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 


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Episode #122 - Marie-Louise Khondji (Birth)

"Films deserve to be bought, but they also deserve to be seen.”

Nothing is more frustrating in our streaming era than turning on any specific app and suddenly staring hundreds of movie posters with only an algorithm trying to decide what you might like (especially if such product is actually made by the company to help its margins). But what if there was a streaming site that only offered a single movie a week, and maybe not even a feature but a short or medium-length feature? And what if it had circulated ultra-rare films by Claire Denis, Hong Sang-Soo, Matias Piñeiro, Jonas Mekas, and fascinating filmmakers you had never heard of? That's the promise Marie-Louise Khondji has brought to her site Le Cinéma Club. Marie sits down to talk about growing up with her father (the cinematographer Darius) and how she moved into management through distribution and production before starting a site to help filmmakers showcase work that needed an outlet and created to be accessible for all. Finally, the two talk about the wonderful Jonathan Glazer film Birth, and how it seems to capture a certain timeless stasis of its upper elite New York culture.

0:00–6:27 Opening
7:40-11:32 OVID.TV Sponsorship
12:17–45:51 Deep Focus — Marie-Louise Khondji
46:40–51:15 MUBI Sponsorship Section
52:31–1:03:47 Double Exposure — Birth (Jonathan Glazer)
1:04:12–1:06:42 Close 


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

121 - Jon Dieringer (Made in Hollywood)

"I just hope there's always going to be a healthy alternative."

The podcast returns in our perilous times with a profile of the website all about what's playing in repertory and experimental cinemas across New York. And though the balconies remained closed and the popcorn machines without an ounce, there are plenty of reason to subscribe to Screen Slate and listen to this conversation with Jon Dieringer. Jon takes us to his early programming days and work on a few Hollywood movies before diving into the complex work preserving the history of experimental video at Electronic Arts Intermix. He then talks about the origins of Screen Slate (including its infamous and now defunct competitor) and how it continues to push the boundaries of what curious cinephiles can and should watch. Finally, the two dive into the absolute oddity that is Made in Hollywood, a proto-Lynch take on the industry from Bruce and Norman Yonemoto with Patricia Arquette that is both highly artificial and highly bizarre

0:00–6:18 Opening
7:27-10:43 OVID.TV Sponsorship
11:28–1:20:21 Deep Focus — Jon Dieringer
1:21:32–1:24:57 MUBI Sponsorship Section
1:25:37–1:40:32 Double Exposure — Made in Hollywood (Bruce and Norman Yonemoto)
1:40:36–1:42:33 Close // Outtake