Sara Diamond ran an online documentary workshop @ the Adelaide fringe this year, which seemed on the money. Trapeze-boy missed it tho, but I did at least nail an email address for Sara, who also runs the Media and Visual Arts program at the Banff Centre, works with documentary production, and makes software at www.codezebra.net.
((Interview previously posted on the now defunct octapod.org/jeanpoole, in May 2002 ))
What attracted u to the online film-making?
The net allows levels of dialogue between a group of filmmakers, and it’s an ideal form to engage audiences in testimonials and debate around questions in their lives. The interactive qualities of on-line video and media are particularly appealing.
Important issues for writers / filmmakers tackling interactive media?
This is a form that incorporates what we know and demands we take risks to explore what we don’t know. We need to remember the elegance and power of documentary photography and its history of montage. We need to pay attention to what kind of bandwidth our audiences have, what technology knowledge they have, how can we create an ease of experience for them. For exemplary sites, www.360degrees.org really use the form of interactive media and the web to communicate development over time, complexity, and relationship.
Nobody watches films online. Too small / pixelated, is computer not TV. Response?
Well broadband may change that with on demand services. Millions of people download illegally from the net, so they do gather films online. But this isn’t what interests me as much as what’s possible with interactive media and on-line communication. People crave communication, a sense of identification, ease of relationship, fast information, the ability to change the image, to quote and consider. These qualities demand film-making as immediate, brief and powerful experiences, to kick off debate or emotion, this is the ideal use of the on-line environment.
What new possibilities and creative processes are opening up?
Lightweight cameras that are unobtrusive place the documentary maker right into the scene. This also raises ethical questions around surveillance. You can shoot at a high ratio because of high quality small format. Working in short sequences has it’s own logic and can allow you to remix digital objects or film elements. Making work over distances and without being in the same space is greatly enhanced.
Some online documentaries you respect?
www.madmundo.com lets everyday people can ask investigative journalists to help them understand a political issue, solve a crisis or take on an authority.
www.globalarcade.org/home.html is a site about militarism created through gaming.
www.blasttheory.easynet.co.uk/group.html creates situations where players or participants move between the web, mobile technologies and actual physical or v.r. locations. They’ve enacted a kidnap scenario, made a virtual reality work about The Gulf War and developed a large scale urban game played out on actual streets, on PDAs and on-line.
www.bignoisefilms.com have films about the G8 protests, and of course, www.indymedia.org.
How are the net and interactive media transforming documentaries made for traditional media?
The web cam helped to inspire Big Brother and a 24/7 relationship to documentary subjects. The proliferation of digital media has opened some avenues for low budget thoughtful documentary from alternate sources to find a space on television.
Your thoughts on film-making potential of real-time video software?
I like events where there are mixes of multiple live streams, whether in clubs, or perhaps theatres or on-line. I like spectacle on occasion and look forward to the ways that the power of presence and actuality can become a better quality experience on the web.