An Interactive Experience (Final Blog Entry Assignment)

Everyone could use a little bit of help.

Everyone could use a little bit of help.

It’s the end of the school year, and my time in FILM 4310 has come to an end. Although everyone seems to be having a few hiccups with their final Korsakow project (Charles and I included), I have to say that I definitely enjoyed this course; it really was my favourite course this semester. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition elements of this course; not only is it fascinating to see the type of work that everyone produced, admittedly it’s fun to be able to show your own work as well. As I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty happy with the footage we prepared for SMASH!, and I hope that everyone else enjoyed our work (or at least found it interesting).

On that note, I would like to mention that I do think that this aspect of the course made me feel very enthusiastic when it came to participation. I tried to offer a suggestion/positive comment after most of the screenings, because I know from my own experience that receiving feedback and developing expectations for your work really helps a lot. This happened when I showed the introduction for SMASH! last week. I received feedback and made the appropriate changes, and I’m much happier with the final product. So, because of this, I really tried to offer my opinion on everyone’s work, and I hope that it helped them in the long run.

In fact, something I really enjoyed about FILM 4310 was that it was participatory in nature (after all, “interactive” implies participation). Whether the example interactive documentaries or our group discussions, I always enjoy these types of communal experiences, and the course’s emphasis on these experiences made it much more fun and enjoyable than courses where I would simply have to do all the work on my own. The course introduced a distinctively social and participatory element of film, and I do think that this social element is not only enjoyable but indicative of where future learning experiences should (or will, perhaps) go. As a huge fan of video games (like Pokemon), I really appreciated this aspect of this course.

So, in terms of participation in the course, I think I’ve done a great deal of work. The only thing I think I could have improved on was perhaps a little more work through the course blog and this blog. I watched a good number of documentaries, but I was a little more sparse with the reading. I think this is because I focused my efforts in the course on its practical applications, both in terms of my own assignments and the assignments of others. Although I haven’t been commenting on other individual’s blog posts, I’ve certainly been reading them. One thing I found humorous was the BMX group’s “fail compilation” of people falling off their bikes; they posted that on their blog a week before they showed it in class. Again, I saved my comments for them in person, and I’ve sent many positive messages their way.

In terms of my participation for my own assignments, I feel that I put a lot of effort into everything I did. I tried my best to pick unique and interesting topics for the individual assignments, and really racked my brain for subjects that I thought the class would find engaging. I’m always a fan of choice in assignments, so I always capitalize upon the opportunity to make awesome choices.

As for our group assignment, I’m sure Charles can also tell you that we both worked very hard. I spent many, many hours watching, re-watching, editing, re-watching and re-editing our clips. We tried to find the most intriguing interview footage, and attempted to pair it up with our most exciting footage. I knew that putting the project together would be a challenge, which is precisely why I chose a topic that I am also personally interested in. So, this project didn’t necessarily feel like work for me; I actually enjoyed putting it together. However, it was something that needed to be done, and done well. Again, you can ask Charles about my meticulous suggestions for the way we needed to edit our project as proof of my dedication. He may call it OCD, I call it attention to detail.

Disorders aside, I had an awesome experience in the course, and I think/hope my participation reflects this. I learned a lot about the production, editing, online and participatory experiences this semester. My troubleshooting skills have certainly improved because of Korsakow (although evidently there’s still more to learn), but I do feel that all in all the course exposed me to an excellent form of new media that provided a thoroughly informative and enjoyable experience. I usually participate in all my courses, so I’m glad that I was able to expand that capability in this course.

With that being said, I’d just like to thank everyone for the great experience, and I wish all of you a great summer.

Participation Mark: 14/15

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SMASH! Opening

Hey everyone, hope you’ve been doing well. Charles and I have been super busy with our other classes, but we’ve had the time to do some editing, and we wanted to get some of the larger projects out of the way. I myself have completed the opening to our documentary. While I may change a few things before the final product, this is essentially how it’s going to look.

Just one note, by the way. The video “technically” ends at 3:30, I put some looped footage and left the rest of the song in the clip so that when we actually put this into our documentary, the first SNUs will pop up and users can take a moment to understand how the layout works. With that being said, hope you enjoy!

