- Check out Barack Obama’s Favourite Films online at Total Films, including One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
- Please visit the e-journal Post Identity. It’s an international, fully-refereed journal of the humanities that ‘publishes text-based and multi-media scholarship that problematizes the narratives underlying individual, social, and cultural identity formations; that investigates the relationship between identity formations and texts; and that argues how such formations can be challenged. In print since 1997, Post Identity has partnered with the University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office to transform itself into an audio-, graphic-, and video-enhanced web-based journal that can make available the new forms and subjects of contemporary critiques of identity, as well as more traditional text-based scholarship.’
- A really great online Post Identity article worth exploring is Chuck Tryon‘s ‘New Media Studies and the New Internet Cinema’ (Print source: Post Identity, vol. 5, no. 1, Winter 2007). Tryon is assistant professor of film and media studies at Fayetteville State University, and also the author of the renowned blog The Chutry Experiment. His other online publications can be accessed at the blog HERE.
- ‘Divide and Conquer: A world of possibilities in the unstudied field of DVD chaptering’ by Adrian Martin at Moving Image Source (posted November 6, 2008). This and lots of other great Adrian Martin links were shouted out by Girish, including news of the latest issue of online film journal Rouge.
- Thanks to Alison Butler (Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading; author of Women’s Cinema: The Contested Screen, reviewed HERE and HERE), FSFF heard of the Artivi video archive and a great online Eija-Liisa Ahtila interview (link HERE; also see an earlier FSFF post on this film artist HERE). Artivi is ‘is a community-oriented Web-TV which produces and broadcasts programs about the contemporary art world. Artivi is also a website which offers user-generated contents’.
- A little bit more Ahtila surfing then revealed Medien Kunst Netz/ Media Art Net. This site has a huge number of artists’ film and video resources worth checking out, including good quality, online excerpts from four of Ahtila’s videos (Anne, Aki and God, Consolation Service, Talo (The House), and Tänään (Today)). HERE‘s a link to the A-Z list of artists’ resources at the site.
- The ever bountiful GreenCine Daily posted a Tate Online link to Curing the Vampire, an online Lynn Hershman Leeson project involving four interviews by the artist-filmmaker in conjunction with Tilda Swinton, posing questions to a selection of guests, including a politician, journalist, scientist and lawyer, partially shot in the virtual world of Second Life, and released in four episodes from October. FSFF readers should check out the section of the Tate site that houses this project – Intermedia Art, which has all sorts of film-related resources, including great podcasts and texts.
- There’s a good film studies article in the latest issue of Politics and Culture: An International Review of Books: Productive censorship. Revisiting recent research on the cultural meanings of film censorship by Daniel Biltereyst.
- The Fall 2008 issue of Mediascape has just been published online. The aim of Mediascape, to quote its website, ‘is to create a forum which takes an interdisciplinary approach to visual cultural studies […] focusing on the moving image and all its manifestations. We want to endorse a non-exclusive treatment of visual culture and will look for cross-disciplinary, cross-technological, and cross-cultural perspectives of our field to make up the content of the journal. Our staff comprises members of UCLA’s School of Film, Television and Digital Media and represents both the field of critical studies, as well as the moving image archive program.’ The new issue which focuses on politics and film/media contains the following, great, film-studies related articles and interventions: ‘By, For, and About: The ‘Real’ Problem in the Feminist Film Movement‘ by Shilyh Warren; ‘Gray or Black? Howard Koch and the Elusive Architecture of the Hollywood “Lists”‘ by Heather Heckman; ‘Low and Behold: Using Fiction/Documentary Hybridity to See the Real Damage of Hurricane Katrina‘ by David O’Grady; and ‘Scholars on the Subject of Media, Politics and the Academy (in 12 parts)‘ by Allyson Nadia Field, Toby Miller, Bill Nichols, and Chuck Tryon (him again).
