What’s My CINEs, or I Have CINEd Against You

Many people ask me all the time “what is Cinema Studies?” My response is as simple as the name says, the study of cinema (or “film” as most people like to refer to). Some people still remain skeptic. I tell them then, “think of it as an English degree, but the emphasis is on films as opposed to works of literature.” This is when their eyes light up, and it makes sense. I write about films. It’s more than that. Studying film history is also a study of culture. Also learning terminology, theories, and watching periods of films while contextualizing the text with said theories. It’s been quite the learning experience. I’ve never thought of or viewed films in the way I do now.

When I write papers on films I’m making arguments based on theory(ies) and what’s in the film. For example I once argued that a couple films addressed what it means to be human. This is a topic that has come up in several times within my papers. On my blog the doppelganger has appeared as one of my main interests. I note these because when writing out favorite topics and themes emerge. This really helps me too understand who I am as a writer. Its certainly worth the effort of discovery. Sometimes we have to listen to ourselves and actively access our skills.

Another familiar topic of mine is the theory of psychoanalysis. I’ve read information based on Freud, Lacan, and Jung. All three are great, and can be taken separately. Psychoanalysis theory also informs feminist film theory, gender studies, and queer theory. I’m learning more and more to appreciate the narrative, and the narrative structure, which is also part of film form. Film form is how we address the films we watch and discuss. I hope to look at other theories more and more to used them better. For example, I like elements of Structuralism, post-modernism, should read more on deconstructionism, and reception theory. I need to know more on multiculturalism as well.


Back To Black, or What’s Wrong With My Head?

Did I ever mention how difficult I thought it would be “the Black Cinema Studies” major? This is me thinking that I’m expected to exclusively write write Black themes/issues in my papers. My professors never stated nor did they imply this at all. I was so darned adamant about not being the go to guy for such reactions. Why? This stems from way back as an undergrad artist and being told that its expected of me to paint about themes that relate exclusively to being a person of color. Why I’m all about themes, in some ways I felt put upon, that I was predestined to do only one thing and address only some issues when life encompasses so much more. Perhaps back them I looked at things with a limited point of view. Also I loved being rebellious. When i drew and painted, my figures were colored every color but natural colors. Perhaps that was psychological. I processed this information, like so many other things at the time, poorly.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I need to peel back my own layers and accept a few things. Being a person of color does not limit me. Nor does it limit my expectations of the world. In studying films I’ve seen some pretty racist imagery and representation. Yes, I was offended at times, but I’m also empowered because I know that’s not me on the screen. In many cases, it was poor representation then and now. In many cases the imagery NEEDS to be discussed and contextualized. Addressing the image of the ignorant, buffoonery, and plain out racist image is more than worthy of discussion, it has been lacking, in my opinion. Can I write about it? Yes, I can with every bit of integrity as I give all my research papers. Will it be the ONLY topic of discussion you see from me? Absolutely not. It was a mistake on my part to assume this is all I could bring to the table. Just know there is a lot more for all us us to bring to the table.

Any of you who have ever read my blog posts know I love a variety of topics and the reoccurring topics include psychoanalysis and doppelgangers. It is clear that I never allowed people to limit me. I limited myself. Also it pays to listen, digest, and make your own determinations when it comes to self and world representation. I have yet to meet a Cinema Studies major who is exclusively “one way” in my program. My professors should be proud.

The Rebirth of a Master

For those not in the know, I’m all about writing. Been doing that since I was a child. For the last month or so, I lost my way (stopped writing), and that really has appalled me on a personal level. It was stress-related, but I feel that the only way to keep it moving is to keep on writing. This leads me to this topic. I’m looking at accessing my skills and learning to appreciate my education with a more grateful attitude, and less of a take it for granted action. In many ways this means I have to eat a lot of crow or dirt, and accept that no one is handing me anything on a platter. My professors want me to earn my Cinema Studies degree. Its more than fair. Its a reality. Sometimes life is unpleasant and ROUGH however if I want to be seen as the professional I need to be I’ve got to put the focus it needs to be. First things first. I need at least five blog posts for this week.

Sounds like too much? Not really. The first three are editorials. The next two will be reviews of films. I don’t what what two films, but I should have one of them written and ready to go soon. I love writing the reviews, I need to take the time to commit to them and make myself happy with the results.

Now, writing. Many may not know that while my MA is in Cinema Studies, I took a concentration in screnwriting but it could said to be writing in general. Writing research papers alone has developed my research, development, and critical skills. I’ve learned to be open to the possibility that I can be wrong and need to put forth a stronger effort to revise and clarify. Also projects need time to develop. One doesn’t get a 15-20 page paper done overnight, no matter how much effort you put into an all-nighter.

So what do I want to do with a Masters of Arts in Cinema Studies? For one thing I will write research papers – lots of them! I love looking at films and exploring their possibilities via dialog and research. I will be a film critic because I feel this is an extension of dialog in films and looking at ways to reaching a wider audience less interested in research, but needing a stronger voice/alternate opinion about films. Screenwriting. I love learning about the narrative and applying what I learned in screenwriting and writing in general. This means watching more movies and enjoying the experience. It also means showing the world my imagination and making things work within the film industry. Film industry is a new world for me so I hope to succeed within it.

Writing Drama

The reason I became interested in writing drama in large part is I wanted to tell life stories that I feel compelled to tell and write. In great part, I am nosy, creative, and I have free time on my hands. I find it’s best to write the drama, than to be the star of such stories. When I started writing it was with a literary background. My classes were about reading other works of literature and writing short stories with an open, unguided style that allowed the characters to develop.

As I grew and learned more about writing for screenplays, I began to write with a more focused, methodical approach. Certainly I benefited from learning varying methods. Structure improved upon improvising. Improvising improved upon moments where over-thinking a tight plot spoiled the product. The two skills work well in tandem as well as apart.

With writing short stories, I often depicted personal, intimate situations. I wanted to get to the core of who the characters are, and why they do the things they do. It’s important to me that the characters discover things about themselves. Form this point, the characters have the option to choose to accept, reject, or ignore their truths. It boils down to the choices the characters decide upon, and how they deal with the repercussions.

When I began writing screenplays I took my view of the story worlds steps further. I pushed beyond what I considered personal and intimate worlds in favor of larger events that affected more people. I found this task to be both interesting and daunting. Did my characters still need an epiphany? Yes, they need to see themselves for themselves, but their journey goes further. They need to live and breath and return with this new found awareness. Also this mean for me to watch more movies. Here I realized I had a few “types” of movies.

Because I’m exploring the character relationships with themselves and other people, places and objects, I feel this skill carries over to other genres. Possibly the genres overlap and makes for interesting outcomes. Sometimes the question becomes, how big of a net I want to cast with a story. Not all stories are personal or intimate. Not all stories are far reaching with a cast of plenty to round out the experiences.

For me, character development helps me to understand and implement the questions and answers within my stories. It’s sincerely difficult to completely understand a character’s true desires, but getting to their inner world is part of the journey. Characters behave in a tricky, evasive manner. Sometimes, I think the characters lie to me in order to protect themselves. Sometimes in order to satisfy the demands and needs of the story and writing, I need a deep breath, and the opportunity to a step back in order to look at the world I’ve created and what this means to them and myself.