“What is Film? – Change and Continuity in the 21st Century”

On this weekend, I attended the Conferences “What is Film? – Change and Continuity in the 21st Century” at Turnbull Center located in the Portland. I listen to the two different panels which are “Defining Digital Cinema” and “Audiences and Fans in a Digital World” on Saturday. It was rain heavy and I have a hard time to find the location of Turnbull Center. Finally, the Duck Store located at the 1st floor of the building grabbed my attention and guide me to the conference.

Kristen M. Daly form the Columbia University explained how the digital media influence the production process of the film and what kind of devices help people to produce a digital image. Kristen showed some tools such as pocket phone camera and the software which can help the editing of the digital images. Also, Kristen shows a short video clip about a virtual cinema clips to explain that the digital technology possibly might change the format of the cinema.

Moreover, the digital technologies also create more amateur filmmakers to make and distribute their films easily. Even now the movie industries tend to use the digital technologies to replace the natural film making process. Not only the process, had digital technologies also built a new relationships between the filmmakers and their audiences. It also brings more collaborative filmmaking than before. “This is a definitive change in the classic moviemaking paradigm, where a few entertained the man, and where cinema was experienced exclusively as a mass medium as opposed to a new medium” Kristen said.

After Kristen finished her presentation, Kevin Hagopian from Pennsylvania State University presented “The Death of the Death of Film: Reengineering the Digiphilic Media Narrative.” The reason for the death of the film is because the digital technology had broken the rule and the process of a tradition natural film making. According to Kevin, the process of the cinema creation is not only a set of discrete production, distribution and exhibition practices. Now the cinema has faced the digital technology extinction and obsolescence.

Because of the digital technology, many theorists do not consider a cinema which has involved any process or editing with digital technologies is a real cinema. Especially some cinema contains huge amount of digital production and editing, Kevin called those cinema as “Romantic Melodramas of Digital Sensibility.” The CGI technology also challenge the humane present in the cinema and brings out more conflict between traditional cinema and new digital cinema. Kevin also mentioned there are still filmmakers insisting making their film with natural ways without involving in any digital technologies. Ironically, the digital technologies obtained more elaborate and social reaction to the digital imagery and image-making itself. The critiques also criticized the pernicious effects on the integrated soul and on civic cohesion.

Those criticizes are tend to bring out the issue that digital manipulation has challenged the discourse about cinema, the discourse of genre within the cinema. This has created the term “the death of the film.” In the end of the session, Kevin gave a conclusion that culture itself becomes more intrinsically cybernetic, the cinema itself may have guaranteed a place for itself, free of technological definitions, as a home for digitally manufactured critiques of a digitized culture.

It is an interesting session to realize how digital technology has strike the film industry and the production and distribution of the filmmaking. When we consider the digital technology provided more convenient way to make a film, in the meantime, we gradually lost the natural and original of the cinema.

The second session I attended in the afternoon called “Audiences and Fans in a Digital World.” In the beginning of the session, Elissa Nelson presented an internet movie database called “IMDb” which has the No.1 movie resource online provided its users can find any information about films. Elissa simply introduce the sites and the history of the IMDb.

From the original black and white database until now with abundant of resource and services, IMDb not only provide database search but support individual filmmaking and information exchange for professional media workers. The goal of the IMDb in the future is wishing to provide their users all the free resources even the film and TV series can be watch on the site for free.

Next is Rachel Thibault from the University of Massachusetts talked about “The Amateurs: An Examination of Taste and Gender Hierarchies in Contemporary Cinephilia.” Rachel introduced a website called Theauteurs.com, which provides one-stop shopping for the contemporary films. Not only films, the site also provide the film fans to practice their love of film through purchasing Criterion Collection DVDs, watching films online, reading films criticism and posting discussion forums.

Rachel said, The Theauteurs.com has create a “knowledge community” allows users to exchange and share their knowledge about films. Also, Rachel mentioned most of films and filmmakers are lacked of woman’s voice because most mainstream filmmakers are man. It has weakened the chance of woman to speak for them in the film industry.

In the end of session, Chuck Tryon from Fayetteville State University presented “Channeling Cinephilia: Digital Delivery, Social Networking, and Online Movie Cultures.” Chuck mentioned about the convenience of the internet has a huge impact on the film industry and individual filmmakers. As to individual filmmakers, the hardest time for them is that they cannot bring much profit from selling their DVDs. Not only individual filmmakers but also mainstream filmmakers such as Hollywood are facing difficulties of selling their film DVDs or bringing costumers to the theater.

Chuck explained most the reasons are because now people can simply watch films or read the movie reviews on the internet. Social networks play an important role of the box office. Many people read other people talking about certain films on the twitter or face book to make decision of going to theater to see the film he or she wanted to watch. It makes a film has huge box office drop off when the film had bad reviews on the twitter or other social networks. All the filmmakers are looking for the solution of how to bring their costumers back to the theater.

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Kristen M. Daly "How Cinema is Digital"

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Kevin Hagopian "The Death of the Death of Film"

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