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Cinema 3.0: How Digital and Computer Technologies are Changing Cinema Kristen M.


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy under the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

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ABSTRACT Cinema 3.0: How Digital and Computer Technologies are Changing Cinema

Kristen M. Daly Digital and computer technologies and the networks of Web 2.0 are changing cinema. Cinema is morphing from an industrial art to an electronic art and increasingly a telecultural form in the interstices of art and information. This dissertation examines this break in order to determine what is new about how we create, experience, and communicate with moving images.

I take both an intrinsic and extrinsic method to ask how cinema has become digital. Intrinsically, this dissertation builds on the work of media theorists like Walter Benjamin, Marshal McLuhan, Friedrich Kittler and Lev Manovich to examine how the automatisms of both the hardware and software of digital cinema technologies encourage new forms, contents and participants. From an extrinsic standpoint, I use both popular literature of cinema and technology as well as theorists like Sherry Turkle in exploring how computer and digital technologies have helped to train new producers and users ready to create and experience cinema in new ways. Also on this tack, I use the work of media historians like Tom Gunning and Jonathan Crary who have demonstrated the role of the interplay of technologies in shaping ways of seeing and expectations of cinema.

The title, Cinema 3.0, merges Gilles Deleuze and Wired Magazine and expresses the attempt to define a new form of cinema. By examining five different aspects of cinema, I map out some promising potentials. I examine the experience of cinema working from Walter Benjamin's concept of aura; the emerging processes of production, exhibition and distribution of cinema; the new aesthetics and style afforded by digital cinema technologies; the potential for new narrative forms enabled by a digitally literate viewer; and the social aspects of who is making movies and to what purpose.

Cinema 3.0 is increasingly mutable, hypertextual and interactive. The dissertation examines how these aspects can be empowering and democratizing, allowing more people into the rich media conversation, but also how the ubiquity and decontextualization of digital moving images can be immersive and paralyzing, encouraging distracted remediation rather than meaningful communication.

Table of Contents
I. Introduction Use of Terms Included Works Methods Why Cinema? Looking Ahead 2 4 6 11 12 1

II. How Digital Technologies Have Changed the Experience of Cinema: From a Ritual Art Object, Cinema Takes on a Tele-Cultural Form
1. The Original Nostalgia Variability and the Difficulty in Determining a Definitive Original The Role of the Viewer Moving Image Literacy, Communication and Exchange 2. How Cinema Takes Place Cinematic Ritual Multiple Screens Perpendicular Cinema Ubiquity and Art 3. The Dissipating Aura of the Cinematic Art Object 45 31 34 35 37 39 43 21 27 16 17


III. How Cinema is Digital: How Cinema Technologies are Changing How Movies Are Produced, Distributed and Exhibited 4. Production All Movies are Digital Cost, Mobility, Ease


47 49 51

Machinima Post-Production: Editing Post-Production: Special Effects 5. Distribution Smaller Scale Distribution DVD Distribution Online Distribution Download Niche Marketing Finding Audiences and Subscription Fans Piracy 6. Exhibition International Adoption Alternative Programming Wireless Delivery, Microcinema, Ideological Exhibition Proliferating Festivals Movies in Every Size and Shape Cinephilia 7. Communities and Cooperation

55 59 61 65 67 68 70 72 75 76 80 87 89 91

93 96 99 100 101

IV. New Mode of Cinema: How Aesthetics and Style are Changing Under Conditions of Digitality Medium Specificity Shooting Digital for Film Aura of Film: Digital Detractors 8. Camera-Stylo
Sponteneity, Flexibility,

104 108 110 113 116

Unobtrusiveness, Intimacy Hierarchies, Acting and Continuity 9. Montage and Mise-En-Scene

116 120 124

The Long Take Computer-Camera as Collaborator Web Browser Aesthetic 10. Hybrid Cinema Cyborg Actors The Virtual Moving Image The Unfilmic: Video Games, Anime, Graphic Novels Virtual Cinema for the Masses Reaction Against: Alternate Indexicality 11. The Snowflake and the Black Box

124 128 131 136 139 142

145 148 152 155

V. Cinema 3.0: The Interactive-Image Narrative Norms - Continuities Fan Mode 12. The Project: Movie as Artifact 13. Database Cinema Remix and Modular Cinema Soduko Cinema 14. Novelesque Cinema Interacting Levels of Diagesis Multi-Bodied Characters 15. Digital Literacy, Complexity, Causality Digital Literacy: Cause and Effect 16. Viewser: Privilege or Punishment VI. Radical Potential: Social Aspects of Cinema 3.0 17. Amateur Filmmakers, Rich Media Literacy, and Power Negotiations DIY Zombie and Shark Movies The Accidental Auteur Rich Media Literacy 201 201 204 208 161 165 171 174 176 180 182 184 186 190 193

18. Activism and Terrorism Activism Terrorist Auteur 19. A-Iiteracy, Decontextualization and the Unmediated Real Web Video Banality and Feedback Loops Immediacy and Decontextualization Remediations of Violence 20. Revolution or Reality Show? VII. Conclusion Final Thoughts Filmography Bibliography Appendix I

209 209 212

215 215 217 221 222 226 228 231

236 248 263


Anthology Film Archives in Joseph Papp's Theater Times Square, March 28, 2007, 8:30pm Still Doug Aitken's Sleepwalkers, MoMA, New York, February 7, 2007 Still The French Democracy (2005) Machinima Linked to Still Four Eyed Monsters (2005) Linked to Still 28 Days Later (2002) Linked to Still Time Code (2000) New Line Production Photos Gollum 2004 Still 300 (2006) and panel from Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 Production Stills A Scanner Darkly (2006) Still Renaissance (2006) Cinematic Diagram of Scenes in Ten (2002) Page Rank Equation by Larry Page Soduko Example Snatch (2000) Graph by Ayolt de Roos Google Page Rank full equation Still Open Water (2004) Stop Snitchin' DVD Cover Link to Still insurgent video of missing soldiers' effects, June 4, 2007. Link to Still Salam Pax Vlog Link Still Numa Numa web video Link to Still Justin TV Link to 35 39 43 57 78 118 133 140-1 148 149 150 156 157 177 191 195-6 203 205 212 216 218 220

Firstly, I would like to thank Professor James Carey who, for some unknown reason, took an options trader with a background in theoretical mathematics into a multi-disciplinary doctoral program. The opportunity to have been in classes with Professor Carey is what I am most thankful for in the entire process. His enthusiasm for culture, communications, technology and especially people and their strange rituals has left me motivation for interesting research for the rest of my life. I miss him terribly and wish he could read this work, as it was only at the end that I realized how deeply his teachings and ideas were at the base of this dissertation. Secondly, I would like to thank my advisors Frank Moretti, Robbie McClintock, and Brian Larkin who rescued me when I was lost and alone with this monolith and were able, over the past year, to help me turn thirteen seemingly unrelated "chapitos" into a reasonable dissertation. Somehow they were always able to present criticisms constructively and in a way that never made me cry. They would always tell me I was a "good writer" or had "interesting ideas" to preface when I had not made a clear point. I would also like to thank my outside readers James Schamus and Andie Tucher for being so kind to read my dissertation and participate in an enlightening defense meeting. I feel so lucky to have been able to discuss my work with such great minds. I would also like to thank Teresa Gonzalez and Evelyn Corchado. Getting professors together can be like catching cats and they qualify as the Gunther Gebel-Williams of professor wrangling and staying calm in the face of harried and hopeless-feeling graduate students.


I would like to thank my family and friends for reading sections of my dissertation and giving feedback and for understanding that it can be hard sometimes having no schedule or purpose or reason for being. I would especially like to thank Gali, Amy, Melissa, Laura, Petra, John, Pavel, Liel, and Alexandra for discussions and qualifications and for letting me learn from their work. Our doctoral program is one of the most supportive and creative I can imagine and I have been privileged to spend time and exchange ideas with this group of students and teachers. I would like to thank the cafes 'Snice, Grounded, Domo and Panino Giusto in the West Village and D'Latte in Greenport for lax dress codes, good coffee, soy chai, and vegetarian food. I would like to thank my dogs Milhouse, Skeeter and the late Max for the playful study breaks, for getting me outside into the fresh air no matter the weather, and for sleeping peacefully by me while I wrote so I wouldn't feel lonely. I would like to thank my mom for always correcting my papers while I was growing up so that I have some sense for argument and grammar and, along with my dad, for always putting education first. And most of all, thanks to C.C. for supporting me when I felt discouraged and for encouraging me in my interests and for liking me independent of my academic pursuits.


1 Stephane: [Shows 3-D glasses ] You can see real life in 3-D Stephanie: Isn't life already in 3-D? Stephane: Yeah but, come on.

/. Introduction
Friedrich Kittler bases his book Discourse Networks 1800/1900 on the premise that the media technology emerging around 1900 represents "a decisive historical and discursive caesura that alters the structure, placement and function of cultural production."2 Similarly, digital computer technology has brought us to the next decisive historical and discursive caesura. We are in the backslash.3 This dissertation will describe and explore how this new Discourse Network 2000 has altered the structure, placement and function of, specifically, cinema. Kittler explains how in the movement from Discourse Network 1800 to 1900 poetry disintegrated. In turn, we will examine and expose how cinema, as we have known it, is disintegrating. Due to the industrial nature of its production, distribution, exhibition and objecthood, early film theorists had to argue that cinema, as film, was an art form. But this very industrial nature allowed cinema as film to retain a privileged place amongst the arts, in that, until recently, it remained hard to produce, reproduce, manipulate and distribute. One still had to go to cinema. Thus it remained a mass cultural ritual. Yet, cinema has escaped these constraints, starting with movies on television and home

1 2

Science of Sleep (2006)

Foreword David E. Wellbery, Friedrich A. Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990), 284. 'These types, denoted by the dates 1800 and 1900, are the discourse networks - the linkages of power, technologies, signifying marks, and bodies - that have orchestrated European culture for the past two hundred years." Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900, xiii. "Discourse Network" as defined by Kittler is "the network of technologies and institutions that allow a given culture to select, store, and process relevant data." (369)

Importance of backslash emphasized by anthropologist John Pemberton.

2 movies then increasingly with videotape and cable television. But I argue that the introduction of digital and computer technologies represents a larger shift, which is taking cinema from an industrial art to an electronic art and increasingly to a tele-cultural form in the interstices of art and information. This dissertation will examine this break and determine what is new about how we create, experience, and communicate with moving images. Although existing in the backslash can be a disadvantage in that the potentials have not yet been fulfilled and numerous paths are still possible, the advantage of being in this liminal zone is that we can see in both directions and the changes remain strange enough to be identifiable. Use of Terms Digital technologies are changing the possibilities of cinema. Cinema is no longer sufficiently described by a ninety-minute movie in a theater. Digital computer technology changes the study of any medium infected by it in that data storage and transmission become part of the story. Therefore, when we look at the penetration of digital technologies into cinema, we must consider an expansive definition of cinema encompassing production, distribution, and exhibition. Gene Youngblood refers to the phenomenology of the moving image as "cinema."4 In the digital age, he says, one must separate cinema from its medium, much as music is separated from its instruments. Thus, although taking a more materialist and less phenomenological viewpoint than Youngblood, as "cinema" I include everything from the traditional feature movie on the
big screen to web video, cell phone shorts, clips in taxi rear view mirrors and

Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel, Future Cinema : The Cinematic Imaginary after Film, Electronic Culture (Cambridge, Mass. London: MIT, 2003), 156.

machinima. As I will demonstrate, all of these materializations are required to provide a

thorough picture of the emerging form of cinema. The very fact that "cinema" is no longer easily defined bolsters the claim that cinema is changing. Some readers will be annoyed with the catholic nature of the examples used, but the porousness of the boundaries is characteristic new media. If we consider, following Lev Manovich, new media as being the synthesis of the two historical trajectories, audiovisual technologies and computing technologies, then cinema can increasingly be characterized as a new media both in construction and characteristic.6 Cinema today, as I will demonstrate, is created, stored, distributed, and viewed primarily with computers and digital technologies and has increasingly taken on the characteristics of digital creations. Cinema in digital form can be radically reproducible, manipulable, networked, interactive, hybrid, variable, and dispersive, thus differing greatly from traditional cinema and transforming into a new media. I will primarily use the term "Cinema 3.0" instead of "digital cinema." "Digital cinema," as a term, can be limiting, implying that the images were created, distributed and exhibited digitally or at least forcing one to define what percentage of digitalness makes a movie "digital cinema." Some of the movies that I will classify as examples of Cinema 3.0 will not be captured or exhibited digitally, or these material characteristics

Television is only recently taking part in this new form with crowdsourced channels like Current, interactivity and hypertextuality in programs like "Lost," and with Tivo and on-demand allowing viewer control. Thus the boundaries between moving image media are blurring with Cinema 3.0.
"The two separate historical trajectories finally meet. Media and computer Daguerre's daguerreotype

and Babbage's Analytical Engine, the Lumiere Cinematographic and Hollerith's tabulator merge into one. All existing media are translated into numerical data accessible for the computer. The result: graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces, and texts become computable, that is, simply sets of computer data. In short, media become new media. This meeting changes the identity of both media and the computer itself. No longer just a calculator, control mechanism, or communication device, the computer becomes a media processor." Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001), 25.

4 will not be the primary qualification. For example, in the fifth chapter, on narrative, I will discuss the narrative form of particular movies as Cinema 3.0 based on their modular or database construction, irrespective of their material makeup. I will cite movies that may have been shot and even edited in celluloid and yet are constructed using an aesthetic or narrative style that I will identify as being characteristic of Cinema 3.0. Thus technology is neither sufficient nor necessary to Cinema 3.0. The qualifications for Cinema 3.0 are broad and include such factors as variability and interactivity, the patterns of which I will establish through the dissertation. Film theorist D.N. Rodowick, building from philosopher Stanley Cavell, defines a medium as "nothing more or less than a set of potentialities from which creative acts may unfold. These potentialities, the powers of the medium as it were, are conditioned by multiple elements or components that can be material, instrumental, and/or formal." In order to define Cinema 3.0, it is necessary to build a structure of the parameters of these potentialities. Unfortunately for my reader who may desire an upfront definition, in order to define this set of potentialities I must get specific with a set of examples. By examining the change in cinema from different perspectives: physical, social, aesthetic, phenomenological and ontological, I will construct the set of Cinema 3.0. Included Works There has been much lamenting as well as exultation over the death of cinema. This exaggerates the situation, for the analog film roots have remained primary in the form and language of cinema. For this reason, the major focus of this dissertation will be on movies less bound by traditional industrial, economic and political paradigms ~ examples

D. N. Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), 85.

that point toward a more radical and heterogeneous future of cinema. Thus the canon of works in this dissertation will not be well known to most readers. Each work has been chosen as a harbinger, an example of a possible and promising avenue. One need not be an expert or have any special privileges to amass the list of works included in this dissertation. Careful attention through myriad hyperlinked paths has led me to this canon, yet someone else following similar paths might have developed a completely disparate list. The nature of cinema in a digital age is one of excess. This should not paralyze us in trying to examine the changing mode, but inspire us with the variable opportunities. I admire theorist Sean Cubitt's call to arms when he says, "The task of theory today is no longer negative. The job of media theory is to enable: to extract from what is and how things are done ideas concerning what remains undone and new ways of doing it."8 Cinema, like any medium, is experienced in different ways in different places and by different groups. I do not want to assume a homogeneous temporality or time-stamp this dissertation to say that "on this day everything was different, everything was this way." That is why I base this dissertation in examples, which I will examine to demonstrate that cinema has changed in a number of ways and to reveal some promising pathways. Some of these ways will be directly technologically based, while others will be based in changes of communities, networks and ways of communicating. Some examples will prove to be dead ends and much will remain the same or coexist traditionally along side the changes I describe. I hope through examples to show that these changes have global reach and are not solely dependent on fast computers, large storage capacity and

Sean Cubitt, The Cinema Effect (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), 11.

6 reliable access to Web 2.0. Aspects of new media, like ease of piracy, penetrate beyond and sometimes overleap technological limitations. Methods This work will accommodate a holistic view, taking advantage of certain aspects of various theoreticians, but focusing primarily on developing a picture of cinema in a digital world, using a number of different perspectives and tools, rather than engaging in argument with any one ideology. Although I owe much to theorists like Paul Virilio, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean Baudrillard, I do not address their whole philosophical projects, but use certain means of expression and views of the interaction of technology, culture and consciousness that I think are uniquely enlightening for this project. Thus, I invoke Sean Cubitt's metaphorical sortie, where he describes Georges Melies' accidental discovery of the disappearing truck trick in Place de la Concorde in Paris. As he writes, "Melies' accident at one of the great crossroads of Paris of the Belle Epoque, is like a Freudian slip, the result of an unconscious overdetermination by new global cultural flows, by new spectacular forms of commodity, and, not least, by the internal logic of cinematography."9 I place this dissertation in a similar nexus of technological, stylistic, software, social, and cultural flows and attempt, through the study of cinema, to explore the shifts and vicissitudes undergone as the characteristics of digital technologies pervade more and more aspects of media production, consumption and culture. Lev Manovich frames his book The Language of New Media as two vectors representing the relationship between cinema and new media. The primary vector, the majority of the book, uses the history and theory of cinema to map out the logic driving

Ibid., 42.

7 the technical and stylistic developments of new media. The second vector reverses this, examining how the logics of new media affect cinema. Manovich asks, "How does computerization affect our very concept of moving images? Does it offer new possibilities for film language? Has it led to the development of totally new forms of cinema?"10 These are the questions on which this dissertation is focused. Manovich sketches an outline of this vector, but what I will attempt to do is fill out the focal features at a moment when the structures and paradigms of this new mode are beginning to emerge. Computerization has changed the nature of cinema giving rise to new structures of representation, new content and a new role for cinema in society. There

are certain expectations that have been made of digital cinema, some of which have come to fruition, but other changes have been unexpected or have happened in forms that were not predicted. In examining cinema as a new media, media theory will provide the toolbox for study to a much larger extent than film theory. Incorporating Manovich's call for a move from media theory, which might be considered a theory of hardware and apparatus, to software theory, which would work from the bottom up, from protocol and codes and interfaces, herein I will attempt to apply both.11 I will look both at how the digital camera, small, mobile and cheap, with different requirements for lighting and recording material, can bring new methods of production, new modes and new content, but also how certain functions of the camera/computer software make distinct languages and functions more easily accessible, and therefore more obvious. For example, how the capacity of digital tape and/or hard drives makes a continuous long-take possible and
10 11

Manovich, The Language of New Media, 287. Ibid., 19.

8 removes the inherent need for montage, which the relatively short film reel required. And how the prevalence and ease of storage and editing software makes the composite image increasingly irresistible as an aesthetic form. An intrinsic view, though, is not sufficient to describe how cinema is digital. Cinema is now more than ever a networked medium and partakes in global flows of information and multi-media. A movie is no longer just a movie, but exists in a social world of interpretation and manipulation from the banality of the fast-forward to the invasiveness of the remix. I will examine how our everyday experience with digital and computer technologies shapes both our experience of and the very capacity and form of cinema. For example, how cinematic narrative adapts to better represent our navigation of space and information on the computer. In this, I borrow from contemporary media theorists such as Nicholas Negroponte and Sherry Turkle who have shown how people's use of computers, or as they might say their life on computers, affects them; effectively describing the digital subject and his or her way of being. They and others, including popular texts such as Wired magazine, have demonstrated how the computer user navigates information and how the roles of work and play, producer and consumer, viewer and user have changed in the information age of computers. I do not work in depth through their arguments in this dissertation because I feel they have already entered the public forum, but instead assume that the reader is familiar with these notions and instead I apply them specifically to the emerging form of cinema. To an even greater extent, this extrinsic description, takes much from recent theorists who have explored proto-cinematic forms and have explicated how film had historical precedents, developing from preceding visual and spectacular technologies,

which trained audiences and created expectations for the form of cinema. I borrow

from this school of thought in exploring how computer and digital technologies have prepared audiences for what might be called the post-cinematic forms described herein and have created a new kind of observer or viewer. For example how the prevalent use of video games can prepare viewers for the use of certain digital effects in cinema which mobilize the gaze in a way antithetical from a film camera gaze but very familiar to a video game user. My methodology is deeply informed by a two contrasting schools of thought. On the one hand, eschewing a more sociological model, and following in the ideological footsteps of Friedrich Kittler and Marshall McLuhan, the majority of this dissertation examines the basic material aspects of digital cinema technologies, the changes that these technologies induce and the pathways that are then revealed. Kittler has argued how the technological media of modernity, like the gramophone, typewriter and film, constituted subjectivity. Whereas Marshall McLuhan wrote of technology as extending the human sensory apparatus, Kittler introduces the idea that technology determines "recording thresholds."13 In other words, what we can record, store and access determines what we can represent, what we can create and what we can remember. Particularly in the information age of cognitive labor, I believe recording thresholds increasingly structure the possibilities of culture. This dissertation will employ some of Kittler's methods and
12 Tom Gunning, "The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde," in Early Cinema: Space Frame Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser (London: BFI Publishing, 1997)., Vanessa R. Schwartz, "Cinematic Spectatorship before the Apparatus: The Public Taste for Reality in Fin-De-Siecle Paris," in Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing Film, ed. Linda Williams, Rutgers Depth of Field Series (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995)., Jonathan Crary, Suspensions of Perception : Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999)., Anne Friedberg, Window Shopping : Cinema and the Postmodern (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993). 13 'Technologies and sciences of media transposition do not simply extend human capacities; they determine recording thresholds." Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900, 284.


arguments of causation in describing the breakup of the "storage and transmission

monopoly" that is currently happening in the realm of cinema as more and more communication and culture can be stored and transmitted through audiovisual technologies. And yet, I can follow Kittler only so far into the intrinsic technological logic as my interests lie also in the social implications and the cultural productions of Cinema 3.0 and in cinema as a communicative medium. As a student of the late James Carey, I need to explore the social and cultural implications, not leaving the subject completely posthuman as Kittler would like. As Carey has said, "to enter given technological worlds is to enter actual social relations," and therefore, "technologies are cultures."14 Thus, I also examine how people are experiencing cinema, what they are doing with the new technology and how they are communicating and forming new social spaces. This work will try to be an archaeology of the present and, as such, is an exploration of a moment of flux. While Kittler argues that a theorist cannot examine a discourse network from within because he or she is constituted by the discourse network he or she is attempting to describe, I believe the attempt is valid, in the least as a historical document and at best creating some cultural understanding of ourselves and our communicative potential. Being in the backslash, in a moment of change, we are not yet quite constituted, we have some freedom of perspective not permitted to a more entrenched discourse network subject.

James W. Carey and Lawrence Grossberg, "Configurations of Culture, History and Politics: James Carey in Conversation with Lawrence Grossberg, Part 2," in Thinking with James Carey: Essays on Communications, Transportation, History, ed. Jeremy Packer and Craig Robertson, Intersections in Communications and Culture (New York: Peter Lang, 2006), 214.

11 Why Cinema? Why is cinema a good subject to look at Discourse Network 2000? Movies were the prime mover cultural form of the 20th century, not the 21st. University of Southern California (USC), which created the first film school in 1929, has recently opened an Interactive Media Division including video game and mobile and immersive media design.15 Would not a more readily digital or popular media like video games be a more apt subject? Cinema, though, provides an interesting subject for the study of this moment because it has resisted becoming digital. It is a witness to and reluctant participant in the revolutionary moment. Cinema is being trained as a new media along with us. Hannah Arendt intimates in her introduction to Benjamin's Illuminations that he was such a potent and incisive observer of 20th-century technologies because he was in essence a 19th-century man living in the 20th-century.1 Cinema, too, acts as a 20* -century observer of the 21st. For this reason cinema, its life or afterlife, can best represent our own transformation from an industrial culture to a digital culture. Cinema has resisted its transformation into a new media, remaining hard to produce, reproduce, distribute and exhibit until the conversion to digital technologies and computerization. Thus, it is on the cusp of becoming new media and can be analyzed at a moment of rearranging paradigms. The study of cinema at a moment of change says a lot about us, who grew up under its spell and are simultaneously being digitized. I think this is why so many philosophers - Paul Virilio, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Zizek, Stanley Cavell, Frederic Jameson - have been entranced by cinema. David Rodowick explains this aspect of Deleuze in Gilles Deleuze: Time Machine. He writes:
15 16

In 2006, the name was changed to the School of Cinematic Arts from the School of Film and Television. Walter Benjamin, Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 22.

12 Deleuze argues in "Difference and Repetition" that the only aesthetic problem of concern to philosophy is the relation of art to everyday life. Because our contemporary life is immersed in an audiovisual and information culture, cinema's ways of working through the relations of image concept have become particularly significant to our strategies for seeing and saying. This is not because cinema is the most popular art. Television and video games now have arguable a far greater economic and "aesthetic" impact. However, cinema's history of images and signs is nonetheless both the progenitor of audiovisual culture and perhaps the source of its unfounding as simulacral art.17 Like Deleuze in Cinema 2: the time-image, I will strive to describe a new mode of cinema emerging at/from a cultural caesura. Thus the title "Cinema 3.0" in honor of Deleuze's inspiring work and with a smile towards the technology that is enabling this new mode. Looking Ahead This dissertation examines from five different perspectives how digital technologies are affecting cinema: The first section examines the experience of cinema and how that is morphing as digital technologies change both our reception of and use for cinema. I take Walter Benjamin's essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" and examine how cinema is only now, with the infiltration of digital technologies, fulfilling Benjamin's expectations and even transcending them. This chapter will focus on our experience of cinema as it changes from a ritual art object to an interactive and variable means of communication. The second section will examine how cinema is digital - how digital and computer technologies have penetrated into all aspects of production, distribution and exhibition. This will be a survey of the current landscape of moviemaking,

David Norman Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine, Post-Contemporary Interventions (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 202.

with an eye toward mapping the potentials for the reordering of hegemonic systems as new filmmakers access technologies to make and distribute their works, planting seeds for the examination in later chapters of how the promise of this access is playing out. The third delves intrinsically into how the characteristics of digital video differ from film and therefore encourage new aesthetic and stylistic modes, changing the very nature of mise-en-scene and the language of cinema as it has been defined in the past. Cinema explores new possibilities as the encumbrances of film, which delimited a certain mode of cinema, are released. The technology of digital cinema makes the natural indexicality of film and the cut simply options amongst others and permits new forms of visual aesthetics not premised on filmic norms, but based on other audiovisual forms like video games and computer interface. The camera as a computer has enabled a more cooperative relationship with the filmmaker. The fourth postulates how the digital viewer is enabling a new narrative form that is complex, interactive, and intertextual and based on spatial and stochastic contingencies, mimicking the shocks and economies of the digital everyday. Digital and computer logics have changed the possibilities of how stories are told in cinema, authorizing new forms of cinema and new imaginings of narrative based on database, interactivity, algorithms, hypertextuality and search. The role of the viewer changes as he or she must navigate a movie rather than passively watch a traditional narrative unfold. I will describe how cinema becomes increasingly a cooperative exercise between producer and viewer.

14 The fifth section will look at social developments in accessibility, the promise of universal literacy of the moving image, and how this radical potential is playing out. This chapter will examine who is making movies, what they are making, and to what purpose. This chapter asks and examines what are the potentials and dangers of universal literacy of the moving image. Through these five perspectives of how digital and computer technologies are changing cinema, I hope to diagram new spectator/spectacle, producer/consumer, work/play, representation/information, and human/machine relations. Moving images operate at the intersection of communication and culture, helping to define our imagination of and our way of being in the world. For this reason the question of where cinema is going is relevant to our morphing society as technology threatens to out-develop our institutions of politics and culture. We can take a close look at the changing nature of our relationship to moving images to foresee a potential emerging social paradigm.


//. How Digital Technologies Have Changed the Experience of Cinema: From a Ritual Art Object, Cinema Takes on a Tele-Cultural Form
For over one hundred years, moving images have been recorded onto frames on expensive celluloid tape and projected by fairly simple machines. This has been a remarkably reliable way of recording and exhibiting, but also a remarkably static media technology. Films cannot easily be reproduced, delivered or manipulated. The film print costs between two and three thousand dollars and can be over a mile long. In many ways, the film reel had resisted the characteristics attributed to it by Walter Benjamin in his essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." Robert Flaherty dropped a cigarette on his original edited version of Nanook of the North destroying his only print. He had to organize an entire second expedition north to gather footage and again edit it into the version we know today.1 Film ages and degrades, so it is estimated that less than ten percent of the earliest films currently exist. Only now, with the introduction of digital and computer technologies, have Benjamin's expectations of cinema come to fruition. In this chapter, I will examine what characteristics Benjamin prematurely attributed to the reproducible filmic art object and demonstrate how we are now experiencing a "tremendous shattering of tradition" in how we experience movies as they morph from ritual art objects to tele-cultural forms with new expectations and experiences. Benjamin in "The Work of Art" discusses two characteristics of art objects that change under conditions of reproducibility. The first is the reduction of the primacy of
Ricciotto Canudo, "Another View of Nanook," in The Documentary Tradition, ed. Lewis Jacobs (New York: W.W. Norton, 1927), 21.

16 the original. According to Benjamin, before mechanical reproduction, the original was the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. This authenticity Benjamin describes as "the essence of all that is transmissible from the beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history it has experienced."2 Reproducibility makes the copy independent, thus reducing the primacy of the original. Benjamin terms this lost essence "aura." I will argue how, increasingly, the ease of digital storage, reproduction, manipulation, and distribution threatens the concept of an "original" and therefore the aura of cinematic objects as representational artworks. The artwork becomes increasingly variable and this changes our relationship to cinema in ways that activate the viewer increasingly as a user. Thus, while losing its aura as conceived by Benjamin, the cinematic object gains a new value in proportion to this active relationship. The second characteristic is the mobility of the copy. Mobility allows the copy to be experienced in different and unanticipated ways modifying the way cinematic artworks "take place." Digitization takes this mobility to new levels; thus, in the digital age, our exposure to moving images becomes increasingly ubiquitous. We will examine in greater detail how this ubiquity changes the experience of cinema.

Amos Vogel describes poetically and insightfully the experience and aura of film in his essay, "On Seeing a Mirage." He describes seeing Werner Herzog's Fata Morgana ten years after having seen it for the first time. He writes, "Having originally been exposed to

Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 221.

Samuel M. Weber, Mass Mediauras : Form, Technics, Media, ed. Alan Cholodenko (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996), 85.

17 the crystal clarity and sharp-edged photography of a first-generation 35mm print projected on a large screen, I found myself peering uncertainly into the dim, contrastless recesses of a cheap 16mm print, decorated with striations and scratches. The tones - the gross and subtle details so central to the film - were gone." He laments: What kind of art is this that depends so heavily on the nature of its presentation, and to which access in a form close to its 'original' becomes ever more impossible? What shall we do with the evanescence of film stock? . . . It is as if King Lear were available only one day per decade in one city per continent, in fiftieth-generation, pirated, Hong Kong copies of which entire pages were missing, individual paragraphs not quite readable, portions of characters obliterated with frustrating intimations of potential greatness; the stuff of Borges, of Kafka, of Marquez.4 For Vogel, who I use as the epitome of the traditional film viewer, there was a specific form in which this film was supposed to be experienced as a ritual art object. Fata Morgana, for Vogel, is a representation that should have been seen in a certain fashion, always the same for everyone at every time. For him, the first-generation 35mm print is the "original." He also exposes another aspect of die film experience ~ nostalgia. Nostalgia Each showing of a film decays it a bit and "hastens [its] demise."5 The specific

scratchings and fadings of a film object make it unique, different from other copies of the same film. This returns a sense of originality to each film print, as these traces, different on every film copy, create unique objects. Stephen Prince calls these aspects "filmic artifacts," and writes nostalgically about them. He writes, "Let's celebrate the dirt, the scratches, the grain,... In the clean, crystal-clear, and diamond sharp world of digital

4 Amos Vogel, "On Seeing a Mirage," in The Films of Werner Herzog : Between Mirage and History, ed. Timothy Corrigan (New York: Methuen, 1986), 48. 5

Paolo Cherchi Usai, "The Demise of Digital (Print #1)," Film Quarterly 59, no. 3 (2006): 67.

18 video, they are the ghostly traces of our former love, artifacts of the stuff that dreams once were made of."6 These filmic artifacts were a sign of love, signifying that a print had been passed around from theater to theater and was much watched. For Grindhouse (2007), the double feature co-creation of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, the more technically savvy Rodriguez showed Tarantino, who wanted to shoot on aged film, that these artifacts could be recreated digitally, thus simulating a well-loved grindhouse feature without the need for love. Love as plug-in. So Tarantino shot on film, then, in the digital intermediary [DIJ, the scratches, burns and fades were added, and, only then, was the movie exported again on film. Nostalgia reanimates the cult value of the film, in Benjamin's terms, thus retaining its aura. Digital prints do not participate in the same sort of aging process. In general, a viewer would not be able to determine if she were watching the first-generation print or tenth generation, nor would she know if many people had watched this copy before her. Information is not lost with each viewing, nor each copying, although much of the viewer's ability to infer information about the object is lost. Thus, I argue, the digital cinema object loses some value as an object of ritual, nostalgia or memory. In her documentary Cinevardaphoto (2004), Agnes Varda visits Ydessa Hendeles' collection of thousands of black and white photos of teddy bears. Most of the photos exhibit children holding teddy bears, sometimes in larger groups of people. Agnes Varda narrates,

Stephen Prince, "The Emergence of Filmic Artifacts:Cinema and Cinematograhy in the Digital Era," Film Quarterly 57, no. 3 (2004): 33.

In a digital intermediary, DI, a motion picture is digitized in order to manipulate color and image characteristics to change the look before output for distribution. A plug-in is an auxiliary computer program that works with a host program to provide a very specific function.

describing how looking at the aging photos is disturbing because we realize that many of

the people posing, even the children, are now dead. She says how the most disturbing are the photographs which are fading and blurry, because we fear that even the memory of these people is being erased. Thus film was a natural medium for nostalgia as it remained an ephemeral medium. Digital media do not have these same characteristics and therefore lose the emotional attachment or aura, which the ephemeral, aging medium of film inspires. No longer do our movies age with us, living about one hundred years. To paraphrase Dazed and Confused (1993), "We get older and they stay the same age."8 A common worry has been archiving. The very non-reproducibility and solidity of film made it a very reliable archiving medium and film needs no translation; if you hold a film up to a light you can see the pictures requiring no specialized technology. In fact film prints have been made from the paper copies of many movies stored in the National Archive in cases where the film original had been lost. Digital objects, as code, are unreadable or untranslatable by humans. To view digital objects, we require software translators. So the threat of the lost or degraded object is replaced by a different set of fears ~ fears of accessibility and filing in an infinitude of stored information. Yet, even the idea of digital format issues and loss is fairly moot as we archive in multiple on increasingly cheap storage space, the software of which is updated with a click. As technology journalist Tom Scocca writes, the great fear in the digital age was format obsolescence, that, "People would throw out old-fashioned paper in favor of electronic archives, only to suddenly find that they had all the works of human
Matthew McConaughey as David Wooderson, 'That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age." Of course this is not completely true, since the digital movie that was made seven years ago on the latest prosumer digital camera looks much less sharp than the one made last year on the latest HD prosumer digital camera, but the old print will never be any less sharp than it is now, only relative to more newly created cinematic objects.

knowledge stored on five-and-a-quarter-inch floppies and nobody was making floppy

drives anymore." 9 But, as he says, web video allows people to transfer all their previously "near obsolete" formats, VHS tapes and Super8 home movies, to a digital format which is stored and updated online. Thus the digital cinema object loses its aura of impending loss. Our contemporary nostalgia for this aura is demonstrated in a spoof technology article in parodic newspaper The Onion: Eastman Kodak released an imaging software package that yellows, fades, and even loses digital photos over time... "With the click of a mouse, Fotomatshop will make your digital photographs crease, develop fingerprint spots, and even stick together in their 'virtual shoebox.'"10 Lev Manovich says in describing digital objects on computers that there is no decay, we must go out of our way to delete an object in order to remove it and yet we can probably still recover it. He writes, "Thus if in 'meatspace' we have to work to remember, in cyberspace we have to work to forget."11 With the digital cinema print, our relationship to the original is weakened. The preciousness and nostalgia that Vogel describes of the film copy is no longer the experience of cinema. We have digital prints readily available to us in various forms, many of which will be sharper than the available film print. We can no longer garner information about the original from its physical artifacts, in fact in many cases we cannot even see the object without computer technology. The fragility and scarcity of the film copy provided it a measure of aura, which digital cinematic objects do not retain, thus finally fulfilling Benjamin's expectations of the independence of the cinematic copy.

Tom Scocca, "The Youtube Devolution," New York Observer, July 31, 2006. "New Software Yellows Neglected Digital Photos over Time," the ONION, February 13, 2006. Manovich, The Language of New Media, 63.

10 11

21 Variability and the Difficulty in Determining a Definitive Original I maintain that with digital storage, reproduction and distribution the notion of a cinematic object as a finished art object, tied to an auteur vision and created to be seen in a certain ritual way, an "original" as Vogel terms it, begins to fray. As Lev Manovich has outlined, digital objects are modular, meaning they are made up of objects put together to form larger objects, with each piece maintaining its independence. Therefore, by nature, they can be easily taken apart and put together in innumerable different forms. This modularity leads to variability in that as he says, "A new media object is not something fixed once and for all, but something that can exist in different, potentially infinite versions." Media theorist Peter Lunenfeld argues that media made by computers is always unfinished. He says that "'unfinish' defines the aesthetic of digital media." Viewers

turned users are exploiting the digital nature of movies and reshaping, reforming and remixing them. Thus, a cinematic object becomes a continuing project of reconstruction, entering a discourse network where different users and viewers can use it to express unintended ideas. When Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) was released, it quickly made its way to the Internet where it was modified by numerous fans and could be found in versions radically different from George Lucas's theatrical version.14 As the movie art object becomes more accessible, it also becomes subject to revision. A January
12 13

Ibid., 36.

Peter Lunenfeld, "Unfinished Business," in The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media, ed. Peter Lunenfeld (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999), 7. Media theorist Henry Jenkins covers a number of the different versions, mashups, tributes and spoofs in Henry Jenkins, "Digital Cinema, Media Convergence and Participatory Culture," in Rethinking Media Change: Media in Transition, ed. Brad Seawell, Henry Jenkins, and David Thorburn (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003). Also see Chris Gore's "Make Your Own Damn Star Wars Movie!" on his FilmThreat blog, September 22,2002,'?section=gorevdetaiIs&M=214. accessed November 19, 2007.

22 15, 2007 search for "Star Wars" on YouTube brought up 33,251 videos, a database of variability. The relationship between the viewer and the cinematic art object cannot help but be changed by this modularity and variability. One might argue that although there are thousands of homemade versions of Star Wars to be found on YouTube, this does not affect the original art object of Star Wars, recognized and revered. But I argue that this variability has seeped into even our expectations of the "original" so that we are not surprised to find it changed or to not know what constitutes the "original" or if there needs to be one. An example of this new mode of variability is provided by the experience of the movie 2046 (2005) directed by Wong Kar Wai. 2046 arrived for its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in pieces. The opening was delayed as the last few reels arrived. Reviewers saw a movie in the midst of the editing process. The premise of the movie is a writer who writes stories about the future, the year 2046. Wong Kar-Wai says that he came up with the idea when Hong Kong was turned over to the Chinese and they promised not to change anything for fifty years. This absurd idea gave him the inspiration to create the story of a writer writing about 2046 ~ a time and place you can visit where nothing ever changes, but no one, except our writer, ever comes back. Innumerable copies of 2046 exist. Film critic Nathan Lane refers to it both as an "epic remix" and a "phenomenon." It came out over the course of a year or more, after five years in production, and from what reviewers wrote, versions were variable in different countries and on the published and imported DVDs. The movie's subject is memory and loss and the actual film has itself participated in that story, existing and being lost in different forms. Lane writes, "And it isn't difficult to imagine other


versions surfacing some day: a pure sci-fi, an experimental montage, a wordless pantomime, a melodrama in Japanese, a half-dozen self-contained romances."15 2046 portends, both in narrative and in the actual movie experience, cinema's change from a representational art producing finished objects to an increasingly tele-cultural form, with social interaction and mutation preventing the formation of an authentic "original." Instead of the nostalgia and sense of loss with each viewing of a film print, as expressed by Vogel, the viewer in the digital world is left with an untethered relation to the movie which can exist in uncountable forms and formats, none more authentic than the next. Returning to George Lucas and his Star Wars movies, they provide an interesting study subject of the conflict of variability and authenticity. When Lucas brought out the DVD trilogy of the original three Star Wars episodes, in 2004, they were greatly changed from the originals as they had shown in the theaters in the 1970's and '80's. The special effects had been updated using new digital technologies, creatures had been modified using CGI, the actor who plays Aniken in the newer series, Christian Hayden, was substituted for the original actor Sebastian Shaw, and even, most drastically to fans, certain plot points were changed.16 Lucas says he released the prequels the way he intended them to be presented.11

Nathan Lane, "Elusive Objects of Desire: A Stealth Sequel to in the Mood for Love, the Epic Remix That Is 2046 Is the Summation of the Director's Lyrical Melancholia," Film Comment 41, no. 4 (2005): 31. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the application of the field of computer graphics (or more specifically 3D computer graphics) to special effects. For a list of changes and links to more discussion,
please see of changes in Star Wars re-releases, accessed November 19,

2007. Notably, he decided in 2006 to rerelease the prequels in their original form as they first appeared on the bigscreen. David S. Cohen and Diane Garret, "George's Clone Wars," Variety, May 15-21, 2006, 7. Italics mine.