- Finally, do, please, check out Innovate: Journal of Online Education an open-access, peer-reviewed, online periodical published bimonthly by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The journal focuses ‘on the creative use of information technology to enhance education and training in academic, commercial, and governmental settings.’ HERE‘s a link to film-related articles at Innovate, a list that includes the following essay FSFF has singled out: ‘The Davideon Project: Capitalizing the Possibilities of Streaming Video as Flexible Learning Objects for the Humanities‘ by André Rosendaal and Johan Oomen.
Film Studies For Free has recently set up a small, but growing, new links list to ‘Filmmakers’ Websites Of Note’ (just scroll down on the right-hand side of the site). The list currently contains links to the following sites: Alejandro Jodorowsky; Fernando Trueba; Gonzalo Suárez; Carlos Saura; Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón; Tomás Gutiérrez Alea; Isabel Coixet; Bigas Luna; Alejandro Amenábar; Pedro Almodóvar’s blog; Aardman Animations; Álex de la Iglesia; Atom Egoyan; Bill Melendez; The Coppola Family; The Makhmalbaf Filmhouse; and Werner Herzog (please ‘excuse’ the abundance of Spanish and Latin filmmakers, but that was the cohort within which FSFF began its search). Any suggestions for additions to the listing are very gratefully received indeed. And, if auteur(ist)-resources are your bag, please keep an eye on it as FSFF is sure it will rapidly expand.
A new link to by far the most innovative and promising of any filmmakers’ websites ever surfed by this blogger has just been added to the list: Sally Potter‘s Archive SP-ARK! (Potter also has an occasional blog; and a more conventional company website, too). Potter is, as FSFF readers will know, director of radically innovative films such as Thriller, The Gold Diggers, Orlando (the principal ‘object’ of the SP-ARK archive), The Man Who Cried, The Tango Lesson, and more recently, Yes.
SP-ARK is a web-based open source educational project based on the multi-media archive of film-maker Sally Potter. SP-ARK is designed as a unique educational resource, tailored to the radically new learning preferences of students everywhere, which can be used as a model for innovative teaching and research in all disciplines and at every level. At this stage only a tiny fraction of the materials available in the Sally Potter archive has been uploaded to the site’s database. During the next phase the complete ORLANDO archive will be made available, followed by materials relating to all of Potter’s films and her work in dance, music and theatre. You are welcome to browse through the sample materials already available on the site, currently over 600 items. If you would like to access SP-ARK ‘s unique interactive features and become a trial user participating in the testing and future development of this prototype then please email us at beta [at] sp-ark.org with some information about yourself and your interest in SP-ARK. We will send you a username and password.
(Please note that you don’t have to email or register in order to browse – just visit!)
Film Studies For Free l o v e s the ethos of SP-ARK, and greatly appreciates what’s up and running on the site already; it very much looks forward to following its development. It also hopes that other living filmmakers (or the heirs of filmmakers from earlier generations) are inspired to build on Sally Potter’s generous example.
As for the educational implications of projects like these, the ‘Cloud‘s’ the limit, if you know what FSFF means. As Chris Berry, Professor of Film and Television Studies at London’s Goldsmiths College, brilliantly puts it in his endorsement of this archive:
The SP-ARK vision of social learning gives us a glimmer of the future today. Instead of locking archive materials away and restricting availability, it promises ready access to SP-ARK to anybody anywhere with a computer and the internet. Furthermore, the solitary archive user is transformed into a producer and a member of a community by the ability to build pathways of connections and commentary through the material. In the process, the cinema is extended from a fixed object to be viewed into a dynamic, interactive, and growing network of digital debate and active learning.
