film

Did you know films exists outside Hollywood?

Growing up in the Western culture of Australia, heavily influenced by USA in the wake of political and military agreements following the Great Depression and WWII, Hollywood is my dominant film culture. In recent years I have realised there’s a shocking lack of reality to conventions that make up Hollywood cinema though. It’s less relatable from an Australian perspective, even a white female Australian such as myself. (This may be because the USA is becoming less relevant to the rest of the world. See this article one why their lack of diversity affects the Australian film industry. Global media and information communication technologies expose us to other cultures more diverse than the commercial forces driving Hollywood productions, but that’s for another blog post.)

For BCM 111, a course at University of Wollongong, I was asked to read ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’ by Onookome Okome. This is literally the first time I’ve come across the notion of Nollywood, the cinematic phenomenon reported to be the “second largest movie industry in the world“. Unfortunately, Okome’s article is 21 pages and does not at any point actually define Nollywood, simply assuming I would know that it is a slang contraction of Nigerian Hollywood in the same style as that of Bollywood (Bombay + Hollywood).

[Nollywood audiences] are both defined by a strong desire by those left out of public narrative of life in Nigeria to be part of the story of the city and the nation (Okome 2007 17).

Nollywood films go straight to video without cinematic release, allowing them to produce 1, 844 films in 2013 alone and grossing $3.3 billion (Bright 2015). I have learned they characteristically look “inward”, discussing their own culture, which may be why it has not previously gained my attention. Form and content of these narratives inadvertently reflects the influence of global media (Okome 2007 3), something that need not be stated since art is not made in a vacuum. Overall the prevalence in film festivals and profit margins of the industry as proof of its success and cultural relevance. The article includes thorough media analysis of Domitilla, a 1997 example of Nollywood film.

I’m not sure if this is an example of Western mediation but, upon trying to actually watch a Nollywood film, most examples found in a YouTube search were low budget, relationship dramas that bordered on pornography. The following documentary as well as Okome’s article contradict these results.

Basically, as an outsider to the culture, even in this age of global media, it’s difficult for me to experience and understand Nollywood authentically. There is quite obviously a disconnect between Nollywood and the global film industry due to shoe string budget and what could be described as an over-saturated market (high production numbers mean a lot of content to sift through). Global media may inform Nollywood but Nollywood seems to be an example of a culture being absorbed into the homogenisation of globalisation.

Academic reference:

Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption,’ Postcolonial Text, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 1-21.

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Keep Walking – MEDA101 Moving Image Project by Kae McKenzie

Building on my previous spatial portrait, I took the one image that seemed to be the strongest (pictured) and Emily Duncan’s audio snapshot and built a narrative based on the sense of claustrophobia and paranoia that fills a woman walking at night by herself. Sources say that 1 in 3 Australian women between the ages of 15 and 19 years old don’t feel safe in public spaces at night. This is a small improvement on a study conducted in March 2015 that found 40 per cent of women “do not feel safe when walking alone at night in the area where they currently live, compared to 17 per cent of men”.

The combination of darkly lit surroundings, female figure illuminated by sporadic street lights, the passing flash of head lights and the torch on her smart phone are my attempt at showing looming threat of darkness and what could be lurking within. I used camera angles associated with first person hand-cam filming techniques found in immersive horror films and low budget YouTube videos such as the Slenderman in Real Life video shown below. There is a real element of suspense and horror and I tried to play on that with different types of cutting and transition between images.

 

All the images were shot in Fairy Lane and Cabbage Tree Lane in Fairy Meadow. As scary as this place may be, this terrifying feeling can happen to women anywhere. That needs to change.

As the intensity in Emily’s audio builds, the sense of the figure’s panic rises and her hurried motion is shown in the blurriness of the figure as she tries to elude me. I have walked home late at night many times and one thing is always going through my head: keep walking.

 

It’s all connected.

(More information at https://www.facebook.com/AgentsofShield/videos/891730420891807/)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been thrashing this phrase for at least a month now in the lead up to Marvel’s The Avengers‘ premier. The main reason behind this big marketing strategy is because of the significant impact the premier of Captain America: The Winter Soldier had on the landscape of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe this time last year with the disbanding of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation. What if I told you this was all an example of a transmedia narrative? More about that in the video below.