A SMASHing Good Time

Before filming SMASH!, we had a very clear idea of what we were trying to achieve. The idea was to both explain the world of professional wrestling to non-fans and profile the SMASH! wrestling promotion itself. We really wanted to capture the rawness of SMASH! as an independent promotion and show viewers why this promotion has such diehard fans. Therefore, filming the matches with our handheld camera suited the nature of our project well; in fact, this same style of filming is practiced by SMASH! itself. Additionally, we did not want the focus to just be on the wrestlers; we also wanted to include the fans (and other parties such as the ring crew or the management team) as a part of the experience as well.

Before shooting, we knew that our limits were all logistical or technological. For example, we had to restrict our shooting to just one day: a SMASH! wrestling event where all the wrestlers and fans would be present. The promotion only does shows once a month, which made our idea risky for the time-sensitive nature of the project. There are only so many hours in a day, and our ambitious intentions also meant that there was a lot of work between the two of us. We felt that interviews of the wrestlers and footage of the “before, during and after” of the event would be enough to showcase SMASH! as a promotion, so the challenge was gathering the equipment necessary to obtain these interviews. By using two cameras, two tripods, one sound recorder, one spare battery and over 64 GBs of memory cards, we exhausted all of our resources on that one day, and collected all the footage that we could.

As we developed the film conceptually (by producing interview questions and thinking about which specific wrestlers we would like to interview), we realized that the dynamic, nonlinear nature of Korsakow actually did made our objective easier. To be honest, this documentary would be far more difficult to film if we were required to string together a single coherent storyline. Korsakow allowed us to be topical in nature; viewers can explore the topics in a way that seems most appealing to them. This especially works considering that professional wrestling in itself is topical; issues like injuries, road stories, match preparation and gimmicks don’t require much contextual knowledge to be understood on their own.

This definitely translated well in the content. While we’re still editing the footage, we think that our vision, especially for the individual SNUs, is being realized almost exactly. The juxtaposition of calm interview footage and audio with footage and audio from the raw, exhilarating matches show a real spectrum of depth for each wrestler. The SNU length also allows us to create short “moments” that we feel resonate well with audiences.

One specific example of this working is our SNU that introduces “The Handicapped Hero” Gregory Irons. As a wrestler with cerebral palsy, Gregory’s story alone is enough to incite emotion. But the SNU itself really does produce a sort of stimulating shock; seeing images of Gregory challenging himself physically while hearing audio of him describing his condition rather nonchalantly produces an effect that really makes viewers ask the question “why does he do all this?” The goal of SMASH! is to help viewers discover the answer to this question.

Again, our project presented some technical boundaries that we’ve somewhat engaged; this helped us realize that while we wanted a raw feel, our limitations perhaps made our project look too raw. For example, the lighting and camera work of the match footage is not the best. While it does help add a feeling of raw passion, it would have been nice to have access to some more professional equipment to help clean up the aesthetics. This also slightly inhibits our thumbnails, as their size combined with some of the lighting conditions can make the images themselves a little difficult to discern. Additionally, while our sound recorders worked beautifully for our interviews, they didn’t work too well for picking up audio from the event itself. We had the camera audio, which again does add to the rawness but also slightly reduces comprehension.

On a related note, there is one other thing we wish we could have done. It would have been great to take a comprehensive look at everyone who contributes to SMASH! through interviews. While we have a good deal of footage depicting fans in the moment, it would have been nice to have the opportunity to interview fans during the show. This notion also extends to the SMASH! management team and production crew, who also worked hard to put the show together. Again, due to the fact that there were only two of us using a limited range of equipment, we weren’t able to get those different perspectives. So, our project ended up being a little more wrestler-focused than SMASH!-focused, which is by no means a bad thing. However, this does make our project a tad more imbalanced than we had originally intended.

Regardless, the two of us have collaborated easily. We’re friends outside of the course, so we’re familiar with working with each other. We always distributed our work fairly; we both have all of the footage and audio, and have worked both together and separately. We’ve both done what we could to shape the overall idea as something gripping and memorable.

We think that the most important thing that we’ve learned is that no amount of preparation can help you expect the footage that you’re going to get. Before shooting, we were fully aware of how vital our shoot date was, and prepared feverishly for it. While we ran into a few mishaps (interviews began late, the venue was small and crowded), we both agreed that we were able to capture some truly awesome (and unexpected) moments that look great in the actual documentary. Even arbitrary things such as an enthusiastic little girl in the crowd were not things that we explicitly predicted to see, and yet these things contributed to our project in fascinating ways.

