child is abused by his/her parent/guardian/relative, and to release any anger or hurt, the child bullies someone else, somehow projecting or transferring their pain and feelings onto someone else to alleviate themselves of their suffering. For them, it’s their own way of dealing with it. And if this is the case with bullies today, it would have been very effective if the documentary had looked into this, and highlighted this, as this would have been a bigger and more vital issue to look at. With that, it would be helpful if the directors made another documentary to look more into the reasons behind bullying, and perhaps cover up the whole bullying issue and make it more insightful and thorough.