The Daughter

BLACK SCREEN.

GOD (V.O.) Abraham!

FADE IN: INT. ABRAHAM’S FACE. It is unclear where ABRAHAM is or what time it is.

ABRAHAM I am here.

FADE OUT

GOD (V.O.) Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

FADE IN. EXT. FARM LAND, SUNRISE. The sun just cresting the horizon, casting the land in shadows and light. INT. THE FAMILY HOMESTEAD, EARLY MORNING. Abraham rouses ISAAC from his slumber. ISAAC’S POV Abraham motions towards the door.

ABRAHAM Come, my son. God has given unto us a special task.

BACK TO SCENE Isaac is dazed and confused but obediently follows his father. CUT TO: INT. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER awakens as they leave the room. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER’S POV She watches them leaving. BACK TO SCENE We follow her as she collects a bow and arrow and makes her way outside. INT./EXT. HOMESTEAD, EARLY MORNING. We follow Abraham’s daughter as she – EXT. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER. She watches from behind another tree. EXT. ABRAHAM SPLITTING WOOD. Abraham splits the wood outside the homestead. We follow him over to the donkey and Abraham loads the wood onto its back. CUT TO: EXT. THE TRAVELLING PARTY, EARLY MORNING. Seen from above, Abraham is with Isaac and the donkey. Two servants join him. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER’S POV They set off into the sun. CUT TO: EXT. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER She follows at a distance and is slowly dwarfed by the landscape. Three days pass shown through fast-fowarded focus on the sun rising and setting. EXT. ABRAHAM – DAY Abraham lifts up his eyes and sees the place God spoke of. EXT. MORIAN HILL IN THE DISTANCE – DAY A hill with a rocky outcropping. EXT. FOOT OF THE HILL – DAY

ABRAHAM Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

THE SERVANTS The servants accept the donkey’s reins from Abraham and settle down to wait. ISAAC’S POV Abraham takes the wood and gives it to Isaac. Abraham carries a lit torch in one hand and secures a knife in his belt. BACK TO SCENE. The two of them begin towards the hill. CUT TO: EXT. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER – DAY We follow her as she sneaks by the servants and confidently navigates the rocky lesser paths to avoid getting caught. CUT TO: EXT. ISAAC AND ABRAHAM – DAY As they climb, Isaac takes hold of his father’s hand.

ISAAC My father.

ABRAHAM I am here, my son.

ISAAC Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for our burnt offering?

ABRAHAM (hurriedly) My son, God will provide himself a lamb for our burnt offering.

CUT TO: EXT. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER – DAY Listening in, Abraham’s daughter frowns. CUT TO: EXT. ROCKY OUTCROPPING – MIDDAY Abraham, holding the knife, stands before Isaac, bound and laying over the wood on an altar. The fire of the torch crackles in the slight wind. ISAAC’S POV The fire’s light reflects off the knife. CUT TO: EXT. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER BEHIND A ROCK – DAY We can hear her sharp intake of breathe as she surveys the scene. CUT TO: EXT. ABRAHAM – DAY Abraham raises the knife. EXT. ROCKY OUTCROP – DAY An ANGEL of God appears.

ANGEL (cries out) Hark.

ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER (calling out) Stop! (REVEALING HERSELF FROM HER HIDING PLACE)

ANGEL What is your name, child?

ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER I have none.

ANGEL How can this be?

ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER My father never gave me one.

Abraham brandishes the knife towards Isaac.

ISAAC (wails helplessly)

Abraham’s daughter raises her bow, the arrow pointing directly at the Angel.

ANGEL How darest you, child, defy your father?

CUT TO: EXT. RAM CAUGHT IN THICKET – DAY A ram stumbles in the thicket behind the Angel. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER She aims for the ram. ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER POV She looses the arrow, which we follow until, seconds later, it is buried in the ram’s eye. ANGEL’S POV Abraham’s daughter quickly draws another arrow and points it towards Abraham, shooting the knife out of his hand.

ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER You better let young Isaac go.

ABRAHAM’S DAUGHTER’S POV

ANGEL (NODDING AT ABRAHAM) Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do you any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Abraham and his daughter work to untie Isaac. They embrace. Abraham collects the ram and they watch it burn.