Overall, we both feel that our project is a success. Technical limitations aside, we feel that we’ve created an engaging project, especially considering that it was put together by only two undergrad students. Besides all of the things we hoped to say about the professional wrestling industry and SMASH! itself, we could argue that our goal in its most basic form was to provoke emotion and garner interest. We’ve achieved that beyond a shadow of a doubt, and every body slam and cheering fan is a testament to that.

Six SMASH! SNUs

Hello everyone, hope you’re all doing well. Charles and I worked on our project some more yesterday, and we finished six more SNUs for our interactive documentary.

I’m very pleased with the amount and variety of footage that we have, so it was relatively easy to put these SNUs together. Also, I’m still impressed by the quality of the audio recordings that we got from the ZOOM recorder; the interview audio really makes a difference for our SNUs.

With that being said, we hope these SNUs give you all more of an insight into SMASH! and the professional wrestling industry as a whole. Hope you enjoy, and see you on Wednesday!

Individual Korsakow Project – Welcome to my “SNUniverse!”

korsakowpreview

Hey guys, hope you’re all doing well. Until I figure out how to put my individual Korsakow project on my blog, I figured that it would be a good idea to give a brief description of my project.

My layout is supposed to look like a galaxy. There is a main SNU, and the multiple smaller SNUs are supposed to represent little stars. I’ve named each of my previews as a “planet,” as well. I added a little background sound when you click on each one.

Having so many SNUs also gives a little bit of a “trippy” effect, which I think helps the overall space motif. The reason I chose space (as I describe in my project) is because space is vast, and contains many things. Our planet (contained in space) is the same way. So, since my projects profiled some distinctly different people, I figured that the space motif is a good allegory for this project.

I attached an image of my project, because I’m not sure how to put it online. So, stay tuned for more updates!

SMASH! Minutes – February 20th, 2014

Hey everyone! Hope you’re all doing well. Charles and I met up again today, as we have a huge shoot coming up on Sunday for SMASH Wrestling’s “Danger Zone” event. Naturally, our shoot requires a lot of planning, so the first thing we did was go over the equipment that we are bringing. Here’s what we’ve got:

–          2 DSLR Cameras

–          One extra DSLR battery

–          One ZOOM Recorder

–          Two Lavaleir Microphones

–          One boom microphone w/ pole

–          3 XLR Cables

–          1 Tripod

–          Over 60 Gigabytes of SD Cards!

–          Extra batteries for the ZOOM

As you can see, we have a lot of equipment. We’re planning on getting most of our footage at this event, so we need to be prepared!

On that note, we came up with a rough outline of interview questions that we are going to ask the talent. Naturally, we’ll be asking questions based on the answers we receive, but we feel that this list gives us good coverage of the types of answers we’d like to see.

  1. Can you give your own description of what you do?
  2. Why did you want to become a professional wrestler?
  3. How did you get your start in the business?
  4. Can you explain “gimmicks”?
  5. How did you develop your gimmick (character)?
  6. How long have you been wrestling?
  7. What are your goals as a wrestler?
  8. Any major highlights of your career?
  9. Any major lows of your career?
  10. What are most challenging aspects of your career?
  11. Can you explain how the creative process works?
  12. How much creative input do you have in the promotion?
  13. Can you explain any interesting facets of your job?
  14. What is it like to perform in front of a crowd?
  15. Any memorable crowd experiences?
  16. Can you explain “selling,” “spots” and “bumps”?
  17. How do you feel about the danger of these elements?
  18. Can you name any particularly dangerous situations you’ve had?
  19. What kind of training did you undertake?
  20. What kind of training do you do now?
  21. What are your favourite types of matches/stories/angles to work?
  22. Can you explain what a “promo” is?
  23. Do you enjoy “cutting promos”?
  24. Can you explain “faces” and “heels”?
  25. Which do you prefer to be?
  26. Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Again, this is just an outline. We’ll ask more complex questions as they come up. Our focus is to get some really interesting answers and stories out of the talent, so we feel that asking these types of questions is a great way to do so. As you can tell by some of these questions, we will also ask talent to explain some wrestling terminology for non-fans; we feel this will be great when putting our SNUs together as we can edit together various answers.

Also, we will conduct more casual interviews with some of the management team of SMASH Wrestling so that we also footage pertaining to the challenges of running a promotion. These questions will be more logical-sequential; we really just want the management to tell their own stories.

