work in progress: more to follow
work in progress: more to follow
“I love them with all my heart. I will die for them. I will not die at their claws and paws…… I will be Master.”
Grizzly Man (2005) is a documentary directed by Werner Herzog. It follows the life of Timothy Treadwell and the events that led up to him and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard being killed and eaten by a bear(s) in October 2003. Herzog uses footage Treadwell himself filmed, mixed with personal interviews to give an insight into Timothy’s world. Helping explain his motivation for leaving the ‘human world’, as he referred to it, and setting up camp with, what most people would consider, ‘savage’ wild animals in the remote mountains of Katamai, Alaska.
The film begins with Timothy talking to the screen. Telling us about his ‘quest’ and always emphasising the danger of getting so close to nature. But in such an over exaggerated, dark way i was reminded of a gothic teenager’s fascination with death. The film is, initially, quite balanced, as we view Treadwell’s colleagues opinions compared to those of officials. Both viewed Timothy’s love for bears very differently. His colleagues saw his work as inspirational while the Alaskan natives viewed it as disrespectful and naive. Sam Egil goes as far as to suggest Tim “got what he was asking for.”
But as the film progresses we begin to see a more one sided account of Tim. Photos of Treadwell as a child interspersed with touching accounts of things he had done, which i feel just weren’t needed. The footage of Herzog listening to the audio tape of Timothy and Amie’s last moments had him visibly shaken and reaching out to his interviewee for support. Advising her to never listen to the tape and destroy it. I wonder if a different director would have just as eagerly encouraged her to let them play it for the audience to hear.
By the end of the film Herzog seems confused about his opinion of Treadwell, and in turn it confuses our opinion of him. He obviously respected him very much as a filmmaker and believed that Timothy was doing what he thought was right while also rebelling against civilisation and battling his own demons. But he also concludes the film with his confession that he doesn’t understand Timothy’s link/friendship with the bears and can see nothing but an animal looking at potential prey.
Werner Herzog is quite an eccentric and determined character himself. During a interview with Mark Kermode for the BBC, discussing Grizzly Man, Hergoz is shot by a sniper with an air rifle, yet he barely flinches, insists he is fine, and continues the interview. Telling Mark that the injury is “not a significant one.”
IMDb lists one of Herzog’s trademarks as making films that centre around “driven protagonists who often seem to be on the brink of madness” Herzog strongly believes that people should have the bravery to follow their dreams and even went so far as to eat his own shoe to motivate a fellow filmmaker to complete a project!
I wonder if maybe these traits helped him identify more with Treadwell and is, possibly, another reason why this documentary is not as impartial as i would like. There is also the fact that Jewel Palovak, Treadwells ex-girlfriend and partner/co-founder of the foundation Grizzly People, co-produced the film. Someone so close to the film’s subject is unlikely to have a totally unbiased viewpoint.
At the beginning of Herzog’s documentary i perceived Timothy as naive and idealist, maybe even arrogant and a little stupid, but as the film continued you begin to realise his life was a lot more complex. I believe that Timothy may possibly have had mild autism and could have been bi-polar, which would explain his extreme mood swings. Many people with autism have problems with social situations and maybe this is why Timothy felt more comfortable in the company of animals than humans. The film left me eager to research more about Timothy’s life. To find out other people’s opinions on his work and the possible reasons why a bear turned on him that night. I was interested to discover that since Treadwell’s death six bears have been killed by poachers at Katamai’s National Park. In the film Timothy mentions poachers but officials dismiss this as his paranoia. Yet during the 13 seasons that Treadwell camped in the Preserve not a single bear was poached.
Grizzly Man reminded me of another documentary with a very different viewpoint. Hercules the Human Bear (2014) Channel 5, supports Treadwell’s belief that man and bear can live in harmony and can actually, under the right set of circumstances, be very good friends.
I was very excited to watch the trailer for the Christmas movie Krampus (2015). It takes my two favourite things, horror movies and Christmas, and combines them together with black humour. This looks like one of those films that’s so bad, it could actually be really good.
I would love to write/work on a Christmas horror movie myself and have had an idea about a street called Christmas Street that lures children to it, in a similar way to how the gingerbread house works in the Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel.
Krampus is based on a mythical Alpine Christmas figure and has led me to look at other christmas villians like the baby eating Christmas Ogress Gryla, her sons the Yuletide Lads and their evil Yule Cat!
Michaela Pratt – How to Get Away with Murder (2014-present)
“caring is about Shit”
– Alan Bennett
work in progress:
This film is as much about Alan as it is about the lady in the van? Is it about mortality? Growing old who will care. Life takes over. Never cry in real life. Only at media? this feel made me what to go away and look more into alan’s life and the other stories he has written.
The good old ‘Two Fingered Salute’ is most definitely one of my favorite swears. Whether a sneaky v sign at the side of your cheek to a friend or the full, two handed, two finger waving gesture Rik Mayall made iconic. Nothing shows that you’ve gotten away with something you shouldn’t have or won victory over your opponent more than a wave of those two digits.