ANGEL (CONT’D) (to Abraham’s daughter) And for thine bravery, thou name is Yael.

THE END.

Baby Steps

INT. DAY. CLASSROOM.

The classroom of a university. Desks seating two people are arranged in haphazard columns of three or four, with several rows near the front vacant. ALICE sits alone at her desk near the middle of the room. She is an impatient but reserved girl with yellowy-blond hair. RYAN is behind her. He is attractive with light brown hair and blue eyes.

INT. ALICE’S POV.

ALICE taps a pen on her notepad, looking bored.

INT. RYAN.

RYAN leans forward.

RYAN
It’s raining.

INT. ALICE AND CONSCIENCE.

The girl on the next desk leans over to whisper in ALICE’S ear.

CONSCIENCE
Oh my God. He just talked to you!

ALICE
(to RYAN)
Yup.

CONSCIENCE
Try to look indifferent. How?
Um… Stare at your nails!

ALICE contemplates her nails.

RYAN
I think I forgot my umbrella.

ALICE
(still staring at nails)
Damn.

CONSCIENCE
Okay, you can stop staring at your nails now.
Oh for the love of God don’t you dare bite them.

RYAN
Yeah…

RYAN nods his head as he drags the word out.

CONSCIENCE
Now what?

ALICE looks down at her bag, half concealed by the desk.

INT. ALICE’S BAG.

The zipper of the big pocket is open; a pink, polka-dotted umbrella is poking out.

INT. ALICE AND CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
Don’t say it. Don’t say it!

ALICE
Wanna walk with me?

CONSCIENCE
Damn it! You said it. You idiot. You’re going
to be all tongue-tied for the entire half-hour walk.
Dig a hole and bury yourself in it-

INT. RYAN.

RYAN
Sure.

ALICE digs her fingers through her hair.

CONSCIENCE
Curses on your genetic pool!

INT. CLASSROOM.

The bell sounds. Everyone gets up to leave.

INT. ALICE RYAN AND CONSCIENCE.

ALICE lets RYAN pass and goes to follow him.

INT. ALICE AND CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
(chasing after ALICE)
Um… okay! You can do this.
Be interesting. It’s not that hard.

INT. DOOR WAY.

ALICE follows RYAN out of the classroom. ALICE clutches the umbrella lethally in one hand.

INT. HALL.

There’s a pile-up at the doors. People are pushing out the girls with the hairspray hair and the skimpy skirts. Little shrieks are sounding every few seconds as a result of this.

CONSCIENCE
Well, don’t all talk at once!

INT. HALL

Marnie Watson and her three followers come down the adjacent hallway.

INT. STUDENTS.

Everyone turns to look at her.

INT. ALICE.

ALICE looks.

INT. RYAN.

RYAN looks.

INT. MARNIE.

MARNIE is a glamorous girl and an extroverted personality.

ALICE
(voice over)
She’s the “prettiest girl in school”, you know?
With wavy, chocolate-coloured hair, hazel
eyes framed by thick dark lashes, perfectly bronzed
long legs and impeccable fashion sense.

INT. ALICE.

Looking jealous.

INT. PINK UMBRELLA.

ALICE
(voice over)
She wouldn’t be caught dead
with a pink, polka-dotted umbrella.

INT. CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
Serves you right for actually keeping the flaming thing.

ALICE scowls.

MARNIE notices.

ALICE
(voice over)
Oh shit. I’m scowling at her. But it’s Ryan she wants.

CONSCIENCE
N-duh!

MARNIE saunters over to us.

All eyes following her shapely form.

MARNIE runs her hands across one of RYAN’s shoulders, up his neck and down his jaw line before the hands curl off his skin, ever so gracefully.

MARNIE
(purrs)
Baby…

CONSCIENCE
Double-curses on your genetic pool.
Why can’t you look more like her? Then you’d
be confident and talking to him wouldn’t
be like fighting an avalanche.

ALICE
(voice over)
What a bitch.

CONSCIENCE
Oh would you stop looking at her already?
Just because she’s doing some fucked up
tango doesn’t mean that you have to watch,
even if it is with him.

RYAN
Marnie.

INT. ALICE’S FACE.