Some other, good, Sally Potter, online links follow:
- Who is Sally Potter? video on YouTube
- A Senses of Cinema Overview by Kristi McKim
- A ScreenOnline Overview by Annette Kuhn with links to some film clips (if accessing from an educational institution)
- Carmen out swinging: Sally Potter takes on opera’s femme fatale … (about Potter’s latest project)
- Sally Potter on directing Carmen for English National Opera …
- The Sally Potter Carmen Project on YouTube
- BBC – Films – interview – Sally Potter
- Sally Potter’s Notes on the Adaptation of the Book Orlando
- The Contemporary Auteur: An Interview with Sally Potter (BFI)
- Seven Questions with Sally Potter of The Tango Lesson (The Director’s Chair Interviews, by Augusta Palmer)
- The Tango Lesson (Sally Potter’s Inspiration)
- Guernica Magazine Interview with Potter
- BBC summary of Potter’s Carmen
GreenCine Daily, Film Studies For Free‘s favourite site for ‘Film on the Web’ news, today brings word of an article (link to it HERE), in the latest, online issue of art magazine frieze, by filmmaker Clio Barnard (a former colleague of this blogger at the University of Kent). The article is part of an ongoing series in which frieze asks artists and filmmakers to list the movies that have influenced their practice.
Barnard is an artist/filmmaker, whose work has shown in cinemas, international film festivals and galleries, including Tate Modern and Tate Britain. She was one of the winners of the 2005 Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists and in 2007 was awarded a major commission from the Art Angel, which will involve an ambitious live performance and feature-length film.
FSFF already links to an online film by Barnard – the wonderful Dark Glass (1 min. 16 seconds, 2006; direct link to MP4 HERE; and to QuickTime HERE), part of the SingleShot series of ‘newly commissioned film and video works — shot in one single take — by artists and new talent’.
As the Tate Modern website describes it,
Shot on a mobile phone, Clio Barnard’s Dark Glass is a taut micro-drama that visually recreates a spoken description of family photographs recalled under hypnosis. Although the recollection appears incredibly compelling, it also possesses an inherent instability, so that we are never quite sure what we’re hearing or seeing, something further emphasised by the unsteady nature of the image itself, which lends an apparitional quality to this apparent act of truth-telling.
Below are direct links to the other frieze articles about films that have influenced particular artists and filmmakers’ work; most are illustrated with video clips from the films:
Issue 101 September 2006:The Otolith Group
Issue 102 October 2006:David Noonan
Issue 103 November-December 2006: Rebecca Warren
Issue 105 March 2007: Runa Islam
Issue 106 April 2007: Jia Zhangke
Issue 107 May 2007: Luke Fowler
Issue 108 Jun-Aug 2007: Hamish Fulton
Issue 109 September 2007: Steve McQueen
Issue 110 October 2007: Rosemarie Trockel
Issue 111 Nov-Dec 2007: James Benning
Issue 113 March 2008: Peter Doig
Issue 114 April 2008: Hito Steyerl
Issue 115 May 2008: Mark Leckey
Issue 116 June – Aug 2008: Raqs Media Collective
Issue 117 September 2008: Babette Mangolte
Issue 118 October 2008: Duncan Campbell
Issue 119 Nov-Dec 2008: Clio Barnard
One final frieze-related Film Studies For Free tip: check out the frieze podcasts. There are interesting ones on: The Expanded Gallery: Mass Forms for Private Consumption; The Expanded Gallery: I Am Not a Flopper Or… (Allan Smithee-related!); and Art, Politics and Popularity (with Jacques Rancière).