24 There has been much debate over whether or not Lucas had the right to modify the original films. John Knoll, co-inventor of Photoshop and special effects supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic, who worked on the re-release says that due to the deterioration of the film negative, "A lot of the work that went into the Star Wars redos was just to try to make it look like what people remembered in the first place." But in justifying the additional changes, he says, "If you made the picture today, it would certainly be different, because you'd use different technologies, and the sensibilities of

society would be different and you'd have a different tone and feel just based on that." Thus he expresses the conflict between memory and nostalgia associated with the analog world of art objects and the radical, irresistible ability of digital objects to be modified. Even a dedicated fan can no longer determine which is the authentic original: the 2004 Special Edition; the "original" Special Edition, which will be released soon and which may resemble the 1997 VHS version; the 3-D version also planned for release; or the blackmarket DVDs copied from the laser disc pre-Special Edition release. Which version has the cult value or aura? The television cartoon South Park makes fun of this in an episode where the boys form a group to save films from their directors, citing Steven Spielberg, Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola for changing films according to new technology and new popular tastes and making a film no longer a finished product, but one that can change over time as the original may be lost to viewers. 19 Although Lucas claims to have remade the movies the way he intended them to be originally, Will Booker, in a detailed examination of the 2004 re-release DVDs points out

Erez Reuveni, "John Knoll - Digital Effects," MacDirectory Magazine 2003. http://www.photoshopsupport.eom/articles/john-ls:noll-pirates.htail. accessed January 15, 2007.

19 Episode 609, "Free Hat," First aired July 10, 2002. h ttp://en. Hat, accessed January 15, 2007.

25 that a number of scenes that were changed in the 1997 VHS versions have either changed again or been changed back in the 2004 version, providing evidence that Lucas was affected in his decisions by popular discourse.20 Some of these changes are visible only in slow-motion, and therefore were created specifically for those involved in the discourse. Thus the newest "special edition" DVD release becomes just the latest version, not in any sense the definitive version or a fulfillment of a pure auteur vision. If we imagine ourselves in the place of George Lucas, how much more irresistible will it be to rework his newest versions? The originals were shot on film and therefore take some work to manipulate; he did not have the actors digitally captured so they could not be easily made to do or say new things. The original movies were also worshipped as finished art objects in a world of pre-ubiquitous, pre-manipulable moving image media. His latest three prequels, less revered and created completely digitally, can be reworked far more easily and frequently. Most fans will have already seen different versions on the Internet and will be very familiar with the "making o f videos included with the DVDs. They have seen behind the curtain and admire the movies partly because of the fantastic technological feats involved. I propose that fans are not as attached to the new characters and movies in the same way because the media world in which they receive them is already intertextual, manipulable and interactive. They have become accustomed to movies existing in a number of different forms from television versions, to airplane versions, to the "uncut" and "director's cut" variations on DVDs, to the more revisionary

20 Will Booker, "Return to Mos Eisley Cantina: The Star Wars Trilogy on Dvd,", September 29, 2004. accessed October 3, 2007. He refers specifically to the scene where Greedo and Hans Solo shoot each other under the table. In the 1977 version, Hans obviously shoots first, in the 1997 version Greedo shoots first. Fans complained that this softened Solo's character so that his metamorphosis later in the movie is less effective. In the 2004 version they shoot at the same time, a detail that, as Booker points out, is only noticeable in the DVD freeze-frame.

web video mashups and remixes. The success of these many new versions indicates that

fans are increasingly comfortable with the "unfinished" movie art object. ComicCon 2007 was abuzz with announcements that Blade Runner (1982) would be coming out in the "definitive version."21 In the original theatrical version, Ridley Scott was locked out of the editing room by a completion bond and the studio released its own version with narration and a happy ending. Then in 1991 the studio accidentally sent out Scott's darker "workprint" to a repertory screening and, when word leaked, the public demanded a recut.22 Warner Bros. Studio agreed, but Scott was busy on other projects and so another editor, with Scott's input, edited a darker 1991 cut. But now, twenty-five years after the original theatrical release, Scott has re-edited, restored and remastered, with improved special effects, a definitive version. A certain scene of a replicant breaking through panes of glass was originally considered too dangerous for the actress and the use of the stunt double was very obvious (this is a fan favorite for rewind and freeze frame.) So Scott had to reshoot the scene with the same actress but digitally "youthen" her face. Thus Blade Runner is participating in the very science fiction that it predicted, where memories, it turns out, are only as good as the media they are based on/ created through, and therefore are subject to revision and falsity.23 Director Steven Soderbergh, who has played with the norms of cinema with his movie Bubble (2006), which came out in theaters, on cable channel HDNet Films, and on

This "definitive version" includes five discs: The Final Cut Version (2007); the U.S. Version (1981) and International Version (1982); Making Of; Enhanced Content (pre-production, stills, deleted scenes, legacy, etc.); and Ridley Scott's work print.
22 23

Stephen Saito, "'Blade Runner' Gets Final Cut,", July 26,2007.

In Blade Runner, the replicant, Rachel, tries to prove that she is not manufactured, but is real, by displaying a photos of herself as a girl and sharing her memories of the time when the photos were taken. She is told that both the photos and her memories have been programmed and that they "belong to someone else." At this, Rachel is distraught; she has no photographs or memories and therefore no 'real' life. She is, in fact, not 'real.'

27 DVD simultaneously, says that he would love to come out with different versions of his movies, maybe have them change every two weeks in digital theaters.24 So, I present

these examples to demonstrate that the concept of a finished cinematic art object is waning as the ease of digital modulation and distribution has encouraged major auteur filmmakers to revise their films according to new technological possibilities, but also according to user input, increasingly interactive.25 I do not want to give the impression that this has been an overnight change. Movies have shown slightly differently in different theaters depending on the technology, format and age of the prints. With the advent of movies on television, they were shown edited and with advertisements. With VCRs and eventually DVDs they could be shown in different environments with rewind and fast forward and supplemental material. But the changes wrought by web video and digital manipulation are, I hope to have demonstrated, of another level, where the concept of a solid original begins to unravel. If we were to imagine George Lucas in conversation with Benjamin, I think we would find Benjamin shocked at the de-aura-fication license that Lucas has taken with his own

"Another thing that really excites me: I'd like to do multiple versions of the samefilm.I often do very radical cuts of my ownfilmsjust to experiment, shake things up, and see if anything comes of it. I think it would be really interesting to have a movie out in release and then, just a few weeks later say, "Here's version 2.0, recut, rescored." The other version is still out there - people can see either or both. For instance, right now I know I could do two very different versions of The Good German." Xeni Jardin, "Thinking Outside the Box Office," Wired, December 2005.

Variability can go to the extreme with the newly popular form of live cinema mixing, a development from disc jockey [DJ] culture, director as DJ. This fulfills the dream of New Wave director Robert Bresson who said, "I have dreamed of my film making itself as it goes along under my gaze, like a painter's eternal fresh canvas." Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematographer (London: Quartet, 1986). The Tribeca Film
Festival in spring 2007 premiered a live remixing of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915) created by DJ

Spooky called Rebirth of a Nation (2007). This piece remixes and distorts scenes from Griffith's film to create a new less deterministic narrative, variable with every performance. In response to criticism over his reworking of a classic artwork, DJ spooky says, 'There's an entire generation growing up with a hack mentality, where kids bend technology to fit their creative urges. I'm a really big fan of open-source cinema . . . the author isn't dead. He's just been networked." David Fear, "Rebirth of a Nation," Time Out, April 19-25, 2007.

28 movies. This is an extension and intensification of what Benjamin described and imagined, going beyond reproduction and dispersion and bringing manipulability and interactivity into the experience of the cinematic art object and changing the relationship between author, artwork and public. The Role of the Viewer The idea of the original is tightly linked to the concept of the auteur. Digital technologies serve to redefine the status and authenticity of the auteur. Jean-Luc Godard, whose new mode of cinema helped solidify the concept of auteur, admits outrage at this state of events. He says, "The cinema, as we knew it and as it no longer exists, helped make things visible. . . . The metaphor of the film negative and the positive print was a moral metaphor. But with digital cameras the negative no longer exists - there's no more negative!" The unique negative provided a measure of authenticity and auteurity.

Going back to Vogel, seeing Fata Morgana in that particular theater at that particular time was the only reasonable option. Thus if as he says, "pages were missing" that was too bad, that viewing would be, for most of the audience, their only experience of the movie, unless it happened to show on television, an equally ephemeral and less-than-ideal experience. Today the actual movie exists as one artifact in a database of information surrounding the movie, from blogs, to websites, to user reviews, to DVD extras.27 Digital


Frederic Bonnaud, "Occupational Hazards: Jig at Work, as Told to Frederic Bonnaud,"filmcomment41, no. 1 (2005): 40. Media theorist Nick Rombes describes how the film can become lost in the DVD extras, using Star WarsEpisode One, The Phantom Menance as an example. Along with the 133-minute movie are "hours of supplementary material, including commentaries not only by George Lucas, but by the film's producer, editor, animation director, and three visual effects supervisors . . . a deleted scenes documentary with seven new sequences, an hour-long documentary on the film's production and another twelve-part web documentary, as well as a multi-angle storyboard, and multiple other features." As he says, the movie is a very small part of the DVD experience. Nicholas Rombes, "Professor Dvd," (2002).The Korean film Oldboy (2005) Tartan DVD package contains: a strip of 35mm film, the 210 page English translated manga (comic) on which the movie is based, three discs containing: the movie, three separate

29 technologies unhinge the ties between auteur, negative and original as movies become variable and ubiquitous. This gives a new role to the viewer, who now navigates the movie as one piece of information in the database. The language of film is increasingly user-generated as viewers, particularly fans, bring new references and sources to the now multi-faceted experience of a movie. In this way, cinema follows in the footsteps of text. Roland Barthes in "The Death of the Author" (1967) determined texts to be collective cultural products, thus empowering the "Reader," who in Barthes's terms becomes the space where "the unity of the text" is inscribed.28 Barthes describes the modern novel that is intertextual and interactive, requiring user-participation and user-interpretation. While film remained ephemeral and inaccessible, subject to a one-time reel-time viewing, it could retain its aura and reduce the mass audience to a "single spectator," as Paul Virilio terms it, but as the cinema becomes subject to remix and review and user engagement, it becomes increasingly heterogeneous and hypertextual. Thus as Niels Ole Finneman puts it, the

commentary tracks, five making-of documentaries, 41 minutes of cast and crew interviews, 25 minutes of deleted footage (with optional commentary), a featurette on the Cannes screening, and a 212 minute video diary chronicling every day of the film's production. All these materials attempt to return an aura of originality and objecthood to the movie, which has become not an artwork, but one artifact in this database of movie related artifacts.

Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author," in Image, Music, Text, ed. Roland Barthes and Stephen Heath (New York: Noonday Press, 1988), 148. For further discussion please see: Jacques Derrida, Alan Bass, and Henri Ronse, Positions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981). Michel Foucault and Paul Rabinow, "What Is an Author?," in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984).

"For the commercial distribution of video and audio equipment is destroying the extraordinary technical capacity of the old cinema to shape society through vision, to turn a thousand film-goers into a single spectator." Paul Virilio, War and Cinema : The Logistics of Perception (London ; New York: Verso, 1989), 67.

30 receiver is "changed to the more active role of 'writer', 'co-writer', 'selector', 'editor' or simply user."30 New Wave auteurs laid the groundwork for this type of viewer/reader, creating films that were discursive, intertextual and subject to interpretation, associated with clubs and criticism. But digital and computer technology has made this type of reading ubiquitous as the language of cinema becomes increasingly two-way and as the fan mode becomes increasingly prevalent. William J. Mitchell takes the ability of users to modify digital images as the next step from Benjamin's description of mechanical image reproduction. As he says, if with mechanical reproduction, exhibition value was substituted for cult value in Benjamin's description, then digital imaging substitutes use value, or "input value" for exhibition value. If we think of Star Wars, the ultimate

measure of the value of the movies is our need to rework them and re-imagine them. Digital technology can greatly empower the "Reader" as described by theorists such as Roland Barthes, who now has authorial capacity and is capable not only of interpreting texts, but interacting with them and changing them. This new relationship with the art object would qualify under Benjamin's measures as a "tremendous shattering of tradition" - a vast change in the relationship of the original to the copy. As Samuel Weber writes: What is condemned in the age of technical reproducibility is not aura as such but the aura of art as a work of representation, a work that would have its fixed place, that would take its place in and as a world-picture. What remains is the mediaura

Niels Ole Finnemann, "The New Media Matrix. The Digital Revolution of Modern Media," in Moving Images, Culture, and the Mind, ed. lb Bondebjerg (Luton: University of Luton Press, 2000), 233.

William J. Mitchell, The Reconfigured Eye Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era, 1st MIT Press pbk. ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1994), 52.

31 of an apparatus whose glance takes up everything and gives nothing back, except perhaps in the blinking of an eye.32 What Weber refers to as the "blinking of an eye" is the work that must be done in "reading" the work of art. The reading becomes increasingly active and discursive. This interaction between the reader and the artwork produces what he refers to as the mediaura, which I relate to the use-value to which William J. Mitchell refers. Whereas film retained the aura that Benjamin had prematurely denied it, the digital cinematic art object jumps beyond exhibition value and is somewhat re-enchanted by animating the viewer as an active reader. We will explore this aspect of digital cinema in later chapters, specifically in the fourth chapter in regards to the potential for cinematic narrative. Moving Image Literacy, Communication and Exchange With the break-up of the storage and distribution monopoly in cinema, we are at the beginning of a movement of universal literacy regarding the moving image. Previous to digitization, only a few people had the resources and access to store, manipulate, and distribute moving images, but we find ourselves in a situation in relation to moving images much like that described by Benjamin with writing at the turn of the twentieth century. He writes "For centuries a small number of writers were confronted by many thousands of readers. This changed toward the end of the last century.... But today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere . . ."33 "Thus," he says, "the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character."34 According to Paul Virilio we have been adapted for this moment of authorship by the infiltration of previous
32 33

Weber, Mass Mediauras, 107. Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," 232.

32 audiovisual technologies. He writes of videos and walkmans that, "we use them not to watch films or listen to music, but to add vision and soundtracks, to make us directors of our own reality."35 So the next step to making our own movies is an obvious one for which we have already been prepared, we have been waiting. The current situation exceeds Benjamin's expectations in that not only can we hope to be filmed, or produce our own works, but, going beyond, we can enter into exchange and dialogue with produced works. Author and public can begin to interact and collaborate. Increasingly, cinema is used as a form of discourse or communication not simply representation. The digital logics of interactivity, manipulability and collaborative production and exchange are what Cubitt may be referring to when he says, "Digital media do not refer. They communicate."36 As he says, the "ideological structure" is lost to "social meanings." Moving images increasingly become something

to be changed and exchanged, not ritually experienced. In his first book to take place in the present time, Pattern Recognition, cyberpunk author William Gibson captures the emerging interactive, interpretive relationship between producers and viewers. A character, Cayce, tries to find the source for what is called "the footage" - a series of remarkable movie clips that appear sporadically on the web. She discovers a global group of people, called the footageheads, who track new clips and discuss the possibilities of their origin and how they might be combined. It is not known if the footage is the work of one person or whether it is live or computergenerated or whether the clips are bits of a completed work or a work-in-progress. So

35 36 37

Virilio, War and Cinema : The Logistics of Perception, 66. Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 250. Ibid.

footageheads edit together different versions of the clips, all of which are accessible on

the web. This form of discursive, interactive production and distribution anticipates the experience of cinema in the digital world where a viewer might catch bits of video in passing, might change, add or respond to them and pass them on. As the character Bigend says, "The spinning of a given moment's scenarios. Pattern recognition."38 The work involved in pattern recognition is very different from the concept of cinema experienced as a finished, ritualized art object. Pattern recognition represents a much more active and interactive mode involving cooperation in the production and interpretation of the cinematic object. In an article entitled "Is a Cinema Studies Degree the New MBA?" Elizabeth Van Ness looks at the growing number film-studies programs and examines what kinds of careers these graduates are pursuing. She makes the argument that cinematic literacy is becoming increasingly important, not just for filmmakers. As she says, " . . . cinema isn't so much a profession as the professional language of the future."39 In 1998, Elizabeth Daley, dean of the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts (the nation's oldest film school) opened up film classes to students in the other schools and currently half of the 16,500 undergraduates take at least one cinema/television class.40 Thus moving image literacy becomes important, not only as a tool to create stable artworks, but as a means of communication in a social system increasingly dominated by new media. In the final chapter, I will examine what this greater literacy portends in the social sphere.
38 39

William Gibson, Pattern Recognition (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2003), 57.

Elizabeth Van Ness, "Is a Cinema Studies Degree the New M.B.A.?," The New York Times, March 6, 2005 2005.



"With the emancipation of the various art practices from ritual go increasing opportunities for the exhibition of their products." (Benjamin "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" 225) From solely the purview of theaters, movies have moved out into our homes, the streets and our pockets. Movies can now be seen on TVs, on computers, on cell phones, on Gameboys, and on posters. We might glance at it in passing or have a low quality version. No longer do we stare "at cinema screens for hours at a time, alert and motionless, backs straight and arms at [our] sides," as Ken Kalfus describes the early twentieth century moviegoers.41 According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the film industry's trade group, in 2004, the average American spent 78 hours watching videos, DVDs and video-on-demand, while he or she spent only 13 hours in the movie theater. This has been a progression in the organization of the "time and space of spectatorship" as D.N. Rodowick refers to it. He describes how the collective audience of the film projection was organized in "unified space and linear time" whereas the audience of broadcast media became dispersed into "serialized space and unified time." Now, he stresses, the distributed computing model is increasingly characterized by "atomized space and asynchronous time."42 Thus, Cinema 3.0 enacts different relationships with audiences as the time and space of spectatorship is reorganized and redefined.

Ken Kalfus, The Commissariat of Enlightenment, 1st ed. (New York: Ecco, 2003). Manovich writes, "Movie theaters were like prisons with people immobilized in the dark." He quotes film theoretician JeanLouis Baudry, who emphasizes immobility as the foundation of cinematic illusion, using Plato's cave, "In this underground chamber they have been from childhood, chained by the leg and also by the neck, so that they cannot move and can only see what is in front of them, because the chains will not let them turn their heads." Manovich, The Language of New Media. P. 108 Quoted in Baudry, 'The Apparatus," 303.

Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 184.


Cinematic Ritual The ritual of moviegoing provided some guarantee that viewers would experience the artwork in a homogenous way. The original design for New York City's Anthology Film Archives at Joseph Papp's Theater on Lafayette Street in the early 1970s tried very hard to preserve the illusion and the immersive experience. The design had viewers sitting in individual boxes. Described by designer Peter Kubelka as "Invisible Cinema," the audience members could not see or hear each other they had blinders to everything but

the screen. All surfaces except the screen were either covered with black velvet or painted black. A theater manager attended every screening and had a focus and sound control and a telephone to the projector booth so that the film, always 35mm, never a 16mm copy, was shown as accurately as possible. No latecomers were permitted, nor were subtitles shown. As Kubelka describes its "revolutionary and controversial design was based upon the notion that like the other machines that a film depends oncameras,
developers, printers, editing machines, and projectors the room in which one sees a

film should also be a machine designed for film viewing." That it should "make the

Sitney Sky, "The Search for the Invisible Cinema," Grey Room 1, no. 19 (2005).

36 screen [the viewer's] whole world, by eliminating all aural and visual impressions extraneous to film."44 The system had a few unforeseen problems. First of all, the boxes were like little ovens, keeping the heat in and making film watching incredibly uncomfortable. Secondly, the architecture of the space created such privacy that, according to filmmaker Stan Brakhage, the ambiance became very "erotic." 45 Due tofinancialcomplications, the theater was taken down in 1974 and Anthology Film Archives moved to a more traditionally designed theater. But the point was to try to experience cinema fully as an original work of art, as the filmmaker-auteur intended, without the situation of the theater and patrons intervening, a perfectly absorbing machine. Vogel, I presume, would be thrilled with this experience. Artists, like Andrew Lampert, archivist at the current Anthology Film Archive in New York, try to capture this quickly fading concept of sitting in the dark with the whirring, machinic sounds of the projector and the beam of light through the dust. His work, as he describes, is concerned with the "cinematic." He performs an artwork called HOW TO SPEAK (SEE) & WHAT TO SAY (HEAR) where he has two projectors beaming light in a darkened room with moving filters, a record player and audience participation. What used to be the everyday experience of cinema is now the material

of a performance art piece. We examine and worship the cinematic experience because it is disappearing. As such, the performance seemed far removed from the current media experience of ubiquity and multi-tasking and semi-absorption. D.N. Rodowick, a teacher

Anthology Committee, "Anthology Film Archives," Filmmakers Newsletter, February 1971. Sky, "The Search for the Invisible Cinema." I watched the performance in a small room in an old building with undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania, October 17,2006.

37 and film theorist, says that the satisfaction he used to take in introducing students to the pleasures of silent film has been tempered as he realizes that well-projected 35-mm film experience in a theater is not as absorbing as it once was for the students or for him. "Film," he says, "is no longer a modern medium; it is completely historical."47 Multiple Screens Nothing contradicts the "invisible cinema" experience more than the contemporary experience of seeing a tentpole movie in a New York theater. Film critic Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal writes of seeing King Kong (2005) at the Sony Lincoln Center complex in New York, "The movie was up there where the movie should be, but smaller screens kept flickering in the audience as people checked their messages, reviewed their portfolios or issued not-so-whispered instructions to babysitters at home." Theaters have gone to great length to develop pre-movie announcements to turn off cell-phones and have explored the legal possibilities of cutting off service.49 Morgenstern, though, takes this to be a generalized change in viewing habits and ways of experiencing the world. He writes: What is genuinely new here is the splitting-off of attention. When Samuel Coleridge coined the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief," he was talking about a kind of emotional investment that readers or audiences have made not just willingly but usually eagerly - until now, when the watchword has become a willing suspension of attention. In decades and centuries past, people plunged into novels or plays, and then movies, to escape from reality. Now, restless and frequently anxious, they're reluctant to leave the quasi-reality of the virtual world that's accessed too easily via portable gizmos. . . . movies are becoming less of

4/ 48

Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 92-3.

Joe Morgenstern, "Care for a Movie with Your Phone Call? ," The Wall Street Journal, December 24-25, 2005.

Russia's oldest theater, the Alexandrinsky, in St. Petersburg uses a short-range jamming system during performances.


an immersive experience, as more and more moviegoers seek distractions from their distraction. Currently, many of us are always available to our tools of communication; even the movie theater cannot protect us from the everyday shocks of total connection. Increasingly audiences are being trained by their interaction with computer technologies to switch between immersive, representational, informational and communicative experiences. Other media have adapted to this norm; already many television channels have boxes with other information and scrolling text and with digital cable boxes one can open a smaller window of another channel within the channel being watched. As Sherry Turkle points out in Life on the Screen , on a computer one can have many different windows open at once. One window might be a grant proposal, one might be a database, one might be email, one might be a virtual reality world and today, one is bound to be YouTube.51 As Lev Manovich says of what he refers to as cultural interfaces, they "try to walk an uneasy path between therichnessof control provided in general-purpose HCI [human computer interface]) and the 'immersive' experience of traditional cultural objects such as books and movies.... The computer screen also functions both as a window into an illusionary space and as a flat surface carrying text labels and graphical icons." With new media, he claims, there is no continuity of

illusion because one is constantly switching in and out, which, he points out, is different from classic cinema where the illusion is preserved at all costs. Viewers bring this training to the theater, where the movie experience becomes less homogenous and is

50 5!

Morgenstern, "Care for a Movie with Your Phone Call? ."

Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, 1st Touchstone ed. (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1997).

Manovich, The Language of New Media, p. 90.

39 instead experienced heterogeneously, distractedly, and increasingly in conversation with other telecommunicative technologies. Perpendicular Cinema For Benjamin, cinema was seen as training for and soothing the modern masses from the shocks of industrialization. As Susan Buck-Morss explains in The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and The Arcades Project, film allowed early viewers to step back and examine their modern existence through montage from "the position of an expert."53 Only film could provide this therapy because text was no longer protected in the form of books from fragmentation and circulation. In the Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin demonstrates how in the nineteenth century print escaped from literature onto the wall in advertisements and infiltrated into everyday experience. He says, "Printing, having found in the book a refuge in which to lead an autonomous existence, is pitilessly dragged out onto the street by advertisements [... that] force the printed word entirely into the dictatorial perpendicular.' ,54


Quoted in Susan Buck-Morss and Walter Benjamin, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project, Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989), 268.
54 55

Quoted in Ibid. Brackets refer to ellipses from Buck-Morss not Benjamin: [... ] Photographs 1-3: Times Square March 28, 2007 8:30pm, taken by author.

Instead of the demythification and disenchantement of the social world that was assumed

to be the essence of modernity, Buck-Morss argues that what Benjamin describes was how, "under conditions of capitalism, industrialization has brought about a reenchantment of the social world."56 She elaborates how he used the example of advertising posters plastered over Europe to illustrate the remythification, with the senseless jumble of visual images and text replacing religious idols. Similarly, digital

signs with moving image advertisements are starting to populate our urban public spaces. Text is mixed with image, news with advertisements, celebrities with nobodies or even us. The clear delineations between art, information and advertisement become blurred as increasingly moving images become ubiquitous. Going beyond Benjamin's world reenchanted by text and images, the digital moving image signs are mutable and can be aimed at different demographics according to time slots, different days, or different weather.58 They can even be interactive. If we

consider our flanuer, already a fading memory in the sped-up time of Benjamin, he loses even more prerogative in the contemporary cityscape where the advertisements are directed directly at him.59 This is well portrayed in the science fiction movie Minority

Buck-Morss and Benjamin, The Dialectics of Seeing : Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project, 253. She illustrates by juxtaposing two pictures from Benjamin's Arcades Project, one an eighteenth century painting of Ancient Rome with the city walls covered with busts and idols and the second a photograph of twentieth century Germany showing a cityscape plastered with building signs. (254-5)
58 57

Maud Kersnowski, "Billboards Go Digital: New Technology Breathes Life into Old Signs," res, nov/dec 2004. Benjamin, already in the early twentieth century, marvels at the flaneur of the nineteenth of whom he writes, "In 1839 it was considered elegant to take a tortoise out walking. This gives an idea of the tempo of flanerie in the arcades," implying that at the time of his writing this would be unheard of. Franz Hessel, too, gives us an idea of the fleeting time period of the flaneur as he writes in a piece, 'The Suspicious Character,": 'To walk slowly down lively streets is a special pleasure. To be left behind by the rush of others - this is a bath in the surf. But my dear fellow Berliners do not make it easy, however gracefully one might move out of their way. I always receive suspicious looks whenever I try to stroll as a flaneur between the shops. I think they take me for a pickpocket." Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard


Report (2002) based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick. Here, the protagonist, Chief

John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, wanders through a futuristic mall where artificially intelligent hologram advertisements recognize him, referring to him by name, telling him that the pants he likes are available and in the size he bought last time. He need not even look at the object; the ads know what he wants, accessing him, despite his distracted attention.60 Thus in the science fiction near future, under conditions of capitalism, digitization reenchants the cityscape. In the movie, every building wall is a flat screen projecting advertisements and news. This is not such a far cry from the current Times Square in New York. Thus, if on one hand we have the empowered viewer who can read, discuss and even change the cinematic art object, we also get intimations of danger as the delineations between art, information and advertisement are blurred and where the digital moving image text can actually recognize and anticipate its reader/viewer no matter how distracted his or her attention. As moving images vie for attention in an increasingly competitive space, they can no longer lead an "autonomous existence" as Benjamin describes the ritually experienced film; instead, the experience of cinema becomes one characterized by variability and interactivity. Artist Doug Aitken plays with these concepts in his public art projects. Aitken spent a summer living in a cheap hotel behind these digital signs in Times Square. He used this as inspiration for his project Sleepwalkers, which was projected on the outside

Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Third printing, 2002 ed. (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999), 422.

Chief Anderton has stolen someone else's eyes and the eye recognition software makes the talking ad holograms refer to him as Mr. Chang.

42 walls of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in February 2007. He said that, "Living there made me aware of the violent way images come at you while creating this completely sensory environment."61 He describes his project, which shows a night in the life of five night workers taking place in different boroughs, as "a river of images moving up and down the walls of the city."62 The five different stories were projected across three facades of the museum and would shuffle according to an algorithm so that the stories appear at different times in different places, constantly variable, in what Elizabeth Schambelan describes as "a sort of exercise in secular numerology." The work from an

artist who has said he finds the "watching of an unbroken story from a seat before a single screen about as compelling as the study of a blinking light," well demonstrates the new forms of distraction and absorption and remixing of public and private of our digital culture. The banal private lives of these characters are projected building size and absorbed by passerbys who may or may not be paying attention.64

Linda Yablonsky, "Night at the Museum: Doug Aitken Makes Nocturnal Larger-Than-Life in His New Outdoor Installation," Time Out New York, January 11-17, 2007.
62 63


Elizabeth Schambelan, "Nightwatch: Dog Aitken's Colossal Outdoor Installation Is One Part Film, One Part City That Never Sleeps," Film Comment 43, no. 2 (2007).

Aitken describes the script as "a cross between a haiku and a grocery list."


Information about the project could be had by dialing a number from a cellphone. This interaction of different media with public cinema projections has been used by a number of artists. Thus, as new media theorist Holly Willis has pointed out, instead of being just moving images in an outdoor space, this form of interaction, incorporating different technologies, "invites participants into 'electronic territories' and dataspheres."66 This better represents how we currently navigate the urban environment both indoors and out. The moving image alone does not hold our attention, but only in conjunction with an immersive, communicative media experience. Ubiquity and Art "The question today is no longer to know if cinema can do without a place but if places can do without cinema." (Virilio, The Aesthetics of Disappearance, 64) In 1991, Timothy Corrigan published his book A Cinema Without Walls, the title a
tribute to Andr6 Malraux's "Museum Without Walls," to describe the cultural collapse of

65 66

Picture taken by author on cellphone, February 7, 2007.

Holly Willis, New Digital Cinema : Reinventing the Moving Image (London: Wallflower Press, 2005), 94.

44 authoritative walls in movie audiences and culture since Vietnam. He writes, "Since the shifting family of contemporary viewers can now literally possess images as the ubiquitous backgrounds and ornaments of their lives, those images are recast as social objects defined by the conditions and contexts in which they are viewed."67 In the digital age, we have to deal less and less with an unmediated environment. Virilio refers to the "projection room of the Boeing 747," but now we have portable movies on our cellphones and video iPods, DVD players in many family SUVs, and even moving images in the rear view mirrors of some taxis in Asia. The experience of space without moving images is increasingly rare. The aura of the moving image is diminished as it becomes ubiquitous. Susan Sontag writes in On Photography, "Recently, photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing - which means that, like every mass art form, photography is not practiced by people as an art. It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power."68 Moving images have finally reached this point as well. As Lev Manovich puts it, "From commanding a dark movie theater, the cinema image, this twentieth-century illusion and therapy machine par excellence, becomes just a small window on a computer screen, one stream among many others coming to us through the network, one file among numerous others on our hard drives."69 Any concept of ritual and tradition has been obliterated with the Internet distributed web video. Images are poor quality, disconnected, sourceless and distracted. Cinema becomes fragmented information to be absent-mindedly transferred rather than experienced as a representative art.
Timothy Corrigan, A Cinema without Walls : Movies and Culture after Vietnam (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991), 6.
68 69 67

Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Picador USA, 1977), 8. Manovich, The Language of New Media, 211.


The Dissipating Aura of the Cinematic Art Object

Moving images have finally lost the aura they retained for almost a century as they become ubiquitous and tied into other new media and communication experiences and untied from the contemplative and immersive ritual art object. This has enacted the "tremendous shattering of tradition" foreseen by Benjamin and coming to fruition today. The contemporary experience of moving images is increasingly interactive, blurring the line between producer and consumer, spectacle and spectator, representation and information. This diminishes the authority of and to some extent even the existence of an "original." The relationship of audiences with cinema becomes increasingly one of collaborators, not spectator to spectacle. Digital cinema enacts new sets of relations between art, culture, work and communication. In the next chapters we will build up a picture of this change as it relates to cinema - looking at how movies have become digital, what this portends for the aesthetics and style, the mode of cinema, how the new practices of our digital world are changing the nature of narrative and cinema as a storytelling medium and how the promises of this universal literacy are working in practice. Benjamin's concepts of the changing nature of the work the art can provide us a basis for considering our own moment of technological change.


///. How Cinema is Digital: How Digital Technologies are Changing How Movies are Produced, Distributed and Exhibited
This chapter will act as a survey of the current landscape setting up a baseline for further discussion. In later chapters, I will examine if and how these developments affect the aesthetics and style, narrative, language and content of cinema, but here, I will simply examine the process of moviemaking and what methods, producers, cooperations and communities are enabled by the influx of digital technologies. I will look at the paradigm shift as digital technologies have infiltrated into all aspects of moviemaking production, distribution, and exhibition - so that at some level all movies are digital movies. Filmmaking has been a very structured, expensive and hierarchical process, whereas digital technologies open up new mechanisms and processes, which can offer alternatives to the stable, traditional hierarchies of Hollywood production. In this chapter I will present many examples, some of which will have future resonance, others of which may prove to be dead end attempts, but I hope to give some measure of the scope of possibilities and potentials currently being explored. I do not wish to imply that cinema is developing in one way only, nor that the traditional trends and ways of doing things do not remain paramount. Many aspects of moviemaking remain the same and alternative trends to the ones described below may be emerging. Yet, what I would like to explore is how digital technologies are altering the nature of
moviemaking and some of the affordances provided, and the ways in which they are

already being exploited by creative and often amateur moviemakers.

47 A common theme through the three sections will be the formation of new relationships between filmmakers and their audiences, some global and electronic and some local, but each opening new spaces for communities. From production to distribution to exhibition, the cinema experience has become much more collaborative, with audiences involved often from pre-production to voting on movies in electronic film festivals. This is a definitive change in the moviemaking paradigm, where a few entertained the many, and where cinema was experienced as a mass medium as opposed to a new medium. Of course, many of these communities and innovations have happened parallel to the Hollywood system non-intersecting. The mall multiplex will probably persist unaffected by any changed economic paradigms, showing expensive movies aimed at thirteen-year-old boys that were expensive to distribute and that the studios hope will appeal to large audiences who will come to the theater on the opening weekend. And yet, everything described below already exists; the communities and relationships have already been formed. As I will demonstrate, it is an exciting time to be both a filmmaker and an audience member. Measuring the strength of these communities is difficult, as they are often ephemeral with weak ties, an aspect that has proven difficult for both economists and sociologists to assess in examining the economies and communities of the emerging global networks.

Making a movie on film is very hard, very expensive and very time consuming. A lot of people and a lot of machinery have to be in the same place at the same time. There are focus pullers, gaffers, best boys, craft services, cranes, and tracks. Making a film can be

48 dangerous. Jean-Pierre Geuens describes the unique experience of shooting a film. He begins with the location: From the start, there was the eeriness of the setting: the cavernous hall with its sacred relicsthe hard-shelled camera resting heavily on a solid tripod, the lights with their barn-doors craning down at awkward angles from suspended catwalks, the small microphone perched at the very end of a long pole, the tracks on the floor that started abruptly and led nowhere, the smoke spewing in the air like incense.... As for the actual filming, it looked and felt like a ritual whose formalized arrangements had been set long ago.' He describes the repetition of the scenes under the cadence of the director's commands; the anxiety of the camera operators faced with the uncertainty of not knowing until days later if the lighting, focus, and framing had worked nor what images had ended up on the celluloid; the specialists, the apprenticeships, the danger to actors and stunt-people and even the editor due to the "potentially explosive nature of the film's nitrate base." He describes the threat of camera jams and accidents where "despite all precautions, a hair on the gate, a light leak in a magazine, or inexplicable mishaps at the lab can still destroy hours and hours of hard work." This difficulty and threat of disaster made moviemaking itself a ritual, with specialized clergy and a bit of a miracle at the center for it all to come together. Some bemoan the loss of this ritual, as digital technology threatens to make moviemaking less of a trial. Director George Lucas has said, "Film is... a hard medium to work in. You've got to push real hard to get it to go anywhere. But once it's digital, it's... light as a feather."3 The accumulated knowledge and skill, necessary for filmmaking, is threatened with the new technology, which can reproduce this knowledge electronically in-camera.
1 2 3

Jean-Pierre Geuens, "The Digital World Picture," Film Quarterly 55, no. 4 (2002). Ibid.

Brian McKernan and ebrary Inc., Digital Cinema: The Revolution in Cinematography. Postproduction. and Distribution (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005). Pp. 31-32.

49 Geuens states, "Today 'style' can be purchased from day one by activating a switch on a gizmo."4 The film medium required time and money, a very particular set of specialists and equipment and a certain hierarchy, which the digital medium does not. Danish director Jorgen Leth compares the process of moviemaking on film to digital. He writes: I have always been fascinated by the thought of a film as a notepad. The film as notes, as a sketch pad. Obviously using the DV-camera to take notes is tempting. But it is as if we're dealing with a self-annulling quality. Your note-taking technique can become too casual. The exciting thing from my point of view is precisely the taking of notes on expensive film, gouging, imprinting your impressions in time that is running by, time that can be quite specifically calculated in money terms.... What goads me on is what is forbidden, the laying of dynamite beneath the chromium plated bastions of technology, reducing the gap between idea and implementation, but without eliminating the substance, the matter; and the resistance that must be overcome. All Movies Are Digital Digital technologies have penetrated all levels of the production and post-production of movies. One of the main developments has been, as Lev Manovich stresses, the merging of computer technologies with image capture and reproduction technologies. Many of these changes and developments are non-obvious, taking place in processes of moviemaking that are well behind the scenes. Thus I hope to illustrate that, although on the surface the majority of movies may appear unchanged, that in fact large transitions in the processes of moviemaking are occurring. In September of 1995 Sony shipped its first digital camcorder together with FireWire, a new cable technology that made downloading of video and audio files to a home computer easier and faster. In April of 1999, Apple came out with Final Cut Pro, a

4 5

Geuens, "The Digital World Picture." Jorgen Leth, "The Magic of the Film Reel and the Dv-Camera as Notepad," Film (2002).


high-end ($1,000) video editing software aimed at the growing "prosumer" market.


in October 1999 Apple debuted iMovie, a free video editing software aimed at consumers.7 Recently, DVD authoring software, such as Sonic's MyDVD Studio Deluxe and Ulead's DVD MovieFactory, has become reasonable and even formerly proprietary or expensive production software like budgeting and scheduling software has become available to consumers (EP Budgeting and Scheduling). Movies can be completely staffed online through websites like Craigslist,, and Director Gus Van Sant cast his most recent movie Paranoid Park (2007) on MySpace. Casting try-outs can be done virtually with a software called LifeSize, where directors and producers in one location can interact with and see, in high definition, actors in
o q

another location in real time. Funding can be raised online. Final Draft screenwriting
Prosumer refers to one of two possible portmanteaus formed by contracting either the word producer or professional with the word consumer. Further, prosumer has taken on conflicting spins: the business sector sees the prosumer as a means of offering a wider range of products and services whereas activists see the prosumer as having greater independence from the mainstream economy. In 1972, Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt suggested in their book Take Today, that with electric technology, the consumer would become a producer. Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt, Take Today; the Executive as Dropout (New York,: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972), 4. In the 1980 book, The Third Wave, futurologist Alvin Toffler coined the term prosumer when he predicted that the role of producers and consumers would begin to blur and merge. Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave, 1st ed. (New York: Morrow, 1980)., accessed April 24, 2006.
7 8

Byron Acohido, "Tech Turns Average Joes into Mini-Spielbergs," USA Today, April 31, 2005 2005.

Carly Mayberry, "Video Technology Allows Casting in Real Time," Hollywood Reporter, December 11, 2006.

Independent production company Camerado allows users to fund movies on their site and Shinobi (Heart Under Blade), which opened in theaters in Japan in September 2005, was funded by the general public who could purchase shares of the $13.6 million ninja movie. Robert Greenwald raised $200,000 on his website for his documentary "Iraq for Sale" about alleged war profiteering. Gene Massey runs which holds a patent for selling shares in a movie production company online and giving shareholders a DVD as a stock certificate. Film funding by the masses is apparently not a totally new idea. In Ronal Bergan's biography of Jean Renoir, he describes that an advertisement in the publication L'Humanite on July 31, 1937 readers were urged to "Support the production [La Marseillaise] by subscribing two francs each, exchangeable for the price of a ticket when the film is shown in theaters." Charles Lyons, "For $1 You, Too, Can Be an Executive Producer," The New York Times, May 22, 2005. Fabrizio Fante and Eugene John Bellida started where visitors can vote for film projects by donating $1 toward any in a list of movie synopses. The filmmakers promise to put the movie toward the designated film and to give every donor an executive producer credit. Tim Greene, a South African director, funded

software has a "collabowriter" function that allows screenwriters in different locations to co-write screenplays.