In addition to this, we have a rough list of potential SNUs that we can make. These will mainly be topical, but again, we can add more depending on the answers that we get:

  1. Gimmicks (Charaters)
  2. Faces (Good guys)
  3. Heels (Bad guys)
  4. Match Rules
  5. Kayfabe (The “story” of the show)
  6. Setting up the Ring
  7. Training to be a Wrestler
  8. Preparing for a Match
  9. Selling (Making moves look painful)
  10. Spots (Interesting moves in a match)
  11. Bumps (Painful spots)
  12. The Crowd
  13. Road Stories
  14. Getting Over (Becoming Popular)
  15. Promos (Spoken Monologue or Dialogue)

As with everything so far, these are just some examples. The length and quantity of our SNUs will be determined by how much footage we collect. However, we intend to collect a great deal of footage, and we will likely have lots of interesting stories from the talent.

With that being said, please wish us luck for our shoot on Sunday! We hope to make an awesome film that will really give you guys an inside look at the professional wrestling industry.

My Interview with Inez Genereux (Stranger Interview Assignment)

Hey guys! For this assignment, Charles and I travelled to downtown Toronto in an attempt to find an interesting stranger to interview. My personal goal for this assignment was to find someone who looked interesting aesthetically, and my interview was to be an attempt to discover why they had presented themselves as such. Luckily, I spot into Inez Genereux, a 22 year old student at OCAD U, hanging out with her friend. And although I had interrupted her discussion with her friend, Inez was super gracious and nice, and I had an awesome interview with her. She gave me some great answers to my questions, so it was tough to narrow down my audio to just two short clips! However, I think that I’ve assembled some intriguing answers from Inez, and I hope that they allow you all to have a better understanding of her as an individual.

SMASH! (Conceptual ‘Pitch’ Assignment)

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all doing well. Before I outline my pitch for a potential Korsakow film, I would just like to mention that I really didn’t have to think too hard for an idea. I’ve wanted to make a film about this topic even before taking this course, and I honestly believe that the Korsakow interface fits the subject matter excellently. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce all of you to SMASH Wrestling:

My idea for a Korsakow film would be to do a comprehensive profile of a Canadian independent professional wrestling promotion called SMASH Wrestling. I’ve been a professional wrestling fan for nearly a decade, and I believe that everyone needs to see at least one professional wrestling show in their life. Yes, professional wrestling is scripted, but I think that its “sports entertainment” nature is what makes it so unique. While there are several stigmas surrounding professional wrestling, I do think that it is a valid form of entertainment, and one of the goals of this potential film would be to demonstrate why this is.

To me, professional wrestling is like a “competitive” version of the circus. There are many parallels between the two industries: traveling, audience participation, entertainment value, athleticism…the list goes on. And like the circus, I feel that professional wrestling in itself is an art form and lifestyle that is under-appreciated by the general population. While there have been select films that dissect this topic (a notable one being Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler), I haven’t seen any documentaries that attempt to explain the industry to non-fans.

Therefore, I would envision this film to have two functions. The first would be to have wrestlers explain some of the lesser known facets of the industry as a whole. This subject matter would work very well with the Korsakow interface because it can be divided into various topics: Ring Entrances, Match Mechanics, Spoken Promos, Referees, The Audience, Weapons etc. These topics are not necessarily linear; you don’t need to know one to understand the other. I think this would be a great way to educate people who are not aware of how the professional wrestling industry is operated.

The second function would be to profile SMASH Wrestling itself. The professional wrestling industry is largely monopolized by World Wrestling Entertainment, so independent wrestling promotions, just as in any other entertainment industry, face many challenges when trying to stay in business. In addition to this, I know that the SMASH roster is very diverse, and many of the wrestlers have a wealth of fascinating stories about their line of work. While it’s clear that professional wrestlers play characters in the ring, it’s always interesting to see the people behind these larger-than-life personalities. This collection of stories would also integrate nicely with the Korsakow interface, as the stories themselves would not rely on one another to be understood.

Logistically, this project is definitely doable. I am close friends with the “second in command” of SMASH. I have already asked him if he would be interested in this idea, and he feels that having a film that documents the employees SMASH Wrestling would be great promotion for the company as a whole. The other interesting to note is that SMASH Wrestling actually has a show coming up soon:

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So, if there were ever a time to collect footage, it would be then. I don’t imagine any of the wrestlers would have a problem with camera time and promotion, so I could see this project producing more than enough content for a Korsakow film. In conclusion, I think that this would make for an awesome documentary topic, because as with many documentaries, it gives viewers a chance to learn something about a culture that they otherwise may not have even known.