Style

The family film provides ample opportunity for using the widest palette possible. In Daughter Rite, Michelle Citron successfully experiments with home movie and documentary footage. Of course, there is catch: The deliberately slowed-down home movies reveal the real-life subtle nonverbal communications that occur within families, while the documentary footage is fake. The seemingly verite pictures of truth are scripted, acted, and directed. For their part, the authentic documentary images — the home movies — are manipulated to look like experimental film. The question then being posed clearly is, Is there a difference between narrative fiction truth about families and documentary truth?

In the autobiographical section of Tongues Untied, Marlon Riggs tries whatever will serve his picture and his aim, from verse and rap to finger snap jokes, monologues, and group performances. And for the most part, it works. Possibly the most effective episode is when, in medium shot to camera, Marlon talks about his childhood, only to have his dialogue broken by close-ups of various lips mouthing "nigger," "coon," "Uncle Tom," and other intended insults. When Marlon eventually discovers the Castro area in San Francisco and observes white gay males showing off their leather and their muscles, the whole scene is again enhanced by a very creative sound track hinting at the most intimate of sexual acts.

Unfortunately, many of the experiments carried out by Citron and

Riggs have become clichés. Overuse has dulled their impact. This is not to say that they should not be used but rather that they should be used with caution—and this applied to home movies in particular.

The use of home movies and recycled images has become a staple of family films—Mum waving, little kids in beautiful dresses running with big grins, birthday parties, and so on. The problem is that we have seen this so often we stop really seeing what is on the screen. We merely see generic images and often miss their real message. There is also a theoretical danger, which Michelle Citron discusses in her book Home movies and Other Necessary Fictions. Citron suggests that most home movies are controlled by the family fathers and that we should be aware of their very controlling viewpoint. I think her concern is overdone, but worth noting.

Step printing and the slowed-down and deliberately blurred images have also become clichés and should be used with caution. And the warning encompasses archive footage as well. But these are warnings, notes to "handle with care." They are not "hands-off" directives, because used intelligently, all these devices can enhance the film. First Person Plural uses a tremendous amount of home movie footage. However, it is footage that is taken over more than a decade by Deann Liem's father and that beautifully documents Liem's growing up and integration into America. The footage provides us with more than passing snapshots. Here, a process is being illustrated, and the key word is documents. Similarly, Kra-witz's use of archival footage in In Harm's Way is not generic and randomly atmospheric but consists of newsreels and period instructional films specially selected to illustrate very particular and specific points in her script.

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

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