I list these technologies and processes simply to demonstrate that moviemaking is affected by digital technologies at a number of levels and in ways that are not obvious to the viewer and that do not necessarily change the "product" in obvious ways. Yet, each of these very available technologies has the potential to open up processes and make moviemaking easier and more mobile at all levels from Hollywood to home-movie. Below I will discuss some of the more prominent aspects of digital technologies in moviemaking, examining where the popular expectations have been fulfilled and where developments have been different than popular discourse might have led us to expect. Cost, Mobility, Ease One of the most obvious and oft discussed aspects of digital production has been the lowering of costs. Film cameras and editing equipment have become cheap to free. Disposable digital video cameras are available at pharmacies for $25. Flip Video has introduced a video camera similar to this disposable camera that costs $125 and with which you can download directly, with a flip-out USB port, to any computer. The editing software for clips is in the device and is accessed when the camera is plugged into the computer. Film and video centers offer low cost digital filmmaking classes all over the country covering everything from lighting to editing to marketing. Digital film schools are popping up across the world in Ireland, Cuba, Uganda and even Iraq.10 Scott Perry,

his 2004 film Boy Called Twist, an adaptation of "Oliver Twist" featuring Cape Town street children, via one thousand shareholder investors who he appealed to at traffic intersections, on the radio and on the Internet. 10 Two London-based Iraqi filmmakers have started a free film training center in Baghdad called the Independent Film & Television College in 2004. Kasim Abid and Maysoon Pachachi offer short, intensive courses on lighting, sound, editing, documentary and short filmmaking. Because of sanctions and state

52 an instructor at the Motion Media Arts Center in Austin, says, "When I was learning all we had was Super 8 mm film that cost $15 for three minutes of raw film, no sound and no way to edit. Now, $15 buys five hours of digital tape, and the cameras and editing systems are everywhere."11 Increasingly, cameras are recording to hard drives, making even the purchase of tape unnecessary. HD [high definition] cameras have dropped in price as has the ability to edit in HD. Digital technologies have brought down the cost of the moviemaking tools to a point where they are increasingly available to a more general public. In moviemaking magazines, one increasingly finds movies referred to a "nobudget." Below I will provide some examples of how this new practically "cost-free" movie-making technology is creating new communities around new forms of cinema. Hyper portable video technology in the form of cell phones is making moving image capture more like still image capture in its availability and everyday aspect. Director Aryan Kaganof in South Africa shot the first feature film using only cell phones. He filmed SMS Sugar Man (2006) in eleven days using eight cell phones. Kaganoff relates, "We wanted to make a radically low budget film to show that anyone can do this. There are a lot of people in Africa who want to make films and can't afford it." n He hopes that his movie will encourage other Africans to make movies using the new technology, which is already prevalent. With the popularity of cell phones, Kaganof feels that this could be a medium of the future on the continent. The film will be beamed to

controlled media there has not been independent filmmaking in Iraq for 35 years and no available equipment. Although the security situation makes filmmaking and traveling to classes very dangerous, some have succeeded in completing films, which have traveled to film festivals. Abid and Pachachi raise all the money for equipment through charities. They say that there is a strong desire and plenty of students but that it is difficult for students to get to and from classes safely. Ali Jaafar, "Learning the Hard Way: Iraqi Film School Recruits Despite Strife," Variety, June 12-18, 2006.
11 12

Acohido, "Tech Turns Average Joes into Mini-Spielbergs." Christelle De Jager, "Helmer Phones It in with Cell-Shot Feature," Variety, February 13-19, 2006.

cell-phones in 30 three-minute episodes. Kaganoff is also seeking theatrical distribution

as he says the film looks great blown-up to 35mm. People tend to carry their cellphones with them at all times, so the potential for new formats and new filmmakers is huge. Surj Patel, in his article "Talk is Cheap: Make Mobile Movies," lays out a call to arms when he says, "It's now possible to collaborate spontaneously and instantaneously with other like-minded filmmakers, capturing scenes, comparing and feeding into the mix in real time. Your address book contains your film crew and cast. . . . The device is with you always, it's an extension of your consciousness and it is always on. Use it." 13 A number of film festivals have popped up specifically for cell phone films.14 There is perhaps nothing more different from Geuens' description of filmmaking than the fast-growing sport of high-speed movie making. Cinemasports is a popular day-long filmmaking contest, which was founded in San Francisco and has spread throughout the world.15 Filmmakers show up in the morning in teams, each with a laptop and digital camera, and are given a list of rules. By the end of the day, teams are screening their films to the public. In 2005, founder Jim Woo Joo held simultaneous competitions in Paris; Frankfurt; and Sofia, Bulgaria. Joo said, "Not only is digital video technology making things possible, it's changing our attitude and pushing us to explore


Surj Patel, "Talk Is Cheap: Make Mobile Movies," RES Magazine 9, no. 4 (2006).
Pocket Film Festivals: 10 Sec Film Fest:, Cingular Wireless Short Film Festival:


ws^lJ^S^MSS^i^^S^S^SS^., Festival Pocket Films: ww_wj:estiv^^ Microcinema Mobile Exposure: www.roicroci, Mobifest: Shooting People Mobile Cinema:, Thumbdance Mobile Film Festival:, Zoie Cellular Cinema: 15, accessed July 19, 2006.

54 new ways of doing things." For the 48-Hour Film Project, filmmakers must create a

10-minute short film in a randomly selected genre, incorporating a required character, a line of dialogue and a prop.17 The competition started in 2001 and has held competitions in over fifteen countries. Founder Mark Ruppert says, "The 48 Hour Film Project takes away the barriers - you don't even have time to think about them."18 Teams compete and then the films are shown at what is usually a sold-out screening. In the National Film Challenge, Ruppert and co-Founder Liz Langston take the challenge simultaneously throughout the United States by sending out the challenge by email in the morning and the filmmakers must time-stamp their finished product and mail it out within forty-eight hours. The best are chosen for a film festival that takes place both virtually and in the real world. Thus we see the development of new processes, new communities, new formats and even new ways of judging movies. The very concept of cinema is expanded as movies become many different types of objects experienced and produced in many new ways. People are increasingly making up their own rules, processes and definitions as the limitations of the difficult and expensive film reel are eliminated. Although this has not affected what one might find at the local multiplex, the lowered cost and ease does open up new spaces for moviemaking and new communities of moviemakers and viewers often overlapping.

Ryan Singel, "Game, Set, Film," Wired, May 10, 2005. accessed July 19, 2006. Allan Haldeman, "Fest Filmmakers Make Most of Weekend," Variety, July 28-August 3, 2003.

55 Machinima The process of machinima is an example of such a development. It is a way of making movies using video games for the characters and sets.19 Machinima is important to examine because it does not fall into the category of what most people think of as amateur digital moviemaking, i.e. handheld and on the street. Instead, it is completely created and shared virtually, thus opening up new spaces for cinema. The virtual and networked nature of videogames is such that players/filmmakers from around the world can easily collaborate on machinima projects. The software from the game provides camera angles, characters and sets. Thus amateurs can create

movies fairly easily without originating the software or virtual design. Camera angles require only a click and drag. As Tim Shey, co-founder of Proteus, an interactive media development firm puts it, "[Players] have this almost unprecedented opportunity. They've got this virtual world they can go into, they've got actors, they've got camera angles. One of them can jump up onto the top of a jeep and you can have a shot looking down. It's almost hard to explain unless you can actually see it, and that's happening in a lot of virtual worlds that are out there now."21 Activision and Lionshead Studios have

Machinima a portmanteau of machine cinema or machine animation, is both a collection of associated production techniques and a film genre (film created by such production techniques). As a production technique, the term concerns the rendering of computer-generated imagery (CGI) using real-time, interactive (game) 3D engines, as opposed to high-end and complex 3D animation software used by professionals. Engines from first person shooter video games are typically used. Usually, machinimas are produced using the tools (demo recording, camera angle, level editor, script editor, etc.) and resources (backgrounds, levels, characters, skins, etc.) available in a game., accessed July 19, 2006. The first Machinima film is generally accepted to be "Diary of a Camper" made in 1996 within the game "Quake." Now over a dozen different videogames are used including "Half-Life 2," "Halo 2," "World of Warcraft," "The Sims 2," and "Second Life."
21 20

David Aim, "Piecing It Together: Storytelling in the Digital Age," the independent, October 2005. Seventeen-year-old machinima-maker Harrison Heller describes how he first started into machinima in online game "Jedi Knight 3: Jedi Academy":

56 created a Sims-esqae PC based game called "The Movies" where the premise is that the gamers are studio moguls and so provides characters and settings for use in machinima moviemaking. Wired jokingly wrote pronouncing their enjoyment of "The Movies," "Finally, machinima for the masses!"22 In some cases machinima becomes a second derivative of reality. Production collectives within Second Life, the online virtual-reality world, have started producing machinima content. A Second Life group produced afilmcalled "Bells and Spurs," which shown in the real world at the South by Southwest [SXSW] Interactive Fest in 2006 as part of the Screen Burn Beta Festival. David Fleck, of Linden Lab, which created Second Life says, "The main difference between this and real-life movies is that we can work with actors and a production team who can come from any part of the planet, and where the only limit to the creative process is their imaginations. And it's for a fraction of the cost." There is even a machinima film festival run by Paul Marino since 2002.

In 2006 the festival took place both in New York at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens and virtually in the Laguna Beach Theater in Second Life.24 The festival

Soon, I began to use the game's screenshot capability to take still pictures of clan members and game play, editing them together with music to create slideshows and animations as clan recruitment advertisements. I later discovered a program that allowed me to record video footage from the game. I excitedly realized that this program would give me the ability to create my own films. I wrote a script using both "Jedi Academy" and new custom characters, and rounded up clan members to "act" in the film with their online characters. I chose an appropriate game environment for the scene and selected skins as "costumes" for my "actors." Then I directed other players to follow the script by moving their characters onscreen. After filming was complete, other clan members recorded the dialogue using headset microphones attached to their computers. I edited the footage, music, and voices together into a movie. When post-production was complete, I distributed the movie for free to a modding Web site. Harrison Heller, "I Was a Teenage Machinima Maker," Variety, July 24-30, 2006.
22 23 24

"What the Wired Gang Is into This Month:," Wired, February 2006. Robert Riddell, "Ghosts in the Machinima," Variety, March 27-April 2, 2006. accessed January 11, 2007.

57 featured a live machinima jam, making the Cinemasports and 48-Hour Film Festival look positively glacial. Machinima movies are venturing into different styles and genres. David Aim gives some examples of the range of Machinima films. "In one Machinima-made movie, two soldiers in full combat gear from the game Halo engage in a long, philosophical debate a la My Dinner with Andre (1981). In another, the video game version of The Matrix is used to create new sequels for the original film."25 Machinima has even been used for social commentary. Weeks after the French riots in the fall of 2006, 27-year-old French citizen Alex Chan, son of immigrants from Hong Kong, created the thirteenminute machinima short "The French Democracy," a critique of the police action in the riots told from the viewpoint of the would-be rioters.

(Click on picture to link to video.) The movie imagines the story of the two boys who were killed hiding from the police in an electric shed. Chan says that he wanted to show a different perspective on the riots from what was shown in the established media. The short received a lot of press and

David Aim, "Piecing It Together: Storytelling in the Digital Age," the independent, October 2005. accessed January 11, 2007.

58 views online from around the world. Chan was not an experienced filmmaker, but

used the machinima production tools from "The Movies." In an interview, Chan said, "Through these tools you can get some more spontaneous reaction or reflection not from mass media but from a simple citizen like me." Thus Chan was able to create a short action movie with many sets and characters within a few days of the incident he was representing. Although The French Democracy did not show in major theaters or compete for an Oscar, it did reach an audience who may not watch the news or read newspapers and showed a perspective not easily captured or explained by big media and the turn-around time for a political fiction film is unprecedented. There exist people who will not go to a film if the crowd scenes are populated by digital extras. 29 On the other side of the spectrum are gamers who are perfectly comfortable with a primarily virtual world of visual entertainment. Paul Marino, who runs website, says, "For some viewers, the richness of the story's world matters more than whether or not it's done with software. There are kids to whom a videogame character is instinctively comfortable to get a story from so machinima artists don't feel compelled to focus on the photorealism of their work." The machinima form

of moviemaking and its popularity demonstrate how comfortable many viewers are with the unfettered, virtualized gaze. In the next chapter I will explore the aesthetic and stylistic potentials for mainstream movies enabled by the popularity and familiarity of


Catherine Verret-Eimont of distribution outlet Unifrance USA theorizes that "the computer generation is less bothered by subtitles." Nicole LaPorte, "U.S. Crix Plant French Kiss: Gallic Pix Gain Ground with Yank Distribs, Auds," Variety Weekly, April 25-May 1 2005.
28 29 30

Sheigh Crabtree, '"inside Man' Machinima," The Hollywood Reporter, April 7, 2006. Dr. Todd Gitlin introduced me to this concept. He is one of them.

Paul Boutin, "What's (Still) Experimental? In 2004, Three Projects Make the Cut," the independent 27, no. 5 (2004).

59 video games and virtual worlds. Machinima also brings to the fore questions of art and authorship. Tim Shey, co-founder of Proteus, asks, "Who creates these stories? Is it the game designers, just by creating that universe and those capabilities? Or is it the players/auteurs who are finding new ways of using that technology?"31 Machinima takes part in the discursive and collaborative production form that I discussed in the last chapter, where the product is mutable and negotiated. The cost and ease of moviemaking technology have made it a medium that more and more people can take part in the creation of and participate in new forms of moviemaking. Moviemaking is more and more accessible to the amateur and we will see not just in the capture of moving images, but in the post-production as well. We, as an audience, have become increasingly accustomed to this speed and community production and larger productions have experimented to varying degrees of popular success using low-cost and speedy production styles. These new communities and processes need not compete on the same plane as the traditional moviemakers because, as we will see, they have different distribution and exhibition outlets and thus can coexist with ease. Post-Production: Editing One of the less obvious, but most integral, aspects of the digital revolution in filmmaking is in editing. Almost all movies are currently edited digitally. Montage has been the primary language of cinema for most of the century so it is significant that this aspect of cinema has been silently transformed. The role of the editor in production is changing in a number of ways. Editing used to be a very time-consuming and highly specialized skill. One could only edit after the film had been developed and special effects were not

Aim, "Piecing It Together."

60 part of the editing process, but were done in a laboratory. All this has changed. Basic editing software is available free on almost every personal computer and editing programs are accessible online. Using sites such as Jumpcut, Eyespot, Grouper, VideoEgg and Motionbox, people can edit their movies online without buying or learning to use any software. Users can put together video clips and add soundtracks, titles, transitions and special effects. Users can easily remix outside content with their own content. The sites founders say that their shared goal is "to reduce the complexity of video editing and to reduce the cost to zero," and as Jim Kaskade, co-founder of Eyespot says, "Editing video is eventually going to be as simple as sending an email."32 This development in editing for amateurs represents a distinctly new development. In the past, amateurs could capture images using Super 8 and videotape technology, but editing was always difficult, crude and basic. Now amateurs can express themselves with the same technology as the professionals. Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch, who edited Apocalypse Now (1979) and The English Patient (1996), was the first to use Final Cut Pro software on a major studio film, Cold Mountain (2003). He also used a hi-definition version of the software for Jarhead (2005). Murch says that for him the most exciting aspect was the Picture Internet Exchange, with which he could share information real-time from the editing rooms in San Francisco at Lucasfim with the director on location in Northern Mexico.33 The film shot on a particular day used to be sent off to be developed overnight and then the "dailies" would be screened for the director and cinematographer so that they could see how the
Scott Kirsner, "Camera.Action.Edit. Now, Await Reviews.," The New York Times, June 15, 2006 2006. Editing has become so accessible that the LEGO Company and Steven Spielberg have created a MovieMaker kit for children to shoot and edit movies with their LEGO creations.
33 32

Michelle Devereaux, "The Final Cut Pro," Wired, November 2005 2005.

61 shot had gone a day or two later. With digital that process can be simultaneous with the shooting so the director and cinematographer can see right away how a shot looks, before everything is disassembled or before the light changes. On digitally shot Apocalypto (2006), filmmaker Mel Gibson took to calling the reviews "immedialies." This is a radical change in how movies are made in that there is no more mystery in how a shot looks. Editing can occur almost simultaneous with shooting so the storytelling can be much more organic and seamless. As the roles of the specialists merge and become more simultaneous the movie becomes more of a collaborative process and production is less divided into tight and separate processes, titles and hierarchies. Post-Production: Special Effects The most rapid changes are occurring in the area of special effects as special effects software is becoming available at consumer price levels for the home computer. Steven B. Frankel, a managing director of Adams, Harkness & Hill, a Boston-based investment bank that tracks the post-production industry, said in 2003, "Two years ago, people were spending $30,000 for a special effects workstation. Today they can do the same thing on a $2,000 Dell machine that's part of a Linux cluster. And the software costs half of what it did just one year ago."34 Special effects software like AfterEffects allows home editors to create many special effects and plug-ins are available that can instantly create effects like blizzards and fog.35 Digital effects have become so reasonably priced that they are


Eric A. Taub, "Special (and Mundane) Effects of the Movies, on Tv," The New York Times, May 12, 2003. A plug-in is a computer program that interacts with a main (or host) application (a web browser or an email program, for example) to provide a certain, usually very specific, function on-demand., accessed March 7, 2007. "Blizzard" from the Berserk plug-in collection allows users to instantly change the speed, amount, size and "randomness" of the snowflakes. Matthew Power, "The Power of Plug-Ins: Some of the Most Useful Post-Production Tools Come in the Form Of "Plug-Ins" That Add Features to Compositing Software," Movie Maker 2007.


being used in television and independent films, not just for science fiction or disaster

movie type effects, but for everyday effects. For this reason the integration of computers and filmmaking has been like an iceberg with the majority of change happening below the surface such that movies have become significantly digital without being obviously so. Ed Ulbrich, an executive producer at computer graphics company Digital Domain, says "We're seeing a whole new crop of young filmmakers who are just as comfortable behind a workstation as they are behind a camera. Pretty soon there may not be any such thing as postproduction. We're entering the era of filmmaking as desktop publishing."36 We will discuss this development in the realms of style and storytelling in later chapters. The whole system of moviemaking, the economies and division of jobs, is fundamentally changing. Film can be manipulated in laboratories with treatments like acid washing and lightening effects, but, as film theorist Stephen Prince points out, for the most part, only the whole film can be treated. The cinematographer was in charge of the treatment process along with the lab technicians, but that is as far as the cinematographer went in post-production. Now, a movie can be fine-tuned frame by frame. Prince refers to O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000), directed by the Coen brothers, as a historically important movie because it was the "first time that an entire major feature film was subjected to digital color correction as an ordinary part of postproduction (i.e., the goal not being the creation of evident special effects)." The

filmmakers had shot in a green Mississippi, but the film needed a Dust Bowl look, so it

Stephanie Argy, "Digital Domain Animates Trent Reznor," American Cinematographer 86, no. 10 (2005).

Prince, "The Emergence of Filmic Artifacts:Cinema and Cinematograhy in the Digital Era."

63 was colored in a digital intermediary (DI). Prince says that this "brings the medium

closer to the kind of fine- grain aesthetic control that painters have long enjoyed," and yet the process does not interfere with "the appearance of naturalism."39 Thus, as Prince stresses, this presents a major alternative to the history of special effects since the invention by Georges Melies. As he says, until recently, the role or "mission" of special effects has been to create extravagant imagery of unreal worlds. He brings up the examples of theorists such as Siegfried Kracauer and Andre Bazin who valued the automatic mechanism of the film machine capturing the likeness of the world. Now even the most natural seeming of scenes is likely to have been as manipulated as the most high-tech science fiction film. Other examples of non-obvious but extensive use of digital manipulation are Amelie (2001) and A Very Long Engagement (2004) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, which will be discussed later, and even Breaking the Waves (1996) by Danish director Lars von Trier, which used clouds from Norway and waves from Denmark to represent the rugged Scottish coast when it proved too expensive to shoot on location. In general, most people would not have thought of Breaking the Waves, and European dramas in general, as special effects movies, but producer Aalbaek Jensen boasted that viewers got only six minutes of actual exposure to the Scottish landscape and that the digitalized effects were,

2000 - O Brother, Where Art Thou? - The first time a digital intermediate was used on the entirety of a first-run Hollywood film which otherwise had very few visual effects. The work was done in Los Angeles by Cinesite utilizing a Spirit Datacine for scanning at 2K resolution, a Pandora MegaDef to adjust the color and a Kodak Lightning II recorder to output to film. Intermediary July 19, 2006.

Prince, "The Emergence of Filmic Artifacts:Cinema and Cinematograhy in the Digital Era," 28.

64 according to him, an "economic godsend" and a "force for the democratization of cinema."40 Thus with the DI, which as the price decreases is becoming ubiquitous, cinematography becomes part of postproduction. This creates new roles and new understandings as the cinematographer, whether shooting on film or digital, must understand the digital process, so that the images captured are appropriate for the ensuing digital manipulation. Prince writes, "In all of this, the cinematic image is merely catching up to where sound has long been. Few of the sounds, for example, that one hears in a movie originate at the point of filming or have not been subject to further processing."41 Digital technologies give the filmmaker much greater control of the "captured" images, thus as many theorists have pointed out cinema changes as an art form because the process of fine-grained manipulation makes it much more similar to an art like painting and less an indexical art form. Production has been infiltrated at all levels by digital technologies to the point where there is almost no such thing as a non-digital movie. At some point in the

process, almost every movie is converted into digital form and therefore has the potential to realize the affordances of the digital art object. Future chapters will explore how this infiltration of digital technologies brings out new forms of cinema from different producers and for different purposes. But for the purposes of this chapter, I want mainly

40 41 42

Jack Stevenson, Lars Von Trier, ed. BF1, World Directors (London: British Film Institute, 2002), 97. Prince, "The Emergence of Filmic Artifacts:Cinema and Cinematograhy in the Digital Era," 40.

Paolo Cherchi-Usai's 35-mm silent film Passio (2006) is a notable exception. He made only a few film copies and destroyed the negative. He writes, "In a strange way, that's my new term of engagement with the digital ideology, an oblique attempt to move beyond the notion of its 'dark age'." His attempts try to bring attention to the exhibition apparatus, thus Passio must play with a live orchestra. Cherchi Usai, "The Demise of Digital (Print #1)."

65 to emphasize the economies, job hierarchies and processes that are affected. Digital technologies expand the possibilities for filmmakers who at the extremes can make movies by themselves on a cell phone or completely collaboratively in Halo and, more importantly, anywhere in between.

Distribution has long been the catching point for filmmakers. A film print can cost between two and three thousand dollars and be over a mile long. Because of the expense of producing prints and the infrastructure needed to make and deliver them, distribution remained exclusively the activity of the studios. It is estimated that the costs of creating, shipping and destroying 35-mm film prints costs distributors $1.5 billion a year. 43 Economies of scale with the expensive film print make distribution a possibility for only a small number of films. Digital technologies are breaking up this distribution oligopoly in a number of ways. The digital copy makes reproduction and delivery costs cheap to free, thus distribution stops being a model of scarcity. The popularity of the DVD has changed paradigms so that, from an economic standpoint, theatrical box office begins to lose its status as the only significant measure of the success of a film. Movies can now do well on DVD, which may not have been theatrical economic successes. Audiences other than the typical theatrical audience can be accessed or can "discover" movies on their own. Currently, people watch more hours of movies on DVD than in the theaters. Downloading movies directly is only currently becoming feasible with bandwidth, storage and the soon-to-be easy connection between computer and television (still the preferred movie watching format.) This opens up new

Jason Silverman, "Feature Films without Wires," Wired 2005.

66 models of distribution, which together with new social networks and communities fostered by the growth of Internet culture allow for the distribution of movies from the long tail with smaller, niche audiences. Here it becomes clear that one must discuss cinema as a new medium. Historically, much of film theory has focused on medium specificity, but with cinema as a new medium one must consider not just the material form, but the means by which this form travels, is distributed and received depends on electronic networks and systems external to the copy. The affordances of Web 2.0 have enabled filmmakers to find their audiences in new ways, using Internet marketing and social networks and therefore opening up the legitimate possibility of self-distribution. I will examine how new infrastructures enabled by the easily reproducible digital copy, such as piracy, open up new distribution processes, new markets and new social networks. So although in many ways, getting the attention of large audiences in a media saturated world has never been harder and marketing costs have been consistently rising, I hope to demonstrate that the number of alternative distribution outlets and the new audiences accessed by these processes and social networks can enable more filmmakers to find audiences and get their work seen. A very few hard-core purists refuse to transfer their films to video, but most artists can find some way to get their movies seen even it if means free distribution. Director Damon Packard gave away 29,000 DVD copies of his film, Reflections of Evil (2002), leaving them at ATMs and newsstands, sending them to celebrities and hiring scores of homeless people to give them away. Although Packard's tactic has been derided, the movie did achieve cult status and premiered theatrically at the New York

67 Video Festival in July 2005. As the eyeballs-to-dollars ratio goes haywire, theatrical release and box office may no longer be the litmus test of a film's success. Smaller Scale Distribution Using digital technologies, small distribution companies have been able to use new economic models whereby they can obtain movies and distribute them on a smaller scale. The movie Odd Man Out closed the prestigious Endinburgh Film Festival in 2006 and is distributed by what the British Sunday Herald described as "a couple of Glasgow businessmen operating out of a tenement flat in the West End." John Letham and Nick

Varley started distribution company Park Circus to distribute independent movies as well as classics like Oklahoma! (1955). They use a new distribution model by providing digital prints upon request as well as releasing a few select films every year with marketing behind them.45 The problem for cinemas in showing classic movies has always been the difficulty in getting hold of film prints and the expense, but digital technologies enable the production of a "one-off print with very little delivery cost. This changes the expense model as theaters could even keep the movie copy and show it whenever they felt like it, sharing profits with the distributor in a different model than the traditional rentals.46 Small distributors like Wysiwyg Films in Europe can distribute films digitally that would not make sense economically to release with film prints. Founder Tom Swanston says, "We set up Wysiwyg to use digital technology to distribute really good independent

44 45 46

Brian Pendreigh, "Park Circus Finds Niche in the Classic Movie Scene," Sunday Herald, July 26, 2006. Ibid.

Ibid. Generally, theaters rent movies from studios as a percentage of the box office, which varies over time. For example, in the first weekend the studio receives the majority of the profit and as time goes on the theater gets more of the percentage. This agreement is currently being renegotiated.

68 films that wouldn't normally get a release but have an audience. It's about understanding where the films come from, because that's also where their audience is, and how digital can be used to lower the release cost." 47 In the case of The Plague, a Wysiwyg release in October 2006, the film had already been released the year before on the Internet, for $7 a download, and did a fair business. Thus Wysiwyg could measure interest before risking a theatrical release.48 This is another example of a reversing of the normal order as films can go from download to theater or DVD to theater in contrast to the traditional distribution arrangement and based on new audiences located through Internet communities. New pathways to the audience are opened up. Creative distribution companies can offer movies outside the mainstream and with the flexibility and low cost of digital technologies can personalize a release strategy to each movie. DVD Distribution Since 2002, the revenue to studios from DVD rentals and sales has surpassed the box office from theatrical release. According to the Digital Entertainment Group, DVD sales and rentals alone were about $21 billion in 2004, over two times greater than the $9.5 billion worldwide theatrical movie business. Thus the DVD has changed the paradigm for distribution, making a theatrical release more like an expensive marketing campaign for the DVD, upending the traditional hierarchy and movies as a commodity of scarcity. While changing the economic models for the studios, the DVD has also opened up new pathways for distribution for independent producers. The move from bricks and mortar to mail delivery in the rental market has allowed consumers access to much larger libraries of movies. On the large scale, Netflix

Adam Dawtrey, "Leigh Catches 'the Plague'," Variety, August 7-13,2006.

69 provides a by-mail DVD rental service with a library of 60,000 titles. At the end of 2006, Netflix had 6.3 million subscribers with 7 million rentals a week and nearly $1 billion in revenue, about 12 percent of the $8.4 billion rental market.50 Netflix exclusively distributes over 100 independent films and had plans to enter into various aspects of independent production and distribution through their Red Envelope Entertainment division. As Evan Shapiro, general manager of IFC says, "They buy and move more independent film than anybody else on the planet. They're the Google of DVD. They are the FedEx."51 Usually a distributor will not invest in a movie that is expected to sell only one hundred thousand units or less. But, with Netflix, because of the low overhead this is economically feasible. Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, says, "Eventually we'll be coming to Sundance and saying, 'We can buy everything.' There's a deal for every film." Netflix encourages users to rate movies and

has over one billion ratings putting them in a good position for suggesting movies to users, movies that otherwise might not have enough marketing or press to get attention from their potential audiences. This collaborative filtering helps Netflix to know where a movie might play well theatrically or who might like to rent it based on other rentals. While Netflix is still limited by the logistics of warehouse space and delivery, Walgreens plans to offer DVD burners in their stores so that customers can order a disc and in about fifteen minutes come back to a newly burned DVD. Wal-Mart has similar

Erin Biba, "Netflix Presents: The Main Attraction Is Still Renting Movies by Mail, but Now the Company Is Producing Indie Flick. Look out, Bob and Harvery.," Wired, September 2006.
50 51 52

Miguel Helft, "Netflix to Deliver Movies to the P C," The New York Times, January 15, 2007. Biba, "Netflix Presents." Ibid.

70 plans. Thus instead of carrying a few thousand titles, these chains could easily stock for

download tens of thousands, inventory would be limited only to memory space which is rapidly reaching levels where it is no longer a limiting factor. Thus the most obscure independent or arthouse movie could soon be available anywhere there is a box store. For the first time, smaller movies can reach audiences outside the major urban and arthouse cinema centers, opening up new markets and new communities of cinephiles. While the majority of the DVD movies rented through both Netflix and Wal-Mart will be mainstream movies, distributed by major studios, and with major marketing campaigns and theatrical runs behind them, only a small percentage of the one hundred million people who shop at Wal-Mart every week would be required to make a low-budget movie profitable.54 Online Distribution Even smaller, exclusively online DVD distributors are enabling filmmakers to have more direct control over the distribution of their movies. These distributors differ from traditional distributors in that, generally, the filmmakers keep the rights to their movies, an unheard-of scenario in a studio distribution deal where the studio is paying heavily for marketing and print costs. Distribution is on demand so the risk to the distributor is

minimized. These sites each have a slightly different business model, but generally they

53 54

Ben Fritz, "Burning Desires: Download Derby Turns to Dvd Pressing," Variety, February 12-18 2007.

In 2005, 37% of Hollywood DVD purchases were through Wal-Mart. This has changed the economics of movie production as the theater market and Wal-Mart market are quite different. Michael Learmonth, "Store Wars! Wal-Mart," Variety Weekly, November 14-20,2005. Alan Deutschman, "Building a Better Movie Business," review of Reviewed Item, Yahoo! Finance and Fast Company, no. 101 (2006), Brian Libby, "Portland's Creative Class: Behind the Scenes at Pdx," the independent, June 2005. Joshua Brown, "The Video Game: How to Sell and Promote Your Videos Online," RES, March/April 2006.

provide a webpage for each movie where users can preview a movie and buy it generally

for a price around $10.56 The movie is then printed on a DVD, packaged and sent to the consumer and a varying percentage of the fee goes to the filmmaker. Some sites even allow a greater percentage if the filmmaker invests in his or her own advertising and marketing. Filmmakers can track who is buying their work. At the time of this writing, some of these sites are FilmBaby, IndieFlix, Indiepix, Maitland Primrose Media, Triggerstreet, Buylndies, Peripheral Produce, CreateSpace, FilmThreat and Greencine.57 Since many of these movies are low-budget, sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars, the chances of breaking even become reasonable even with small, niche audiences. Some of these distributors, like FilmThreat and Greencine, began as and continue to be movie review and cinema culture websites, developing a cinephilic audience. Often the movies discussed and reviewed on the sites were only available at festivals, so it became an easy next step for the websites to begin distributing and providing a way for their audiences to access these movies. New communities of movie fans have been nurtured and developed online, ready and waiting for the movies to come to them. Thus the digital nature of the material product opens up new processes but only in combination with the Web 2.0 affordances like collaborative linking, filtering and recommendations. Digital distribution appropriates the communities and social networks for cinema that have already developed online.

Indieflix's motto is "Own a movie for less than a movie ticket."

57,,,, www.peripheralproduee.eom,, 1 , accessed July 25, 2007.

72 Download This discussion, of course, raises the question of downloadable movies. Downloading has been the elephant in the room, everyone knows it is on its way, but a number of technical and rights issues have slowed the adoption. Movies files used to be too big to download in a reasonable amount of time, but this is rapidly changing with widespread broadband and quick computers. The Economist wrote in January 2006, "The internet is still in the digital equivalent of the silent-film era. It has been formidable for text, still images and music, but is only now, with broadband access, entering an age of higher quality video."58 The situation has rapidly changed since that writing. In just two years we have seen the emergence and dominance of YouTube as well as increased access to digital movie downloads. Another factor was that there has not been an easy way to get the downloaded movie onto a television set, currently the preferred mode of watching. Yet, the 2007 Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was swarming with products to connect computers to televisions, so the end of the separation is nigh. Illegal downloads are already widespread, while legal downloads have languished, entangled in rights issues. In 2005, the MPA [Motion Picture Association] conducted a survey of five websites for the newly released Kung Fu Hustle and in just two seconds found evidence of 153 downloads of the film.59 The highly anticipated Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) was posted online the same day it premiered in theaters. Elite Torrents, which posted the movie and was consequently shut down, received 100,000 users a day. The number of illegal computer file downloads of

"King Content: Don't Write Off Hollywood and the Big Media Groups Just Yet," The Economist, January 19, 2006.


Vicki Rothrock, "Asia Industry Combines to Fight Piracy," Variety Weekly, January 31 - February 6, 2005 2005.

73 feature films is rapidly growing, reaching 44 million in May 2005 according to BigChampagne, a research firm that specializes in file sharing.60 The studios are terribly afraid of following the example of the music business. When songs became easy to download, global music sales declined precipitously. Like the music industry, the studios are just starting to realize that they have to compete and so are offering a limited number of movies through a few venues like Netflix, Amazon and Movielink. But as downloading becomes a viable distribution outlet, this will bring barriers down even farther and create great opportunities for Do-It-Yourself [DIY] distribution and small distribution companies. An example of a company taking advantage of digital download is actor Morgan Freeman's company Revelations Entertainment. In conjunction with Intel, they have started ClickStar, a service that will offer their movies on the Internet on the same day they begin showing in theaters. This service disrupts the current "carefully orchestrated progression of distribution windows," which begins in theaters, then months later on home video and then months after that television broadcast. Freeman feels that due to

online piracy and bootleg DVD's that the distribution window has become meaningless. He says, "I live in Mississippi in a very small town. In order for me to see a first-run movie, I have to drive a couple of hours at a high rate of speed. For me, and many consumers like me, this will be a godsend. I will be able to get premium content safely and cheaply."62 Clickstar's first movie was 10 Items or Less (2006), starring Freeman,

Steve Lohr, "Keeping Moviegoers Away from the Dark Side: Can Hollywood Avoid the Music Industry's Fate Online?," The New York Times, June 18, 2005.


Saul Hansell, "Actor, Working with Intel, Bets on Movies Via Internet," The New York Times, July 7, 2005. accessed March 19,2008.

74 which premiered theatrically and on Clickstar simultaneously. Director Richard Linklater, from Austin, Texas, who has made mainstream movies like School of Rock, but also small niche films like Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and A Scanner Darkly told New Yorker film critic David Denby that his small movies reach the major cities and college towns but are not seen in the suburban multiplexes or rural areas. He said, "On the Internet, the people who have been shut out of the national conversation on those movies will now be able to take part in it, and for the independent filmmaker that's an incredible gain."63 IFC's First Take allows on-demand purchase of movies currently in the IFC theater. As film reviewer Michael Sicinski writes, by "living in the sticks" and paying "$5.95 a pop" he happily subsidized what would not be a profitable theatrical showing of an independent film on "the coasts." What was an elite viewership based in big cities has been greatly broadened by the integration of digital technologies in distribution and social networking. Thus independent movies, art films and foreign films are now reaching across the nation and can be marketed specifically to interested groups regardless of geography. Niche Marketing Cinema as a new medium takes advantage of the decentralization afforded by digital technologies in the transfer of cultural information. Independent filmmakers and small and large distribution companies have turned to the Internet to better market to niche audiences made economically viable and valuable by the lowered costs involved in digital distribution. The Internet, across media, has helped break the hegemony of the

63 64

David Denby, "Big Pictures: Hollywood Looks for a Future," The New Yorker, January 8, 2007.

Michael Sicinski, "Critic's Poll '06/ the Comments: The Worst, the Overlooked, and the Death (and Rebirth?) of Film Culture," IndieWire, December 21, 2006.

75 mass market and has empowered the niche market. Independent filmmakers have been taking advantage of this segmenting of the population and the ability to reach out beyond the mass to find and distribute to their specific audiences. Independent movies by necessity have made great use of marketing online to specific niches already cultivated by targeted blogs, websites and communities. For the movie The Constant Gardener (2005), about an international pharmaceutical conspiracy, Focus, the specialty unit of Universal pictures, chose to advertise on political blogs like Wonkette. ThinkFilm, the independent distributor of the dirty-joke documentary The Aristocrats (2005), bought ads on gossip and humor sites like,, The Onion and David Fenkel, VP for marketing at ThinkFilm, said, "Some movies just lend themselves to online advertising. The Aristocrats is dirty, it's obscene and it's unrated, which is sort of like the Internet itself."65 Increasingly, ad campaigns encourage interaction. For The Aristocrats ThinkFilm's ads invited visitors to submit their own version of the joke. Digital marketing allows filmmakers and small distribution companies to target their specific audience and engage them. For director Richard Linklater's movie A Scanner Darkly (2006) based on a Phillip K. Dick book, Warner Independent Pictures, in conjunction with Microsoft, Jumpcut, and Res magazine, held a contest where fans could "recut, remix or remake" the film trailer using materials on their website. The movie's creative team would choose two winners and the online audience would choose the third. Web 2.0's social networking, enhanced search, rich media and recommendation functions

Joel Topcik, "For the Niche Audience, Studios Are Appealing by Blog," The New York Times, August 22, 2005.

76 provide great opportunity for locating and satisfying niche audiences for a wide variety of movies. Audiences participate in a number of ways, from online communities and commentary, to remixing the advertisements and designing trailers. This gives audiences a new relationship to the movie and a partial responsibility for its distribution. Distribution becomes an increasingly collaborative action between distribution companies, filmmakers and audiences. Finding Audiences and Subscription Fans Without theatrical distribution and the backing of a studio, filmmakers become responsible for finding their audiences themselves. Many contemporary articles in magazines such as Variety, Filmmaker, Moviemaker, RES and other popular culture sources have focused on the independent filmmaker's role in marketing and distribution, traditionally the separate business side, but now a hat the filmmaker must wear as specific, niche audiences need to be found and targeted. I gave the example of director Damon Packard in the opening, who took to the streets in search of an audience. Independent producer-director Melissa Balin went so far as to sell distribution rights to her film, FreezerBurn: The Movie (2006), on auction site eBay. She advertised in person in a Western get-up on the Palais during the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. A PayPal account was all that was necessary for the auction of thirty-seven territories from May 17th to 23 rd , 2006.66 Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have become popular with filmmakers, helping them to tap into audiences. Increasingly filmmakers, using new digital social networking technologies, are taking distribution into their own hands,


Ian Mohr, "New Bid-Ness Model," Variety, April 10-16, 2006.

77 finding themselves the niche audience, which the large studio either does not acknowledge or cannot define or that is not large enough for the economics of the studio system. Subscriber networks, like podcasting and subscription services have provided filmmakers a new venue for developing an audience using social networking tools. ITunes offers video podcasts that viewers can subscribe to so they can be informed whenever an independent producer has posted new content. Also MySpace allows a similar service where you can link your site to a Media Real Simple Syndication (MRSS) video feed so that people can subscribe to your videos. As filmmaker Joshua Brown writes, "It's quite amazing - you can have a constantly updated online video presence, with a built-in community of viewers - all for free (and a bonus: it's owned by the Fox Corporation, so you get to live off of Rupert Murdoch's largesse!)."67 These types of rich media communities are multiplying daily. Susan Buice and Arin Crumley's film Four Eyed Monsters (2005) was a big hit at the film festival Slamdance and at eighteen other film festivals. But despite reviews calling it the "Annie Hall of the 25-year-old set" from The Boston Phoenix and other glowing reviews, the movie failed to find a distributor. Crumley says. "Companies told us that the 'target' audience for our film was 'hard to pin down.' What they meant was that they had no tried-and-true formula for how to release a film to the type of audience our film appealed to, so they didn't want to take a risk."68 So the filmmakers decided to use the Internet as a way to market their film.

Brown, "The Video Game: How to Sell and Promote Your Videos Online." Adam L. Penenberg, "Revenge of the Nerds," Fast Company, July 2006.


Starting at the film festival South-by-Southwest they sent out daily video blogs about their experience to drum up viewers for their showings. They continued with a series of podcasts about the filmmaking experience in order to raise interest in their film.69 Crumley says, "In about nine months, we went to 16 film festivals and 3,000 people saw the film. Yet in the first 36 hours, [our podcasts] were viewed 3,000 times online."70 They now have 20,000 subscribers to their podcasts. As business journalist Adam Penenberg writes, they got a "thumbs up from the 'Netgeist.'"71 Eventually, the movie got a theatrical distribution from Emerging Pictures and premiered on the Sundance Channel in late 2006. hidiewire promoted them on their "Undiscovered Gems" list and then The New York Times wrote an article featuring the filmmakers and the movie. The filmmakers are also selling their movie on their website, on a DVD with the complete podcasts for $15 and as a low-end digital download.72 Peter Broderick, president of

A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of such files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers. The term "podcast" is a portmanteau of the name of Apple's portable music player, the iPod, and broadcast. accessed May 8, 2007.

