Thursday, May 20, 2010

Edited film versus raw footage

As I started to review and take notes on the footage I had gathered from interviews and the class discussion on race, I noticed great benefits in raw, unedited film. Since nothing had been changed from the original footage, I could study every aspect of the film in its entirety. Also, because I knew of circumstances that cannot be determined solely from the footage (i.e., in depth personalities, social backgrounds, conversations outside of the frame, and my relationship with certain individuals), I immediately understand more than an audience would. This is not to say that I cannot add a voiceover to explain these aspects. However, without additional features, the film may be misinterpreted by an audience. Even with additional help audiences may still misunderstand the meanings in/intention of my film. So what's the point of showing this to an audience when all the data, in its unaltered form is available?

First off, no one wants to see unedited footage (unless you are conducting scholarly work). This hi-tech generation is very impatient and unsatisfied with long films that fail to entertain or stimulate the brain. As stimulating as topics on race are, my raw footage is probably not as captivating to an audience who knows nothing about me, Towson U, or my interviewees. And it doesn't help to be in the ethnographic/documentary genre since many people associate these films with words like boring and dull (however, creative filmmakers are experimenting to change these views). Nowadays, people expect to be entertained. Raw footage simply does not live up to those standards.

With that said, what type of film is more beneficial in respect to what I am trying to accomplish, edited or unedited? I started this project (after the firing of Allen Zaruba) with a few questions that can best be summarized into the following: Are there racial issues on Towson's campus between white students and black students? This question branched out into topics of racism, discrimination, affirmative action, etc. However, the main reason for conducting the interviews was to understand the extent of racial issues on campus. In this case, it would make more sense that I should use the acquired raw footage to simply analyze and make discoveries. At the same time, creating an edited version that is a detailed summary of all my footage, allows an audience to also understand racial dynamics on campus. Although I really want to create an edited ethnographic film, I will need to evaluate the reasons for doing so. More later...

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