Daniel Phelps, one of our well known faculty, is teaching CT 355 Documentary Production this semester (Spring 2012) for the first time. He recently completed his masterpiece, “The Domino Effect,” a beautiful documentary film on the gentrification of Williamsburg Brooklyn, that I was privileged to attend the screening for. He has put a new spin on the old course curriculum.
Assignments are focused on creating diffent types of documentaries based on 3 fun general topics: a person, place and thing. Most recently the class completed an assignment for a narrative story of a special place. The idea was to get away from a human character, and instead tell the story of a significant location, causing the viewer to become interested in this place.
There was lots of great work for this assignment, here are a few of those pieces: (please click their names to view their artist notes)
Terrance brought one of the city’s common place monuments, the Queensboro bridge, to life in an eye popping 1 minute 30 second film, that takes you across the bridge via the many modes of transportation that can be used to cross. Part of what makes this piece special is its fluidity and emphasis on the majesty that is New York. The narrative was simple, but spoke volumes about the bridge with no words. Great work!
Joonmarie takes us down an old, all but forgotten road that bears legendary significance; see if the name “Sweet Hollow Road” rings a bell. She does an awesome job reminding us of what this quiet lonely area is famous for. The color schemes, sound effects and strange camera shots/angles really help recreate this old legend. Her film had me curiously digging into google for old tales.
Uchenna created a conceptual piece that plays with the idea of narrative location documentary. The location refered to in the film seems to be a kitchen but actually refers to an abstract location important to the woman on screen (her place of solace). Instead of her telling us about this place, we come to understand where she is referring to and why it is important through very minimal narration and visuals. I think one of the most important elements of this film is Uchenna’s choice to use black and white.
I love this style of documentary. You are allowed fewer words and its visually compelling nature makes the story much more interesting than traditional forms of documentary. This style is also more likely to draw a larger audience because of its shorter length and aesthetic qualities.
*The feature image is taken from Terrance’s work “Bridging the Gap.”