Anthony Kaufman, "Caught in the Web: Netting Higher Dvd Sales Online," the independent 29, no. 4 (2006). Penenberg, "Revenge of the Nerds."

71 72 accessed March 17,2008. Increasingly, this is a multi-format strategy is being used in independent music and movie distribution. The band Nine Inch Nails with their newest album "Ghosts" (2008) had a number of options on their website where fans could get a free digital download of

79 Paradigm Consulting says, "With those names and emails, you convert people from consumers of a product to supporters of an artist."73 The digital product travels easily across different media and forms, encouraging a multi-pronged approach to distribution and exhibition and opening new markets. While Crumley and Buice claim to be $100,000 in debt from these activities, other companies have tried to take advantage of their popularity. Culture website has agreed to give the filmmakers $1 for every person who registers at their site under Four Eyed Monster. So there is the potential for synergy amongst communities, perhaps remunerating filmmakers in indirect fashion and encouraging new strategies. Thus again, when examining new media, it is not only the material aspects of the medium itself that encourage change, but also the outside world of digital communities, networks, and communication. Together the digital material characteristics and the electronic communities have created new potentialities for distribution, opening new opportunities for filmmakers willing to experiment with new methods of production and distribution. In the end, the filmmaker and audience must find each other, but this creates a new relationship based on mutual cooperation. These new opportunities do not
the first nine tracks, or pay $5 for all 36 tracks, or pay $10 for the 2-CD set and booklet, or pay $75 for the Deluxe Edition with the data-DVD with the multitrack format and a Blu-ray DVD, or $300 Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package, which was immediately sold out. There were 800,000 transactions the first week totaling $1.6 million in revenue, www.nin.corn, accessed March 17, 2008.

Kaufman, "Caught in the Web: Netting Higher Dvd Sales Online." An interesting attempt to bring together a number of electronic distribution tools is Withoutabox. Withoutabox began as a website that helped filmmakers manage their film festival entries and nurture their audience. A filmmaker can get emails about the entry cut-offs for film festivals and fill out the paperwork online through Withoutabox for multiple entries at the click of a mouse. Withoutabox joined forces with Customflix in March 2006 so that
filmmakers could produce and send D V D s through them as well, for screeners and film festival entry.

They have expanded into a Distribution Lab, which is now in the experimental stages. This Lab will help filmmakers who want to distribute themselves with theatrical, DVD and on-demand distribution. Filmmakers will have access to ticketing programs, catalog management, online social networking and marketing programs. The more advance tickets to showings sold the more theaters will sign on to exhibit the movie, accessed November 20,2007.

necessarily make it easier for filmmakers to sustain themselves economically, but it does

allow them to produce and distribute movies and have them seen. The market strategies for many of these filmmakers are aimed at eyeballs and thus can operate under different paradigms than the studio system, which requires a major homerun to sustain the economics. Although the effects of the emergence of these filmmakers and audiences on the larger studio system are difficult to predict, they have already affected what people are watching, who is making movies and the experience of cinema. Piracy Increasingly with the digital art object and porous means of distribution, it becomes easier for audiences to access new cultural products and harder to keep them from it. As William J. Mitchell writes of digital images, "There is an erosion of traditional boundaries . . . In multiple and sometimes subtle ways they resist treatment as privately owned material commodities."7 Piracy has become a major distribution outlet for digital media. Although piracy is primarily initiated for the distribution of studio fare, it proceeds to open up new outlets for independent movies, which might not have distribution or global reach otherwise. As anthropologist Brian Larkin writes, "Pirates feed off the official media by following the logic of that technology. They exploit the capabilities of new technologies for reproduction that remain unused due to judicial constraints."75 Larkin discusses the situation in the developing world; his area of study is Nigeria, where the pirate media market originally for cassette tapes and then video, encouraged and spawned a growing
74 75

Mitchell, The Reconfigured Eye.

Brian Larkin, "Piracy, Infrastructure, and the Rise of the Nigerian Video Industry," in Global Currents: Media and Technology Now, ed. Tasha G. Oren and Patrice Petro, New Directions in International Studies (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004), 161.


legitimate and original Nigerian video production system in English as well as the local languages of Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa where it did not exist previously. Thus the pirate distribution system has led to a legitimate production system by creating channels of commerce. As Larkin stresses, the money, knowledge, and networks that were established for the distribution of pirated media paved the way for the success of the Nigerian "film" industry, in which, as Larkin points out, the "film" is wholly shot, edited, and distributed on video.76 Pirate distributors, ignoring rights constraints, can fully exploit the digital affordances, developing new audiences and distribution infrastructures, which then influence the traditional, mainstream, legitimate systems. An example of this two-way flow is demonstrated by the British soccer film The Football Factory (2004). A rough-cut pirate version of the film circulated well before the theatrical release, which was modest. But the controversy, both over the subject matter of fan violence and the piracy, pushed DVD sales way up, disproportionate too its theatrical success. As Xavier Marchand, of the DVD distribution company Momentum, puts it, "I thought it was going to hurt us, but I'm starting to wonder if it helped us

because we could pitch our DVD as a special-edition director's cut." The audience for The Football Factory was not necessarily the same as the general theatrical audience, thus the bootlegged DVD satisfied a disparate audience that a larger, legitimate distribution company would not have accessed. Nick Love, the writer and director, has since had little trouble funding his next projects as the popularity of his first movie and the audience, which the pirates discovered and bolstered, was then established. Thus the pirate infrastructure worked as an effective marketing tool at no cost to the filmmaker and
76 77

Ibid., 165. Adam Dawtrey, "Brits Get Soccer Kicks," Variety Weekly, November 29- December 5 2004.

with considerably better aim than a studio could have, accessing communities already developed and nurtured but outside the norm of studio marketing. Also in the urban genre is Cess Silvera, listed as one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Indie Film" in 2004. His independent gangster movie Shottas was a huge underground hit. As he says, "It's on every rapper's tour bus. Anyone who has a DVD of Scarface has one of Shottas too."78 Silvera estimates that two million copies have been purchased. But Silvera never got to sell or distribute the film. During the editing his composer, Wyclef Jean, called him to say that one of the scoring tapes had been lost in the studio. Within weeks, as Silvera says, "It was on every bootleg stand in Brooklyn and Times Square!"79 Actor Ky-Mani Marley (son of Bob) was playing a concert in Ethiopia and claims that half the fans who came up to speak to him after the concert had seen him in Shottas on pirated DVDs. And in South Africa, a seller at a market stall saw Silvera's dreadlocks, guessed he was from Jamaica, and tried to sell him his own movie, demonstrating the speedy and global reach of the pirate network. Strangely enough, viewers did not even seem to know they had a bootlegged copy, with one Internet Movie Data Base [DVIDB] user, "Lemmy Caution from Queens" writing, "A bit uneven, Shottas suffers from low quality transfers that just add to the film's problems. My dvd copy would sometimes cut to a black screen that would say: Insert more robbery scenes here." 81 This just emphasizes the fluidity between the black market and legitimate market, especially for inner city viewers, many of whom may be

78 79 80 81

"Cess Silvera," res, Summer 2004. Ibid. On Shottas for LifeQQQl) the bonus disc with the Shottas DVD. accessed March 7, 2006.

83 watching independently produced and distributed films purchased outside the normal channels at street markets or passed around amongst friends. Thus, their experience of cinema entails lower quality, missing pieces, citational lapses and uncensored, alternative content. The "problems" with Shottas, from the perspective of a studio, its amateur nature, sex, violence and Jamaican Creole language are not a problem for the pirate audience who are accustomed to and may prefer this form. In general, studios and marketing companies do not effectively access this market, which has been satisfied only by the pirate distribution of bootlegged DVDs. These pirate distribution models were developed for studio fare, but are ready and waiting when an independent movie like Shottas comes along, which directly appeals to this market. The rampant bootlegging and the violent nature of the film made an initial distribution deal for Shottas impossible, but the global success and notoriety of the movie got the attention of Sony Screen Gems who in 2006 gave Silvera a distribution deal. Shottas had a limited theatrical release in 2006 and the DVD debuted legitimately in February 2007. Piracy has been purposefully exploited by some filmmakers who do not have the distribution clout of Hollywood and who may want to subvert the traditional distribution channels and censorship. Syrian documentary director Omar Amiraly returned to Syria in 1992 after twelve years in exile in France. In 2005 he made a movie called Flood, in response and contradiction to a documentary he was hired by the government to make in 1970 about the Euphrates Dam Project. The film is extremely critical of the regime and would not have been released in Syria. So, Amiralay purposely gave the movie to pirates to distribute. He says, "Two months later, everyone in Damascus had seen it. It was a

84 digital flood." Piracy is a major part of distribution in the Middle East as cinemas are

scarce, or in the case of Saudi Arabia banned, and censorship severe. Thus, again, the pirate infrastructure is in place in the Middle East exploiting the digital nature of the product, probably for distribution of Hollywood and Bollywood movies, and yet the same system is ready to be exploited by filmmakers who want to get a message out anathema to the political powers. A space is opened for a form of social communication outside the established hegemony. Mexican director Sergio Arua made an English language, Spanish and Mexican financed film called A Day Without a Mexican (2004), which purports to demonstrate what would happen to the economy of California if all the Mexicans suddenly vanished. The movie was a hit in Mexico and video pirates sent messages to Arua and his production company saying "that because the film was so wonderful for our people, they wouldn't make bootlegs until the film ended its theatrical run." After the theatrical run,

though, the film became fair game with a number of Mexican and U.S. versions. Arau says, "And I have a friend who bought one in Cambodia. I was very honored, because it was the only Mexican movie to be pirated in Cambodia."84 The global and immediate reach of pirate networks mocks the legitimate distribution system, which follows archaic perceptions of cultural preferences and bizarre timing schemes. Filipino filmmaker Emman Dela Cruz (Sarong Banggi) gives piracy much credit in writing:


Lawrence Wright, "Captured on Film: Can Dissident Filmmakers Effect Change in Syria?," The New Yorker, May 16, 2006.

Victor Payan, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico: The Next Chapter in Cinema," the independent 28, no. 6 (2005).

85 Much flak has been thrown at digital filmmaking, but very few have written about what has been done so far. It gave Filipinos renewed power to own their images again. True to Pinoy ingenuity, we've created bigger things from so little. Digital has done for filmmaking what piracy has done for awareness: It gave so much freedom for the Third World film viewer and filmmaker. The downside is not the

medium, it's closed-mindedness in approaching it.

(italics mine)

It is important to note, that Dela Cruz takes as a given "what piracy has done for awareness," in the context of Filipino cinema. As Larkin points out in the case of Nigeria, the pirate distribution systems are founded for the distribution of Hollywood and Bollywood movies, and yet the distribution flows and systems result in the opening and creation of markets for local fare. In many countries, the legitimate distribution system favors Hollywood and Bollywood movies almost to the exclusion of the local, especially when there are often very few theaters per population. Thus for many, piracy is a way around the hierarchical distribution system that favors Hollywood films and in fact allows Filipinos to see Filipino movies, often for the first time. New audiences are cultivated and communities formed that can communicate with moving images on local issues. So pirate distribution works on two platforms. On the one hand, the global reach is such that the movie A Day Without a Mexican is probably the first Mexican movie to be distributed in Cambodia. Cambodians become aware of the issues that affect Mexicans and this opens discussion of the pitfalls of the global economic system. On the other hand, we find the pirate distribution of local fare ~ movies about inner city issues, Syrian politics, and contemporary Filipino culture that would not be economically or politically feasible to distribute by traditional means but that are profitable for pirate
distribution. In both cases communities and discourses are enacted that parallel the

growth of both global and local electronic networks, but bring cinema into the mix. This

Marinel Cruz, "Digital Filmmakers Challenge Critic," Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 31, 2006.

86 taps into communities which may not have solid infrastructure or Internet access or who may be illiterate, inviting them into the global discussion. Piracy brings distribution up to date with the demands of both the filmmakers and global audiences to have the content they want available when and where they want and for reasonable prices. Pirate distribution creates certain channels of commerce and expectations of content unfulfilled by traditional distribution systems. The studios are beginning to realize that they need to compete and adapt to a more networked environment. Anne Sweeny, co-chair of the Disney Board said at Mipcom on October 10, 2006, "We understand now that piracy is a business model.... Pirates compete the same way we do - through quality, price and availability. We don't like the model but we realize it's competitive enough to make it a major competitor going forward."86 Both Warner Bros, and Twentieth Century Fox have sold cheap, legitimate DVDs to pirates in China exploiting their already developed systems. Independent distributor Wysiwyg, mentioned above, encourages pirates to contact them so that they can buy and distribute better quality DVDs benefiting both the pirate who can charge more and the independent distributor whose movies get a wider audience.87 Pirates by exploiting the affordances of digital technologies, their manic reproducibility and ease of transport, have created a model that is both in direct competition with the legitimate system but also goes beyond those systems creating new pathways and new global markets. The legitimate distributors have to directly utilize the pirate distribution systems and markets in order to compete. So we see the fluidity

Nicol Wistreich, "Disney Co-Chair Recognises 'Piracy Is a Business Model'," netribution, October 10, 2006.


Wysiwyg Films, "The Death of Piracy," netribution, May 15, 2007.

87 between legitimate and pirate systems in the arena of digital technologies, where pirates feed off the systems of legitimate distribution and yet these legitimate systems are also dependent on the pirate systems for new markets and innovation. Thus as we can see the characteristics of digital objects like mobility and reproducibility make piracy a very viable means of distribution. As cinema becomes a new media, the synergy between the communication and community networks of Web 2.0 and the cinema product allows new distribution channels to flourish. Movies can travel via electronic communication networks already in existence for text and images and ready to be exploited by rich media. The distribution system is forced to adapt and

new content sources are empowered. The experience of cinema becomes more fluid as sources multiply. New distribution systems create new relationships between filmmakers and audiences who must find each other under conditions of excess and work together on distribution.

The last cog in the wheel has been exhibition. For many movies, the only time they take on a celluloid form is for the existing machinery of projection in the majority of theaters. Due to complications of economies and the current expense of high-quality digital projectors, theaters have been very slow to adopt digital projection. Current economic rental models with distributors have kept the majority of theaters chained to projecting only the most widely popular movies. Digital projection creates new economic models for theaters, which I will demonstrate, gives them a larger number of exhibition options and can change the role of the theater in the community as the theater can cater more specifically to its community and time slots. At the same time, exhibition can leave the

88 theater opening up potential for a wider exposure to a diversity of movies - art, independent, short, local, and even ideological. Discussion about digital projection began in earnest with the release of Star Wars Episode One (1999). Director George Lucas predicted that Episode Three would be projected completely digitally, but the standards issues for studio fare had not been ironed out until recently and finally, cinemas are starting to go digital. In fall of 2005, the Hollywood studios agreed on common technical standards for digital cinema introduction or the Digital Cinema Initiatives [DCIJ. The studios, theater owners and equipment vendors also decided on a method to pay for the change to digital, which costs about

$85,000 an auditorium.

According to David Halbfinger of The New York Times, theater

owners pay roughly $10,000 toward the $85,000 cost of converting each auditorium. The balance is recovered, typically over ten years, from the movie studios, which pay "virtual print fees." Starting around $1,000 for each copy of a movie delivered to a theater, the fees approximate the studios' financial savings on film prints and shipping. This money is supposed to be directed toward the suppliers of digital cinema equipment.89 This means the U.S., which currently has 35,000 of the world's 110,000 screens, should begin a rapid switch-over.90 International Adoption Each country has taken a different route towards adopting digital technologies in exhibition. In the UK, the publicly funded Film Council has agreed to equip 200 cinemas in the UK at a cost of 10 million, in return for a promise that they will show more

David M. Halbfinger, "A Bet on 3-D Movies to Push Theaters Beyond Celluloid " The New York Times, September 26, 2005.
89 90

Ibid. "Digital Cinema to Go Low-Cost Route in India,", May 31, 2006.

89 "specialist films, including classics." The stated aim is to create more diversity in film

programming. Ireland is the first country to announce that its entire base of 600 screens will be digitized.92 Promoters like the Irish Film Board and Digital Cinema Ireland advocate that cinemas in rural counties outside the major cities will have the same immediate access and screening quality of films as a cinema in Dublin.93 What is interesting is that both initiatives, in the U.K. and Ireland, are state sponsored and contain ideological cultural agendas. This differs from a number of countries where the initiatives are privately funded and economically motivated. It remains to be seen if the different outfitting scenarios lead to differing content in the theaters. In India many theaters are installing low-cost digital cinema, also known as "ecinema" as opposed to the more expensive DCI compliant "d-cinema." As of spring 2006, 400 of India's 8,000 theaters had this capability.94 The high cost of a film print compared to the low cost of a movie ticket in the rural areas has meant that, previously, it has not been cost effective to strike prints for rural markets. In many parts of the world, including China and Brazil, low-quality digital has penetrated faster than the expensive Digital Cinema Initiative [DCI] compliant projectors. The low quality e-cinema systems can cost as little as $7,500 whereas the d-cinema systems cost close to $100,000.95 This, in effect, provides a great opportunity for local, Bollywood and independent movies as

Pendreigh, "Park Circus Finds Niche in the Classic Movie Scene."


Ralf Ludemann, "Circuits on Overdrive: Brit Exhibs Undergo Changes While Re-Inventing the Sector," Variety, June 27-JulylO 2005. "Prime Moment as Cinemas Go Digital," Irish Examiner, May 12, 2006. "Digital Cinema to Go Low-Cost Route in India." Marcelo Cajueiro, "Brazil Eager to Convert to Digital: Rain Network Leading the Charge," Variety 2007.

93 94 95

90 Hollywood studio movies require the D O compliant technology and therefore, ironically, cannot play legally on these digital projectors.96 In Brazil, digital technology is making it economically feasible for local and art movies to be seen. Natal, a city of almost one million people, has only ten movie screens, which screen mostly big-budget Hollywood films. With digital technologies, theaters can exhibit a larger variety of product. Joao Passos Neto, the president of Moviecom Cinemas, says, "The digital capability will allow us to create two weekly screenings of Brazilian and art films in our theater in Natal. We know the demand for this kind of film is there. But currently we cannot afford the high costs of shipping prints of independent films." Other exhibitors in Brazil are quickly outfitting their theaters

with low cost digital projection equipment. The big city art theaters have already moved to digital and the smaller towns are starting to. The exhibitors and the companies that partner with them to outfit the theaters share profits from cheap to produce and targeted, digitally shot advertisements. Thus the economic paradigm can change as the flexibility and lowered costs of digital projection afford new incomes, for example from these locally directed advertisements, and the exploitation of smaller audiences with more variety of content. Instead of the rental agreement based on box office, exhibitors and distributors can work out new relationships and income streams specifically directed at the audience for a particular movie or in a particular theater. The improved targeting, which the flexibility of digital enables, can lead to innovative income streams. Unexpectedly, the technology, as it has been adapted due to financial constraints,

Jia Honglin, "Slow Boat to China's Digital Future: Government Has Made an Initial Investment of $25 Million," Variety 2006.


Marcelo Cajueiro, "Brazil's Digital Screens Give Indies a Shot," Variety, May 15-21, 2006.

91 encourages, without state funding, local and independent movies and brings this content to large audiences previously deprived by the economies of scale. Alternative Programming As mentioned above, smaller distribution labels are buying up the rights to and rereleasing classic and independent films digitally. Exhibitors can establish new economic models with distributors enabling them to show good quality classic and independent movies without the worry that the audience is large enough to justify the expense. Digital technologies will allow theaters to be more liberal in their programming and make better use of both the local audience and alternative times of the week. Peter Brown, CEO of AMC Entertainment Inc., said, "Digital is going to allow us more flexibility in respect to how we program our theaters. That's the next big thing out there."98 Theaters on average use only 15% of the available seats on weekends and holidays. Most of the week they are empty. Digital projection will allow theaters to program for the local audience and make better use of unpopular time periods. Many digital theaters are experimenting with different fare, including special arthouse events and classics. As Rupert Gavin, the chief executive of Odeon, says, "This greater flexibility of screenings might have benefits not usually associated with big multiplex cinemas. Without the burden of paying for a print, it should be easier for multiplexes to screen movies taken from the long tails of arthouse and foreign-language cinema."100 Theaters are experimenting with digital "showings" unrelated to traditional cinema such as live big-screen video games, live sports broadcasts, live surgical
98 99

Keiko Morris, "It's Not Just the Movie Anymore," Newsday, March 5, 2006. Ibid. "Results for 2005 show 15% of seats utilized on weekends and holidays."

Matthew Goodman, "Digital Age Ushers in Epic Cinema Changes: The Latest Screens Allow You to Play Video Games, Watch Football or Learn Eye Surgery.," Times, July 30, 2006.


operations for educational purposes and live theatrical productions like opera. Steve

Knibbs, COO of Vue Entertainment, says, "Anything we can get as an input we can put up on screen. That means we go from being a place where you can just see 35mm films to becoming a true general entertainment place providing everything from gambling to gaming, educational lessons to movies they might not have seen for 40 years, and all sort of things like that."101 Digital 3-D movie exhibitions have lately become popular as a way of creating an event not available in the home theater. Also digital big-screens can take the movie out of the theater like the extra-large premiere of Cars (2006) in front of 30,000 people at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, New Hampshire. Digital technology is allowing theaters to renegotiate their relationships with their communities and to provide a broader entertainment platform. Digital projection can also allow a theater to focus on local programming. In Luton, in Great Britain, with their new digital projector, the town's cineclubs and local filmmakers began screening their own shorts for films for friends, family, and "anyone else interested in supporting the amateur movie world."102 Even the programming of home movie nights has become a popular theater event. This is a tremendous shattering of what the experience of cinema has been, especially since the introduction of the mall multiplex. Although there have always been cineclubs, it remained difficult and rare to see an independent or avant garde film outside the major cities. In New York City, we have our special theaters aimed at classical movies or alternative programming, but this has not been the case outside the cities where the local theater could generally only afford

"Cinema's Focus on the Future: State-of-the-Art Digital Era Dawns," Luton Today, February 8, 2007 2007.

to play the largest tentpole movies. Digital exhibition allows these theaters a new

economic model that permits them to diversify their showings. Many writers have bemoaned the death of cinema as digital technologies took movies out of the community cinemas and into the private home, yet digital exhibition opens the possibility for the local theater to return to a place of prominence as the cultural hub of a community, providing local programming and events not available anywhere else and geared specifically to their audiences and timeslots. Wireless Delivery, Microcinema, Ideological Exhibition The big hype about digital exhibition has always been the potential for wireless delivery, but this has not yet proven to be an efficient method. The concept still generates excitement though. For the first time, at Sundance in January 2005, a feature film was delivered for its premiere via wireless technology. Rize, a documentary about a new form of dance called "krumping" in the inner city of Los Angeles, was shot on high-definition digital video, encrypted by Intel technicians in Oregon, streamed to Salt Lake City, beamed via microwave to Park City and through a WiMax connection to the top of a 10,000-foot mountain. As the director, David LaChapelle said, "I feel like Alexander Graham Bell."103 The movie could not have been a more ironic choice as it concerns the machinic and solid material technology of bodies moving in new ways in response to the boredom and lack of opportunity in the black inner city and yet it beamed to the high-tech white, snowy, every-opportunity-at-your-fingertips world/village of Sundance. Nick Dager, editor and publisher of Digital Cinema Report, said, "If the technology proves successful and critical issues such as cost, reliability and, especially security can be

Silverman, "Feature Films without Wires."

94 addressed, then wireless would seem to have a chance to be a significant part of the future of feature film delivery."104 Theaters could be much more creative in their programming choices with many more films playing on a given screen on a given day. As Jim Johnson, the general manager of Intel's broadband wireless group says, "It could completely change the rules about how you could structure film delivery - how you show films and where you can take them."103 One potential for this type of technology would be an increase in the numbers of independent venues and their stock. As Jason Silverman of Wired writes of the potential for a wireless delivery "microcinema network," "You'll just need a computer, a projector, some chairs and a white wall. Sign on, select from what could become a nearly infinite menu of titles, pay your fee and you'll be in the movie business."10 Although there is potential for wireless and downloadable delivery in the future, the exciting reality now is DVD and cheap digital projectors for "microcinema networks." The mobility of digital movies has allowed exhibition in all sorts of formats for smaller and specified audiences. In Asia there is a dearth of theaters, but a number of small-scale "personal" video theaters has emerged. As Derek Elley reports, in North Korea, young people hang out in "video-bang" or KTV venues, where movies are screened in individual rooms, similar to Karaoke booths. In Luang Prabang, Laos, I followed signs to a cinema only to find

myself at a DVD rental store with individual small screening rooms. In China the


Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Derek Elley, "N. Korean Festival Draws Int'l Crowd," Variety, September 25-October 1, 2006.

106 107


government has plans for 35,000 mobile digital movie theaters for rural areas and

similarly independent entrepreneurs in India have started traveling digital exhibitions. Digital exhibition has opened up alternative exhibition networks, which have proven to be able to operate on a large scale. Much was made in 2004 about the success of both Passion of the Christ and Michael Moore's political documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Both raised awareness and exploited new grass-roots networks for both marketing and exhibition to great effect. A number of smaller political documentaries did well in 2004 as well. Some, like Passion and Fahrenheit, had theatrical releases, but others were distributed by groups like who raised awareness through the Internet and encouraged local screenings in smaller venues and discussion groups -- paralleling the religious distribution paradigm. As Brian Ulrich points out, with home cinemas becoming high quality, groups are getting together at home to watch both Christian DVD dramas and political films in house parties. 109 Cloud Ten Pictures, created by Peter and Paul Lalonde, is an independent film company which makes Christian films like the Left Behind series based on series of apocalyptic novels. They have created and exploited a network of churches for exhibition that they consider an alternative to the mainstream studio and theater system. no Peter Lalonde says that the quality of DVD projection in the megachurch setting, but also at

Honglin, "Slow Boat to China's Digital Future: Government Has Made an Initial Investment of $25

Brian Ulrich, "Box Office in a Box. How Dvd's Are Changing Everything About Hollywood. ," The New York Times Magazine, November 14, 2004 2004. Rob Walker, "God Is in the Distribution: The Producers of an Apocalyptic Movie Series Avoid the Studio System and Try to Build an Anti-Hollywood," The New York Times Magazine, November 13, 2005 2005.


96 some smaller churches seating 300 to 400 people, is impressive. For World at War,

Cloud Ten took half a year to build a list of churches. Participating churches paid fees of $69 to $199 based on their congregation size, and received a DVD along with marketing materials like posters, handout cards and Web resources to help promote the screenings locally.112 Although most digital enthusiasts have predicted the potential beneficiaries of digital technology in cinema to be art and what we normally think of as "independent" movies, what we see in action is that the new wave of cinema will include these political and religious movies showing in different cinematic venues, which fulfill niche audiences. This opens the market for ideologically based cinema. This is not to say that Hollywood movies are non-ideological, but that ideology has to be watered down immensely in order to appeal to large enough audiences. Exhibition spaces for ideological movies and the communities formed to watch them change the landscape of discussion, both atomizing and expanding simultaneously. Proliferating Festivals New technology has enabled a DIY indie rock approach to exhibition with traveling shows reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso. Independent filmmakers like Bill Daniel and Vanessa Redick travel the country with a DIY exhibition style, showing in small venues and advertising in dissident media. 113 The Lost Film Festival, run by punk rocker Scott Beiben, mixes activist films with socially conscious themes much like a DJ. 114 "We

12 13 14

Ibid.,, accessed January 25,2007. http://www.lostftlmfest.eom/. accessed January 25,2007.

show digital features, shorts, and footage from protests around the world. It's media that

has been censored by the mainstream media." Res Magazine in the July/August 2006 issue even provided instructions on how to set up a mobile, digital drive-in theater.11 Thus, much like in the case of distribution, filmmakers are finding their own audiences and bringing exhibition right to them. Again instead of the death of cinema, we see a revitalization of cinema culture as filmmakers and communities can develop direct relationships in new places through mobile exhibition technologies. A number of film festivals has begun online so that everyone can participate. In the case of the independence MovieFest (iMF) all entrants are posted and online viewers vote for their favorite twenty-five, which then enter the judges' competition. The festival even allows filmmakers to sell their entries online. 116 Some real world festivals have screened their shorts online. Sundance has done this and also has live streaming showings in the virtual world, Second Life. m Second Life has its own film festivals as

well. The excitement of the film festival is no longer exclusively for people who can afford the flight to and accommodation in Park City and have an inside source to tickets, but anyone with an Internet connection can both appreciate the movies and be involved in supporting his or her favorite films. Film festivals have moved into more and more obscure areas enabling those far off the beaten track for art and independent cinema to experience it. Also local fare, which in many places is screened only at world film festivals not in the countries of

Bryan Kennedy, "Moving Picture Show: How to Set up a Mobile Drive-in Theater," RES Magazine 9, no. 4 (2006).
116 117


Fiona Ng, "Independence Moviefest," the independent, Jan/Feb 2006., accessed February 8,2007, and http://vvww.sundancechannel.coin/secondlife, accessed February 18,2007.


origin can be offered and programmed. Local production company Camerado organized

Cambodia's first film festival in the summer of 2007. The festival took place in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and will travel to some rural locations.118 The festival featured Cambodian movies and awards as well as global offerings. The Jakmel Film Festival, started by David Belle in 2004 in Haiti, gets crowds of over 50,000 people.1 9 They have begun a smaller traveling version to bring the festival to communities all over Haiti. The festival has categories for Caribbean and African American movies, thus providing people who have no regular cinema experience the opportunity to see movies from all over the world as well as the talent and example of local filmmakers. The movies are dubbed in Creole by local talent, an effort that would have been impossibly expensive without digital post-production. These film festivals take steps to bridge not only the digital divide, by bringing groups into the global cultural conversation who do not have access to the Internet, but also bridge the literacy divide. Haiti has an over fifty percent illiteracy rate, so for many Haitians moving images may be their only forum for knowledge of a local as well as global cultural world. Film festivals can bring that world to them, exposing new communities to the worldwide discourse. These festivals enable more people to experience new cinema. They cultivate cinephilia in places that were geographically, culturally and economically off the beaten track for independent fare and completely out of the cultural discussion. Virtual festivals allow everyone to participate and even to be judges. Thus there is a revitalization of cinema culture enabled by the mobility of digital exhibition. show.html, accessed March 8, 2007. accessed March 8,2007.


Movies in Every Size and Shape

Digital technologies have made it easier for non-standard films to be distributed, like shorts for exhibition in any number of mobile devices. As journalist Adam L. Penenberg writes: Even the notion of a "film" has begun to seem a little quaint: Sure, there are still your standard 90-odd-minute narratives, and they may be around forever, but because moving images are increasingly being viewed in and over a variety of devices - from 3-D high-definition digital theaters to TVs to laptops to PDAs, cell phones, iPods, and everything in between - even that form is morphing. A film today might be a series of 3- to 5-minute episodes or a 20-minute short."120 Big Film Shorts is a company that distributes short film to broadcasters around the world for video-on-demand and pay-per-view, for Frontier Airlines' monthly "Cloud 9" inflight

film festival, and in the near future, cell phones and PDAs's.

Genart Film Festival

allows Delta passengers to vote on five short movies they provide inflight. Sundance commissioned a series of shorts for the 2007 festival intended specifically for cellular distribution.122 There are a number of cell-phone film festivals both for content shot on cell phones and for cell phones. Filmmaker and digital pioneer Jason Wishnow started "The Aggressively Boring Film Festival," for movies made specifically for PDAs.123 The various exhibition outlets provide an opportunity for new forms and formats for innovative filmmakers who must learn to communicate with audiences in motion. Digital technologies provide new exhibition economies, which have the potential to provide more audiences access to more diverse movies. From digital 3-D movies on massive screens to movies made and seen on cell phones the opportunities are greatly
120 121 122 123

Penenberg, "Revenge of the Nerds." Fiona Ng, "Q/a David Russell," the independent 28, no. 1 (2005)., accessed February 18, 2007. Willis, New Digital Cinema : Reinventing the Moving Image, 69.

expanded. Content can be increasingly more specific to diverse audiences. Although the worry is the atomization of societies as cinema changes from a mass media, I believe that the potential communities formed through the more mobile and available cinema object will strengthen society and bring discourse to places left out. The local theater can be greatly empowered to take back its place as a discursive space for communities. And as movies become hyper-mobile, audiences can increasingly bring this discursive space with them. Cinephilia Art films and shorts have traditionally had very few if any outlets for exhibition, and although this situation fueled a lively art theater and film festival culture, the potential loss of which was much bemoaned by cineastes such as Susan Sontag, we can only imagine how many more Maya Derens and Kenneth Angers might be distributed and appreciated with the opportunities provided by outlets such as Netflix,, iFilm, Google Video and YouTube. The increasing opportunities for the production, distribution and exhibition of movies has brought about a change in how we experience movies as they become as mobile and available as text. In 1996, commemorating 100 years of cinema, Susan Sontag published "The Decay of Cinema." She wrote, "Cinema's 100 years appear to have the shape of a life cycle, an inevitable birth, the steady accumulation of glories and the onset in the last decade of an ignominious, irreversible decline." Manohla Dargis writes, of Sontag, "She was mourning a lost world, a world in which movies mattered more than their box office and it seemed as if there were an art


cinema on every comer of Manhattan."

But as Dargis points out, cinephilia has

changed but not necessarily disappeared. She marvels at the availability of great art cinema at rental stores like Kim's and even mentions getting Jean-Luc Godard's In Praise of Love online at where users have given it three out of five stars. With articles on the Internet and DVDs of obscure foreign directors on Amazon, she stresses that cinephiles can live anywhere. They no longer need to be in Manhattan and in the know. She writes, "For those who came of age before DVD's and the Internet, there may be something unnerving about how small movies have become, but slipping a copy of Notes from the Underground into a backpack doesn't make it less profound."125 She is encouraged by the fact that, even though we can rent or download movies and watch them at home, festivals are more popular than ever.

Communities and Cooperation

I have covered a lot of ground in this chapter, but I hope to have demonstrated the myriad opportunities that are currently being exploited. At every level, digital technologies have created more collaborative environments in cinema production, distribution, and exhibition. This collaboration requires more work on the part of both the filmmaker and audience and this work has not yet been remunerated. In production we see a reduction in equipment costs for shooting, editing and post-production and a reduction in the specialized knowledge needed to create a movie as increasingly software for high quality production is developed for the consumer market. Movies can be created in a wide variety of forms and formats by global electronic collaborators or local "sports" teams.
Manohla Dargis, "The 21st Century Cinephile - How Local Festivals and New Technologies Reincarnated the Film Connoisseur.," The New York Times Magazine, November 14, 2004.
125 124


Many of these technologies allow more interaction and flow between what were very

separate divisions of moviemaking specialists and the simultaneity of action so that production even on the studio level becomes increasingly collaborative. The technology has allowed the detailed manipulation that in film was available only in the realm of animation and the infiltration of digital manipulation into naturalistic movies, changing the role of filmmaker and the ontology of the moving image, an aspect that I will examine in the next chapter. In distribution, Web 2.0 networks in conjunction with the digital characteristics of the DVD and downloadable movie have created new distribution pathways for more movies. In a situation of excess, filmmakers must find and at times create their own audiences. Piracy exploits the digital characteristics of movies and can find audiences previously left off the legitimate distribution map. Like the Web 2.0 networks, piracy

accesses the communities that already exist but which have not been satisfied, matching new content with new audiences. In the realm of exhibition, the inexpensive and readily available digital print can open up new economic models with distributors, which allow exhibitors to nurture new communities with diverse product. Instead of becoming peripheral as has been expected, the theater can, by accessing both local and specialized content, regain a place of prominence in the community. Festivals have demonstrated the excitement that people feel for specialized movies and increasingly these festivals can travel outside the established cinephilia communities. Digital movies are totally mobile and need not leave anyone out of the network.

103 With the elaboration of all these processes, I want to demonstrate how the processes of cinema have changed at a number of levels and the potentials for new filmmakers, new communities and new discursive spaces are opened up. As with all new media, the very flexibility and dispersion of the new cinema environment makes its existence less material and measurable and therefore perhaps less sustainable. It will remain to be seen if our options as audiences continue to expand and diversify and if filmmakers like Buice and Crumley will continue to share their movies without remuneration. But I think we have had a taste of the potential for cinema to reenter our communities as it perhaps has not since it lost its prominence to television. As more people participate both as audiences and as filmmakers (and increasingly as both) the opportunities will continue to grow.


IV. New Mode of Cinema: How Aesthetics and Style Are Changing Under Conditions ofDigitality
In this chapter, I will take a close look at the material qualities and characteristics of the equipment, software and processes of digital cinema production and examine how these afford a new aesthetics and style for cinema. Of course, many styles are available, including the status quo. Which styles are chosen involves not only the ease and capability, but also the most appropriate representations of reality. I will argue that, increasingly, as our everyday involves interaction with computers, our cinema aesthetics represents this form of visuality and way of navigating information. Film provides a number of aesthetic restrictions. As I described in the last chapter, film is hard to work with. It requires extensive lighting set-ups, the camera is large and unwieldy compared to the digital camera and for high-quality capture is quite expensive as is the recording material, film. The film reel must be switched every few minutes. Film is rather difficult to manipulate within the shot, so photographic realism and indexicality come naturally to film. These restrictions and limitations of the film camera have helped define the mode of film for the last one hundred years. Digital technologies, on the other hand, do not necessarily suffer from any of these limitations. Thus, I argue, digital cinema can play with new resistances and instabilities, opening up new routes and making others less taken. This is not to say that aesthetic forms are deterministic, but certain forms become easier and more compelling. Two theoretical trajectories have shaped my argument. Firstly, following Friedrich Kittler, what we can record and store, and how easily, influences our cultural


objects and means of expression. In Gramophone, Film. Typewriter. Kittler gives the example of philosopher (and as Kittler terms him the first media theorist) Friedrich

Nietzsche who, when his eyesight started to fail, obtained one of the earliest typewriters. The typewriter, or writing ball, was quite difficult to operate, one could not see the letters as one typed, and changed Nietzsche's style of writing (and as Kittler argues even thinking) from "sustained argument and prolonged reflection to aphorisms, puns, and 'telegram style.'"1 Thus the material apparatus of production affected the language and aesthetics of expression. In the same vein, I argue that the rather difficult film camera and irascibility of celluloid limited "recording thresholds," using Kittler's term, similarly affecting the language of cinema.2 Thus I will demonstrate that the extended thresholds of recording provided by the digital camera make certain styles likely because they are so available. Along these lines of argument, as Lev Manovich discusses, the software and the processes it allows or makes available cannot help but influence the art objects produced through it, thus cannot help but influence cinematic language. Our editing software determines how images are put together thus influencing how we create movies through montage. Manipulation within the frame, compositing as Manovich terms it, has become a common part of the digital post-production process encouraging new non-photographic representations and changing the potential nature of cinematic visuality.
"Indeed: Nietzsche, as proud of the publication of his mechanization as any philosopher, changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style. That is precisely what is meant by the sentence that our writing tools are also working on our thoughts. Mailing Hansen's writing ball, with its operating difficulties, made Nietzsche into a laconic. 'The well-known philosopher and writer' shed his first attribute in order to merge with his second." Friedrich A. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, Writing Science (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999), xxix, 203, 10. Kittler quotes Nietzsche as writing, "Our writing tools are working on our thoughts."
2 1

This is the idea that what we can record and store affects society's cultural products. In this case, I refer to the increased ease of recording and storage, which will be discussed below.

106 The second theoretical strand follows from media historians who have described the interplay of various technologies and visualizations in shaping expectations of and representations in cinema. In his essay, "Fritz Lang Calling: The Telephone and Circuits of Modernity," media theorist Tom Gunning describes how the interplay of other technologies of modernity helped shape style in cinema, influencing the means of representation. He uses the example of the telephone and director Fritz Lang. Gunning writes, "The cinema's relation to other technologies does, to a large degree, involve using practices made familiar by other modes of technology in order to introduce film viewers to new modes of representation (e.g. the telephone's relation to parallel editing), cinema also represents human experience within a web of many interlocking technologies which together enforce new negotiations of space and time." Familiar with the concept of the

telephone, viewers of Lang's urban thrillers, like M (1931) and Dr. Mabuse der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler, 1922), could follow the complex plotting and parallel action of the style, which also featured interacting media technologies such as phones, trains and timetables as integral to the plots. Everyday experience with the telephone made audiences familiar with instantaneous messages across space, the separation of sender and message and, on a more sinister note, the idea of crossed lines and dropped messages. As Gunning writes, Lang's style would not be possible without the common experience of the telephone: "If the telephone had not existed, film would have had to invent it."4 Similarly, I will

Tom Gunning, "Fritz Lang Calling: The Telephone and Circuits of Modernity," in Allegories of Communication : Intermedial Concerns from Cinema to the Digital, ed. John Fullerton and Jan Olsson (Rome, Italy: J. Libbey Pub., 2004), 20.