Rumour has it that ‘flicking the v’s’ dates all the way back to the 1300’s. When, during The Hundred Years War, any kidnapped English archers, allegedly, had their index and middle fingers removed to prevent them firing a longbow. But, as there is no historical evidence of ‘The Forks’ being used as an insult before the 1970’s, it seems much more likely that it is a reversal of the two fingered sign Winston Churchill and the BBC’s V for Victory campaign made famous during the Second World war. Switching the message of Victory and Peace of the 1940’s and 60’s to a more Punk Rock 1970’s ‘Up Yours.’
‘you are powerful.’
— Aaron Swartz
Today we found out that one of our next projects is to make a documentary based around a single character. I’ve only ever made one documentary before, for 105, and most of my film ideas, so far, are fictional. The only documentary i’ve previously considered is one based in the town of Tyneham, a village deserted during the war and never repopulated, or a documentary researching serial killers. So, i think i need some help with new ideas. I decided to check out what documentaries looked interesting on Amazon Prime and Netflix and the first one that appealed to me was The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz. (2014)
Twenty minutes in and I had already fallen in love with Aaron’s shy personality and charismatic enthusiasm for the world wide web, cleverly revealed to us through home video footage of him as a child and talking head interviews with close family and friends. But this was already tinged with sadness as i knew how Aaron’s story was to end and by the closing credits of the documentary i was in tears and riled by the injustice of his untimely death. For this very reason i think this documentary is brilliant. It did an amazing job of painting a very vivid picture of somebody who is no longer with us, managed to make us feel his passions and want to know him. The interviews seemed very personal and the interviewees certainly opened up to Brian Knappenberger, nearly all brought to tears when discussing Aaron’s suicide. But i think this may also be where the problem lies with this documentary, for me anyway. It is, just a little, one sided. Aaron is only ever pictured positively. Surely he had his bad days, anyone who works with perfectionists will tell you they can be difficult at times. The lack of any background or research into depression seems, to me anyway, almost verging on the irresponsible. His girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, mentions a history of clinical depression yet his family dispute this. Doing a little research, after watching the film, i found many blog posts from Aaron, he titled his blog Raw Thought, that hint at a much darker side that he possibly kept hidden from those closest to him and it certainly backs up his girlfriends description of him as “brittle” or fragile. He also had a history of ulcerative colitis, the disease some think was undiagnosed in Kurt Cobain and contributed to his suicide at his East Seattle home in 1994. Many doctors believe the liver imbalance brought on by ulcerative colitis can lead to bouts of depression, so could this have been a factor in Aaron’s death too.
Ultimately, we will never know the real reason Aaron chose to take his own life and, more than likely, a number of different factors were involved. But i think it is a documentary’s job to offer you the full facts rather than to obscure some and push forward, full force, with others. So when i make my documentary i will try to keep this in mind and reveal as much about my central character as possible, research issues as extensively as possible, within my time frame, and look very carefully at what i choose to edit out in the final cut.
Update 14/12/2015: coming back to this i have to say that actually my problem with this documentary is not that it is weighted in one favour. there are many other documentaries that i have watched that are quite clearly taking a particular bias, Nick Broomfield’s Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003), for example, does this quite obviously. But throughout he is totally upfront about it and explains why he sympathises with Aileen and his commentary and questioning follow a particular line rather than presenting us with a piece of work that hints towards holding no true bias.
|synonyms:||insulting, rude, derogatory, disrespectful, hurtful, wounding, abusive,objectionable, displeasing, annoying, exasperating, irritating, vexing,galling, provocative, provoking, humiliating, impertinent, impudent,insolent, personal, discourteous, uncivil, impolite, unmannerly,unacceptable, shocking, scandalous, outrageous; More|
Warning: contains spoliers.
Coming up with ideas for a new project has me looking at films with strict parameters this week and, more specifically, films shot in tight spaces.
But the first film I managed to get my hands on was Locke.
Set entirely in a car on a night time drive to London the film was shot in, almost, real time. A mean feat for any production team, but the clever use of constant phone calls keeps the films pace, and the audience’s interest, while revealing the films narrative.
To watch, the film is stunning. The beautiful use of bokeh, shallow depth of field and clever image layering. The cinematography is perfect. Taking, what could easily be, a very dull setting and making it a truly beautiful one.
The voices are perfect on the other end of the phone. We fall in love with Donald’s character and can easily picture him despite never seeing him in the film. We feel for the sad, disappointed sons and witness the wife’s slow, emotional breakdown.
In comparison, for most of the film despite being ever present, we don’t really feel anything for the main character, Locke. He’s like a viewer on the outside, looking in, without emotion. He has a list of jobs to do and must stick to them, and this seems to be all that matters to him. But is this what is really holding him together? If he breaks away from this ‘script’ will he fall apart? The only passion we see from him is when he talks about concrete, like it’s a living breathing thing, and this is when we finally start to warm to him.
At the end of the film we have no real answers, no twists, no surprises. So was it worth watching?
For the cinematography alone and, just maybe, the dodgy welsh accent too.