Film and film-theory related articles worth checking out in Issue 1, Autumn 2005 – Origins and Originality are as follows:
- Angelopoulos’ Ulysses Gaze: Where the Old meets the New Vangelis Makriyannakis, University of Edinburgh
- The Kuleshov Effect and the Death of the Auteur Michael Russell, The University of Edinburgh (this should usefully be read alongside an essay in the same issue on literary authorship theory: The Phantom Walking the Text: The Death of the Author Reconsidered Sten Moslund, University of Southern Denmark)
- And the really excellent Jean-Luc Godard and Roy Lichtenstein: Originality, Reflexivity, and the Re-Presented Image by Daniel Yacavone, University of Edinburgh. Film Studies For Free also highly recommends Yacavone‘s just-published article for Film-Philosophy – ‘Towards a Theory of Film Worlds’
Film articles of note in Issue 4, Camp! (Spring 2007):
- “The vanguard – and the most articulate audience”: Queer Camp, Jack Smith and John Waters Nicholas de Villiers, University of Minnesota
- Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams, and Susan Sontag: Campaigners of Camp and the Carry On films. John Bannister, University of Central Lancashire
- Putting on the Red Dress: Reading Performative Camp in Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows Ryan Powell, University of East Anglia
Further film articles in the Current issue Issue 6, Desire (Spring 2008) –
- The Shanghai Gesture Homay King (Bryn Mawr College)
- Mod Murder: Death and Desire in Swinging London Film Michelle Devereaux (University of Edinburgh)
- Female Effigies and Performances of Desire: A Consideration of Identity Performance in Lars and the Real Girl. Kate E. O’Neill (University of Calgary)
And there’s a Back Special Issue: Evolutions Conference with a couple of film-related pieces as follows:
- Screaming through the century: The female voice as cathartic/transformative force, from Berg’s Lulu to Tykwer’s Run Lola Run Maree Macmillan, RMIT University/The University of Melbourne
- “A million years…just for us”: Subversive fixity in Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging RockAlex Tate, University of Newcastle, UK
As for Other Voices, it is an ‘independent, award-winning, electronic journal of cultural criticism’ published at the University of Pennsylvania. Founded in March 1997, Other Voices regularly publishes ‘provocative essays, interviews, roundtable discussions, lecture transcriptions, audio lectures, multimedia projects, translations and reviews in the arts and humanities.’
The Other Voices Search Results page for ALL 57 articles referencing the keyword ‘film’ is HERE. Film Studies For Free (or its human avatar, at least) hasn’t yet personally checked out all 57 listed… but links to ones that it did take a look at and are very much worth listing are given below:
- Other Voices 1.3 (January 1999), Manuel Camblor “Death Drive’s Joy Ride: David Cronenberg’s Crash”
- Other Voices, 3.1 (May 2007), David Scott Diffrient, “Stories that Objects Might Live to Tell: The Hand-Me-Down Narrative“
- Other Voices 2.3 (January 2005), Julie Grossman, “The Trouble with Carol: The Costs of Feeling [On Todd Haynes’ Safe]“
- Other Voices 1.3 (January 1999), Jack Turner “Antonioni’s The Passenger as Lacanian Text”
- And Film Studies For Free especially enjoyed Other Voices 2.2 (March 2002), Laurence A. Rickels, “Recognition Values: Seeing The Sixth Sense Again For the First Time” (more because FSFF‘s owner has a particular interest in the concept of ‘recognition’ than for this article’s rather competent performance of high-end Lacanianism, and spendid punning… but I digress)
Four minutes to spare? Then Film Studies For Free respectfully recommends that you spend them visiting the BBC site where they have a great little audio slideshow in which Sir Ken Adam, the production designer of James Bond films (and many other films besides), ‘shares his thoughts on two of his most celebrated [Bond] sets’. Check out the link HERE.
It’s been posted to the BBC pages in connection with the publication of Ken Adam Designs the Movies, James Bond and Beyond by Ken Adam and Christopher Frayling (by Thames and Hudson). See the Commander Bond fansite HERE for further info.
Ben Goldsmith, he of the wonderful weblog I Screen Studies, has recently posted a version of his published article ‘Something Rotten in the State of Minnesota, or The Morality of Backwoodsmen: A Simple Plan‘ on his site. Here’s how Goldsmith introduces his views now on Sam Raimi‘s 1998 film and his revisiting of the essay about it:
I remember I really didn’t like this film when I first saw it, but something kept drawing me back, and I went to see it three or four times at the movies (very unusual for me). I made copious notes, and delved into work on chance and fiction, and even came up with a sub-genre: the windfall fantasy, of which A Simple Plan is a variant: the windfall fantasy gone wrong. Reading this again almost a decade later, I remember how much the film affected me, stuck in my mind. It speaks to me now in a different way, as we experience what may well be the end of the Long Twentieth Century (Giovanni Arrighi). The film bespeaks the moral decay at the heart of America. [Hyperlinks added by FSFF]
As someone who had a very similar reaction, way back when (pre-9/11!), to A Simple Plan, I very much rate Goldsmith’s article on it. Much more good Film-Studies work, like this, is needed now on the economic aspects of the American (and Northern Hemispheric) Imaginary. And how much more wonderful it would be if that work, like this essay, were also freely accessible to all who might be interested in learning from it.