"Lang's editing models itself on the telephone's ability to carry instantaneous messages across space, and on a new temporality founded on instants and synchronization.. . The telephone stands as a clear examplar of the disembedding of space and time that Giddens sees as characteristic of modernity. Even more

present how our interaction with computer technologies has trained us in new modes of

representation and has afforded a more complex cinematic style involving multiple windows, algorithmic and architectural mise-en-scene, and a combination of text, information and audiovisual immersion. As the camera goes beyond the pen to become the computer, the camera becomes more of a collaborator and a computer aesthetic emerges. Digital audio-visual technologies on the computer prepare viewers for new forms of cinema that follow an increasingly digital computer logic. Montage can expand from a purely juxtapositional action and becomes a matter of choice with other options available such as the non-cut and multiple simultaneous action windows combined with text or animation, where the screen is not purely representational but fulfills a number of roles. This chapter will discuss some methods and movies that act as harbingers. Of course many movies continue in the same traditional mode, but the examples below shine light in new directions and the fact that they have attracted the interest of audiences, critics and theorists indicates that their path has promise. Digital and computer technologies make certain modes conspicuous, modes that were available in analog, but limited by formal constraints. As Gene Youngblood quotes Walter Benjamin, "The history of every art form shows critical epochs in which a certain art form aspires to effects which could be fully obtained only with a changed technical standard."5 The new mode has been prefigured in analog by farsighted filmmakers, like those of the New Wave, the Neorealists and the Avant-Garde, who played with these digital conceptions

dramatically than the railway, because of its separation of voice from bodily presence, the telephone creates a relation of communication within the disembedded terrain of pure electrical connection." Ibid., 23.

Shaw and Weibel, Future Cinema : The Cinematic Imaginary after Film, 159.

and possibilities of cinema before they were aesthetic default options. As Manovich stresses, computer technologies can make the avant-garde mainstream, for example taking a function like "cut and paste" and making it a default function as basic computer commands.6 So we move with inevitable ease from Stan Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving (1962) to Michael Bay's Armeggedon (1998) with an average cut length of 1.5 seconds. Medium-Specificity The medium-specificity of cinema has always been rather hard to define. D.N. Rodowick, in The Virtual Life of Film, traces how what he calls "the classical period of film aesthetics" consisted of a series of debates over the identity of film in medium-specific arguments. Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer and Andre Bazin all took part in such argumentation on the nature of film, attempting to define how cinema differed from the other arts. As Rodowick sees it, the difficulty lay in the hybrid nature of cinema: combining "moving photographic images, sounds, and music as well as speech and writing." In the early days of video, a similar theoretical tact was applied. Theorist and critic Amy Taubin described how early video artists, led by Nam June Paik, tried to emphasize the medium specificity of video, which she refers to as a "false separation," but for them opportune, because at that time video could not compete on technical and

"One general effect of the digital revolution is that avant-garde aesthetic strategies came to be embedded in the commands and interface metaphors of computer software. In short, the avant-garde became materialized in a computer. Digital cinema technology is a case in point. The avant-garde strategy of collage reemerged as the "cut-and-paste" command, the most basic operation one can perform on digital
data. T h e idea of painting on film became embedded in paint functions of film-editing software. The avant-

garde move to combine animation, printed texts, and live-action footage is repeated in the convergence of animation, title generation, paint, compositing, and editing systems into all-in-one packages." Manovich, The Language of New Media, xxxi.
7 8

Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 9-24. Ibid., 13.

artistic grounds with avant-garde film. In order to get funding and space in the museum, video artists had to fetishize the difference.9 This purposeful distinction exaggerated the differences at a time when the making of video art was still difficult and messy and focused the argument on the ontology of the medium. As video converged with film in terms of quality, the distinction began to lose importance in the popular discourse. Film critic Manohla Dargis, writing in 2005, notes how the New York Video Festival renamed itself Scanners and how film critics rarely mention anymore if a movie was shot on film or video.10 As film theorist John Belton points out, unlike the introduction of sound, color and widescreen, the introduction of digital technologies has been, on the level of visual representation, largely imperceptible. Without outside or technical knowledge, an audience may not necessarily perceive whether what they are watching was shot, manipulated, edited or distributed digitally. For this reason, and perhaps in reaction to some of the revolutionary proclamations for the effects of digital technologies in cinema, Belton has labeled this a false revolution.11 He cautions that we must not be blindsided by economic factors, but must take a closer look at what is really different about creating movies with digital technologies. He argues that digital technologies simply provide a better tool for certain functions, but he warns against assuming that this constitutes a new aesthetics. Yet, I will argue in this chapter that a new aesthetics and style is enabled and encouraged by digital technologies in cinema that digital technologies do not simply provide a better tool, continuing on the same path of aesthetics and style of film, but

Panel talk on Jonas Mekas' exhibit "The Beauty of Friends Being Together" at P.S. 1 in Queens, New York, March 10,2007.
10 11

Manohla Dargis, "The Latest Dispatches in the Video Revolution," The New York Times, July 27, 2005. John Belton, "Digital Cinema: A False Revolution," October 100 (2002).

110 rather will encourage a very different mode of cinema from film in content, form and process. I believe that the problem in defining the medium specificity of cinema lies in the fact that it has not generally taken into account the processes of cinema as a function of medium. Making a movie involves a series of processes: lighting, acting methods, setups, editing, and camera movements, all with varying degrees of relationship with the medium. Changes in these processes lead to different aesthetic forms. Digital technologies affect not only the characteristics of the apparatus as it affects the medium, like the capture of light and focal lengths, but, I will demonstrate, also affect the processes of moviemaking, thus redefining what is possible and what is easy. I will not engage directly the medium specificity arguments of classical film theory (for a wonderful example of this please see Rodowick's book), but instead I will provide some examples of movies employing new modes and examine how digital technologies have enabled or made obvious these aesthetics and styles. Shooting Digital for Film Until recently, Belton has been mostly correct. In the beginning, digital technologies have principally been used as a tool in an effort to create film-looking art objects more cheaply. The Bazinian ideal of total realism has been translated with the dawn of digital video into an ideal of total filmic realism. Following Marshall McLuhan, new technologies often try to emulate previous technologies. Initially, the content of the new medium is essentially the old medium, thus the effort in digital moviemaking to be filmic. But as Cory Doctorow writes, "New media don't succeed because they're like the old media, only better: they succeed because they're worse than the old media at the stuff the

Ill old media are good at, and better at the stuff the old media are bad at." With digital

cinema, we are at the beginning of this evolution. As McLuhan argues, after a period of imitation, the new medium starts to explore its own characteristics and find what its potentials and limitations are. In the popular cinema press one often reads, "As soon as digital looks as good as film, and that time is coming, then . . .." Software like Magic Bullet has been developed to make digital video look more filmic by adding grain and in other ways degrading the image. As a British software reviewer says, "You've filmed on the latest and greatest digital camera. You've edited in the latest version of Adobe Premier, running on your state of the art PC system. Quality doesn't get much better than this. Or does it? You've never had it so good, yet your 'film' doesn't quite have that edge. That edge is the holy grail of digital video: the film look."13 Bazin so valued deep-focus as an ethical and stylistic choice by filmmakers, but digital video is deep-focus by default, so journalism broadcast students spend semesters trying to master "rack-focus" in digital video.14 Only lately has digital cinema begun to develop an independent aesthetic and style. Filmmaker Stephanie Argy (Ghandi at Bat, 2006) writes in American Cinematographer, "DV's

Cory Doctorow, "Microsoft Research Drm Talk" (paper presented at the Microsoft Research DRM Talk, Redmond, 2004).

Marc Peters, "Review: Magic Bullet Editors," DIGITAL director, August 27, 2005.


Rack Focus - Shifting the focus from one object to another within a single shot. Sometimes, directors will use a rack focus when two characters are on screen at once but are positioned at different distances from the camera, accessed April 19, 2006. This tactic is familiar to film, but totally unrealistic to real vision. 'Though Bazin knew, of course, that the camera must restrict itself to slicing out a tiny portion of space, he thought a tactful deployment of the mise en scene could sustain the illusion of life spilling over the borders of the frame. His great hero in this regard was Renoir, who, significantly for Bazin, combined long takes with the technique of deep-focus cinematography. Bazin considered this not just one aesthetic option among others but perhaps the very essence of modern cinematic realism. For him, the incalculable virtue of deep focus is its ambiguity. Since everything in the film frame can be seen with equal clarity, the audience has to decide for itself what is meaningful or interesting." Peter Matthews, "The Innovators 1950-1960: Divining the Real," Sight & Sound (1999).

112 initial attraction for many filmmakers lay in its lower upfront production cost, but over the last seven years, it has matured into a format that offers aesthetic options and means for technical innovation."15 Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting [1996], 28 Days Later [2002], Millions [2004]) says that digital video transcribes better the experience of the 21 st Century: I mean if you can raise the money to shoot something on film, why use DV? The answer to that is the way the aesthetic of digital video mimics the way we receive information in the 21 st century. People are getting imagery projected at them through their cell phones and over their computers - they're accustomed to the grainy, pixilated look.16 As Boyle notes, the aesthetics of digital cinema were introduced before the cinema technology became prevalent. From our interactions with computer technologies we have developed a cultural knowledge and familiarity with a certain digital aesthetic; blogs, Quicktime movies, moving icons, cell phone pictures, pirated dvds, and viral videos have trained us in a representational aesthetic in advance of ubiquitous web video and digital video cameras. Amateur videos like Rodney King, surveillance cameras, the O.J. chase and home video on VHS have nurtured a penchant for the amateur, the visceral, and a tolerance for imperfect cinema. In describing Phillipino filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz, cinema theorist Olaf Moller says of his turn to video, "Film was clearly too slow for Khavn's punkish need for immediacy and so he turned to video for good. Apart from being cheaper, video seemed the appropriate medium for polemicizing, and Khavn's ultra-raw approach gives it a certain Third World feeling - a tad tacky, a little

Stephanie Argy, "The Evolving Process of Taking Dv to Film," American Cinematographer, May 2005 2005. Argy's film recreates afictionalincident where Ghandi pinch hits for the New York Yankees in 1933 in Yankee Stadium.http://www.gandhiatthebat.coro/. March 20, 2008. David Fear, "In the Money: The Always Surprising Danny Boyle Cashes in His Chips to Direct Millions, an Intelligent Kid's Flick," MovieMaker 2005.


ugly, but capable of giving a certain luster to the colors of the dispossessed."


Moller implies that the aesthetic of video is not only different from film but better suited to certain directors, content and meanings. Digital video has two contradictory aspects. On the one hand in the "contemporary experience" - video cell phones, web video, surveillance video - it appears as Danny Boyle described, "grainy and pixilated." On the other hand, digital video is too perfect and too sharp, which is why software is necessary to make it more grainy, to produce "filmic artifacts." Timothy Corrigan feels that digital cinema has a penchant for recreating more real than Real events or emphasizing abstractions within representation. By "more real than Real" Corrigan may be expressing what Lev

Manovich describes as digitally created images being too perfect and too real, where everything is in focus and there is no grain. Video images often have a faster frame-rate than film, closer to what the human eye sees, and yet from a film perspective it appears hyperreal.19 He says, "From the point of view of human vision, it is hyperreal. Yet, it is totally realistic."20 Aura of Film: Digital Detractors Digital video does have different characteristics than film. Digital video has a clarity and depth of field that film does not. Everything is deep focus by auto-default, so videographers often strive through other means to blur the background thus creating a filmic look. Film can retain detail in brightly lit areas where digital video "blows up,"
Olaf Moller, "Third World Hero Remix: Filipino Renaissance Man Khavn De La Cruz Is One of Underground Digital Cinema's Best-Kept Secrets," Film Comment 41, no. 4 (2005).
18 19 20 17

Timothy Corrigan, Talk on Digital Cinema, October 20, 2004, University of Pennsylvania. Frame rate is the frequency with which successive images are captured by an imaging device. Manovich, The Language of New Media, 202.

114 but video can see into the shadows in a way that film cannot, thus requiring less elaborate lighting schemes. Video lacks grain, which you can reintroduce through software or by exporting digital video onto film stock. This graininess is one of the filmic artifacts that cinematographers are so loathe to lose. Film theorist Stephen Prince argues, "It is the constantly changing grain pattern that helps make the film image look so alive, and which also diminishes its degree of sharpness relative to DV. This is an interesting paradox. Film looks more alive than digital video, yet it doesn't have the latter's clarity."21 Many people are so attached to this artifact of film that they feel restored DVDs of classic films, cleaned of grain, fadings and scratches, do not represent the same film. Robert Harris, a restoration expert, says, "I'm not saying the transfers are bad. They're not. It's just that they're different, and not representative of the actual film. They are for all intents and purposes, a modification of the film into a fully digital, video product."22 Prince feels that all these qualities significantly change the experience of cinema. He writes, "The point here is that at a perceptual level, the nature and meaning of cinema is being transformed because the information in light - its gamma, contrast, black values, highlights, clarity, and filtration - and the compositional strategies and movements on the part of the camera necessary for executing shots are perceived differently by film and video." Proponents of film argue that it has a sort of aesthetic, one might even say an aura, that digital can never obtain and that is innately desirable. Film remains mysterious


Prince, "The Emergence of Filmic Artifacts:Cinema and Cinematograhy in the Digital Era," 31.

115 in that the amount of information in celluloid is unmeasurable. M. Night Shyamalan, writer-director of The Sixth Sense and defender of the faith says: Digital is just too smooth. You almost have to degrade the image to make it more real. If you take a digital photo and I take one on film, there's just no way you're going to compete with the humanity that I can create from my little Hasselblad. Yours will be smoother, crisper, perfect in every way, and mine will be grainy, but you would definitely grab my picture over the digital one.24 Darius Khordji, ASC, cinematographer on The Interpreter (2005), explains why he shot on film, "I didn't want to create a nostalgic look. I wanted to make a modern film, but I wanted it to be more analog than digital. We cinematographers lose something by always going toward sharpness, toward perfection, depth-of-field, anti-halo, anti-flare, anti-this, anti-that. We lose a certain soul we used to have."25 Jean-Pierre Geuens points out that cameras used to be simple with very few options, thus as he says required passion and long-earned skill to make things happen. Digital cameras, he says are completely different, "From the start they beg the operators to try the myriad options they make available." 26 Visual effects, lighting, dissolve, focus, filters can all be applied with the push of a button. Danish filmmaker J0rgen Leth and his long-time cinematographer Dan Holmberg feel that video is good for following "pop stars through a cellar" but not for the "nuances of a sunset." For them the advantages of being able to hold the camera away from themselves and record forty minutes onto "a tape the size of a packet of cigarettes" do not outweigh the "plastic," "primitive," "overobviousness" of the DV camera. As Holmberg says, "After all, we make films. Not video games."27

Richard Corliss, "Can This Man Save the Movies? (Again?)," Time, March 20, 2006. Italics mine. Patricia Thomson, "Global Intrigue," American Cinematographer, May 2005. Geuens, "The Digital World Picture." Leth, "The Magic of the Film Reel and the Dv-Camera as Notepad."

116 These cinematographers and directors grew up with film. University of Southern California Film School still offers two tracks: one in film and one in digital. Although, the prestigious, well-established, expensive schools continue to teach a film track, more and more schools and workshops are popping up, which for practical and economic reasons teach exclusively video. Fewer and fewer people will be trained on film in

comparison with those fluent with digital video production. Director Michael Mann, who shot action movies Collateral (2004) and Miami Vice (2006) digitally, says that his is the first "photo-real use of digital." He says, "In the nightscapes in Collateral, you're seeing buildings a mile away. You're seeing clouds in the sky four or five miles away. On film that would all just be black." He argues that this photo-real use of digital, i.e. not degrading the image to copy the look of film, will be rapidly catching on as the number of directors who grew up with computers and have no "nostalgic attachment to film," come of age. We will examine some of the affordances of digital and computer

technologies in cinema - which pathways they make easily accessible and therefore more likely tributaries.

Spontaneity, Flexibility, Unobtrusiveness, Intimacy Not only is the information in light, the clarity of detail and depth of field different in video than film, the medium-specific characteristics, but also, I believe more significantly, the processes of digital moviemaking encourage different aesthetic

Downtown Community Television,; Barefoot workshops, Film/Video Arts, http://www.fva.cotn/. just to name a few, accessed July 28,2007.

Corliss, "Can This Man Save the Movies? (Again?)."

117 pathways. In France, the hand-held, faster, more intimate style of filming is called "camera-stylo" or camera pen as coined by Alexandre Astruc. He ended his manifesto "The Camera Stylo" with this quote, "Although we know what we want, we do not know whether, when, and how we will be able to do it."30 That time is now. Cameras are light and cheap enough and ambient lighting is often sufficient for digital capture. The camera can function increasingly as a pen, writing spontaneously in the moment without the industrial process of film. Andre Bazin greatly admired the neo-realists for their use of non-actors and their long takes on these "actors'" faces and their daily life. Digital technologies enable this neo-realist style as a default function, making long takes in uncontrolled situations easily available.31 Digital technologies eliminate the cumbersome nature of film, opening possibilities for realism, spontaneity, the unexpected and the unscripted. Danish director J0rgen Leth, quoted above, is not of the digital generation and has, as he says, "technophobia." Yet, in a section of his essay entitled "The Spark of Presence" explaining why he has his digital camera in his pocket, he says, "I prefer working with the membrane, the polished lens that the cameraman puts between me and the subject. I like being at a distance.. . I also know that one late afternoon, precisely in the final golden glow from the sun as it sets behind the mountains, a genuine zombie, a living dead, will appear down the dusty street. Things will happen that will not be repeated; miracles, perhaps. I hope that in situations like those I will be sufficiently in command of

30 31

Geuens, "The Digital World Picture."

Perhaps too easy. In journalism video classes, students are often chastised by their film-trained instructors for using the "garden hose" approach. Instead of filming meaningful shots and quotes, turning the record function on and off, the students just let the camera go capturing too much of little value from the viewpoint of their instructors. Video classes, Spring 2006, Columbia Journalism School.

118 my technical phobias and fumblings to use my DV-camera."32 Digital technologies enable the capture of the unexpected, the rushed, the not properly lit and the unplanned. Digital video cameras are moving in new directions allowing cinematographers to do things that were previously either impossible or prohibitively expensive. Director Danny Boyle and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle captured a miracle for zombie movie 28 Days Later (2002). They had to stop weekday traffic at four in the morning in busy Trafalgar Square in order to portray an empty post-plague London.

Click on Photo to Launch Video, skip to lmin30sec They had only minutes before angry commuters infiltrated the set and so they distributed handheld digital cameras to numerous members of the crew, thus capturing the shot from many angles simultaneously so that they would minimize time spent in the area. Dod Mantle said, "hi those particular instances, of course, we would not have been allowed to shoot and take up so much space [in 35mm] for two weeks at such a delicate time before

Leth, "The Magic of the Film Reel and the Dv-Camera as Notepad."

Skip ahead to 1:30. Music is not original to movie., accessed October 25, 2007.

119 early-morning rush hour." Thus what would have been possible only in a big Hollywood movie becomes more readily available with creative use of technology. Director Fernando Meirelles and director of photography, Cesar Charlone, filmed in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and used local boys for the 2002 movie, City of God. Charlone used video goggles that allowed him to separate himself from the camera and yet still see the image. He could attach the camera to the end of a sound boom for high and low angle shots, thus minimizing the need for an expensive and intrusive crane, which would be too cumbersome for the tight alleys and hills of the favela. He says that he had "long envisaged a camera that would act like a microphone, one you could slip into tight spaces or carry on your body like a backpack, maybe with an optical fiber you could hold in your hands to move the lens around."35 Since Charlone shot in real favelas in Brazil for City of God, and markets in Africa for The Constant Gardener (2005), the flexibility of the camera gave him great potential to capture the live and unpredictable environments. Cranes and elaborate lighting set ups would make the level of intimacy and spontaneity which Meirelles and Charlone can capture in these scenes unattainable. For his documentary Iraq in Fragments (2006), director James Longley rode in the back of a pickup truck with the Mahdi Army Militia under very dangerous conditions as they arrested local vendors of alcohol and interrogated them. He shot more than 300 hours of footage over two years. He said, "A large part of being able to record that kind of material is the ability to be unobtrusive, to let the mechanism of the camera nearly vanish, unencumbered by lights, sound recordists, and film-changing bags."36 Digital
34 35 36

Douglas Bankston, "Household Post," American Cinematographer, May 2005 2005. p. 83. Jean Oppenheimer, "Deadly Dealings in Africa," American Cinematographer 86, no. 10 (2005). Penenberg, "Revenge of the Nerds."

filmmakers can shoot quickly in environments that would have been either very difficult or impossible to access with a film camera and crew. The material Longley captured is truly mind-boggling in its intimacy, sponteneity and viscerality. This quick, intimate and handheld style has become so prevalent that it has entered into big budget Hollywood films as a stylistic trope. Hollywood action movies often use a handheld style to simulate viscerality, as if the cinematographer is right in the action. Previous to the unobtrusive digital camera, these aesthetic opportunities were either not available to filmmakers or were much more difficult and expensive. Recording 300 hours for a low-budget documentary is not an option with film. Interestingly, while Astruc focused on the increased power of the auteur, who with the camera-pen could create a movie alone as an individual artistic vision, like a writer; the camera-pen has actually enabled the filmmaker to collaborate with actors and environments thus releasing a measure of control. Hierarchies, Acting and Continuity Zacharias Kunuk's Canadian film based on an Inuit legend, Atanarjuat - The Fast Runner, was shot digitally on Betacam north of the Arctic Circle using local Inuit people. The cinematographer, Norman Cohn, says Atanarjuat is not a film but "a long-form dramatic video made by experienced video makers thinking in video aesthetics." He calls the method a "living camera," which he says "gets inside the action rather than watching passively from the outside." 38 Cohn, Paul Apak, and Zacharias Kunuk were part of an
experimental video group exploring ways to express indigenous stories. This training, he There is one scene where the Mahdi Army busts up a market full of liquor stalls and the liquor salesman are hooded and taken in. As a viewer, one's main thought is how in the world Longley was not killed in the chaos and for seeing these atrocities.
38 37

Lynden Barber, "Edge of Reality," The Weekend Australian, January 11, 2003 2003.

says, enabled a greater level of risk-taking in the shooting. Due to temperature constraints the winter shots had to be done quickly in April, when the landscape is still wintery white, but the temperatures are warm enough for the equipment. The digital technology allowed the shooting to have a non-hierarchical, primarily non-verbal production method conducive to traditional Inuit society unlike the highly hierarchical film set where instructions are usually shouted from the top down. Australian movie critic Lynden Barber who saw the shoot describes how many of the shots were unplanned, "The actors did something and the camera responded, often using long takes in reel time." As Barber says, these techniques had a "huge impact" in

terms of dramatic effect.40 The non-actors had the time to find their characters in the way of Inuit story-telling.41 Hand-held mobile cameras give actors the ability to move about, outside of the traditional pre-planned blocking, done for the benefit of camera and lighting set-up, which as Berber says, gives, "actors the freedom to roam and experiment, be more spontaneous and create more nuanced and emotionally complex performances."42 This ability to shoot long takes is particularly conducive to the use of non-actors who can benefit from long, multiple and flexible takes to capture the perfect performance. Directors like Steven Soderbergh on his digitally shot Bubble (2005) are able to use non-professional actors and shoot a plenitude of material with many, slightly different, improvised takes, shooting simultaneously with a few cameras. He calls his

Maurie Alioff, "From the Edge of the Earth Zoaharias Kunuk's Atanarjuat," Take One (2001). Lynden Berber, "Edge of Reality," The Weekend Australian, January 11, 2003 2003.

work on Bubble "site-specific" cinema because he goes to the place and collects the stories organically. Many of the scenes were shot in the actors' actual houses.43 Thus digital technologies enable a way of production that can be organic to both the place and people of that place, producing an aesthetic definitively different from a traditional Hollywood movie. Director Billie Eltringham, director of DV movie This Is Not a Love Song (2002) thinks that new digital technologies are liberating for actors because long breaks are no longer required between lighting and camera set-ups. Long sequences of shots can be done in a shorter period of time, less broken up, giving the actors some continuity in the acting process. David Lynch shot his latest film Inland Empire (2006), using the

already low-tech Sony PD150. He said in an interview with MovieMaker Magazine, "I will not go back to that dinosaur film way of going." He said that he likes the DV so much for the short time between takes. He says, "With film, you wait for two to three hours to move the camera and light the damn thing. This is what kills a scene; it kills it. So this thing gives life to the whole process."45 This allows Lynch to improvise. Gary Winick, founder of digital production house Indigent, says that the acting process in digital movies appeals to many actors. He mentions Sigourney Weaver who acted in low-budget DV movie Tadpole (2002). He says, "Besides her liking the script - she wanted to do it because it was a kind of hybrid between theatre and film... .we have these multiple cameras so they're not playing to the camera, they're playing with the

43 44

Jardin, "Thinking Outside the Box Office."

Chis Collins et al., "When the (Digital) Revolution Comes . . . Storytelling for Digital Cinema," in Edinburgh International Film Festival (Edinburgh: Script Factory, 2002).

Daniel Nemet-Nejat, "David Lynch's Empire: For His Latest Experiment, the Legendary Moviemaker Embraces a Diy Approach," MovieMaker 14, no. 67 (2007).

space, they're not worrying about focus marks, they're just acting."

Acting and the

directing of actors can radically change without the ticking clock of expensive film, heavy lighting set ups, and the changing of film reels every eleven minutes. Of course, all these stylistics, so natural to digital technologies, were prefigured and anticipated by the filmmakers of the Nouvelle Vague and the Neorealists. With the increasing use of the Arriflex camera in the 1960's, which was lighter and more portable, filmmakers were able to go out on the street into spontaneous environments, capture everyday life and use non-actors. For example, in The Battle of Algiers (1966), the director, Gillo Pontecorvo, had to formerly declare that not a foot of the film was documentary because his use of available light, newsreel filmstock, actual locations and non-actors made his feature of the Algerian revolution against the French so convincing that viewers thought they were watching documentary footage. Media theorist Adrian Martin writes how filmmakers like John Cassavetes, Ken Loach and Maurice Pialat, over thirty years ago, were "simply letting the camera run on across different takes or stopping and starting it without letting the actors know," in other words using what is now a "digital style" in order to create more emotional realism.47 The recently deceased American director Robert Altman (Mash, Nashville) used ambient sound and lighting and spontaneous, non-choreographed situations to create an aesthetic and style that would favor the attributes of digital technologies far before he had access to them. Entertainment reporter Kirk Honeycutt describes his last conversation with Altman, where they spoke of Altman's upcoming project. Honeycutt says, "He grew animated when he explained how handheld cameras would shoot long takes featuring many actors;
46 47

Collins et al., "When the (Digital) Revolution Comes . . . Storytelling for Digital Cinema." Adrian Martin, "The Age of Digital," The Age, December 11, 2002 2002.

in other words, a blueprint for a typical Altman film."

Yet, what was a stylistic choice

by these directors becomes a default or dominant aesthetic for digital as digital cameras, have become even smaller, lighter, cheaper, more clandestine and the recording material is so cheap as to be almost free, especially with the move, as is currently happening, to storage on hard drive instead of tape.


The Long Take Cinema has traditionally been defined by montage. Bazin refers to editing and framing as the alpha and omega of cinema.49 Kittler reminds us that cinema began as a series of still shots spliced together by Marey and Muybridge. As he says, "The medium's possibilities for cutting and splicing assail its own historiography."50 Thus montage from the very beginning became the visual grammar of cinema. Film reels are about ten minutes long, so chopping and splicing is a format-driven necessity.51 the form of cinema - recording thresholds. Computer editing has made cutting and pasting easy and irresistible, so the initial reaction to digital editing was to have rapid cutting, the MTV aesthetic, popular in bigbudget action movies. These attention-deficit movies, although perhaps requiring an adjusted way of viewing to prevent headaches and dizziness only changed style in terms
48 49

This has defined

Kirk Honeycutt, "Director Altman Made Chaos Flow," The Hollywood Reporter, November 22, 2006.

Quoted in Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 87. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, 117-18.


As Suzanne Donahue and Mikael Sovijarvi point out in their book Gods in Polyester, or A Survivor's Account of the 70's Cinema Obscura. low budget films had to purchase the short ends (leftovers from studio picture's raw stock) which allowed only 15-seconds to two-minute takes, thus dictating the style of these movies. Laura Kern, "Hamburger Flesh, Western Spaghetti, and Other Morsels," filmcomment 40, no. 6 (2004).

of excess. The movies work on the same aesthetic, style and narrative mode as Eisenstein and Griffiths, simply sped up like the zombies in 28 Days Later. Increasingly, the more

transgressive aesthetic afforded by digital technologies is the non-cut. As Nicholas Rombes writes in his piece, "Avant -Garde Realism": For a while it would seem that digital cinema and non-linear editing software is an apparatus that favors a rapid cutting, montage aesthetics (as in Run Lola Run); digital cinema with its long takes and experiments with simply letting reality edit itself is haunted by a sort of Bazinian neo-realism. That the choreographed unfolding of reality in digital long-take films such as Time Code, Russian Ark, and Ten is considered a stunt or an experiment only serves to show how deeply montage and rapid editing have become the dominant visual grammar of our lives. As cinematographer Douglas Bankston writes, "Just as the coming of sound inspired an aesthetic of silence, CG effects have unwittingly bestowed new value on the duration and spatial integrity of long takes." The indexicality of this real time can pose as a

substitute link to reality and authenticity as the necessary indexicality of the photographic image is lost with digital and computer technologies. In the 1960s, Andy Warhol experimented with the 16mm Auricon camera, which could record 33 minutes of continuous sound film before he had to stop and change reels.54 He used this for his Blue Movie (1969), but, short of these avant-garde experiments, standard film cameras had to change reels about every ten minutes. Digital

Nicholas Rombes, "Avant-Garde Realism,", January 19, 2005.

53 54

Tony Pipolo, "House of Flying Auteurs,"fllmcomment40, no. 6 (2004).

Amy Taubin, "Afterglow: Amy Taubin Revisits Blue Movie, Andy Warhols Ultimate Film in More Ways Than One," Film Comment 42, no. 1 (2006). Warhol had experimented with the extra-long take in the 60's with his twenty four hour movie **** (1967) and his eight hour Empire, a single shot of the Empire State Building. Mark McElhatten discusses this aspect of Warhol's work: "Warhol was the master of the seemingly desultory epiphany. Is Warhol's cinema casual or apathetic when he sets up the camera and simply lets it run? Hardly. Ronald Tavel remembers that Warhol wanted to distinguish himself from the current cinema of excess, spectacle, and ambition (the Hollywood cinema that left him starstruck) when he reflected, 'My contribution was the fixed camera.' This contribution returns us to Cinema Year Zero, the cinema of Edison and the Lumieres." Mark McElhatten, "Viva L'amour: Mark Mcelhatten Provides Further Context for Warhol's Art-Cum-Skin Flick," Film Comment 42, no. 1 (2006).

cameras, on the other hand, can record easily for an hour and can be rigged up to hard drives for even longer duration. The long take comes naturally to video. For Flyboys (2006), a World War I movie about pilots, producer Dean Devlin used digital technologies to shoot hour-long airborne dogfight sequences. They were able to mount the camera on a replica biplane or a helicopter and link to a digital tape deck. Director Tony Bill estimated that a film camera would have been limited to shooting takes perhaps five minutes long, before requiring a new load of film.55 In this case, the long take was used by necessity, but the long take can also represent a revolutionary aesthetic. Russian Ark (2003) provides the most exaggerated example to date of this aesthetic. Director Aleksandr Sokurov filmed the entire 87-minute movie in one shot. He shoots very formally in the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum, specifically not in a handheld or cinema-verite style, but uses digital for "its new ability to render time in a single, unbroken flow."56 Sokurov says, "The idea was for a film shot, as it were, in a single breath. The screen format, cinematography - everything depends on the scissors, on the knife. Editors and producers accumulate then edit using time according to their whims. And I wanted to try and fit myself into the very flowing of time, without remaking it according to my wishes."57 Critic Dragan Kujundzic has written that the single long take "enacts the erasure of the dominant cinematic tradition . . . of Sergei Eisenstein's intellectual montage."58 So significantly, Sokurov, also a Russian filmmaker, in a formal,

Scott Kirsner, "Studios Shift to Digital Movies, but Not without Resistance," The New York Times, July

24, 2006.
56 57 58

Martin, "The Age of Digital." Darroch Greer, "No Cut = Director's Cut," Millimeter (2003).

Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli, "Floating on the Borders of Europe Sokurov's Russian Ark," Film Quarterly 59, no. 1 (2005). From Dragan Kujundzic, "After 'After": The Arkive Fever of Alexander Sokurov," Art

epic Eisensteinian type of movie, uses digital technology to question the dominance of this classical style. Andre Bazin, in "The Ontology of the Photographic Image," values the objectivity of the automatic machine and what he called the "impassive lens."59 Yet, as Peter Matthews remarks, this remained an impossible quest as long as "individual films and film-makers carve up the unbroken plenitude of the real, imposing on it style and meaning."60 Similarly, in Cinema Effect, Sean Cubitt explains his concept of pixel, cut and vector. According to Cubitt, the purity and truthfulness of the pixel, the cinema of the Lumieres' Sortie des Usines (1895), is undone by the cut, which introduces "predestination."61 As he says, "The cut splits apart the elements of the apparatus so that one - the self - can take possession of the other - the camera-projector - as object." 62 Following this logic, while the cut institutes a relation of control between the filmmaker and the machine, the non-cut frees the viewer from this imposition and can help fulfill Bazin's vision of the objective machine, where the preconceptions of the filmmaker are minimized. Although Sukorov carefully orchestrated the long shot, he could not control all the factors. In fact, he had time in the Hermitage for only three takes and the first two takes did not work out. He had to accept the third take even though there were small

Margins, Spring 2003, http://www.artmargins.cona/conleni/cineview/kuiundzic.html, accessed March 20, 2008. Andre Bazin, "The Ontology of the Photographic Image," in What Is Cinema?, ed. Hugh Gray (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 15. "For the first time, between the originating object and its reproduction there intervenes only the instrumentality of a non-living agent. For the first time the image of the world is formed automatically, without the creative intervention of man." (13)
60 61 62 59

Matthews, "The Innovators 1950-1960: Divining the Real." Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 67. Ibid.

errors to his plan. Sokurov also had less control over the course of the spectacle as to where the viewer is looking and focusing. There is no "cut to close up of face"; we are free to roam the long take as we please. This inevitably creates an alternative style for cinema that is less controlling and more interactive with the viewer. Although Russian Ark is not the norm for movies, it demonstrates, by exaggeration, the potentials of the long take made available by digital technologies. Although not impossible with film, the extra long take comes naturally to video where storage capacity is cheap and continuous. Computer-Camera as Collaborator No longer just an Analytical Engine, suitable only for crunching numbers, it has become Jacquard's loom ~ a media synthesizer and manipulator."63 Increasingly, innovative directors empowered with autonomous digital and computer technologies are letting the machine write itself.64 The aesthetic is that of an algorithm, initially structured by an auteur but then allowed to play out unaffected. A number of media theorists have explored the increased autonomy of computer technology. From extensions of the body or the human senses as Marshall McLuhan had described technologies, the computer can increasingly go beyond the body and nervous system; computer technologies can perform cognitive functions. As Kittler presents the history, previous storage and then communications technologies could replace the "eye and the ear" and then the "mouth and the hand" respectively, but, he says, with the merging of these two processes in computing, thinking too could be replaced.65 Sean Cubitt, in a less post-human vein, in examining the autonomy of the computer, says, "The machine is
63 64

Manovich, The Language of New Media, 26.

Michael Punt, ""Well, Who Are You Gonna Believe, Me or Your Own Eyes?": A Problem of Digital Photography," The Velvet Light Trap, no. 36 (1995): 14.

Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, 245.

free to collaborate." This autonomy of the computer/camera has opened up new opportunities for mise-en-scene, minimizing the subjectivity of the auteur and exploring algorithmic and architectural forms. Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami experiments with the mobile but uncontrolled camera in Ten (2002) where he mounts two small cameras in the front of his main character's car and every scene, a series often conversations, is from the viewpoint of these fixed, mounted cameras. So, although the camera moves about Tehran, the machinery of the car and the traffic of Tehran control the camera movements and miseen-scene, not the director or cinematographer, and in fact they are not even present. Even Kiarostami's editing follows a distinct algorithm between camera viewpoints.1 7 Shots are put together according to an algorithm, thus featuring the style of the algorithm, not the auteur. This form of stylistic and aesthetic playfulness is enabled by the ease and low cost of the digital technology, encouraging spontaneity and experiment. Of course one could argue that this is simply a contemporary reincarnation of Hale's Tours, where the camera was mounted on the front of a train capturing movement, but in the case of Kiarostami, we find narrative and stylistic sense and meaning a new combination of machine-human cooperation. Behind the scenes the camera has moved beyond the pen -the camera is now a computer and vice versa. Gilles Deleuze refers to a "camera autonomy" as a stylistic

Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 88. "On a certain understanding of the tehnological relation, for example, that voiced by McLuhan (1964) when he describes tools as extensions of the hand, the relation between human and machine is purely one of control. The machine is an instrument of humans, and that instrumental relationship defines the user and the used as subject and object. What Cohl's practice reveals is that another relation is possible, one in which the privilege of subjectivity is abandoned in favor of granting an autonomy to the machine equivalent to that assumed by the user."

Alex Munt, "Digital Kiarostami and the Open Screenplay," Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture (2006).

130 trope in Michelangelo Antonioni's Story of a Love Affair (1950). By this he means that

the camera appears to look where it wants, unaffected by strict narrative norms. When it should be giving us a close up of a gun, it is wandering off to look at a model's ankles. But this seeming "camera autonomy" fulfills its potential with the camera-computer alliance. Always cutting edge, Danish director Lars von Trier has started shooting with a Frankensteinian cinematographer, a new camera system called Automovision. The machine is part of von Trier's stated goal "to reduce the scope of productions." Automavision gets the sole credit for cinematography listed for von Trier's latest movie, The Boss of It All (2006). 69 A computer algorithm randomly changes the camera's tilt, pan, focal length and/or positioning as well as the sound recording. As Variety reviewer Leslie Felperin writes, "Result is a lot of off-kilter compositions, sometimes with subjects' heads at the bottom or side of the screen. This just about fits the material, creating a comic, world-out-of-joint atmosphere." The movie concerns a company boss

who has always pretended to be just a worker obeying orders of the company's true "Boss of it All." The time comes for him to fire everyone and sell the company and so he hires an actor to play his role. The movie's concept is to question power, control and networks, thus mimicking the mechanism of production. Von Trier's experiment toys With the idea of auteur cinema, automating with a randomizing computer program the very aspects of style that would characteristically

Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 24. "But Story of a Love Affair already exhibits 'camera autonomy' when it stops following the movement of the characters or directing its own movement at them, to carry out constant reframings as functions of thought, noosigns expressing the logical conjunctions of sequel consequence, or even intention." With an inventor credit for Peter Hjorth, accessed March 7, 2007.
70 69

Leslie Felperin, "The Boss of It All," Variety, September 25, 2006.

131 identify the auteur. The computerized randomness of the Automavision provides a greater machine autonomy as it removes the power of the director to dictate where we look and gives the power to the algorithm. Although not mainstream, these movies by well-known directors indicate the potential to use the camera as. co-collaborator, codirector, co-cinematographer, and co-editor. Thus we begin to enter a new mode of cinema beyond the auteur cinema of Astruc's vision to a new cyborg mise-en-scene with different formal properties more suited to the computer than the film camera machine. Web Browser Aesthetic Film grammar has traditionally been based on "transitions between fully formed photographic objects called frames, done through collision of frames called the cut," whereas as Gene Youngblood points out, "In electronic cinema frame is not an object but a time segment."71 As such, time segments need not transition by transposition/juxtaposition, the aspects of traditional montage. Computers do not so much operate by montage and juxtaposition. On the computer one can hold more than one

window open, can multi-task and follow a complicated, non-causal order. These everyday processes represent a change in mode of viewing and experiencing audiovisual culture and communication. New modes of montage are made easy with computer editing where manipulation within the frame is easily done. Although possible before by split screen and back projection, these processes were much more involved and so remained as

Shaw and Weibel, Future Cinema : The Cinematic Imaginary after Film, 156.

'To Eisenstein, the overwhelming fact of film was that it was 'an act of juxtaposition.'" Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media : The Extensions of Man, 1st MIT Press ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1994), 289.

"special effects" or gimmicks as opposed to an organic style.

Thus the web browser

aesthetic is intrinsically facilitated by the software of non-linear editing as well as extrinsically called for by our experience with digital audiovisual culture. Deleuze describes this way of viewing as a changing function of the screen. He writes, "But when the frame or the screen functions as an instrument panel, printing or computing table, the image is constantly being cut into another image, sliding over another image in an "incessant stream of messages" and the shot itself is less like an eye than an overloaded brain endlessly absorbing information."74 As he says, the screen becomes an "opaque surface." (266) This involves less a purely visual experience and a more thinking and linking experience, where the purpose of the screen is partly to "show" or "represent" but also to communicate information. New-media theorist Alexander Galloway discusses what he sees as the waning of in-time montage as a hegemonic style. He discusses new types of montage, like what he terms "proleptic" montage, for example, where the actual screen is divided into quadrants. He mentions the popular television show "24" which uses this technique going into and out of every advertising break as well as Mike Figgis' Time Code (2000).


Gene Youngblood did admire what he called a montage of metamorphosis rather than cut, which he credits to filmmakers like Stan Brakhage. Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema, [1st ed. (New York,: Dutton, 1970), 87. Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 267.


Figgis shot real time in four locations and the movie shows each sub-movie simultaneously on a screen divided into four quadrants. The sound goes back and forth between the quadrants, directing the viewer's focus to some extent from one story to another. On the DVD, users with multi-unit stereo equipment can manipulate the sound of the movie, thus choosing themselves which quadrant to focus on and which conversation to overhear when. As media theorist Nick Rombes writes, such DVD features "allow the viewer to actively take apart and reshape the narrative experience."75 The interactivity required by this type of representation creates a new aesthetic of cinema and a new experience of diagetic time and immersion. As electronic media artist Toni Dove notes, "In film the cut moves you through time while interactive experience contains some rupture within it."76 It is impossible to be completely involved in any one screen as attention drifts and shifts to the others. The mind is forced to put a story together cognitively, not simply through vision. Computer technologies have trained us for this representational aesthetic. Thus, again through exaggeration of technique through the whole movie, Time Code demonstrates the potential for simultaneous action

Rombes, "Professor Dvd." Shaw and Weibel, Future Cinema : The Cinematic Imaginary after Film, 236.

