Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Framing Media #7 - Anne Kaun on Prison Media Work

Today's episode features Anne Kaun, as Associate Professors at Södertörn University in the Department of Culture and Education, co-editor of Making Time for Digital Lives, and the author of Crisis and Critique: A Brief History of Media Participation in Times of Crisis. We discuss her co-authored article with Fredrik Stiernstedt entitled “Prison Media Work: From Manual Labor to the Work of Being Tracked,” from Media, Culture & Society. We discuss both the historical and global trends in the relationship between prison work and media infrastructures. Anne examines both the traditions of prison labor in building media as part of rehabilitation and professionalization, but also how it has evolved under neoliberal transformations to no longer reflect these goals. Most pointedly, she takes us through the new role of work for prisoners: acting as subjects for data analysis by large private companies looking to strengthen their algorithmic computation. Prisoners no longer do media work themselves as much as are a subject of being worked upon by media. In bringing light to this history, Kaun brings light to the complex network we live in that in many ways is shaped by prisons and the incarcerated without our knowledge.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Framing Media #6 - Christina Lane on Producer Joan Harrison, The Mistress of Suspense

Today's episode features Christina Lane, an Associate Professor of film studies and chair of the cinema department at the University of Miami and author of Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break and Magnolia. We discuss her new book, Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, The Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock, which narrates the oft-forgotten tale of one of the studio era's most notable female pioneers. As Lane explores, Harrison played a multi-faceted role in the 1930s and early 1940s for director Alfred Hitchcock that cannot be understated, and then went on to become one of the "girl producers" of the 1940s with fascinating noirish thrillers like Phantom Lady, Dark Waters, and Ride the Pink Horse. Through it all, Lane relishes in the details of the nimble yet prodigious navigator of the studio system, and in particular, her unique transition to television and central role as a proto-showrunner on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. As Lane suggests, Harrison was much more than a "gal Friday," and instead someone who balanced personal toil, political scrutiny, and of course, the misogyny of Hollywood—rarely receiving the credit due to her talents, and offering inspiration for us all today.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Framing Media #5 - Chris Yogerst on the 1941 Senate Investigations into Pro-War Hollywood

Today's episode features Christopher Yogerst, an assistant professor of communication, at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and the author of From the Headlines to Hollywood: The Birth and Boom of Warner Bros. We discuss his new book, Hollywood Hates Hitler!: Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures, a fascinating look into the 1941 hearings in Congress over Hollywood's role in American life. Yogerst contextualizes an oft-forgotten event in the shadow of World War II, where isolationist Senators (many connected with the anti-Semitic America First Committee) attempted to argue a conspiracy against the film industry for making what they suggested was pro-war propaganda. As Yogerst details, the hearings revealed the follies of the Senate to actually understand the film industry, and highlighted the changing nature of the role of movies within the public. The result is a fascinating telling that would foretell the events that would soon grapple the industry—particularly the HUAC Investigations and the antitrust litigation—and has resonance for the continued role of Congress in its attempts to take on industries in Silicon Valley.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Framing Media #4 - Hayley O'Malley on Kathleen Collins Beyond Losing Ground

Today's episode features Hayley O'Malley, a Mellon postdoctoral fellow for the Black Arts Archive Sawyer Seminar at Northwestern University, who researches black women’s art and activism. We discuss her article, "Art on Her Mind: The Making of Kathleen Collins's Cinema of Interiority,” published in Black Camera. O'Malley looks across the broad spectrum of work, much of it unpublished, by the director of Losing Ground to find an artist continually using a subjective voice to define identity beyond the grounds of race and gender. Searching through her archives, she argues for a broader understanding of Collins as a writer in search of authentic experiences and attempting to tell personal stories without necessarily falling simply into autobiography. The research thus demonstrates a better understanding of this recently rediscovered filmmaker not just as a curios side note for film history, but perhaps a defining thinker and writer who influenced a number of writers, directors, and other artists in ways we might not realize.


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Framing Media #3 - Eleni Palis on Rethinking Film Quotations Through Race

Today's episode features Eleni Palis, an assistant professor of English and Cinema Studies at the University of Tennessee, who researches the intersections between classical and post-classical American cinema. We discuss her article, "Race, Authorship and Film Quotation in Post-Classical Cinema” published in Screen. Palis transforms our idea of the film quotation from a practice of canonization used by the directors of New Hollywood by looking at innovative practices by three African American filmmakers: Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, and Spike Lee. In her reading of their films, and particularly the use of manufactured and "fake"quotations, Palis demonstrates an alternative use to the practice that interrogates our own relationship to film histories, both real and imagined. Trough a generation of filmmakers who cannot necessarily look to the past for the same kind of inspiration, her article allows us to rethink our own relationship to Hollywood's own history.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Framing Media #2: Katie Bird on the Labor and Art of Steadicam Operators

Today's episode features Katie Bird, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, El Paso, who researches technology and craft histories in Hollywood film production. We discuss her video essay, "Feeling and Thought as They Take Form: Early Steadicam, Labor, and Technology (1974-1985),” published in the Journal of Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies. Bird emphasizes the operator's role in this unique technology's early history in both major films like The Shining and Halloween, as well as demo reels, industrial works, and more. She emphasizes how the choices of the operators—both physically and affectively, often referring to their own work closer to dancing—ultimately shaped the images we saw and how we respond to them. Bird challenges viewers to see the craft as labor beyond just invisibility, appreciating the art of production at every step. 