P.S. A propos of all this, please do check out Dina Iordanova‘s fab, recent, blog post ‘And End of an Era? Popular cinema, Gordon Gekko’s ‘Greed is Good!’ and the collapse of Wall Street. More about DinaView: Film Culture Technology Money anon.
A quickie today. Film Studies For Free hopes you’ll check out the great, 10 minute long, podcast (and streaming audio) with Canadian-Armenian director Atom Egoyan, whose new film Adoration showed at last night’s London Film Festival. The podcast is brought to you by Directors’ Notes (see below for more info). As for Adoration, Sandra Hebron, artistic director of the LFF (see a video interview with her HERE), writes,
This twelfth feature from Atom Egoyan begins with a teacher setting an assignment to a class of high school students, and this seemingly everyday exercise is the catalyst for an exploration of the ways in which we make connections – with each other, with our families and our personal histories, with new technology and the modern world. When Sabine (Arsinée Khanjian) asks her class to translate a news story about a terrorist who plants a bomb in the airline luggage of his pregnant girlfriend, this has a profound effect on one of the students, Simon ([Devon Bostick]). Re-imagining this to be his own family’s story, he begins to perpetuate this fictitious history via internet chatrooms. […]
Ambitious in structure and scope, Adoration unfolds as a multi-layered mystery story in which chronology is fractured, and narrators sometimes unreliable. The rich visual texture of the film reflects this, combining sumptuous 35mm photography with images from the internet and mobile phones. Woven through with themes of terrorism, prejudice and fear, Adoration is unfailingly intelligent and unquestionably timely. [with hyperlinks added by FSFF]
There’s a good detailed review of the film by Cinematical. Other good links to Egoyan include: his company website; Girish Shambu‘s Senses of Cinema essay on the director (‘The Pleasure And Pain Of “Watching”: Atom Egoyan’s Exotica‘); a very good survey piece at the Canadian Film Encyclopedia/Film Reference Library; another one at MovieMaker.com; and another, really excellent, very detailed, and more ‘academic’ one at Bright Lights Film Journal, by David L. Pike. Some great YouTube videos related to Atom Egoyan are HERE. And a really interesting Cineaste interview with Egoyan online HERE at The Free Library.
Film Studies For Free urges you to explore what’s on offer more generally at Directors’ Notes; it’s a nicely organised site that brings weekly podcasts with indie directors and other film personnel, along with up-to-date and varied reviews, and other news and articles. RSS feed available HERE.
As it is so nice and sunny today, and Film Studies For Free‘s author (not pictured above) likes the outdoors as much as, if not more than, the dark confines of the cinema, or the equally artificially-lit terrain of her happy, new-media, hunting grounds, she will strive to keep her extraneous comments to a bare minimum as she snappily shares with you the following nods to excellent online resources, before heading for the nearby hills…
- Do, please, check out Gramma/Γράμμα: Journal of Theory and Criticism; it’s an international peer-reviewed journal, published in English and Greek once a year by the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. It welcomes articles and book reviews from a wide range of areas within the theory and criticism of literature and culture, especially ones with an interdisciplinary approach. The latest issue – Vol. 15, Shakespeare Worldwide and the Idea of an Audience, edited by Tina Krontiris and Jyotsna Singh – has a good article on film: Xenia Georgopoulou’s ‘Parting “totally sucks”: Filming Romeo and Juliet for Generation X‘. Back articles of note include the following very interesting pieces: Joan Copjec, The Object-Gaze: Shame, Hejab, Cinema; Sean Homer, “The Roma do not Exist”: The Roma as an Object of Cinematic Representation and the Question of Authenticity; Sylvia Karastathi, Filming the Dutch Still Life: Peter Greenaway’s Objects; and Mary Jacobus, Cloud Studies: The Visible Invisible.