134 on split screens and the audience engagement that a more cognitively interactive aesthetic can enable. This style is more similar to our experience of new media and particularly video games where different quadrants might show action in another location or list treasures, kills, points, timeline, overhead view, map etc. Or reminiscent of the way Sherry Turkle and Lev Manovich describe the computer user interface with multiple windows. Manovich, who refers to the aesthetic of multi-window cinema as macro-cinema, cites certain cultural forms like news and financial broadcasts and sports broadcasts as participating in this multi-window, multiple information source format.77 Galloway feels this style might be better than in-time montage at representing our current environment of synchronic, rhizomatic information networks. He calls this "the distributed network as an

aesthetic construction."

The way we navigate information and interact with computer

technologies is represented in the cinema, which has to develop new modes of putting moving images and sound together in order to represent the search, hypertext and multiple windows of our digital everyday technological environment. A number of films have begun experimenting with multiple windows and textual captions, reflecting how we experience and navigate information in the digital age. Alissa Quart writes about Don Roos's film Happy Endings (2005), "Don Roos is a clever guy. You can tell by the way that, with this new film Happy Endings, he's stopped worrying and learned to love the Web browser, connecting one scene to the next through

Lev Manovich, Softcinema: Ambient Narrative [Website, video, art] (2005 [cited November 19, 2005 2005]).

Keynote Address, Critical Themes in Media Studies, 7th Annual Conference, New School University, New York, April 21,2007.

happenstance and linking text. It's all very Google meets Robert Altaian."


Endings is part of what she refers to as a "hyperlink cannon" including Don Roos' previous film The Opposite of Sex (1998) along with "Magnolia, Time Code, and most recently, Crash (with a special mention for TV's 24)." She argues that Roos uses captions under certain images like "cinematic footnotes," sometimes giving away what will happen in the future. Quart writes, "They give us information in a way that reflects our mental processing. . . . The footnotes accompanying certain images cater to these and other information-processing proclivities . . ."80 The proleptic montage enables a hybrid function of the screen combining the screen of the cinema with the interface of the computer. This is a new form of representation, which takes for granted that the viewer is literate with digital and computer technologies, using a language appropriate to this viewer. Our everyday interaction with ways of navigating space and time on the computer opens up the possibility for a new language, contrary to the dominant language of classical montage, which is less singly visual and more cerebral. This style better represents and anticipates how we receive and transfer information in the contemporary world. We might see an Internet headline scroll by, then read the article, then catch the video in a passing monitor, interspersed in time with other activities. We have to put together the information and images ourselves. Increasingly movies can play stylistically with the viewer, toying with his or her expectations of montage, representation and miseen-scene and enabling new modes. I will examine in more depth how this new form of

Alyssa Quart, "Networked: Dysfunctional Families, Reproductive Acts, and Multitasking Minds Make for Happy Endings," Film Comment 41, no. 4 (2005).



viewing and familiarity with computer technologies can inspire new narrative forms in the next chapter.

"Born from animation, cinema pushed animation to its boundary, only to become one particular case of animation in the end."81 Editor and theorist Walter Murch discusses the bifurcation in filmmaking that he feels has been latent, but which digital technologies are bringing to the fore. He describes the two methods made readily available by digital technologies: the snowflake and the black box.82 The first refers to the spontaneity discussed earlier in the chapter, where the filmmaker releases control of certain elements and the results are spontaneous. The other method is the black box, where the filmmaker "controls every pixel" increasingly made possible with digital and computer technologies. Digital editing and the use of a digital intermediary have become ubiquitous. Increasingly manipulating movies and compositing within the frame is becoming as common, as Manovich has predicted, as montage between frames. Hybridity describes the nature of digital images as modularity and manipulability are easy and irresistible. Compositing allows animation to be mixed with live-action and live-action to be captured and taken apart and recombined easily, like animation. Says Manovich, "Digital compositing is a new development in that it allows moving images of

Lev Manovich, Digital Cinema and the History of a Moving Image (1999 [cited January 10, 2007]); available from http://www.manovich.netyvis242_winter_2006/Digital%20Cinema.rtf.
82 83

Scott Saunders, "Between the Snowflake and the Black Box," Filmmaker 2004.

Digital intermediate (often abbreviated as DI) describes the process of digitizing a motion picture and manipulating color and other image characteristics to change the look. www.wi kipedi a .org, accessed May 14, 2007. Lev Manovich writes of the two types of cinematic montage: in time and within the frame. The "in time" montage has been the major defining feature of cinema since its inception. But, as Manovich claims, in computer culture, montage in time is no longer the dominant aesthetic - compositing is.

non-existent worlds, brings together within the shot different times and places, even virtual."84 The composite digital image no longer has to represent vision of a real time and place and thus the traditional delineations between animation and live-action blur. As Lev Manovich writes, "The camera no longer "functions as a material object, coexisting spatially and temporally, with the world it [is] showing us." 85 The natural indexicality of film, so admired by Bazin and other film theorists, is no longer a given. Manovich considers that, presently and in the near future, human actors and 2D will no longer be a defining characteristic of cinema, but are "just default options, with many others available."86 As a number of media theorists have remarked, the uncanny thing about the composite digital image is that the image can have "perfect photographic credibility," (Stephen Prince in Constance Balides) even though it is "referentially unreal." (Thorborn, Jenkins, Seawell)87 This idea makes Dai Vaughn, an active editor as well as theorist,

very uncomfortable and he asks of his fellow filmmakers, "Would you really be content to think your films differed from animated cartoons only in the degree of their verisimilitude? Has there not been, for all of us, more to it than that?" In 1994, Vaughn

wrote an essay entitled, "Cinema is Dead," referencing Paul Delaroche, who announced

Manovich, The Language of New Media, 153.

85 86 87

Ibid., 295.

Ibid., 293. Constance Balides, "Immersion in the Virtual Ornament: Contemporary "Movie Ride" Films," in Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition, ed. David and Henry Jenkins Thorburn, Media in Transition (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), 315. David Thorburn, Henry Jenkins, and Brad Seawell, Rethinking Media Change : The Aesthetics of Transition, Media in Transition (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2003).

Dai Vaughan, For Documentary: Twelve Essays (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 191.

138 with the invention of photography, "From today, painting is dead." Painting was freed

by photography from the necessities of likeness; its relationship with the Real no longer had to be one of versimilitude. Vaughn believes we are similarly moving to a different state of cognition in our expectations of photographic and filmic images. "What concerns me," he writes, "is that we shall wake up one day and find that the assumption of a privileged relationship between a photograph and its object, an assumption which has held good for 150 years and on which cine-actuality is founded, will have ceased to be operative."90 In a review of Kung Fu Hustle (2005) and Sin City (2005), two of the most impressive examples to date of the blending of live-action and animation, film critic A.O. Scott reminds us of Robert Zemeckis' Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), which brought together animation and live-action in the same frame. In the movie, Toontown, where the animated characters lived, existed as a result of an apartheid system that separated real people and cartoon characters. Scott writes, "And Mr. Zemeckis's ability to bring animation and live action together in the frame, stunning at the time and still impressive, was proof that the distinction was doomed in any case. The direction of progress technological and, by zany implication, political - lay in the miscegenation of live action and animation."9 We will look at some of these processes and how they have moved from the expensive special effect films to be, in some cases, cheaper and easier than live-

89 90 91

Ibid., 181. Ibid.

A.O. Scott, "The Unreal Road from Toontown to 'Sin City'," The New York Times, April 24, 2005. In a strange current development, China's State Administration of Radio Film & Television has banned films and television shows that combine live-action and animation, claiming they jeopardize "the broadcast order of homemade animation and mislead their development." "China Toons Out," Variety, February 27- March 5, 2006.

action capture, allowing and encouraging independent filmmakers to explore new hybrid modes. Cyborg Actors Since it has been technically possible, director Robert Zemeckis has cyberscanned all his actors in case he needed it later. Zemeckis relates, "And on Forrest Gump (1994), Tom Hanks said, 'What can you do with this information?' I said, 'Well, it's very expensive now, but I can animate you if I decided to do it.' And Tom said, 'I don't know if I like that idea.'"92 What is ironic is that a few years later Zemeckis made good on the threat and directed Hanks in the animated Polar Express (2004). George Lucas' latest three Star Wars movies have live actors interacting with virtual actors/ creatures against a virtual background. But, even with the live actors, Lucas continues to direct them after they have left the set. He can manipulate and synchronize facial expressions to the totally digital rest of the frame, which he claims to have done for about thirty percent of Phantom Menace (2000). The technicians would also digitally paint over the actors, for different alien skin tones and glows. As film theorist D.N. Rodowick writes, "Film 'actors' have become Frankenstein hybrids: part human, part synthetic." 93 Media theorist Jean-Pierre Geuens finds this type of dictatorial directorial control disturbing. He describes in "The Digital World Picture" the making of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace where Lucas could digitally control everything from the movements of his live-actors' lips, to the placement of armies of digital creatures. Geuens goes so far as to compare Lucas to characters of the Marquis de Sade:

"Three Kings - Digital Directors," Directed By Magazine, May 2005 2005. Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 6.

140 I believe a dangerous ethos permeates the entire Phantom Menace project. In fact, Lucas's drive to lord over everyone and everything in his images, to make them conform to his wishes and to milk every bit of surplus value out of them, is reminiscent of a similar labor performed by the less savory characters of the Marquis de Sade, who also made mincemeat of their victim's bodies, seeing in them but human matter to be played with as long as pleasure was ultimately attained.94 Certainly when we consider the character of Gollum from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003) played by Andy Serkis we can imagine where Geuens is coming from. Gollum is truly a cyborg, part man, part digitally created animation.

The process involved a regular back and forth between the computer animation and motion-capture and the finished product had to interact with real actors in the movie seamlessly. First, Gollum was designed by team of digital effects artists and the director Peter Jackson. Then he was made to look more like the actor Andy Serkis. Serkis wore electronic dots on his face and body that could be tracked and matched to the face and body of Gollum with motion-capture technology. He learned to move and control his facial expressions in the way that the director and designers imagined Gollum. 5 Serkis also performed the voice. Each frame took four hours to complete as Serkis

S4 95

Geuens, "The Digital World Picture."

2003 New Line Production Photos from Jason Schleifer, "Gollum and Me: My Precious Experience," VFX World, January 13, 2004.

141 was painted out and Gollum was painted in. The process was laborious with every pixel is controlled. The result was such a successful hybrid that many people supported Andy Serkis for a Best Supporting Actor nomination even though the Academy disqualified him. Actors' digital doubles can do things that real actors cannot. They are not governed by union rules and can be used and abused and can rise from the dead. Television advertisements and video games have already taken advantage of this tool, where a long-term consistent realism is not as vital, as in the video game from Electronic Arts From Russia With Love, which employed a digital clone of Sean Connery as he appeared in 1963, and The Godfather which uses the voice and likeness of Marlon Brando posthumously.96 In controversial movie Death of a President (2006) director Gabriel Range presents, using news footage and digital manipulation, the assassination of President George W. Bush.97 Originally possible only for short-term realism, increasingly the digital double is hard to distinguish even over extended periods. According to George Lucas the cyber double is used whenever a stunt double would be used, thus eliminating the need to put actors in danger. For stunt-heavy movies such as surfing movie Blue Crush (2002), actress Kate Bosworth's face was digitally


Edward Jay Epstein, "Cloning Stars," Slate, March 5, 2006.

Salman Rushdie illustrates the anxieties of actors having to compete with their un-unionized digital dopplegangers in his novel Fury. 'The technology scares me? And so in the future?, like, will anyone even be thinking about our like needs? I'm an actress?, I work mainly in commercials?, and there's this big SAG strike?, and for months now I can't earn a dollar?, and it doesn't stop one single spot going on air?, because they can get Lara Croft?, Jar Jar Binks?, they can get Gable or Bogey or Marilyn or Max Headroom or HAL from 20017' Salman Rushdie, Fury : A Novel, 1st ed. (New York: Random House, 2001), 144.

morphed onto professional surfer Rochelle Ballard's body, thus simulating the action without putting the actress in danger.98 Similarly, Zemeckis has said that he can now use thick ropes for stunts as he can erase them digitally thus minimizing the danger for both the actor and the stuntpeople." This opens up new venues for stunts, photorealism, and

virtual creatures. From an aesthetic standpoint this enables new forms, but also makes the use of these technologies increasingly easy and ubiquitous, thus changing what is possible and prevalent.100 We will discuss below some promising and impressive methods, initially in big budget effects films, but increasingly how this hybrid form is penetrating across genres. The Virtual Moving Image A number of processes and methods have been developed that enable the virtualization and manipulation of reality such that the movie looks real, and yet it is not photorealistic. These afford a new type of mise-en-scene impossible with the non-digital image. Manovich describes Gaeda's Method developed by John Gaeda of ESC digital effects company for The Matrix (1999) as "neither manual animation nor simulation of the underlying physics." As he says, instead the method "directly captures reality, including color, texture and movement." Actors perform short sequences, which are encoded as 3D animations. These go into a database from which filmmakers can draw when they compose a scene. 3D texture mapping was introduced by James Blinn in the 1970s and

The stunt double was still in danger though. Rochelle Ballard was injured in the shooting when she collided with another surfer and was rushed to the hospital.

"Three Kings - Digital Directors."

Even make-up now is done in post. Called digital cosmetic enhancement, special effects houses can "turn acne to peaches-and-cream, put six-packs on flabby abs, even rehabilitate a face marred by cosmetic surgery." Also high-definition cameras, which "show every pore", are creating a demand for digital touch ups. If it becomes part of a stars studio deals like stylists and make-up, the actor could manage their look over the course of their career. David S. Cohen, "F/X Take Off the Years," Variety, July 17-23,2006.


has been primarily in the realm of computer scientists. 3D mapping technology combined with motion capture has been used for video games since the early 1990's, but video games do not need as sustained an illusion of reality as live-action movies. As Manovich says, "Gaeda's method takes them to a new stage: capturing just about everything that at present can be captured and then reassembling the samples to create a digital (and thus completely malleable) reaction."101 As he points out this creates a hybrid form, partly live-action, partly animation, but completely virtualized. In defining the language of cinema through semiotics, the shot was considered the smallest unit and yet the modularity of digital images processed by computer allows even the shot to be put together of different component parts, uncountable parts. Jonathan Crary says that these 'fabricated visual spaces' no longer conform to a "point of view, static or mobile, located in real space," he defines computer generated images as "relocating vision to a plane severed from a human observer." This leads us to a new

experience of movies as completely non-indexical products not necessarily in dialogue with any outside existing reality. Jean-Pierre Geuens divines the revolutionary potential of these new methods. He invokes Joyce's novel Ulysses in calling for more radical uses of digital effects in movies. He says, "Here, instead, the individuated parts could be used to comment on one another in the same manner as different voices and styles of speech combine to create the power of James Joyce's Ulysses. By celebrating its manifold potential, the new compound would thus openly challenge the monadic image."103

101 102

Lev Manovich, "Image Future," (2004).

Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, 1st MIT Press paperback ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992), 1.

Geuens, "The Digital World Picture," 25.

Director David Fincher (Fight Club [1999], Panic Room [2002], Zodiac [2004]) has used a process called photogrammetry to record and then manipulate space. The method was initially developed in nineteenth century France to create topographical maps. The technique uses multiple overlapping photographs to build a three-

dimensional photographic image. This digital information can then be manipulated in combination with CGI. One can then virtually zoom across and take different viewpoints in the hybrid space. French theorist Edmond Couchot describes these digital 3D digital images as "images to the power of image." Meaning that from one 3D image on can create uncountable images of different points of view. He writes, "It is an image to the power of image. Never visible in their totality, un-presentable, therefore, at the same time, these images of image no longer belong to a visual order of representation, they are no longer subject to their topology."104 As film theorist Erik Dussere writes, "Fight Club employs this capacity for a wholly virtual camera gaze - in which the distinction between cinematography and mise-en-scene disappears entirely - in order to survey the spaces we inhabit and the objects that surround us: buildings, apartments interiors, offices, trash cans, the human brain."105 As he stresses, this mimics our use of computer technologies; he focuses on catalogue and Internet shopping as per the plot, but I would add the use of video games and virtual reality worlds. The use of photogrammetry demonstrates a blurring of video game design and viewpoints, computer user interface and traditional cinematic forms. This is like very expensive, more photo-realistic machinima. Game

Translated by me. "C'est une image a la puissance image. Jamais visibles dans leur totalite, "impr6sentables" done en meme temps, ces images d'image n'appartiennent plus a l'ordre visuel de la representation, elles ne sont plus soumises a sa topologie." Edmond Couchot, "Image Puissance Image," Revue d'Esthetique 7 (1984).
105 Erik Dussere, "Out of the Past, into the Supermarket: Consuming Film Noir," Film Quarterly 60, no. 1 (2006).

players will think nothing of this mobilized and virtual point of view, but traditional cinema spectators may have to adjust to this non-photorealistic, live-action viewpoint. The UnFilmic: Video Game, Anime, and Graphic Novel Movies The hybridity of the image is common in video games and some of the more stylized Asian cinema of the past few years has taken parts of anime and video games and combined them with live action. House of Flying Daggers (2004), Hero (2002) and Kung-Fu Hustle (2004) are some of the more prominent examples. Movies are increasingly using the viewpoints and means of motion in virtual or hybrid space characteristic of video games. Park Chanwook, the Korean director of films such as Oldboy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005), uses this hybrid style. As Asian film specialist Ian Buruma writes, "Bending reality through digital effects, which allows the camera to jump around and move through space at dizzying speeds or to cut out an entire side of a building to follow the hero in a fight sequence in one continuous take, a technique common to side-scrolling video games, are just some of the things that make Park's films resemble computer games."106 This style is very different from a classical filmic style and demonstrates a new visual aesthetic, which would be almost impossible to achieve with film. As D.N. Rodowick points out this demonstrates a changing frame of reference. As he notes, the "reality" to which movies must adhere is increasingly a paradigm of computer-generated images not the perceptual realism of physical space, or, I would add, the perceptual realism of film. Thus, he says, these hybrid images can

Ian Buruma, "Mr. Vengeance," The New York Times Magazine, April 9, 2006 2006. "A side-scrolling game or side-scroller is a genre of video games in which the gameplay action is viewed from a side-view camera angle, and the onscreen characters generally move from the left side of the screen to the right in order to reach their goals." video game, accessed November 23, 2007.

146 "simulate effects of the physical world (gravity, friction, causation) while also overcoming them." 107 Graham Leggat has noted that the fighting scenes in The Matrix between Neo and the Agent Smith army and in Kill Bill Vol. 1 between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu in the Japanese garden resemble fighting video games more than martial-arts films. He feels the dojo scene from The Matrix closely resembles the training modes in video games Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002) or Virtual Fighter (2002).108 The climax to Alfonso Cuaron's science fiction movie Children of Men (2006) slips into a first-person-shooter perspective as the protagonists make their way across a bombed out immigrant ghetto under random cross-fire.109 The ease with which the perspective of the camera is changed indicates that the filmmaker expects this viewpoint to be a familiar one to audiences, perhaps increasing the tension by stimulating the viewers to feel like they are "playing" this movie. The prevalence of this style and the popularity of the movies employing it indicate that audiences are familiar with this way of viewing. Since 2004, sales of video games and consoles have outstripped cinema box office in the U.S. and half of all Americans play video games regularly, so it should not come as a surprise that movies attempt to recreate the style and aesthetics of video games and that viewers are happy

He writes, "The key point of reference now will be to mental events - not physical reality molded to the imaginary, but the free reign of the imaginary in the creation of images ex nihilo that can simulate effects of the physical world (gravity, friction, causation) while also overcoming them." Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 104-05. Graham Leggat, "Chip Off the Old Block: Video Games and the Film Industry Have Become a BillionDollar Father-Son Act,' filmcomment 40, no. 6 (2004). "First-person shooter (FPS) is an action video game from the shooter game subgenre. Like all shooters, they involve "an avatar, one or more ranged weapons, and a varying number of enemies". FPSs are distinguished by a first person perspective, that renders the game world from the visual perspective of the player character." http://en.wikipedia.ore/wiki/First person shooter, accessed March 5, 2008.
109 108

147 with the video game realism. This best represents the reality they are familiar with in their interactions with moving images. Blogs, movie websites and DVD "making of "s have revealed the mechanisms of illusion for these hybrid techniques. The point in the cinema of effects is not realism, or even photographic realism, but an entirely imaginary world is perfectly acceptable. The digital viewer, Sean Cubitt says, is "alert to the mechanisms of illusion, delighted by their effectivity, and entranced by their developments."110 Rodowick argues that the perceptual realism of computer-generated imagery is judged on "a correspondence between modeling algorithms and the cognitive schema on which they are based," and thus is irrelevant of physical reality.111 The recent movie 300 (2007) based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller did not try to hide its methods. 112 The official website includes eleven video journals and a production blog.113 There is even a seven-page entry on how-to website This is not unusual; Peter Jackson kept a two-year incredibly detailed online production diary and corresponded with fans during the making of King Kong (2005).114 The effects become to a large extent the point of these action movies, and the thrill is how these feats of special effects are accomplished.

110 111 112

Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 4. Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 105.

A graphic novel is a type of comic book, usually with a lengthy and complex storyline similar to those of novels, and often aimed at mature audiences. novel, accessed July 18, 2007.
113 114 accessed May 16,2007., accessed May 16, 2007.

148 As 300 Snyder describes, he to recognize any wanted it to be as graphic novel upon was based.115 Every movie is fully computer programs, photorealism, but director Zack did not want anyone environments, he abstract as the which the movie environment in the designed using 3D Thus the style is not graphic novel

realism. As anime, graphic novels and video games increasingly interest the main movie demographic and as this style becomes reasonable, we will see this aesthetic become more prominent. 300 surprised the industry by being a full effects movie, which was extremely successful making $455 million worldwide box office gross, and yet costing only $60 million.116 Virtual Cinema for the Masses Digital animation has traditionally been a very expensive process, carried out only by Disney and Pixar on big projects costing over $100 million. But increasingly as new techniques are developed and storage capacity falls in price, independents have been jumping into the fray. Director Richard Linklater has used a process called rotoscoping on his last two films The Waking Life (2001) and an adaptation of Phillip K. Dick book, A

The image is a comparison of a still from the movie 300 with a panel from the Frank Miller graphic novel. From Ben Gillbanks's blog "Binary Moon" accessed February 10, 2008. Even Wolfgang Schivelbusch, on being asked what movie he'd seen lately in Spring 2007 mentioned, to my surprise, 300, which he had liked. Money figures from IMDBPro, accessed July 18, 2007.


149 Scanner Darkly (2006). Animator Bob Sabiston had developed the process, which allowed for rapid animation of live action digital video on a Macintosh computer. Linklater had admired the process when he saw Sabiston's short film Snack and Drink (1999). The most cost-prohibitive aspect of rotoscoping and digital animation in general has been data storage, but this is rapidly decreasing in price. Ian Butterfield started his three-dimensional animation Gladden (2002) while he was still a student at Ohio State University and could use the college's storage.117 He says, "But as the project progressed - and we're talking over the course of a year - hard drives got affordable enough that today two animators in two different cities could have the equipment in their houses and build a similar project together, sending files back and forth over high-speed internet lines."118 The rotoscoping technique involves the separation of images into layers that could be painted, manipulated, and moved from frame to frame. For A Scanner Darkly the process creates a color and shapeshifting type of image with artifacts of live action. accessed January 26, 2006. Kyle Minor, "Coloring inside the Lines: Digital Animation Comes of Age," the independent, September 2004.

150 A computer algorithm controls the rotating colors and shapes. This fits very well with the story, which involves drug addicts in the near future who have delusions and difficulties separating the real from the imagined. Film theorist Kyle Minor has referred to rotoscoping as "a psychedelic dreamscape" and "a kind of marriage between high and low tech."119 Robert La Franco of Wired says of A Scanner Darkly's use of rotoscoping that it "suggests animation is becoming a tool - like greenscreens and digital effects and not a stand-alone genre. It's just a method of telling stories in a different way."120 As hybridity and virtual worlds become an everyday part of audiovisual culture, the aesthetic becomes increasingly a stylistic choice that can be used across genres and for various aesthetic and stylistic purposes. Sin City (2005), 300 (2007) and French film Renaissance (2006) have used a blending of animation and live-action to create graphic novel noirs. Variety film reviewer Lisa Nesselson writes, "Take Metropolis, Blade Runner and Sin City, set them in Paris in 2054, run their widescreen visuals through an ultra-high-contrast B&W photocopying machine and you'll have a semblance of Renaissance."

Robert La Franco, "Trouble in Toontown: Director Richard Linklater Has a Mind-Blowing Vision for a New Keanu Reeves Movie, a Scanner Darkly. Making It a Reality - That's Another Story.," Wired, March 2006. Lisa Nesselson, "Renaissance," Variety, April 3-9, 2006.

151 Renaissance used motion-capture and CGI to blend live-action animation, layering architecture over the well-known Parisian landscape to create the Paris of the future. Nesselson points out that the movie features 120 different characters against 90 different backdrops. She says the producers estimate that a conventional live-action movie would have cost $240 million, whereas Renaissance cost only $18 million.122 Thus the use of CGI and the blending of live-action and animation has come down enough in cost that it can be used by independent filmmakers and can become integrated into movies at all levels, even quite realistic movies. These are individual examples but portend a way of filmmaking which is radically different and which affiliates itself with a new mode of aesthetics not dependent on filmic realism and which coexists symbiotically with a world of video games, graphic novels, anime, and virtual worlds. The ease of new technological methods is encouraging filmmakers to mix styles and genres even in documentary. An example is Chicago 10, the Sundance Film Festival opening night film in January 2007. This documentary blends historical film footage with animation to tell a story about the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Filmmaker Brett Morgen said that he did so in order to update the events for a younger audience. The Prisoner: or How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (2006) uses footage

taken by an embedded documentarian in Iraq of the arrest of an Iraqi journalist and mixes it with comic book style animation of the journalist's experience as a prisoner in Abu Ghraib. EvIDB user, Needfire from Toronto, commenting on the movie wrote that the use of the style of animation as ironic because, "Comic books are full of good guys and

Sundance Panel "The Times Did They A-Change," Monday, January 22, 2007, also featuring Todd Gitlin.

villains," which is exactly what the documentary complicates in its Kafka-esque depictions. The April 2007 Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Film Festival, one of the premiere documentary film festivals, had a number of documentaries which incorporated non-traditional stories or story-telling techniques. The most debatable in terms of genre was My Second Life, which is a documentary about a man, Molotov Alva, living in the virtual world Second Life. The documentary was "shot" wholly in Second Life, thus pushing the boundaries of documentary and fiction and redefining established forms and languages of cinema. Reaction Against: Alternate Indexicality A number of stylistic movements can be attributed to a reaction against this loss of indexicality and the easy hybridity of digital cinema. As we move away from the natural indexicality of film, a movement like Dogma 95 insists on reinstating indexicality as a written rule, requiring that what the viewer sees is what was in front of the camera both visually and aurally. The "Vow of Chastity" demands that shooting must be done on location with no special lighting and the sound must not be produced separately from the images. As Jack Stevenson writes in his book on Lars von Trier:

Dogma would save the bodies and souls of film-makers who had sold out to the false gods of special effects and easy solutions, film-makers who had become addicted to the medium's grab-bag of slick tricks and had lost their ability to tell a good basic story that dealt with genuine human emotions. They needed to go cold-turkey. That's why Dogma was severe, almost like a detoxification programme or the radical 'deprogramming' of someone who is brainwashed.125 Von Trier was angry when his manifesto was interpreted to be an encouragement of lowbudget filmmaking. He argued with the government of Denmark that this was exactly

124 1 accessed March 11, 2007. Stevenson, Lars Von Trier, 104.

not the point. He wrote to the film board, "Dogma 95 is an artistic concept, not an economic concept."126 The fixed camera aesthetic is being used increasingly in independent movies to similarly reinstate a form of indexicality. This dogmatic style guarantees an authenticity threatened by the ease of manipulation. I have termed them "moving postcard" documentaries. In both Our Daily Bread (2005), about factory farming in Europe and Into Great Silence (2005) about a silent monastery in France, the camera is motionless. A shot is held for a certain amount of time with real sound. Then another shot is held. Visible in these shots is whatever happens to happen in front of the camera, almost like surveillance video. I think the style is a reaction to the shaky handheld cinema-verite style in features and the manipulation of documentaries with montage and animation, confronting the criticisms of documentaries like Fahrenheit 9/11, but most importantly providing a stylistic guarantee that the images have not been tampered with, that what happened in front of the camera is what you see, however non-narrative that may be almost a return to Lumiere-style filmmaking or what Cubitt would call the cinema of the pixel. Both films also create a new experience of cinema - they are practically real time with real sound to the point where the viewer feels like a factory farm worker and a monk. You are forced through the length and repetition (Into Great Silence was three hours) to let go of narrative expectations and let the films wash over you and change you into the subject (or is it object?) of the film. Although certainly art films, much positive press was given to both and they performed well in prominent film festivals. Into Great

Ibid., 108.

Silence did surprisingly well in box office in the U.S., making it, as of September 10, 2007, the third most successful documentary of 2007 behind only Michael Moore's Sicko and No End In Sight.127 These films use new ways to guarantee a form of indexicality, when it has become no longer a necessary limitation of cinema. They use real time and real sound in an effort to replicate reel time and reel sound, which, although it never existed in pure form except perhaps in Warhol's experiments, we are still nostalgic for. Their reaction is a comment on the prevalence of the hybrid form. Similarly, both Russian Ark and Ten use architecture as a form of indexicality, the diagetic architecture is congruent with the real architecture of the Hermitage and the streets of Tehran. In fact the architecture dictates the movement. In the case of Russian Ark, the structure and control is provided by the architecture of the Hermitage not by the editing as the movie is a single shot. Kriss Rayetto-Biagioli writes, "Although Russian Ark emphasizes theatricality, it doesn't spin out of control into random, disjointed acts that repeat, intersect, and dissolve into oblivion. Instead the film hinges all these disparate and fragmentary performances on the physical and historical map of the Hermitage and the Winter Palace." In this case, the design of the castle (now a

museum) determines narrative. In Ten (2002), Kiarostami lets the architecture of Tehran and the design of the traffic patterns control the camera movements, mise-en-scene and sound like an algorithm. The conversations were partly scripted but also interact with the environment of the movie/game hybrid. The action is delimited by the design as in a

Although Arctic Tale was hot on its heels. Into Great Silence won the best documentary award at the European Film Awards and the Bavarian Film Awards, and a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Our Daily Bread won a Special Jury Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and was nominated for the best documentary award at the European Film Awards.


Ravetto-Biagioli, "Floating on the Borders of Europe Sokurov's Russian Ark."

155 videogame. Thus this identification with duree (real time) and design (real place) reinstates a level of indexicality, as photographic indexicality is no longer innate to the digital moving image.

The Snowflake and the Black Box

Cinema has been freed by digital and computer technologies from the necessity of certain aesthetic and stylistic tropes and languages inherent in film. Digital cinema can be much more spontaneous, like the snowflake, but with the independence of the pixel can also be much more controlled, like Murch's metaphor of the black box. The computer as camera allows a co-collaboration between the filmmaker and the machine, which leads to new affordances more conducive to computer processes than filmic vision. Viewers' aesthetic expectations of cinema are rendered from their experiences with digital audiovisual worlds, enabling a new mode of cinema with new aesthetic and stylistic tropes. New opportunities are afforded by the long-take and non-traditional forms of montage, which mimic or represent ways of navigating, space, time and information with contemporary technologies. Composition breaks down the shot, formerly the base unit of film, such that "real" images and digitally created images can interact and intertwine in hybrid form. A

number of new methods have made this hybrid style easy and opened the potential for new modes of cinema even in non-traditional effects genres like independent, art, and documentary.

Deleuze argues that the shot was never a satisfactory base unit as the content of the shot was always important to the language.

156 Thus our definitions of authenticity and reality must be adjusted and indexicality is often introduced through other means like real locations, real time, real sound and manifestos. The new mode of cinema is not unidirectional but follows a number of instabilities, foreclosures and potentialities. In the next chapter we will take the next step and examine how digital and computer technologies can affect the dominant trope of narrative. How do we tell stories in digital cinema?

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Cinematic Diagram: Ten (Kiarostami, 2002): Scenes in relation to Duration and Repetition i Amitv 'Jilted'woman

Figure 1 : Cinematic Diagram of Ten (Munt 2006)

V. Cinema 3.0: The Interactive-Image


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Larry Page

In his book Cinema 2: the time-image, Gilles Deleuze defined a break coinciding with World War H. He described an emergent way of making sense of the world, which was represented in post-war cinema.1 Instead of actions leading to reactions in the classical movement-image's rational and stable representations of Cinema 1, the post-war timeimage presents seemingly irrationally linked images. I will argue in this chapter that we too are moving toward a new way of making sense of the world as we segue from an analog industrial to a digital electronic society with new economies, networks, and systems of work, play and violence. Cinema 2 for Deleuze was a "cinema of the seer and no longer of the agent" as the movement-image gave way to the time-image. As D.N. Rodowick writes in his

book on Deleuze, "Acts of seeing and hearing replace the linking of images through motor actions; pure description replaces referential anchoring." In this chapter we will explore how Cinema 3.0 might be a cinema of the user as the time-image gives way to the interactive-image. Rodowick describes how with the digital electronic image "the spectator is no longer a passive viewer yielding to the ineluctable flow of time, but rather alternates between looking and reading as well as immersive viewing and active
"According to him [Bazin], it [neo-realism] was a matter of a new form of reality, said to be dispersive, elliptical, errant or wavering, working in blocs, with deliberately weak connections and floating events." Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 1.
2 3 1

Ibid., 2. Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine, 12-13.

controlling." As he says these are "overlapping states." Paul Virilio has described how technology has created a situation where we can not only see objects at a distance, but can act on them.5 Interaction becomes a natural consequence of digital media. We have been trained by our immersion in digital culture to participate in/with what we consume. With the disappearance of the spectator what becomes of the spectacle? Instead of world as picture we have world as game.6 Progressive filmmakers are assembling cinematic events in new and expanded ways fundamentally different from classic conceptions of narrative: rearranging pieces in achronological order, utilizing repetition, and designing non-traditional structures of causation. Theorist Allan Cameron refers to this as "modular narrative." Database and modular narrative encourage games and pattern recognition. As Jeffrey Shaw puts it, computer and digital imaging technologies afford a "new poetics of narrative."8 This form he maintains better represents the "mediated consciousness of the emerging social order," as our interactions with digital and computer technologies have given us new expectations of cinema as a reflection of our sense of the world. 9 In this chapter I will present examples expanding upon and supporting this claim. Digital media have changed how societies navigate space and time. Increasingly, many people are directed by cell phone, PDA and GPS imperatives as they navigate

Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 111. Virilio, War and Cinema : The Logistics of Perception.

Martin Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture," in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, Harper Torchbooks; Tb 1969 (New York: Harper & Row, 1977). Allan Cameron, "Contingency, Order, and the Modular Narrative: 21 Grams and Irreversible," The Velvet Light Trap, no. 58 (2006). Shaw and Weibel, Future Cinema : The Cinematic Imaginary after Film, 19.
9 7

Ibid., 17.

urban or vehicular space surrounded by LCD screens and continuously interacting. This regular interaction with digital media technologies has created new demands for narrative. We are accustomed to interacting with our media, not passively absorbing. As Sean Cubitt writes, "Today TV drama, feature films, video games and many internet sites, as well as the net itself, offer navigation as their key structural device."10 These tendencies have translated over to cinema creating a different sort of use value where the user is required to create the movie experience herself from a series of database intertextualities that must be searched and navigated - navigation as opposed to narration. This provides an interactive experience and our digital culture has prepared viewers for this scenario with computer use, where they may have multiple windows open, digitextuality, remix, database and search as use functions. We will examine some emerging forms that seem to be in the ascendant. Even the logic of the computer, emphasizing the processibility of complex series of possibilities, bifurcation and combinatorics, articulates narrative forms based on stochastic logic and Markov chains where contingency is a function of game and chaos theory, i.e. positioning

Sean Cubitt, Digital Aesthetics, Theory, Culture & Society (Unnumbered) (London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE, 1998), 79.
11 Willis, New Digital Cinema : Reinventing the Moving Image, 17. Anna Everett and John T. Calwell's term 'digitextuality', for example, combines the ubiquitous term 'digital' with Julia Kristeva's notion of intertextuality as defined by her book Revolution in Poetic Language. Everett draws from Kristeva's description of every text 'as a mosaic of quotations' and as a process of 'absorption and transformation of another text' in order to describe the process in new media by which old media are transposed into new forms (2003: 7). She writes:

Where digitextuality departs from Kristeva's notion of intertextuality is that the former moves us beyond a 'new signifying system' of quotations and transpositions, to a metasignifying system of discursive absorption whereby different signifying systems and materials are translated and often transformed into zeroes and ones for infinite recombinant signifiers. In other words, new digital media technologies make meaning not only by building a new text through absorption and transformation of other texts, but also by embedding the entirety of other texts (analogue and digital) seamlessly within the new.

in a non-linear system, location and circumstances, and not a determinant cause and effect as in traditional narrative. Thus I open the chapter with the PageRank function.12 Walter Benjamin writes, "For the tasks which face the human apparatus of perception at the turning points of history cannot be solved by optical means, that is by contemplation, alone. They are mastered gradually by habit, under the guidance of tactile appropriation."13 As Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer explained, cinema could soothe the masses because it mimicked the everyday shocks of industrial society.14 Kracauer describes how cinema could reflect the shocks of modernity and make them bearable, with the "small moments of material life" as presented in movies soothing "our minds, fragmentized as they are." 5 Anthropologist John Pemberton has put forth the idea that early cinema favored rituals and machines acts of repetition ~ thus mimicking the apparatus itself. These shocks involved in the increasing speed and distraction and repetition of modern life were mirrored and soothed in the cinema. Benjamin writes: Technology has subjected the human sensorium to a complex kind of training. There came a day when a new and urgent need for stimuli was met by the film. In a film, perception in the form of shocks was established as a formal principle. That which determines the rhythm of production on a conveyor belt is the basis of the rhythm of reception in a film.16

Friedrich Kittler begins each section of Discourse Networks 1800/1900 with an equation representing 1800 and 1900. For 1800 he has elx= cos x + i sin x by Euler an equation for spiral-like growth. For 1900 he has the iterative Bolzano equation y = (+a) + (-a) + (+a) + (-a)... As I will discuss later, the PageRank equation best represents Discourse Network 2000. Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900, 1, 175.


Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," 240. Every night the movie-continuum has to treat the wounds that a discrete machine inflicts upon secretaries

during the day. An entanglement of the imaginary and the symbolic. Kittler, Gramophone,

Typewriter, 175. Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality, 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 305, 03. Walter Benjamin, "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire," in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York,: Harcourt Brace & World, 1968), 175.
16 15

161 Similarly, I argue, contemporary cinema mimics the everyday shocks of our emerging digital society. Thus the globalized, networked, digitized society demands a new cinema form based on interactivity, play, search, database and non-obvious relationships. The viewer becomes a "viewser." I will examine examples of movies, which train and stimulate the viewer in ways that mimic the logics of the contemporary computer and digital economies. Narrative Norms - Continuities Fan Mode Narrative norms are so dominant that conceiving of cinema as anything other than primarily a means of storytelling has been almost impossible. Sean Cubitt traces the application of narratology to cinema, where scholars, moving away from Andre Bazin and Kracauer's somewhat mystical proposals that cinema's destiny was the depiction of the world, have argued that narrative is innate to cinema, even finding narrative in the symmetric elements of Lumiere's La Sortie des Usines (1895).17 Cubitt finds that this argument stretches the concept of narrative too far, and does not distinguish narrative from representation or duration. He argues that narrative is an "effect" created by special techniques, namely the "cut." The cut, he says, leads to a cinema of "predestination," which led people to think that cinema is essentially a narrative form. He writes: Certainly one can assemble cinematic events into a narrative. But equally one can assemble them to make a pattern, or even jumble them together at random. It is

"The guiding myth, then inspiring the invention of cinema, is the accomplishment of that which dominated in a more or less vague fashion all the techniques of mechanical reproduction of reality in the
nineteenth century, from photography to the phonograph, namely an integral realism, a recreation of the

world in its own image, an image unburdened by the freedom of interpretation of the artist or the irreversibility of time." Andre Bazin, What Is Cinema? (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1967), 21. Cubitt cites Marshall Deutelbaum, "Structural Patterning in the Lumiere Films," Wide Angle 3, no. 1 (1979): 28-37, and Andre Gaudreault, "Film, Narrative, Narration: The Cinema of the Lumiere Brothers," trans. Rosamund Howe, in Early Cinema: Space, Frame and Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser, 114-122. BFI, London.

important to recognize that narrative is neither primary nor necessary to cinema, and it forms no part of any putative essence of the medium. Deleuze too feels that narrative, presenting a story, was the direction that cinema took in order to become a language, but that other directions were possible.19 I hope to demonstrate that, in fact, other directions, divergent from classical narrative, are currently being pursued, that viewser's digital literacy is enabling new cinematic language and that these new forms are popular and indicate an emerging trend. Many have argued that although digital technologies are having large effects in the realms of style, narrative has nonetheless remained classical, and therefore that cinema remains cinema. D.N. Rodowick writes: With respect to digital technologies, cinema is reinventing itself-just as it has done in previous periods of technological transition - by producing stylistic innovations while respecting narrative continuities. In short, Attack of the Clones (2002) [Star Wars] and The Two Towers (2002) [Lord of the Rings] are perfectly recognizable in most respects as classic Hollywood cinema despite their innovations in visual style.... While film may disappear, cinema nonetheless persists.20 Although I, for the most part, agree with Rodowick that many studio-produced contemporary movies have respected classic Hollywood narrative norms, I will argue below that there are a large number of popular movies that are developing and using new narrative methods and are threatening the dominance of narrative as the primary raisond'etre of cinema. Even in the mainstream there are inklings of change. In fact, I could take issue with Rodowick on his two examples. The narrative, such as it is, takes a far back seat in both Attack of the Clones and The Two Towers to the special effects and in a

18 19

Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 38.