Hurt.

CONSCIENCE
As if he’d care that you’re there.
Even if he remembered your existence
he wouldn’t stop playing with her.

ALICE
(voice over)
Ignore it.

RYAN
I have to go, Marnie. I’ve gotta get home.

CONSCIENCE
Yeah, maybe he cares. But I doubt it.

MARNIE
Oh, sure thing, darling.

MARNIE extricates herself from him and saunters back down the hall to her hangers-on, making sure her hips rotate practically 360° with every step.

CONSCIENCE

She must be trying so hard to look sexy that she’s walking slow-mo.

ALICE
(voice over)
For once, I have to agree.

RYAN
(turning to ALICE)
So how about that walk home?

CONSCIENCE
And so he didn’t forget about you.

RYAN
(half smiling)
You armed?

CONSCIENCE
With an umbrella, if you wanna be specific.

ALICE
And dangerous.

CONSCIENCE
What a retard. I have nothing to say to you.

INT. ALICE POV.

RYAN grins like crazy, turns and starts to shove and push through the crowd.

INT. SCHOOL ENTRANCE/EXIT.

ALICE follows, leaving the umbrella by her side, half-open and prepared for the torrential rain outside.

EXT. SCHOOL STEPS.

ALICE opens the umbrella and RYAN takes it from her hands. CONSCIENCE follows, not really fitting under but still annoyed by the rain.

EXT. ALICE AND RYAN

CONSCIENCE
My God his eyes are practically golden.
And look, you’re totally lost for words.
I so told you this would happen.
Now you’re just going to waste this entire
opportunity staring into his eyes
instead of getting to know him.

ALICE
(speechless)

CONSCIENCE
Say something. Hell, can you even open your mouth?

ALICE inhales through her nose, holds her breath like she is counting to ten and then exhales through her mouth.

CONSCIENCE frowns.

ALICE goes to speak.

RYAN
(unknowingly cutting her off)
What are you thinking?

CONSCIENCE
A little deep for, you know, the first
conversation you’ve ever had with her
!

ALICE
Uh… mostly it’s my conscience yelling at me.

Cricket noise. RYAN looks at ALICE really strangely.

CONSCIENCE
You’re such an idiot. I don’t even know you.
Why couldn’t I be inside Marnie’s head?

ALICE
Yeah, she keeps telling me to
be more like Marnie Watson.

RYAN
Wh-why would it… she want
you to be like… Marnie?

ALICE
(shrugs)
Something about being able to talk to
guys without swallowing my tongue.

EXT. RYAN’S FACE.

He bursts out laughing.

EXT. ALICE’S FACE.

Surprised.

RYAN
Does – your – conscience – have – a – name?

ALICE
Uhmm… I never really considered it.

CONSCIENCE
Amy. I so want to be called Amy.

RYAN
Let’s call her-

Here the humour completely overtakes him and he nearly falls over.

Warnie.

CONSCIENCE
Say what?

ALICE
Okie-doke.

EXT. RYAN FACE.

RYAN gives ALICE a look like ‘Did you seriously just say that?’

ALICE
She was all for Amy but I like Warnie.

RYAN
Hm.. Marnie Watson. Warnie Matson.

RYAN laughs some more and then they turn down a new street.

CONSCIENCE
Seriously, how could you call me,
like, a guy’s name? And how does
he know where you live? And doesn’t
he fully have like a beautiful, black
Mercedes back at the school parking lot?

ALICE
(voice over)
Oh, piss off, Warnie.

ALICE
(still chuckling)
She better not hear about your field day with her name.

EXT. GARDEN PATH TO HOUSE FRONT.

They turn down the garden path and walk up to the verandah where they stop.

EXT. ALICE.

ALICE steps forward and turns around to face RYAN.

EXT. ALICE’S POV.

RYAN
Then it’ll be our little secret.

RYAN smiles into ALICE’S eyes and kisses her on the cheek.

EXT. RYAN’S POV.

ALICE
(shocked)
Thanks for walking me.

EXT. CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
Well, it was only your cheek.
Don’t let it get to you.
It’s never going to happen again.

ALICE
(voice over)
Baby steps. It’ll happen.

CONSCIENCE looks infuriated.

THE END.