- eSharp: eSharp is an international online journal for postgraduate research in the arts, humanities, social sciences and education. Based at the University of Glasgow and run entirely by graduate students, it aims to provide a critical but supportive entry into the realm of academic publishing for emerging academics, including postgraduates and recent postdoctoral students. There are fewer articles on film, than Gramma, but still some worthwhile ones, for example: Jessie Gibbs, Road Movies Mapping the Nation: Y tu mamá también; Anna Ball, Writing in the Margins: Exploring the Borderland in the Work of Janet Frame and Jane Campion; Sarah Godfrey, Villainous Victims: The Paradox of the ‘Damaged’ Man in Naked and Nil By Mouth; and last but not least, Shira Segal, The Masculinization Project of Hospital Birth Practices and Hollywood Comedies.
- Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture is a peer-reviewed journal, published four times a year in hard copy and PDF format, and based at the University of Westminster. Particular interests include, but are not limited to, work related to Popular Culture, Media Audiences, Political Economy, Promotional Culture, New Media, Political communication, Migration and Diasporic Studies. A major goal of the WPCC is to help develop a de-westernised and transcultural sphere that engages both young and established scholars from different parts of the world in a critical debate about the relationship between communication, culture and society in the 21st Century. What’s on offer here at WPCC is mostly (excellent) Media Studies but a brilliant film-media ‘crossover’ piece is Su Holmes’ (a former colleague of mine, now at the University of East Anglia) unmissable: `Starring Dyer?’: Re-visiting Star Studies and Contemporary Celebrity Culture.
- cinetext is a bilingual internet forum for film and philosophy located at the University of Vienna, addressing students, researchers, scholars, and anyone with an interest in the thoughtful exploration of cinema, film, and television. Check out the index at the site as there are far too many worthwhile pieces (in English and German) here to list, but Film Studies For Free‘s favourites were Daniel Garrett, The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc; and Mattias Frey, Supermodernity, Capital, and Narcissus: The French Connection to Michael Haneke’s Benny’s Video
- Finally, for today, a warm recommendation for Critical Studies in Television, a new website connected to the hard-copy journal of the same name, published by Manchester University Press (HERE‘s a link to that journal‘s Open Access content), and edited by (among others) Kim Akass and Janet McCabe. As well as running the website, McCabe and Akass are also co-Series Editors of the wonderful Reading Contemporary Television series at IB Tauris . CST online is a scholarly resource and critical forum for studying television, sponsored by the Department of Contemporary Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University. Its mission is ‘to enrich television studies by providing comprehensive access to information, as well as to disseminate knowledge and stimulate debate’. The website is only just up and running but already has great items about and links to news stories, debate, and other media resources about global television. A particularly nice feature is its ‘Featured Archive’ spot. The site is updated twice weekly with information on new TV books, Calls for Papers and invitations to forthcoming conferences. And there’s a space for ‘TV Reflections’ currently filled by a nice piece by McCabe and Akass themselves, ‘Writing TV into Discourse‘, with a great clip of one of Film Studies For Free’s favourite TV shows, Ugly Betty, in Arabic. Good luck to CST online!
Thanks to some rifling around at the great UPenn.edu search tool The Online Books Page, the always bountiful Film Studies For Free can now proudly present you with some wonderful new links to the following, online and freely accessible, Film Studies E-books (most of these ‘scholarship editions’ were made available online by the mighty University of California Press – thank you UC!):
- Andrew Horton and Stuart Y. McDougal (eds), Play It Again, Sam: Retakes on Remakes
- Barton Byg, Landscapes of Resistance: The German Films of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub
- Charles Musser, Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company
- John M. Frame, Theology at the Movies
- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Moving Places: A Life at the Movies
- Thomas J. Saunders, Hollywood in Berlin: American Cinema and Weimar Germany
- William C. Wees, Light Moving in Time: Studies in the Visual Aesthetics of Avant-Garde Film
These join Film Studies For Free‘s existing links to the following great books:
- David Bordwell, Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema
- Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema
- Jennifer E. Langdon, Caught in the Crossfire: Adrian Scott and the Politics of Americanism in 1940s Hollywood
- Robert Philip Kolker, The Altering Eye
Happy E-reading, folks!