"The historical fact is that cinema was constituted as [a language] by becoming narrative, by presenting a story and rejecting other possible directions." Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 25.

Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 30.

movie like Shrek (2001) and its sequels the new animation technology, pop references, celebrity cameos and double entendres are certainly dominant to any plot. A movie like the third installment Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) provides a good example of a big budget, tentpole movie whose narrative required new modes of watching, one that left the critics behind their more digitally involved fan audiences. Critics, in general, found this movie hard to follow.22 Nathan Lee of The Village Voice wrote, "Long before the third, fourth, or fifth climax in this endless, obligatory summer diversion, I slunk into my seat in a passive, inattentive stupor, fully submitting to the fact that I hadn't the slightest idea what the hell was going on."23 Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out New York called it "maddeningly incomprehensible."24 Yet, worldwide, as of July 2007, two months after its release, it had a box office gross of

close to one billion dollars. Internet Movie Database [IMDB] users gave it a very respectable 7.3 out of 10.26 The user comments indicate that for these viewers the previous two Pirates installments were more familiar than for the professional critics. Viewers had seen the previous two movies on DVD, VOD and cable and had followed articles on stars and production so would not have forgotten what the "Black Pearl" was

In fact Sean Cubitt writes, "Recent movies like Star Wars, Episode Two: Attack of the Clones move from set piece to set piece along only the slenderest thread of narrative, like washing on a line." Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 238. Site Rotten Tomatoes which aggregates criticism gave it a 46%, polling 188 reviews. The consensus according to the site was that "It mixes too many characters with too many incomprehensible plot threads." of the Caribbean 3/. accessed July 20, 2007.
23 24 25 26 22


Nathan Lee, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At Wit's End," The Village Voice, May 22, 2007. Joshua Rothkopf, "Pirates of the Caribbean," Time Out New York, May 31 - June 6, 2007. From IMDBPro,, accessed July 20, 2007. For reference, Spider-Man (2002) has 7.4 user rating as of July 28, 2007.

164 as Anthony Lane of The New Yorker did. As movies exist in a mode of replay and

online discursive space the narrative can be more complicated and intertextual. There is a community aspect to movie interpretation for the Cinema 3.0 viewer. Cinema has become a networked medium. So, Pirates of the Caribbean played with narrative, giving viewers the overload of plot, characters and special effects that the fan mode requires and confusing the overworked, non-fan, traditional film critic. This type of community, complexity and multi-media intertextuality has been available before digital and computer technologies. Once again we can look at the Nouvelle Vague and its community in Cahiers du Cinema and other journals and cineclubs of the time as a networked and intertextual form of cinema experience. But this took place solely in a handful of urban centers and required time and an almost cult-like commitment. Now, the fan mode, the interactive and intertextual engagement with the text, has become the prevalent viewing mode as it becomes easy and almost unavoidable, particularly to interact with a big budget movie with the strength of advertising behind it in every medium. In fact, as Will Booker, a film scholar and self-described fan of popular cinema, posits, movies may now be created specifically for this fan mode as movies are made increasingly with DVD in mind over theatrical. He gives the example of certain scenes

in the remade Star Wars prequels where a key clue would not be available to a theatrical viewing audience and so clearly was made with the DVD fan viewer in mind who would

"A subplot requires Will to save Bill by getting hold of the Black Pearl, but for the life of me I couldn't remember whether the Pearl was a man-of-war, a precious stone, or a sex toyor, for that matter, whose heart was in the treasure chest, and which sailor, at any given moment, was on board which damn ship." Anthony Lane, "Men at Sea," The New Yorker, June 4,2007.

Derek Johnson, "Star Wars Fans, Dvd, and Cultural Ownership: An Interview with Will Booker," The Velvet Light Trap, no. 56 (2005).

rewind, freeze and particularly know from online discussions to look for that clue to the narrative.29 Movies, particularly tentpoles, are made to be one artifact in a multi-media, interactive community of the cinematic experience, involving websites, video games, contests, mobile media, etc. Thus the narrative must be constructed with these outside artifacts in mind as a full experience for the now perhaps majority (if you take into account the experience across all these media) viewer, the fan.


Sean Cubitt uses the Lumiere's La Sortie des Usines (1895), a film of workers exiting through the gates of a factory, as the examplar of a moment in culture when ways of being and seeing, work and play were being rearranged according to industrial means of production, the moment of transition between the factory clock and the flaneur, as he describes it. Sortie, as he says, takes place at the juncture between work and leisure; it

exists by their "contradiction." The electronic age and its emerging economies is obliterating this contradiction. More and more, for computer users existence is in some intermedial zone of work and leisure. The new experience of moving images through computer and digital technologies is increasingly interactive, blurring the lines between producer and consumer, spectacle and spectator, representation and information as embodied by mashups and crowdsourcing.31 Thus, I argue, we are in a similarly

The example he gives is whether or not Greedo or Hans Solo shoot first under the table. Ibid.
Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 19-20. As Cubitt notes, these were not just any workers, but female workers

in the Lumiere's own photographic plate manufacturing plant.


Mashup (or mash it up) is a Jamaican Creole term meaning to destroy. Mashup is used to describe a web application that combines data or functionality from more than one source, a musical genre of songs made up of parts from other songs and video that is edited from more than one source to appear as one. accessed November 24, 2007. Crowdsourcing is a neologism for a model in which a company or institution outsources the solution of a problem to the public. For example,

166 revolutionary moment and Cinema 3.0 steps up to train and soothe its digital citizens by representing new sets of relations between art, culture, work and relations of power. To do this Cinema 3.0 must move beyond vision to engage thought. Peter Weibel calls this neurocinema, which he says presupposes that the eye is "no longer adequate for understanding or interacting with the world and that it should be replaced by the brain."32 As in an earlier era the human vision of the audience was synchronized with "machine perception," as Cubitt and Benjamin have described it, now the cognition of the audience must be synchronized with digital logics.33 A characteristic of Cinema 3.0 movies is that they put the viewer to work. Thus the experience of the movie is more like a project and a piecing together of disparate parts, some perhaps contained in the movie text itself and some which may be found in other media. The Blair Witch Project (1999) early on experimented with an algorithmic production method. Although edited traditionally to create a coherent narrative, the directors, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, set up a sort of live-action video game production method. 34 They hired three inexperienced actors and sent them out into the woods with cameras and global positioning satellite [GPS] devices. The actors were given notes and supplies at different points and were prompted by character plants and props in otherwise real life situations and locations, anticipating the reality TV

the public may be invited to develop a new technology, cany out a design task, refine an algorithm or analyse large amounts of data. http://en,, accessed July 20, 2007.

Peter Weibel in Future Cinema quoted in Anna Notaro, "Technology in Search of an Artist: Questions of

Auteurism/ Authorship and the Contemporary Cinematic Experience," The Velvet Light Trap, no. 57

(2006): 95. "In the cinematograph, the human vision of the audience is synchronized with a machine perception in the process of formation." Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 30.
34 33

Jane Turk, a colleague, describes in her undergraduate thesis on The Blair Witch Project how the digital look is used to provide a cinema-verite feel, and yet the editing remains traditional.

phenomenon of Survivor, which was created the next year. The narrative developed within the architecture of the town and the woods. In the case of the Blair Witch Project (1999), Artisan's marketing campaign mimicked the technology of the movie, prefiguring what has now become the norm of intermedial experience of cinema. The fictional movie was marketed as a documentary about three real student filmmakers who vanished while working on a documentary about a legendary witch near the town of Burkittsville, Maryland. The story supposedly unfolds through their own footage, "accidentally discovered by student anthropologists a year after their disappearance and then pieced together by Artisan."35 The website offered additional "found" materials creating a supplementary experience to the movie, one where users attempted to figure out what happened, what was real and what was not. The movie itself, as J.P. Telotte notes, becomes just one more artifact, along with the Web materials, to use in figuring out "what really happened." Thus the name, "project," and as Telotte describes, the marketing for the movie implies that the pleasures of the movie mimic those of the Internet, where seeking and finding information in a medium of "unfettered knowledge" provides the primary thrill.36 Blair Witch was a breakout hit, and successfully exploited a climate of confusion of sources and reliability. Users/viewers were happy to participate. At the time these technologies, both the Internet and handheld consumer digital video cameras, were fairly new and people were suffering from a bit of pre-millenial unease, which the movie project exploited. As Telotte points out, "the narrative evokes our own sense of being

J.P. Telotte, "The Blair Witch Project Project: Film and the Internet," Film Quarterly 54, no. 3 (2001).

lost in the mediated contemporary world."

Thus the movie evokes both the pleasure

and the anxieties of a society of interactivity, web navigation and digital communication. The narrative form of the project can be fully exploited by web video. As Sean Cubitt writes, "One of the attractions of cyberspace is its rewriting of the very concept of art, and with it the boundary demarcations between art and communications media." 38 Web video ushers in a new form of narrative based on interactivity, viral distribution, community, and a combination of documentary and scripted fare where the boundaries between what is real and what is not are defined in context. The LonelyGirllS phenomenon provides a good example of changing narrative forms and the "wikiality" of web video objects. LonelyGirll5 began as a series of short videos in 2006, purportedly filmed in her bedroom by high school girl Bree, whose web handle is LonelyGirll5, and who is having trouble with her religious parents and her study partner/ potential boyfriend. Within two days of the first posting, the LonelyGirl video had received half a million views. As the videos continued to emerge, speculation grew as to whether LonelyGirl was real. Numerous major media publications speculated about her identity, until September 2006, when the teenage son of a Silicon Valley technology reporter found the actress's old
37 38 39

Ibid.: 38. Cubitt, Digital Aesthetics, 83., accessed March 12, 2007. In a July 2006 episode of the satirical comedy The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert announced the neologism wikiality, a portmanteau of the words Wikipedia and reality, for his segment "The W0rd." Colbert defined wikiality as "truth by consensus" (rather than fact), modeled after the approval-by-consensus format of Wikipedia. He ironically praised Wikipedia for following his philosophy of truthiness, in which intuition and consensus is a better reflection of reality than fact. According to Colbert, together "we can all create a reality that we all can agree on; the reality that we just agreed o n . . . . We should apply these principles to all information. All we need to do is convince a majority of people that some factoid is true.... What we're doing is bringing democracy to knowledge." Comedy Central, July 31, 2006. colbert report/videos/the word/index.jhtml?playVideo=72347, accessed July 22, 2007.

169 MySpace page, a deleted copy of which had been cached by Google. Although the

LonelyGirll5 videos turn out to have been authored by two men, Miles Beckett and Mesh Flinders, acted onscreen by Jessica Lee Rose and in her text correspondence by talent agent Amanda Goodfried, the phenomenon of LonelyGirl went well beyond their script.

Reporter Adam Sternbergh commenting on the Lonelygirl 15 phenomenon, before it was exposed, brings up how her videos and the mystery of who she is and if she is legitimate or a marketing hoax became an event or artwork in itself. Sternbergh follows all Lonelygirl's critics and defenders. The characters included critic Gohepcat, described by Sternbergh as "a film-geek hipster in mirrored sunglasses and a cowboy hat," her defender "Nerd With the Headset," her nemesis "Lazydork," amongst others. Each could post his or her own video responses, which all become part of the story. Possibly all or none of these characters are in on the hoax. Sternbergh writes how each of these characters, real or not, become part of a complex multifaceted interactive narrative. He writes, "And presto: Just like that, Lonelygirl's tale goes from Web-based melodrama or viral-marketing trickery toward something like a brand-new art form. . . . The story line is both linear (will Daniel [Lonelygirl's study partner] get the girl?) and expansive (enter the Mirrored Cowboy!), and anyone can join in."42 LonelyGirl is still extremely popular and viewers still correspond with Amanda Goodfried as Bree. With the mystery solved, people still participate in the entertainment and social experiment. The pleasure comes not from narrative as a story with a beginning
Joshua Davis, "The Secret World of Lonelygirl: How a 19-Year-Old Actress and a Few Struggling W e b

Filmmakers Took on Tv. A Wired Exclusive.," Wired, December 2006.


While viewers saw Jessica Lee Rose in the videos as Bree, when they corresponded with Bree they were actually responded to in text by Amanda Goodfried.

Adam Sternbergh, "Hey There, Lonelygirl: One Cute Teen's Online Diary Is Probably a Hoax. It's Also the Birth of a New Art Form.," New York Magazine, August 18, 2006.

170 and an end as such, but from the interaction of the differing and uncontrolled factors and the determining of truth within the context of the project. This is Cinema 3.0. As mentioned in the first chapter, digital media is characterized by unfinish. Cinema as a project readily demonstrates this characteristic where there is no more expectation of an end and even when the hoax was exposed users do not let it end.43 One could see this as an empowering of the viewers or as a co-option, as the marketing and entertainment industry tricks consumers into creating their own objects of consumption. I, personally, view the phenomenon as a dispersion of power, which has created more interesting cinematic art objects with more forms of expression. Even a mainstream movie like Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) participates in a similar project where the thrill of the movie is the constant mental weighing of what is real and what is not, navigating the artifacts of which the movie is only one piece of the puzzle. Viewsers could participate in the Borat world, comparing how certain scenes played out in real life (e.g. how he had to flee from the rodeo) and the reactions of various people with lawsuits and the political and cultural reactions of governments like Kazakhstan and Romania. Borat was nominated for an Oscar for best-adapted screenplay, which is particularly telling about new cultural expectations because the movie is partly documentary.44 The character Borat interacts with the unscripted world, thus a good

As Virilio says, "Death becomes just a technical accident." Thus we have the ending of the popular HBO television show "The Sopranos" where the screen cuts to black and a million people lunged toward their
remote thinking there had been a technical problem. The creator David Chase did not have the power to end

the narrative. He had lost control of his creation, which existed in an intermedial network outside his auteurial control; only a technical accident could end it. Virilio, War and Cinema : The Logistics of Perception, 60.
44 A similar confusion over terms came at the 2002 Academy Awards when Charlie Kauffman's script for Adaptation was nominated for best-adapted screenplay. Adaptation is a complex layering of realities, telling a fictional story of the attempted adaptation of a real book Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. As Rick

171 portion of the film is not scripted at all. The screenwriters wrote permutation upon permutation so that Baron Cohen would have options for whatever might happen, more like the programming of interactive video game software than writing a traditional script. Reality television has certainly shown that this can be a dominant narrative form where enjoyment exists in a liminal space between what is real and what is scripted. The interactive work for the viewer consists of weighing what is real and what is not, a job normally carefully controlled for the viewer by the filmmaker, but now the programming (as opposed to writing) of movies as projects puts this job in the viewers' hands. The movie becomes a project and one artifact as Telotte stresses among websites, articles and blogs, which the viewser searches and navigates amongst for enjoyment. The pleasure is in the action of searching and navigating, not simply watching.

And the database? No longer hierarchical, its order becomes that of a comprehensive but incomprehensible labyrinth: a vast and boundless maze of images and sounds, dreams, and visions in which one follows, backtracks, veers off, loses oneself in multiple trajectories, all the time weaving tenuous threads of association in the logically endless teleology and texture of desire. Here, the materials of the world are never fixed data or information merely requiring re-collection ; here, from the first, they are unstable bits of experience and can only be re-membered.45 (Vivian Sobchack, "Nostalgia for the Digital Object") Manovich explains how the computer age introduces the correlate to the narrative as the key form of cultural expression of the modern age - the database.46 According to Manovich, instead of beginning with a script and then finding the elements to fulfill it,
Lyman wrote in The New York Times, "But in an age of narrative deconstruction and 'reality television,'

some are wondering whether those old categories are still valid." Rick Lyman, "A Jumble of Categories for Screenwriter Award," The New York Times, February 21, 2003.
45 Vivian Sobchack, "Nostalgia for the Digital Object: Regrets on the Quickening of Quicktime," Millennium Film Journal, no. No. 34 (1999). 46

Manovich, The Language of New Media, 218.

the database cinema starts with a database of elements and then generates narrative from the database.47 The database, though, is not a random collection, but a collection organized by a particular model. Manovich uses Russian filmmaker and theorist Dziga Vertov as an example of early database cinema. His Man With a Movie Camera (1929) can be seen as a cataloging of film effects, parts of the city, and different jobs of workers. Manovich writes, "Thus, in the hands of Vertov, the database, this normally static and 'objective' form, becomes dynamic and subjective." In one scene Vertov even lets the

viewer into the true database, the editing room with the reels labeled. Thus, as Manovich points out, Vertov weaves three levels of database narrative: the cameraman shooting the movie, the audience watching the movie, and the footage shot in the cities of Moscow, Kiev and Riga. The method by which Vertov organized and ordered the footage comprises the narrative. The database implies search and Manovich is interested in this as a characteristic of contemporary society. He stresses the development from Baudelaire's flaneur to "[William] Gibson's data cowboy who zooms through pure data armed with data-mining algorithms." 49 He writes: If the subject of modern society looked for refuge from the chaos of the real world in the stability and balance of the static composition of painting, and later in the cinematic image, the subject of the information society finds peace in the knowledge that she can slide over endless fields of data, locating any morsel of information with the click of a button, zooming through file systems and networks. She is comforted not by an equilibrium of shapes and colors, but by the variety of data manipulation operations at her control.50
Manovich, Softcinema: Ambient Narrative.

Manovich, The Language of New Media, xxvii. "Gibson's data cowboy" refers to his character Case in Neuromancer who can jack his consciousness into cyberspace to mine data looking for secrets and accessing protected information. William Gibson, Neuromancer (London: V. Gollancz, 1984). Manovich, The Language of New Media, 275.

Ibid., 274-5.

The database implies a different form of cinema less concerned with narrative and visuality and more interested in cognitive and navigational processes. Filmmaker and journalist Surj Patel, in encouraging people to make cell phone movies, also uses the example of Vertov. He compares the small vignettes transmitted virally to kino-pravda, or "film truth" as described by Vertov - "the stitching together of small fragments of life into a patchwork with greater meaning." He says, "This approach to storytelling is especially compelling in today's media culture, as we've become used to surfing the Web, cable TV and other sources of information, snipping bits as we go and building our own model for what's happening out there."51 The everyday use of computer technologies contributes to new habits and desires in the viewer and therefore new expectations for cinema. Tom Tykwer's movie Run Lola Run (1998) took advantage of the database form by playing out all the possible riflings through the database. Much like a video game, the narrative resets and different scenarios are played out. In the movie, Lola gets a call

from her boyfriend Manni who has lost some gang money and needs her to get him 100,000 DM across Berlin in twenty minutes or he will be killed. The scenes are scrambled and clues are planted that return in different angles or time, out of joint. Contingency in each scenario is based on small seemingly random events. In the end, we do not know which permutation of events was the "real" one. The fun, like in a video game, comes from figuring out the levels, the rules of the diegesis. This is a playful way of viewing. Allan Cameron uses Run Lola Run as an example of an emerging chaos
51 2

Patel, "Talk Is Cheap: Make Mobile Movies."

'The try-try-try-again format and coin-collecting conceit of Tom Tykwer's 1998 pop hit Run Lola Run, resemble in the abstract, platformers like Mario. Leggat, "Chip Off the Old Block: Video Games and the Film Industry Have Become a Billion-Dollar Father-Son Act."

theory narrative logic where small differences in each iteration lead to radically different outcomes, in this case Lola's death, Manni's death or the lovers' successful reunion. The pleasure is in the pattern recognition of the modular elements. Remix Cinema and Modular Cinema As we live in a more and more mediated world, our moving images increasingly refer to and cross-reference other moving images and develop by viral repetition and mutation. With the modularity of digital objects, remix becomes a primary activity of the electronic society. Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) was one of the first mainstream movie to feature as a dominant trope the remixing of pop culture. With a background as a video store clerk, Tarantino popularized a form of filmmaking whose raison d'etre was the referencing of and dialogue with other movies. As Beth Pinksker writes, "His shoutouts announced a new school of filmmaking, one that admits that movies are bastard beasts, their themes and characters easily swapped into new scenes and circumstances." 4 Not only does Tarantino remix movies but also pop music and pop culture themes. Tarantino, in his movies like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction (1994) and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2 (2003, 04), uses temporal dislocation so the job of the viewser becomes not only one of matching references, but also of determining order and interconnection in a scrambled database of scenes and characters. Increasingly, this has become a dominant trope with a certain type of hip, popular filmmaker. Pinksker specifically cites Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums [2001], The Darjeeling Limited [2007]), Robert Rodriguez (Sin City [2005], Grindhouse [2007]), and Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer [2001], Kung Fu Hustle [2004]) as cross-pollinating
53 54

Cameron, "Contingency, Order, and the Modular Narrative." Beth Pinsker, "Qt: King of Thieves," Wired, July 2005.

their movies with references to and jokes on other movies. Part of the challenge and the enjoyment for viewers is to match these references. The Internet Movie Database [IMDB} has an entire section devoted to "Movie Connections."55 These references take the viewer in and out of the movie narrative. Certainly for Tarantino, and to a large extent for these other directors, the references have become the point; a plot is almost superfluous. The job for the viewser is linking these associations. I maintain that the viewser accepts this as an entertainment form because it is a representation of his or her cultural life: of websurfing and hyperlinks primary societal activities. The viewser does not need his or her art objects to refer to or represent a world outside media simply remixing and being asked to reorder the media world is a satisfying act. Wes Anderson's Darjeeling Limited (2007) primarily references Anderson's other movies.56 He has purposely made the movie one artifact by creating a prologue short called Hotel Chevalier (2007), which is available only from iTunes and before film festival screenings. Hotel Chevalier presents a scene with the character Jack, played by Jason Schwartzman, which predates the journey in Darjeeling. Anderson says that "you need to see the short to get the whole picture," and yet he did not want to play the short before every showing. He says he wanted "different people to see it in different ways" and then "link together." The backstory throughout the movie is purposefully kept cursory, but the actors Schwartzman and Owen Wilson play characters with the same traits as characters they have played in previous Anderson movies. Thus as a viewer we can assume we know them better than we should from simply watching Darjeeling.
55 56 57, accessed every day. Tarrantino and Anderson share a production designer David Wasco.

IFC News Coverage of the New York Film Festival Press Conference, September 29, 2007., accessed November 24, 2007.

Schwartzman's lovelorn Jack is similar to his character in Rushmore (1998). Owen Wilson, as Francis, resumes a similar role of an unbalanced want-to-be leader to his character Eli Cash in Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and his original character with Anderson, Dignan in Bottle Rocket (1996). Nathan Lee of The Village Voice refers to Darjeeling as a "companion piece" to Anderson's previous movie The Royal Tenenbaums.58 Thus Anderson creates a sense of deja-vu as we are purposefully lead to hyperlink characters with previous incarnations. Although there is nothing specifically digital about the production of this form of narrative, in fact Tarantino shoots only on film, the linking, associations and remixing of texts represents a way of experiencing media in the computer age. The movies are made with the viewer in mind who has ready access to all the other movies and cultural artifacts referenced therein, in other words a digitally literate viewer. Using the movie as one artifact in a larger database, we enjoy the making of associations, the inside jokes and links which may be superfluous to the plot and yet represent the primary activity encouraged by the movie. Soduko Cinema Database narrative is modular and thus encourages "flashback, time travel and temporal dislocations."59 As Marsha Kinder outlines, the novel had interactivity because you could pick it up and put it down. Thus, novels could have database narratives, which she defines as narratives whose "structure exposes the dual processes of selection and combination, which may not have a clear beginning or end nor a coherent chain of

Nathan Lee, "Strangers on a Train," The Village Voice, September 25, 2007. Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 239.

177 causality." Database narrative forces the reader/viewer to imagine that there could be

other configurations. As the DVD and other less ephemeral forms of cinema enable viewsers to rewind, rewatch, and re-examine and Internet communities to crowdsource criticism and historical information, such that viewers can follow a more complicated, unconventional narrative, cinema is allowed to develop in more complicated and less conventional ways. Some movies have taken this to the extreme. These are movies made up of clues, references to other media these Soduko Cinema in logic-based number in these movies is
2 6 4

8 5 5

1 6 6 1 1

and complex internal rules. I call


reference to the popular Japanese

8 5 9 4

4 6

placement puzzles. The narrative controlled by specific diagetic

5 4 5

constructs at odds with a

cinema of mimesis. For digital

citizens this provides an interactive game, so the movie is not just passively consumed, but must be figured out. Cubitt writes, "Beyond the modernist opposition of narrative and nonnarrative, the structuring of such films depends on the satisfaction to be had from realizing the pattern underlying the events, in Manovich's terms 'discovering the algorithm.'"61 Television shows like Lost and Heroes indicate the mainstream nature of this narrative trope. Holly Willis, in her book New Digital Cinema, thinks these types of works demonstrate a desire, in the contemporary age, "to penetrate, to map, and to c h a r t . . . the desire for coherent navigation schemes." She says, "These issues form a central trope in numerous works, speaking to the apparent desire to depict and comprehend the Utopian

Shaw and Weibel, Future Cinema : The Cinematic Imaginary after Film, 348. Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 238.

possibilities of electronically constructed space."

These representations do not attempt

to understand or to represent the outside world, but, like video games, the pleasure derives from figuring out the internal schema, or as Sean Cubitt describes it, "the enclosed horizon of rule-governed patterning."63 The filmmaker/designer must not only consider mise-en-scene in terms of vision, but must consider how the viewer will interact with the movie. He or she must consider the viewser's mind in regard to movie design and form. Thus the filmmaker must anticipate interactivity with the viewer much like a video game designer. In the movie Memento (2000) by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, the main character, Leonard, has a head injury such that he has no short-term memory and thus is an unreliable narrator. Anything he does he immediately forgets so he has developed a complex system of tattoos, Polaroids and notes to help him to "remember" so that he can solve what he thinks is the murder of his wife. This embodied inability to remember may demonstrate a contemporary concern with technology remembering for us, as Leonard, played by Guy Pearce, tries unsuccessfully to inscribe memory and figure things out with solid, bodily, pre-digital means. Colored scenes, which move backward in chronological order, are interspersed with black and white flashbacks, which go forward in chronology. Thus montage is used to obtain non-traditional goals. Shots are sequenced

not to create a narrative, but to remix one according to an algorithmic, not narrative sense. The DVD enabled even more interaction and "re-membering" in the special

Willis, New Digital Cinema : Reinventing the Moving Image, 55.

63 64

Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 239.

As Allen Cameron points out, the colored scenes show us not what Leonard remembers but "progressively reveal what he is unable to remember." Cameron, "Contingency, Order, and the Modular Narrative," 65.


Answering correctly a number of mindbenders and challenges designed by

Nolan would unlock the feature so that the movie could be viewed in chronological order. On the DVD, one also has the option to hear the movie while viewing the actual shooting script. Thus viewers can choose-their-own-adventure of resequencing the movie. Primer, the 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, by first time director Shane Carrufh, similarly presents a puzzle to unlock with the story of a garage built time machine. The inventors use the machine every day to bet on the stock market, but the movie gets increasingly complicated as a double is produced with every use and then spoiler alertone time machine is put inside the other. The movie is best appreciated after a second or third viewing and a reading of all the Internet commentary discussing, debating, and clarifying how the parts fit or slip together. Made for $7,000 Dennis Lim of the Village Voice says that Primer "unites physics and metaphysics in an ingenious guerrilla reinvention of cinematic science fiction" and calls it "David Foster Wallace rewriting David Mamet." The narrator, usually a reliable source, provides added

confusion by switching, as Lim points out, from past to future conditional tense. This movie may not have played to the theatrical mainstream, but it did win the most important American film festival, thus indicating that it cannot be considered solely an artful experiment. The low-budget, garage-built nature of the images ensures that viewers' interest is focused on the complicated plot. The game was clever enough that the images almost ceased to matter. These movies provide viewers with a puzzle almost impossible to figure out in one viewing. They are made to be re-watched, graphed and


"Re-membering" from Sobchack, "Nostalgia for the Digital Object: Regrets on the Quickening of Quicktime."

Dennis Lim, "36-Hour Party People," Village Voice, October 4, 2004.

discussed online. The brain is engaged to a high degree, going beyond visual storytelling to a networked form of narrative.

According to Deleuze, with Godard the cinema ceases to be narrative and becomes novelesque, but this certainly has not been the dominant trope.67 By novelesque, Deleuze refers to a cinema that is less totalizing and unified. He quotes Russian literary critic and philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin, who "defined the novel, in contrast to the epic or tragedy as no longer having the collective or distributive unity through which the characters still spoke one and the same language."68 Deleuze interprets and contrasts Eisenstein's conceptions of harmony in film. He writes, "There was thus a whole of the film which encompassed the author, the world and the characters, whatever the differences or contrasts. The author's way of seeing, that of the characters, and the way in which the world was seen formed a signifying unity . . ,"69 Instead, as he emphasizes in Godard, the internal monologue is replaced by "diversity" and "the otherness of free indirect


I maintain that interaction with digital media and computer technologies

has enabled a more complex form of narrative in cinema as an increasingly dominant trope - one which can be "polyphonic and unfmalizable" like the novel. A number of prominent directors are currently creating novelesque movies: movies where there are multiple levels of interpretation operating in and out of diagesis, where characters not only speak different languages, but in fact the person of the
Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 187.
68 69 70

Ibid. Ibid., 182. Ibid., 184.

characters may vary, and where we may know at the beginning what happens at the end and yet still be interested. I will present some examples below of movies, which consciously use the viewers' outside knowledge at play with the diagesis and use shapeshifting characters and styles to prevent a signifying unity. Writer Kurt Vonnegut, in his book Galapagos, took to putting an asterix in front of the names of characters who were to die in the novel.71 Instead of ruining the suspense, Vonnegut's tactic emphasizes that simple cause and effect plot is not at the forefront, is perhaps not the point, of his novel. The suspense is not ruined because the reader has a new job: not watching a cause and effect plot unfold, but instead putting together disparate parts of the novel, told out of order, not always revealed in order of importance into a non-totalizable whole. In two of Gus Van Sant's latest movies, Elephant (2003) and Last Days (2005), he takes well-known events in recent history and creates movies around them. For Elephant about the Columbine High School shootings, most viewers are very familiar with the incident and Last Days concerns the last days before Kurt Cobain's famous suicide. In both movies, the viewer know where this ends. So Van Sant, unconcerned with traditional narrative or suspense structure, reshuffles the deck, eliminating causality, even repeating the same scenes from different perspectives numerous times. In his latest film Paranoid Park (2007) (which he cast on MySpace) the narrator describe scenes in no particular order and often the scene is narrated some time before it is visually presented, giving a sense of deja vu. So the process for the viewer is one of reordering, reconfiguring and examining visual details. Most viewers will already have well-formed
Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos : A Novel, 1st trade ed. (New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1985).

opinions and knowledge of the events which color how they interact with the diagesis. Thus there are levels of interpretation and indirect discourse preventing a unifying internal diagetic monologue. Yet, I propose, increasingly viewers are comfortable with this heterogeneous experience as our interaction with digital media favors various intersecting and contrasting information sources: a disordered, hybrid and unhierarchical navigation of information. Interacting levels of Diagesis Lawrence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. Gentlemen [Tristram Shandy] from 1760 was considered in the entertainment business an unfilmable novel. The intertextual references (from the 17th and 18th century), disordered scenes, multitude of characters, stream of consciousness and side discourses made Tristram Shandy seem and unlikely candidate for cinematic adaptation and better suited to the hypertext Web project.72 Only in 2006 did the director Michael Winterbottom and writer Martin Hardy (who is really Frank Cottrell Boyce) manage to wrangle the novel into a movie form as Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2006). They adapted Shandy as a movie within a movie going back and forth between scenes from the novel and scenes of the actors enacting scenes from the novel. Thus the viewer sees "backstage," except that backstage is also staged ~ partly. There is a third level in that the movie references within it real events like actor Steve Coogan's real life infidelity issues and the press scandal. So there are three levels of diagesis involved. The viewer is less concerned with the linear narrative than with the metaconstruction and intertextual linking and navigating. This brings us back to the concept

Hypertext Tristram Shandy Web Project,, accessed October 22, 2007.

183 of immersion and distraction discussed in the first chapter. Our interactions with computer and digital technologies have made us familiar with the breakdown of the fourth wall and intertextuality such that we are well prepared to consider Steve Coogan as Steve Coogan, Steve Coogan as an actor in Winterbottom's Tristan Shandy and Steve Coogan as Tristan Shandy all at once. The pleasure derives from this intertwining trilevel interpretation - the alternation and overlap, as D.N. Rodowick puts it, of looking and reading, which takes advantage of the new media use of the screen as a place for representation but also for information.73 Of course the star system, enabling the viewer to recognize the actions of Steve Coogan as Steve Coogan, has existed for many years, predating digital technologies and the Internet. But the level has been greatly amplified so that it is not just actors like Marilyn Monroe who exist in an iconic realm outside the movies in which they appear, but increasingly information is readily available on all aspects of a movie: the production methods, the locations, the actors, the costs and the marketing. Thus the level of intertextuality is greatly amplified and can be played with as in-jokes by filmmakers and their networked audiences. The movies of writer Charlie Kauffman, such as Being John Malcovich (1999), Adaptation (2002), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) take advantage of this playful structure of multi-level narrative pastiche. Adaptation, directed by Spike Jonze, provides a good example of the nuances and switching in and out of narratives possible for the digitally adapted audience. Adaptation features a screenwriter, named Charlie Kauffman and played by Nicholas Cage, trying unsuccessfully to adapt the book

[In regards to computer technology.] "Here the spectator is no longer a passive viewer yielding to the ineluctable flow of time, but rather alternates between looking and reading as well as immersive viewing and active controlling. In daily practice, these are undoubtedly overlapping states of being - the viewer becoming user and user becoming viewer, with the transition between the two being indiscernible." Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 177.

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orleans, played by Meryl Streep, into a screenplay. His happy-go-lucky brother, Donald, also played by Nicholas Cage, comes to stay with him and takes up screenwriting. Donald learns the classical Hollywood techniques from Robert McKee played by Brian Cox and ends up helping Charlie who becomes so desperate that he uses his brother's trite suggestions. The movie ends as Donald's adaptation. So again we have three intertwining levels of diagesis. There is the real Charlie Kauffman who co-credited the screenwriting to his brother Donald (who does not exist) and the real book that he was assigned to adapt and the real screenwriting method that Donald studies. Then there is the narrative in the movie of the brothers trying to adapt the book and at the next level is Donald's Hollywood-style script, which plays as the end of the movie. None of this diagetic complexity requires technology, but the playfulness and popping in and out of immersion and the navigation through different narrative levels, is absolutely characteristic of the everyday experience with computer and digital media technologies. This novelesque form of cinema mirrors and re-enacts the experience of the digital world where viewsers travel freely and seamlessly between information, representation, narrative immersion and linkages. Multi-Bodied Characters In David Lynch's psychocinema of Mulholland Drive (2001) the characters switch part way through the movie and are played by different actors, without explanation, much like Luis Bunuel's 1977 movie That Obscure Object of Desire where two actors, Carol

185 Bouquet and Angela Molina, play the unattainable object of desire, Conchita. In

Mulholland Drive though the purposes are perhaps less psychoanalytic, objet petit a, and instead represent the changing identities and role playing in what is more indicative of our digital world in "that mutable object of desire."75 Director Todd Solandz takes this to the next level with Palindromes (2004) where the character 13-year old Aviva is played by eight different actresses of varying sizes, colors and ages. In director Todd Haynes' latest movie I'm Not There (2007), seven different actors play incarnations of Bob Dylan in an interpretive biopic. Some take part in actual events of Bob Dylan's life, recreating well-known documentary footage, others are more completely imaginary, like the young black actor, Marcus Carl Franklin, who calls himself "Woody Guthrie" who rides train cars and Richard Gere who is Bob Dylan as "Billy the Kid" in an imaginary wild-west town where it is Halloween every day. The names, persons and aesthetic styles vary from character to character and yet are woven together in a single movie. Although I would not claim these examples constitute a movement, these changing identities used by well-established directors might demonstrate that the viewser, accustomed to the multiple avatars and personas of the digital networked world, is willing to exceed the limitations of a single actor as character, or at least happy to make the effort to follow without the necessity of a single identifying character. Sherry Turkle's studies

Deleuze says of That Obscure Object of Desire, 'These are not subjective (imaginary) points of view in one and the same world, but are the same event in different objective worlds." Deleuze, Cinema 2 the TimeImage, 103.


"In the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, objet petit a (object little-a) stands for the unattainable object of desire. It is sometimes called the object cause of desire. Lacan always insisted for it to remain untranslated 'thus acquiring the status of an algebraic sign.'" (Ecrits). petit a. accessed March 10, 2008.

of online identities demonstrate that the digital subject can handle multiple personalities and identities easily, "cycling-through." As she says, in the 1990's, when the Internet became prevalent, people created online avatars and "used them to shift gender, age, race, and class. The effort was to create richly rendered virtual selves through which one could experiment with identity by playing out parallel lives in constructed worlds."76 The aesthetic of this cinema mimics this shape-shifting identity in a digital world. In these cases, the discourse is multiple and not unilateral or totalizing. The filmmaker cannot control the references and connections, which the viewer will make. Each actor and aesthetic style in I'm Not There conjures different references. The filmmaker chooses to simply set up the design and let it run, allowing the outside influences of different story lines, contemporary media influences, and outside references to interpenetrate and distort any unified and totalizing text. And the viewer, accustomed to this as a way of viewing and interacting with computer technologies, is also happy to make these outside references, to feel his or her world distorted, and to try to make vague connections in a pholyphonic and unfinalizable cinematic discourse.


As David Rodowick writes of Deleuze's Cinema 2, the time-image represented how the relation between time and thought was imagined differently in the postwar period, which as he points out paralleled changes in biological sciences study of the brain and thought mechanisms and the image of time produced in probability physics.77 We are at similar

Sherry Turkle, "Always-on/Always-on-you: The Tethered Self," August 24,2006, p. 16. Forthcoming in Handbook of Mobile Communications and Social Change, James Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine, 13.

point of flux in science and computer science. Neurobiology is rapidly diagramming the networks of the brain and the genome mapping and epigenomic studies threaten to reveal the complex workings of all human processes. Increasingly we realize that networks and codes control what appeared to be human nature and yet we cannot decipher these codes unaided.78 Mathematics of chaos and game theory can predict our actions under a high degree of variables. Complex functions govern computer software. Friedrich Kittler describes Alan Turing as predicting and bringing about the logic of the "discrete state machine," capable of processing probabilities beyond the scope of man's computational ability. Many tasks of the computer rely on discrete state stochastic processes. These are non-deterministic processes, in that one state does not fully determine the next state. Complex patterns like neural networks and genetic algorithms require stochastic processes to map. Unlike the ordinary differential equations of calculus, more than one possible outcome or state is conceivable in the evolution of the process. This indeterminancy is described by probability distributions. Therefore, from a given starting point or set of conditions there are a number of possible paths some of which are more probable than others. A Markov chain is a type of stochastic process, a series of states of a system, such that each

The morning papers were full of the publication of the report on the human genome. They were calling it the best version yet of the "bright book of life," a phrase variously used to describe the Bible and the Novel; even though this new brightness was not a book at all but an electronic message posted on the Internet, a code written in four amino acids, and Professor Solanka wasn't good with codes,... the only two certainties were, first, that whatever discoveries were made would come too late to be of any use to him and, second, that this book which changed everything, which transformed the philosophical nature of our being, which contained a quantitative change in our selfknowledge so immense as to be a qualitative change as well was one he would never be able to read. While human beings had been excluded from this degree of understanding, they could console themselves that they were all in the same bog of ignorance together. Now that Solanka knew that someone somewhere knew what he would never know, and was additionally quite aware that what was known was vitally important to know, he felt the dull irritation, the slow anger, of the fool. He felt like a drone, or a worker ant. He felt like one of the shuffling thousands in the old movies of Chaplin and Fritz Lang, the faceless ones doomed to break their bodies on society's wheel while knowledge exercised power over them from on high. The new age had new emperors and he would be their slave. Rushdie, Fury : A Novel, 45.

transition from one state to another state is independent of every prior state given the current state. The probability of moving from one state to another, X to X+l, is not determined by the manner in which state X was reached. Information theory and game theory work on stochastic processes and Markov chains. Google uses a Markov chain to determine the PageRank of a web page.1 Markov models are used to analyze the web navigation behavior of users. Thus deterministic cause is replaced with the system based on the probability of moving from one state to another. These systems have become the dominant method of determining the probability of outcomes in the digital era. These mathematical systems and the ways of probability and non-deterministic causality are reflected in our cinema. In her review of David Lynch's Inland Empire (2006), film theorist Amy Taubin refers to cyberpunk author William Gibson's comment about his favorite authors that, "Meaning, ultimately seemed a matter of adjacent data." She says of Inland Empire that scenes seem to be contiguous only because "they reside in the selects bin on Lynch's Avid hard drive." 79 She says one way to look at the movie is as a remix of Lynch's previous film Mulholland Drive (2001) and his subscription website, Lynchland - Markov Chain cinema. Within Inland Empire, he includes actors

from his previous movies as well as scenes of people in rabbit suits spouting creepy nonsequiturs on a sitcom set to canned sitcom laughter from his web series Rabbits. The story involves what film critic Dennis Lim calls "a grave identity crisis," where the protagonist, Laura Dern as actor Nikki Grace, gets a role in a movie, which begins to become confused with her life. But, as Lim notes, Lynch's use of low-quality digital video makes it seem as if "this lurid, grubby fantasy springs from deep within the bowels
79 80

Amy Taubin, "The Big Rupture," Film Comment 43, no. 1 (2007)., accessed March 10, 2008.

of YouTube as much as from inside its heroine's muddy unconscious."