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Framing Media #1: JD Schnepf on Drone Humanitiariansm

Today, The Cinephiliacs presents the first episode of a new podcast that will take over this feed: Framing Media. The podcast will highlight and discuss new and innovative research in the field of moving image and sound studies. The name comes from Martin Scorsese's famous phrase, "Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out." We take this not just to be an issue of aesthetics, but technology, ideology, race, gender, and culture.

Episodes will focus on how media images—whether film, television, radio, new media, or beyond—are framed: the design and craft of what audiences see, the hidden stories of the labor and talent obscured outside it, and the histories of how frames are made, distributed, and exhibited. 

Coming every other week, host Peter Labuza sits down with a scholar to discuss their recent scholarly publication, introducing their work to a broader audience beyond those with access to paywall publications. Framing Media hopes to highlight new research that demonstrates the value of what media scholars bring to today's questions.

Today's episode features JD Scnepf, a scholar of American Studies in Political Culture and Theory at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. We discuss her article, "Flood from Above: Disaster Mediation and Drone Humanitarianism," published in Media+Environment. Schnepf looks at the culture of the drone in humanitarian disasters like hurricanes and floods, studying how the private digital media infrastructure reveals the privatization of American life. Moreover, she explores how seeing and studying how drones work in these environmental situations demonstrates how we are taught to see drones as "life giving" objects, and how that provides a new critique of their military uses.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Episode #124 - Brian L. Frye (The Hart of London)

"I'm perhaps not the most typical law professor..."

To suggest that Brian L. Frye has lived an eclectic life would be an understatement. A former experimental filmmaker, a collector of home movies, and a legal scholar of intellectual property among other strange, often quizzical projects at the University of Kentucky. After having Peter on his own podcast, Brian sat down tor return the favor. We discuss his oddball way into filmmaking (including his notorious film, Brian Frye Fails to Masturbate), his collaboration on the most curious documentary about home movies perhaps ever made—Our Nixon—and then look at much of his legal scholarship and the various avenues of exploration that has led him down (including how the defendant of one of the most important cases every 1L learns may have been lying the entire time). The discussion remains quite strange: from the Supreme Court nominee who was squashed by Flaming Creatures to the intellectual property history of the Zapruder film, to why you should plagiarize. Finally, the two discuss The Hart of London, Jack Chambers's amazing experimental film and the failure of words to possibly describe this monumental work.

0:00–5:57 Opening
6:43–1:21:44 Deep Focus — Brian L. Frye
1:22:21–1:27:24 MUBI Sponsorship Section
1:28:34–1:40:16 Double Exposure — The Hart of London (Jack Chambers)
1:40:22–1:41:59 Close 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Live Sports! A Chat on Recent Non-Fiction

Desperate for bodies in motion, five quarantined cinephiles joined Peter and a number of podcast listeners on Zoom to talk about the recent non-fiction films they've been devouring on the world of athletics. Some shows favor the classic narratives; others a different approach. All made for a great happy hour. Join Peter alongside Carman Tse, Nate Fisher, Eric Marsh, Jake Mulligan, and Matt Ellis for a talk about ESPN and the NBA's ten hour "examination" into Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls with The Last Dance, Jon Bois and Alex Rubenstein's expose into the history of baseball's oddest team with The History of the Seattle Mariners, and Theo Anthony's 30 for 30 special on tennis replay, Subject to Review, which might not actually be about tennis but all society. Plus, they remember some guys. Man, remember those guys? Whatever happened to those guys????

0:00–5:16 Opening
6:07-51:41 The Last Dance (Jason Hehir [or Michael Jordan and the NBA])
52:29–56:23 Sponsorship Section
57:25–1:40:10 The History of the Seattle Mariners (Jon Bois and Alex Rubenstein)
1:41:18–2:03:48 Subject to Review (Theo Anthony)
2:04:05–1:56:51 Close 


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Episode #123 - James Leo Cahill (Pom Poko)

"If we’re to think of film philosophy or critic theory, cinema does in fact have a role in the upheaval of thought in the way the medium itself can do a kind of radical critique of presuppositions.”

As a constant Instagram user, I find it hard not to love the numerous videos of mammals and other species in behavior whose response always comes down to "they're just like us!" But what about that history of cinema that shows us how animals are not like us, and perhaps encourages us to think outside our own worldview. In Zoological Surrealism, University of Toronto professor James Leo Cahill explores the wondrously strange history of filmmaker Jean Painlevé, best known for his documentary The Seahorse, and explores the numerous scientific films and how he and his collaborators essentially embraced a different worldview by merging art and science. In this long ranging history, James takes us through his first fascinations with cinema and animals as well as through the numerous unique theories he develops through tracing a transhistorical understanding of Painlevé. Finally, the two embrace every emotion through examining Pom Poko, a curious anime from Studio Ghibli that traces the last years of a dying species and celebrates the way we feel loss....a film quite appropriate for our current moment.

0:00–7:10 Opening
7:54-13:05 MUBI Sponsorship
13:50–1:32:30 Deep Focus — James Leo Cahill
1:34:35–1:37:35 OVID.TV Sponsorship Section
1:38:21–1:54:08 Double Exposure — Pom Poko (Isao Takahata)
1:54:56–1:56:51 Close