[Addendum – at 16.43: An old friend from my early Kent days, Dr David Sorfa [now Managing Editor of the peerless (…but peer-reviewed!) Open-Access journal Film-Philosophy, and Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Liverpool John Moores University], got in touch with two further and very welcome additions to the E-books list. Both these classics are offered up courtesy of the Centre for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan:
- Donald Richie, Japanese Cinema
- Nöel Burch, To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese Cinema
Díky moc / Arigatou gozaimasu / Thank you very much!]
As many of you will already know (Film Studies For Free hopes), the best English-language Media Studies blog in the whole World Wide Web is Henry Jenkins‘ Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Two of the Aca-Fan‘s most recent posts (‘Why Universities Shouldn’t Create “Something like YouTube” (Part One)‘ and ‘Why Universities Shouldn’t Create “Something like YouTube” (Part Two)‘) are such important contributions to debates about the future role of the internet in university-level education (and beyond) that I feel they should be required reading for anyone at any level in the academy responsible for determining future policies about ‘user-generated content‘ and other related matters.
Film Studies For Free will leave that resounding recommendation with you for now. Today’s blog post is concerned more with a slightly different intervention from Jenkins and the MIT Comparative Media Studies lab, on ‘spreadable media’.
In the Aca-Fan‘s post on April 24, 2007, ‘Slash Me, Mash Me, Spread Me…‘, Jenkins wrote the following about ‘the sensibilities of a generation of popular artists who have grown up in an era of cult media’ and participatory culture.
They know what fan creativity can accomplish and they want to be part of the game rather than sitting on the sidelines.
At the same time, we can see this as reflecting the growing appreciation within the media industry of what often gets called “viral marketing“: that is, they recognize the buzz that comes when grassroots intermediaries embrace a property and pass it along to their friends. C3 research associate Joshua Green and I have begun exploring what we call “spreadable media.” Our core argument is that we are moving from an era when stickiness was the highest virtue because the goal of pull media was to attract consumers to your site and hold them there as long as possible, not unlike, say, a roach hotel. Instead, we argue that in the era of convergence culture, what media producers need to develop [is] spreadable media. Spreadable content is designed to be circulated by grassroots intermediaries who pass it along to their friends or circulate it through larger communities (whether a fandom or a brand tribe). It is through this process of spreading that the content gains greater resonance in the culture, taking on new meanings, finding new audiences, attracting new markets, and generating new values. In a world of spreadable media, we are going to see more and more media producers openly embrace fan practices, encouraging us to take media in our own hands, and do our part to insure the long term viability of media we like. [All hyper-links added by Film Studies For Free]
In her most recent posting (October 17, 2008) on the group blog Convergence Culture Consortium — ‘Looking a Gift Economy in the Mouth: Michael Moore’s SLACKER UPRISING’ — Sheila Seles very valuably takes up this matter of ‘spreadable content’ in relation to the kind of online, free, film content with which Film Studies For Free, not idly named, is hugely concerned: specifically, in Seles’ post, the free online distribution by documentarian Michael Moore of his latest film Slacker Uprising (get it HERE only if you reside in the USA or Canada).
I haven’t seen this film yet, but Seles asks some very important questions about Moore’s distribution tactic, and she compares the case of Slacker Uprising with that of other films distributed in this and similar ways, such as Robert Greenwald‘s Iraq for Sale, which used to be (putatively) legally available completely for free via Google Video (the much linked-to page suggests it’s now been removed).
Film Studies For Free urges you to read Seles’ fascinating post, and asks its readers earnestly for any opinions about her concluding argument in it, in the context of wider debates about spreadable culture: will ‘Slacker Uprising […] provide an interesting example of the impact of quality and branding as we try to articulate tangible distinctions between “free” content and content that will spread’?
We might wonder also if, to borrow Seles’ post’s titular metaphor (and ‘mashup’ along the way two old proverbs and a cliché), are these ‘gift horses‘ for courses, or is there no such thing — in indie-film download-land, at least — as a truly free thoroughbred?