Lim says, "As

actor merges with character, and film and reality violently intersect, space and time also begin to fissure."82 Lynch's Inland Empire presents an example of database cinema, in which as William J. Mitchell says, "Logical associations of images in databases and computer networks become more crucial to the construal of reality than physical relations of objects in space."83 The pattern or function might be beyond our ability to discern without the data processing ability of a computer. Lynch's movie was not completely mainstream, but he is a well-known director who remains consistently relevant while working at the forefront of experimentation. In the movie 21 Grams, the chaos theory of events is foregrounded. Sean Penn's character is a mathematician who tries to determine the probability of relationships and causes, but the ties are too complex for his fragile human mind. He is a small cog in an immense network that he cannot understand. J. Hoberman of the Village Voice writes, "Predicated on the magic of disjunctive editing, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 21 Grams is as much jigsaw puzzle as movie. This fractured soap opera demands an active viewer.. . . The movie's temporal logic is associative rather than structural." In the movie, the human body and mind are fragile in comparison to the mathematical and yet indecipherable logic of events.

For this reason, Lim argues the movie is better seen alone on television than communally in a theater. "The DV that Lynch has come to cherish is the medium of home movies, viral video, and pornography the everyday media detritus we associate more with television and computer monitors than movie theaters, more with intimate or private viewing experiences than communal ones." Dennis Lim, "David Lynch Goes Digital: Why Inland Empire Is Better on Your Tv Than It Was on the Big Screen," Slate, August 27,2007.
82 83 84


Ibid. Mitchell, The Reconfigured Eye, 50.

J. Hoberman, "Heaven Can Weight: Hopscotching Chronology Elevates New Age Mysticism in a Heart Transplant," The Village Voice, November 19-25, 2003.

In The Matrix and in Pi only our hero/protagonist has the ability to see through this code governing the world. Their superpower is to recognize the infinitely complex pattern otherwise only to be read/comprehended by a computer. Increasingly our digital tools work with these mathematics. Our consumption habits are controlled by these equations as referral functions, like Amazon's recommendations: if you like book "x" then you might like book "y." We are accustomed to not quite grasping the links, to knowing that only a computer could make such a link and that there is some positive probability that a different link could be made. The decisions are based on the consumption habits of networks and communities of which we are not even aware we are a part. This vagueness is commonplace and accepted by the digital user who is happy to find another song he or she likes even while cognizant that the path to get there was complicated and unknowable. Digital Literacy: Cause and Effect McLuhan makes the argument in Understanding Media that film language was based on text literacy and linearity. Written text literacy was necessary to a viewer's

understanding of film structure and narrative in terms of cause and effect. The form of Cinema 3.0 is increasingly based on computer and digital literacy and we can see points of disjunction in the representation of contingency. McLuhan says, "Literate people think of cause and effect as sequential, as if one thing pushed another along by physical force."86 A contemporary genre of movies has developed where cause and effect have ceased to be sequential and where contingency is increasingly mapped spatially rather


" . . . movies assume a high level of literacy in their user and prove baffling to the nonliterate." McLuhan, Understanding Media : The Extensions of Man, 285.

Ibid., 287.

191 than temporally. These are movies like Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994), Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga's Amore Peros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), and Babel (2006), Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1997) and Snatch (2000), Stephen Gahgan's Syriana (2005) (he also wrote Steven Sodebergh's Traffic (2000)), and Paul Haggis' Crash (2005). The movies are complex with many characters and interweaving plots motivated by chance occurrences. Below is a graph of characters and interactions of the movie Snatch:
Storyline #1 Scene 1 -48

Storyline #3 Scene 1 - 48

See Appendix I.87

Sean Cubitt, in reference to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and The Usual

Suspects (1995) says that they "only appear to be narrative." He writes, "In fact they are

Ayolt de Roos, Snatch Graph, September 2007.

192 the result of many possible rifles through a database of narrative events whose

coincidence is more structural or even architectural than temporal." The complexity of these movies creates a surplus of places, characters and interconnections such that the viewser can just barely discern the ties of plot. David Kehr writes of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and his movies Amelie and A Very Long Engagement as purposefully overwhelming the viewer with detail so that he or she eventually "lets the action simply flow by, without worrying too much about what's going on." As Kehr says, "The details become the discourse - a constant flow of visual (and aural) stimulation in place of the traditional development of plot, character, and theme." Kehr

proposes that this type of cinema could bring about "a new way of reading."90 I would argue that the movies listed in the previous paragraph provide an excess cognitive stimulation, a surplus of characters and plots, along with the excess of aural and visual stimulation. In place of the norms of narrative reception in the cinema, these types of movies do not expect the viewer to completely understand the complicated, interconnecting plots. He or she is supposed to be left slightly dazed and confused. In these movies, numerous characters and events are intertwined not causally, but by coincidence and their navigation of the space. Characters cross and double-cross because they exist together spatially. This is more like a video game where interaction comes from the design and navigation of the virtual space and not a temporal or narrative contingency. As Cubitt writes, "The effect is to make the narrative, like the diegesis, spatial. Deprived of causal chains of anything more than pure luck, good or bad, the
88 89

Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 238. David Kehr, "A Very Long Engagement,"filmcomment40, no. 6 (2004).

protagonists have only to understand, as the audience must, their position in the web of events to understand their goal."91 This form of cinema, I argue, requires a digital literacy. Video games motivated by design directives and internal rules and computer use where one page leads to another via hyperlink and underlying software design operate with these types of contingencies. Alex Galloway argues that with the 2005 Best Picture Oscar win for Crash (2005) this has become the dominant narrative aesthetic.92

Viewser: Privilege or Punishment?

Why do people enjoy these movies? Why do they want to make the effort to think and link rather than just be passively entertained? Viewsers seem not to be able to avoid recreating their world of everyday work in the cinema much like Benjamin described of the early cinema mimicking the automatic work technology of industrial modernity. In the conclusion to Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Deleuze looks toward the future of cinema and stressed that the screen is no longer like a window or a painting, but "rather constitutes a table of information, an opaque surface on which are inscribed 'data', information replacing nature."93 Having reached this point, Cinema 3.0 communicates in the language of digital literacy requiring the skills and characteristics of surfing, hyperlinks, virality and pattern recognition. Alex Galloway feels it represents the larger political economy and power structure of the day ambient, interconnected, intense information, serendipity. This aesthetic structure best translates the experience of globalization, remix, and

91 92

Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 239.

Keynote Address, Critical Themes in Media Studies, 7 Annual Conference, New School University, New York, April 21, 2007.

Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 265.

interconnection of our digital society. He calls it the "sublimation of a growing globalization in which we are all connected even though we don't realize how or what for."94 Many ofJhese films represent a negative side to this network interconnectivity, where violence appears without cause based on unexpected ties between people who do not know one another ~ a bullet in the body of a rich, blonde American from a gun in the hand of a child in Morocco from a Japanese hunter (Babel).95 A chaos theory of causes that, when pushed to the extreme, only a computer could track. Siegfried Kracauer asked how the films of Weimar Germany reflected the rise of Hitler and the Nazi masses.96 We might ask ourselves how these movies of Cinema 3.0 might represent or portend our consumer and political culture. We are at the commencement of such developments, and as such can only guess at the potentials and dangers. Are we dupes of Hollywood and marketing empires, putting together movies ourselves and paying for them? Did Artisan with Blair Witch teach Hollywood that audiences could be enslaved in little lies? Can we be wrapped up and pacified by the puzzle aspect of these movies like Primer and Memento or the pop connections of Reservoir Dogs and be diverted from realistic portraits or considerations of the outside world or become indifferent to the violence portrayed within? Are we too busy "figuring out" to be anything but inured to the violence occurring around these clues? Does the vagueness of complicated contingency in a movie like Syriana make us passive in the


Keynote Address, Critical Themes in Media Studies, 7th Annual Conference, New School University, New York, April 21, 2007. Graham in Crash: "It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler, a Psychological History of the German Film ([Princeton, N.J.],: Princeton university press, 1947).

195 face of complicated real issues like the Middle East, war and our dependence on oil? As vision is subsumed to thought, do we lose an emotional experience of moving images and a tie to a world outside the movies yet presented therein? While wary of the above threats, I feel the positive potentials are more likely. I am excited by the possibilities of a cinema that can reach the potential of database intertexualities and cyber language. Cinema 3.0 makes us think, but also makes us interact ~ with the filmmakers, with the movie and other movie artifacts and with communities of viewers. I feel we have been empowered as viewsers and that the new regime of Cinema 3.0, the interactive-image, opens up exciting venues of expanded narrative, which energize the audience as co-collaborators.

Google PageRank equation is as follows:

where PI,P2,,PN are the pages under consideration, M(pi) is the set of pages that link to Pi, L(pj) is the number of outbound links on page pj, and N is the total number of pages. The PageRank values are the entries of the dominant eigenvector of the modified adjacency matrix. This makes PageRank a particularly elegant metric: the eigenvector is

rL =

~PR<Pi)~ PR(pi)

PR(PN where R is the solution of the equation

R =

~(I-<0/JV" (l-d)/fl (l-d)/N

t(pi,pNy +d
t(P2,Pi) '" =

where the adjacency function ^"l' "i ' is 0 if page p} does not link to pu and normalised such that, for each j


X^(Pi,pj) =

i.e. the elements of each column sum up to 1.

from wikipedia, of course

VI. Radical Potential: Social Aspects of Cinema 3.0

In his 1969 essay, "For an Imperfect Cinema," CubanfilmmakerJulio Garcia Espinosa calls for an abolition of elites in the art of filmmaking. He anticipates a time when filmmaking will become a "popular art" rather than a "mass art," an art created by the masses not by the few for the masses. He says that scientists, sociologists, physicians and economists should makefilms,not elitefilmmakers.1He looks toward a future where the masses will take over what he calls "the most elite of contemporary arts." He declares that Imperfect Cinema must "show the process which generates the problems. It is thus the opposite of a cinema principally dedicated to celebrating results, the opposite of a self-sufficient and contemplative cinema . . .Imperfect cinema is no longer interested in quality or technique. It can be created equally well with a Mitchell or with an 8mm camera, in a studio or in a guerrilla camp in the middle of a jungle."2 Digital technologies have broughtfilmmakingto this point in terms of accessibility. Filmmaking has been one of the most expensive art forms. Traditional barriers to entry and hierarchies are crumbling with falling costs and a growing literacy in rich media. And yet, as research in the field of education has demonstrated, accessibility is not a sufficient condition for fulfilling revolutionary potential. James Carey warned to beware of the mythos of new technology.3 The promise of the revolution of digital technologies in cinema has been the democratization offilmmakingand the break up of
Julio Garcia Espinosa, "For an Imperfect Cinema," in Film and Theory : An Anthology, ed. Toby Miller (Maiden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 2000).
2 3 1

Ibid., 296.

James W. and John J. Quirk Carey, "The Mythos of the Electronic Revolution " in Communication as Culture : Essays on Media and Society, Media and Popular Culture (New York: Routledge, 1992).

the Hollywood hegemony. The purpose of this chapter is to examine how this promise of accessibility is playing out by looking, as James Carey taught us, at the interplay of communication and culture. In this chapter, I examine who is making movies, what they are making and for what purposes. I have purposefully chosen examples from the boundaries of filmmaking in order to demonstrate the breadth of possibility and the potential societal aspects of Cinema 3.0, while recognizing that these are only a few salient points chosen from a continuously unfolding manifold. As Carey quotes John Dewey in "A Cultural Approach to Communication," societies exist "in communication."4 For this reason, it is important to look at what we are producing as a society, what communities are being formed, and what rituals are being enacted. Carey describes how, over time, cultural products and the rituals they engender can dissolve when "the class that sponsors it and its possibility of having significance for us evaporates."5 I hope to have demonstrated that we are currently in a time period of changing products and rituals in cinema. Cinema has changed from an economy of scarcity to one of ubiquity. Carey describes our current moment as a "verge," quoting Daniel Boorstin: "a moment between two different forms of social life in which technology has dislodged all human relations and nothing stable has as yet replaced them." In a period when relations are being renegotiated, the medium of cinema provides a set of communication potentialities through which to examine this

James W. Carey, "A Cultural Approach to Communication," in Communication as Culture : Essays on Media and Society, Media and Popular Culture ; 1 (New York: Routledge, 1992), 14. Carey delves deeply into Dewey's full quote and uses it to define the differences between the transmission view of communication and the ritual view of communication.

Ibid., 21.

6 James W. Carey, A Critical Reader, ed. Catherine A. Warren Eve Stryker Munson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 324.

199 complex moment. Moving images are not sufficient to describe this verge but can be representative and emblematic of new modes of communication and symbolic system formation. Moving images, created and distributed with digital and computer technology, are providing a medium in which this negotiation is being enacted. Thus, it is worthwhile to examine cinema as a cultural form in a time of changing rituals where we are reworking the symbolic reality and the communities in which we exist and interact. We are in the "information gap" that Carey describes where communication becomes "problematic" and where we have developed "a capacity for wonder and awe regarding this

commonplace activity." I will give examples of this capacity in web video. This gap, he says is where knowledge grows. There is also a danger in these moments. Carey warns, If one tries to examine society as a form of communication, one sees it as a process whereby reality is created, shared, modified and preserved. When this process becomes opaque, when we lack models of and for reality that make the world apprehensible, when we are unable to describe and share it; when because of a failure in our models of communication we are unable to connect with others, we encounter problems of communication in the most potent form.9 In this chapter, I will examine both the potential opportunities and potential dangers of moving image communication and the fine line between perfect communication and communicating nothing. Widespread digital media literacy and the easy distribution of web video through the Internet have made us all potential creators. On the one hand, as Espinosa proclaims this universal participation may unleash our "individual creative potential." He says, "Art

Going back to D.N. Rodowick definition of a medium that I presented in the introduction as "nothing more or less than a set of potentialities from which creative acts may unfold." Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film, 85.
8 9

Carey, "Communication as Culture," 24. Ibid., 33,34.

200 will not disappear into nothingness; it will disappear into everything." The other side of

this revolutionary coin is Jean Baudrillard who warns of the immersive and paralyzing effects of ubiquitous new media. Gilles Deleuze describes the agent become spectator in postwar European cinema, but Baudrillard maintains that the current digital image culture has taken us beyond the spectator. He writes, "It is no longer the contagion of the spectacle which alters reality, it is the contagion of the virtual which obliterates the spectacle. . . . We are becoming not alienated, passive spectators, but interactive extras, the meek freeze-dried extras in this immense reality show." ' On Espinosa's side we will look at activists standing up for their rights against the established powers and the individual expressions of people and populations who had no access to this means previous to digital technologies, providing an immediacy and intimacy which is fundamentally new. With no barriers to entry we find not only physicians and sociologists sharing their vision with moving images, but terrorists and thugs as well. The relationship between cinema and war, which Virilio traced, has remained in effect, and increasingly as Kittler points out, "real wars are not fought for people or fatherlands, but take place between different media, information technologies, data flows."12 And in the spirit of Baudrillard, we will examine our immersion and obsession with web video, in its glorious mundanity. As cinema has lost its indexicality and aura, the rest of the world seems to take it on and we become obsessed with watching each other throw up, have sex and even die as video asymptotes to live ubiquity. As Cubitt puts it, "Surveillance cameras, the last bastion of pure cinematic event,

10 11

Espinosa, "For an Imperfect Cinema," 297. Jean Baudrillard, Screened Out, trans. Chris Turner (London ; New York: Verso, 2002), 153. Virilio, War and Cinema : The Logistics of Perception. And Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, xli.

201 demonstrate the banality of such results." Similarly, we are co-opted into participating

with the powers of marketing in capturing our own imagination and creating the feedback loop of our own consumption. We will take a closer look at the changing nature of cinema with the penetration of digital technologies, what this portends for moving image culture and how the much-ballyhooed possibility of universal participation might either empower or ensnare us.

Amateur Filmmakers, Rich Media Literacy, and Power Negotiations

DIY Zombie and Shark Movies "Several tech advances have converged to enable the next great leap forward in creative expression.... The combination of accessible tech tools and pervasive Internet usage has touched off a do-it-yourself revolution in movies, music and art." First the good news; as Espinosa had predicted everyday people, amateurs, are making movies. Not everyone is making movies as the mythos would portend, but increasingly normal people (with day jobs) are making movies and their movies are being seen, sometimes widely. Robert McCorkle was an assistant to a financial analyst in a Manhattan investment bank who made underground music tapes on the side. He had made some home videos and decided to try a feature. He recruited actor and fellow backoffice worker Johnathan Tucker and they made a feature-length zombie horror movie, Dead Roses, in Bedford-Stuyvesant for $5,000. They recruited people hanging around the neighborhood to play zombies (for backend points of course), used electricity by reaching cords into neighborly people's apartments and at one point were spread-eagled

Cubitt, The Cinema Effect, 51. Acohido, "Tech Turns Average Joes into Mini-Spielbergs."

at gunpoint by Brooklyn police officers during a particularly gun-laden scene.


filmmakers marketed the movie themselves on 125th Street and other video stalls in New York City. The filmmakers found already established outlets in the inner city, in their own neighborhoods, because of the pirate distribution system. McCorkle and Tucker have since started their own production company called NewDigiMedia. They have completed another feature called The Situation and as of spring 2006 had a third movie in production. Two examples stand out particularly as successes by Hollywood standards (i.e. financially) created by people who would not have had access to theatrical quality filmmaking equipment before the widespread availability of digital technology. The first is Tarnation (2004), an autobiodocumentary by Jonathan Caouette. Caouette was in his late twenties, not particularly tech savvy, and was living in a small apartment in Brooklyn. From a friend he inherited an Apple iMac with editing software, iMovie, included free. Caouette had been a life-long collector and he took to digitizing all his home video tapes, old Super8 film, answering machine recordings, notes and family photos. With iMovie's editing and special effects and spending $300 out-of-pocket, he turned these into a feature length portrait of his life and relationship with his mentally disturbed mother. Tarnation played at film festivals Sundance and Cannes and eventually was noticed by director Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Elephant), who came on as executive director. The movie was released theatrically in art houses nationally, eventually achieving a box office of $600,000.16 Says Caouette, "This

Mark Jacobson, "Zombie Brains in Brooklyn! Mark Jacobson Hits the Streets with Horror Entrepeneur Robert Mccorkle," New York Magazine, January 3, 2005.

15 accessed January 22,2006


literally went from my desktop computer to a worldwide distribution deal in less than a year. It's really something of a miracle.'"17 Another of the most talked about DIY movies was Open Water (2004). Strangely enough, this low-budget movie was a shark thriller, so it is interesting to contrast with Jaws (1975), which also used new technology to scare people, but in completely different ways. Husband and wife team Chris Kentis and Laura Lau made the movie for $120,000, a couple of zeros removed from Jaws' estimated $12 million budget thirty years earlier. They bought two Sony prosumer digital camcorders and spent $10,000 on an Apple Power Mac G5 dual processor computer, with Final Cut Pro editing and special effects software. The movie is based on a true story about two divers left behind in open ocean by their dive boat and the events in the movie are based on scientific evidence of shark behavior. Every weekend, because they had jobs in New York City, the couple and the two actors would fly, using cheap Internet plane tickets, to the Caribbean to shoot. Lau and Kentis did all the cinematography and Kentis edited at home during the week. Since the special effects budget was so low, the actors and cinematographers were in the water with real sharks wearing chain mail under
their wetsuits. Thus the "making-of' section of the D V D is even scarier than the movie.

As Kentis says, "We wanted to expose a sense of realism and immediacy. The whole

Acohido, "Tech Turns Average Joes into Mini-Spielbergs."

point was to use the affordable technology and give the audience a real experience,
1 O

something Hollywood doesn't seem interested in doing right now."

Open Water

premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival and then played at Sundance and was picked up by Lions Gate for distribution. It made $31 million in U.S. box office alone and even spawned a silly sequel.19 These are just a few examples and both Tarnation and Open Water had traditional distribution, which makes them very unusual and thus much ballyhooed. But the new technology has enabled people to make full-length, high quality movies who would not have been able to before and therefore enter new viewpoints and styles into the cinematic conversation. As journalist Mark Jacobson says of Robert McCorkle, "Underground rappers pushing homemade discs, gangsta and not, are a dime a dozen these days. But what brother makes his own full-length movie with his own money?"20 Below I hope to complicate this story as rich-media literacy opens up a Pandora's Box of communication, not always what the mythos might have predicted or preferred. The Accidental Auteur Rodney Bethea owns a barbershop, One Love Underground, in West Baltimore, in a severely underprivileged neighborhood.21 He also has a clothing line, which he sells at the store. He came up with the idea to invite local hip-hop artists to come to the store and perform in the clothes and he would make DVDs to give away as a marketing device.22

Open Water 2: Adrift (2006), distributed by Lions Gate, not by the same filmmakers. Jacobson, "Zombie Brains in Brooklyn! Mark Jacobson Hits the Streets with Horror Entrepeneur Robert Mccorkle."
21 22 20

Information and quotes from a phone interview, May 29, 2007 and informal store visit May 26, 2007. Some of Bethea's friends had studied filmmaking at local Towson University.

These "One Love Freestyle" hip-hop battle sessions became extremely popular and people were coming into the store specifically to buy the DVDs. As Bethea says, no one had done anything like that locally before. Bethea decided, based on the success of these DVDs, to do a documentary. He says he wanted to show people what his city is really like in a way that is not portrayed in the media and as he says to "give people the chance to scream." He got local celebrity rap star Skinny Suge to be the on-camera talent and went around all the local neighborhoods capturing whatever happened. Bethea's documentary would probably have been a local hit except that current NBA basketball star Carmello Anthony happened to be visiting friends in Baltimore at the time and appears onscreen in conjunction with a long rant by Skinny Suge about what should happen to snitches and how he "hopes they get ADDS in their mouth." (click picture for link) The controversy over the movie, called Stop Snitchin', created a sensation, not only locally, but around the country.23 CNN even showed up at Bethea's store for an interview. Without any sort of formal distribution, Bethea's movies travel through the wellestablished distribution infrastructure for underground music and pirate videos. Gregory Kane, a local Baltimore journalist, interviewed a number of students from the nearby Southwestern High School, the majority of whom had seen Stop Snitchin' and mentioned that this is the type of videos they primarily watch.24 Bethea had no infrastructure in


Skinny Suge's Diatribe , Carmelo Anthony and friends accessed May 14, 2007.

Gregory Kane, '"Stop Snitching' Dvd Puts Homegrown Nba Star in Verbal Crossfire,", December 6, 2004.

place for this sort of success, and bootleggers ended up making most of the money from the DVD. Bethea and his friends, supposedly, tracked down one of these pirate distributors. He refused to stop selling Stop Snitchin' as he said it was one of his best sellers, out-selling Jay Z's life-story, a legitimate studio-made DVD with marketing behind it.25 The bootlegger said he would be willing to work out some kind of distribution deal on their next release. According to Bethea, the notoriety of this movie despite what he refers to as a "black cloud over it" because of the content and the blow-up around the "stop snitchin'" aspect, has given him a lot of opportunity and he has three projects in production right now. One is a documentary about the drug corners and one is a "skating in the hood" documentary where he has put together a team of inner city skateboarders. He is also launching Stop Snitchin' 2 on YouTube in late 2007. Bethea thinks of himself as more

of an entrepreneur than an artist. He uses these movies to express the views and the lifestyle of the inner city, but also to market his store, himself and, in the future, other products. Bethea's movies, so far, are basic, their primary appeal is unimaginable access and shock value, but increasingly he and his crew are becoming more experienced in media language, which, Bethea has every confidence, will allow him to communicate with a large audience. D.N. Rodowick, in considering the political philosophy of Deleuze's Cinema 2: The Time-Image, writes, "Power in this sense has a special relation to the audiovisuality of contemporary culture, that is how our culture is defined by its particular stratifications
25 26

/ Will Not Lose: Unauthorized (2004) Stop Snitchin'2 trailer:, accessed November 25, 2007.

of the space of visibility with that of utterability. . . . Power organizes the horizons of

seeing and the limits of saying."27 In our contemporary culture of increasing rich media ubiquity there is a direct relationship between power in society and audiovisual expression. Power relations are being renegotiated by the new media literacy. The police made a response film to Stop Snitchin' called Keep Talking. The police film shows clips of Stop Snitchin' featuring gang members brandishing guns and bragging incriminating information and then cuts to the police arresting that person. The movie ends with the police thanking them for making the film and saying that they are watching.28 The police have been experimenting with posting videos, either surveillance videos of suspects, or pictures of weapons on YouTube to get responses with some success. A group called Copwatch, originally founded in Berkeley, California but now throughout the country enables people to report on and send in video of police brutality. Copwatch LA

members carry police scanners and go to locations with video cameras.31 This sort of audio-visual dialogue between power groups is in its infancy. New York Times reporter Elizabeth Van Ness cites Stop Snithcin' as "perhaps only the most extreme face of a

Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze's Time Machine, 197.

28 29

http://www.ifiIm.coin/vicieo/2846376. accessed April 24,2007.

Canadian police in 2007 posted a surveillance video of a suspect of a stabbing death at a hip hop concert on YouTube and in two weeks got 17,000 views and the suspect surrendered. The Toronto Police posted sketch of a suspect and footage of a knife used in a 2006 murder set to reggae music written by a police officer Jesse Weeks on YouTube. Tina Pittaway puts it, "You are watching Big Brother." Tina Pittaway, "America's Most Wanted Home Videos," Wired, May 2007. Also there was the recent example of Interpol unscrambling digitally the face of the criminal who posted web videos of himself performing sexual acts with children. He was recognized and arrested.
30 31, accessed July 24, 2007. accessed July 24, 2007.

208 complex sort of post-literacy in which cinematic visuals and filmic narrative have become commonplace." Rich Media Literacy Increasingly, rich media literacy is being considered a necessary skill. Elizabeth Daley, head of the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California, the nation's oldest film school, compares the ability to use new media with literacy when she says, "The greatest digital divide is between those who can read and write with media and those who can't." 33 The Ghetto Film School was founded in June of 2000 by former social worker Joe Hall in the Bronx to teach high-school-age students moviemaking skills. The students learn how to shoot and edit and also work with outside companies to shoot practical videos like corporate and instructional videos. As Hall explains, the school works with the skills of expression that the students already possess.34 The school helped initiate the formation of the New Explorers High School in the Bronx in 2004, the first high school in New York City to use cinema studies, film and video production throughout all the regular subjects. The Independent Film Channel [IFC] has developed a school curriculum that high school English teachers around the country use to incorporate movie analysis and production into their lessons. Educators are placing importance on the ability of students to interpret and communicate with a world of ubiquitous rich media. Jessica Rambo, a seventh-grade English Language Arts teacher at M.S. 584 in Brooklyn with no filmmaking background, noticed that her students were preoccupied
32 33 34

Van Ness, "Is a Cinema Studies Degree the New M.B.A.?." Ibid., accessed July 24, 2007.

209 with moving image culture from television and movies and decided to start an afterschool program that would enable the students to create short fiction movies starting from script to screen. She worked with the students over the course of the school year, resulting in four short films that premiered at the Brooklyn Art Museum to an audience of family and friends on June 1, 2007. 35 As she says: I think it's so important that these children see themselves not just in one light. We don't have to discuss how black children of low-income communities are sometimes portrayed in the media. This project was meant to be an interjection into that ongoing visual conversation. This project helped to showcase the beauty, joy, and brilliance that exists within these communities, but is not often displayed.36 Thus, for Rambo, teaching her students audiovisual skills of expression is vital to getting them into the societal conversation. Rich media literacy has amplified a plenitude of voices as this form communication is increasingly accessible. Thus we see the potential for Espinosa's revolution to come to fruition as the amateur becomes literate in audiovisual expression and can enter into the discourse and power structures.

Activism and Terrorism

Activism Digital video is increasingly used in advocacy. WITNESS is a human rights video advocacy non-profit founded by Peter Gabriel in 1992 in the wake of the Rodney King beating. That footage and the controversy it sparked brought to the forefront amateur video technology and its potential for human rights work. Gabriel realized that "Cheap

The students' movies dealt with subjects close to them and used language and communication from their lives. "Mad Black" by Nyima DeJesus told the story of a girl who is consistently mocked for her dark skin. She tries unsuccessfully to bleach her skin with cream, but in the end learns that she need not judge herself by her shade of color. I was teary-eyed when the lights came up. The question-and-answer session at the end indicated that these were not necessarily students who were going to ace their SATs or star on the debate team, but given the right medium they could express themselves clearly and passionately.

Email correspondence July 25, 2007.

210 and readily available technology meant that the victims of crimes, both here and abroad, could document their plight through compelling images."37 At the time that WITNESS was founded, digital movie cameras were just reaching a cost threshold where the organization was able to give cameras to their partner groups for use in documenting human rights abuses for grassroots advocacy as well as international exposure on the WITNESS website. Until recently, staff in New York did the editing and post-production for the videos thus maintaining a level of central control over content, but the declining costs of editing software and economically feasible yet powerful computers have enabled them to also distribute computers with editing equipment and provide training so that the whole moving image language is in the hands of the partner groups around the world. In 2002, WITNESS partner Joey Lozano in the Philippines was the first to receive a laptop, editing software and training to edit his own videos. His video about the NAKAMATA, an indigenous people's rights group brought international and national attention to a number of murders of tribe leaders and forced the government to instigate the first thorough investigation into these murders. His video showed on the WITNESS website, local television and was delivered to the National Bureau of Investigation. The power

to communicate with moving images has moved from WITNESS headquarters in New York out to the peripheries to their partners in Burma, Guatemala, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. Thus the activists on the ground in their localities can possess the full tools to express themselves with moving images. This is a powerful new tool for advocacy as moving image literacy becomes global.
Elizabeth Angell, "Witness to Change: Peter Gabriel's Organization Harnesses the Power of Putting Human Rights Coverage on Film," the independent, January-February 2006.

211 Video is affecting political change in India as activists are taking advantage of the prevalence of new audiovisual technology to question established systems of power. Journalist Aniruddha Bahal spent eight months secretly videotaping politicians accepting bribes. The tapes aired on television and were described on his website, As broadband both for computers and portable devices become more available, the videos can travel even more easily and impetuously. Bahal has referred to the spycams as the fangs and his group of investigative journalists as the venom. He writes, "If used rightly, tiny, lens-bearing apertures can empower a citizenry by exposing democracy's toxic acreage."38 Soon after Bahal's exposure of corruption, a scandalous sex tape involving a prominent politician was distributed on video CD.39 The CD made its way to porn pirates who widely distributed it. The governing party subsequently suffered election losses and a number of people have been investigated and arrested. A combination of cheap and clandestine recording means along with the viral distribution enabled by digital technology has threatened the political power of the entrenched. Wael Abbass in Egypt runs a popular blog where he posts video evidence of torture performed on citizens in Egyptian police stations.40 This has brought about a number of investigations and in at least one case, a police officer went to jail for the torture of microbus driver, Emad Al Kabir, which was caught on video. Although local

38 39

Alexander Zaitchik, "Aniruddha Bahal: The King of Sting," the independent, November 19, 2006.

Video CD (aka VCD, View CD, Compact Disc digital video) is a standard digital format for storing video on a Compact Disc. VCDs are playable in dedicated VCD players, nearly all personal computers, most modern DVD-Video players, and some video game consoles. cd. accessed January 15, 2007. ^ttp:// D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%A9%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A9%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%86%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%87.html, accessed July 24, 2007.

212 and international groups like Amnesty International have long known and publicized that the Egyptian police employ torture, it was not until the video emerged that action was taken. In Morocco a series of videos called "Western Sahara Intifada" were posted on YouTube, which question and criticize the government's treatment of the people of the Western Sahara. The YouTube website mysteriously went down in Morocco prompting international media attention. These filmmakers around the world are fulfilling the radical potential of digital technologies as the camera asymptotes toward omnipresent omniscience and where distribution is viral and electronic boundaries are porous. This has both a positive and negative aspect in that activists are empowered, but on the flip side terrorists are as well. The flow of moving image communication becomes uncontrolled. Thus the promise of new technology for globalized democratization can empower not only people standing up for their human rights through peaceful means but also exposes us to other empowered individuals and groups who perhaps want to show us a world of globalization and interconnection, which we would prefer to deny. Terrorist Auteur In a creepy development seemingly straight out of a J.G. Ballard story, we now have the terrorist as auteur.41 These videos have shown, in edited versions, on television, but are readily available both on the Internet and on DVD in markets and stalls in the Middle

Michael Ignatieff, "The Terrorist as Auteur," The New York Times Magazine, November 14, 2004 2004.

213 East. One can see similarities between the Fox News background banners and the terrorist productions with pop-up graphics and fluttering flags in the background. (Click to connect to video) Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post, in reference to the June 4, 2007 insurgent video featuring two missing soldiers' ID cards and effects, argues that these videos lately have been demonstrating an "advance of professionalism" in the "level of tone, drama and pacing."42 He feels these aesthetics can communicate something of the insurgency; how they are envisioning the war and their role therein. In this case he postulates that the scenes of soldiers in the woods are meant to epitomize an ideal of Partisan resistance.43 Thus what was a matter of just recording and showing has become increasingly a language and style of cinema, better able to communicate with rich media literate audiences and better able to represent the goals of the filmmakers and their organizations. In a recent feature movie, made in Palestine, Paradise Now (2005), one of the would-be martyrs is dressed and posed with a machine gun carefully for his final video statement.44 He gives a terribly moving goodbye speech, only to find out that the camera had a glitch and he must start over ~ Take n. By the time they restart the observers are busy eating lunch and he stops his message to give his mother some last shopping advice. The scene emphasizes the unexceptional nature of this video use. Later in the movie, we see that video shops and stalls in the market sell these tapes as well as the tapes of the


Philip Kennicott, "Iraq Militant's Skillful Video Colors Perception of the Enemy," Washington Post, June 5, 2007.
43 0&type=search&plindex=2. accessed July 24, 2007.

44 The making of this movie was quite dangerous, shooting in Nablus and Nazareth, as the crew experienced a kidnapping, firefights and missile attacks.

214 execution of Palestinian traitors, which are even more in demand and, as a slap in the face to the soon-to-be martyrs, are even more expensive. These videos are apparently sold door to door in many parts of the Middle East and are widely available on video sharing sites and jihadist websites.45 The SITE Institute tracks many of these videos. A perusal of the site on April 15, 2007 brought up a video of Saddam Hussein's dead body in an ambulance, his head protruding clearly out of the open top of the body bag; the video will of a grandmother Hamas suicide bomber; and an oddly beautiful night bombing of an ammunition facility in Baghdad.46 This could not be farther from the "cosmic humanism" that Carey and John J. Quirk quote Marshal McLuhan as saying what the "electronic age" would bring. More like the electronic sublime of a cosmic anrf-humanism. Israel, in late 2006, declassified some of their military footage of the summer war in Lebanon. They did so to counter accusations that they had purposefully targeted civilians. The footage shows Hezbollah fighters acting out of and hiding in civilian areas, which then explode when bombed by Israeli planes. There is even footage literally transmitted by missiles on

their way to the targets - bomb as auteur. So the moving image war begins in earnest and parallels the high-tech and low-tech guerrilla technology of the real war.

"An insurgent group, the Victorious Army Group, has extended a deadline for a Web design contest, according to an Internet posting. The group has set a Jan. 15,2006 dealine for submissions of a design "worthy of the group's reputation and the reputation of the jihad and the mujahedeed," according to a translation provided by the SITE Institute, which monitors jihadist messages. The winner is promised "God's blessings" and the opportunity to fire three long-range rockets at an American military base." Edward Wong, "Iraq Prison Raid Finds a New Case of Mistreatment," The New York Times, December 12, 2005 2005.
46 47 48 accessed April 15, 2007. Carey, "The Mythos of the Electronic Revolution ", 116. storv=bd59f99c8db08fD27497ecc61168970d6166a9d8. accessed May 14, 2007.

A-Literacy, Decontextualization and the Unmediated Real

Web Video In many ways, web video embodies and best embraces all the characteristics of cinema as a new media and enacts the radical potential. Web video participates in a new form of authorship, with the democratization of production, low barriers to entry and the interactive, unfettered nature of Internet distribution and exhibition. The web video is easily exploited across multiple media platforms and distributed virally random and non-hierarchical. Web video is the imperfect cinema. It is a popular art, "the opposite of a self-sufficient and contemplative cinema," it is created by the masses and is "no longer interested in quality or technique."49 Web video acts as a form of interactive communication, radically different from the ritual of traditional cinema. Most web videos tend to be non-narrative. The appeal is often the thrill of going where one has not seen before, whether that be a teenage girl's bedroom or an Iraq humvee, but unlike the thrill of early cinema, an added factor is that we can interact with these videos and be a part of a new form of narrative and community. The amateur

nature, as Espinosa predicted, allows a more visceral exposure to reality. As James Poniewozik of Time puts it about many of the videos created by American soldiers in Iraq, "the poor composition, lighting and sound of these videos conveys the confusion of war better than traditional composition."50 In Iraq, a popular blog by Salam Pax (his blogging name) got so much attention that the BBC gave him the equipment to produce a series of video blog entries [vlogs] to

Espinosa, "For an Imperfect Cinema." James Poniewozik, "The Beast with a Billion Eyes," Time, December 26, 2006-January 1, 2007.

216 be shown on the BBC.51 His videos can be seen on his blog and at Journeyman Pictures, which distributes video news and documentaries from around the world online.

Click on Picture to Launch Video One of Salam Pax's latest videos demonstrates what fashions will get you killed in Iraq. Apparently brightly colored shirts and particularly red will get you killed, as will tight jeans - information not to be had from the established media. Pax is better situated than any outside filmmaker to represent to viewers around the world the absurdity and danger of the occupation and war from a constantly updating insider perspective. Iraqi director Hayder Mousa Daffar has been shooting short videos about different topics during the occupation and has organized the Iraq Eye Group with the stated goal of rebuilding the Iraqi film infrastructure. Daffar showcases his videos and others on the web at The website publishes one short video a week made by an Iraqi civilian. These videos feature real life under occupation as it happens from the Iraqi point of view featuring funerals, evidence of torture, health issues and accessed July 17, 2006. See also accessed July 17, 2006.
52 53 /, accessed May 14,2007. , accessed May 14, 2007.

home life.

The immediacy and accessibility and lack of editorial control of these videos

in a time of war are completely new. I include the above examples to demonstrate how some of the expectations of access and expression of cheap, clandestine digital video and web distribution have been fulfilled. These types of videos do allow new people into the global conversation, create communities and give a visceral perception of war as it is happening, uncensored by traditional power structures. This is the sort of environment that the mythos of digital cinema promised. Yet, most web videos are not so purposeful. Banality and Feedback Loops Although the main "specter of disaster"55 with web video has involved snuff and porn videos, some might find cause for worry in a society whose primary cultural form is videos of geeks singing in their lonely bedrooms and Brittney Spears exiting cars sans undergarments. The question becomes, now that moving images have become a means of communication rather than ritual, what are we communicating and is it meaningful? Is it literacy if what we communicate has no meaning? Is there an important difference between showing and telling or as Kittler says the use of media versus literacy1) One of the more popular web videos of the last few years has been "The Numa Numa Dance." This video features a cam of then nineteen-year-old Gary Brolsma dancing in his chair in front of his computer with headphones on to the MoldovanRomanian boy band song "Dragostea din Tei" in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Numa

54 55 56

MlK^Miieink^Lylsdorg/,, accessed May 17, 2007. Carey, "The Mythos of the Electronic Revolution ", 124. accessed May 12, 2007. For more on the phenomenon: Douglas Wolk, "The Syncher, Not the Song: The Irresistible Rise of the Numa Numa Dance " The Believer, June/July 2006.

218 Numa became a viral video craze and has been remixed and remade at every level from amateur to major advertising firms. A high proportion of webcam videos feature someone in front of his or her computer, so mostly we are watching people watching their screens -- an endless loop of screens, which never leaves the lonely bedroom.

(Click to launch video) In Numa Numa we see the computer reflected in Gary's glasses, so we can see that Gary is watching himself. Deleuze in Cinema 2: the Time-Image defined the new optical and sound situation of neo-realism where "the character does not act without seeing himself acting, complicit viewer of the role he himself is playing."57 This, he says, makes the distinctions between the banal and the extreme, the subjective and objective lose their value and even validity.58 In this case, he says, "We run into a principle of indeterminability, of indiscernability: we no longer know what is imaginary or real, physical or mental, in the situation, not because they are confused, but because we do not
have to know and there is no longer any place from which to ask." A viewer may not

Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 6.

know if Gary is an amateur or a clever viral marketing campaign, but somehow this has ceased to matter. On our computers, watching Gary watch Gary on his computer, we are not in a position to ask. We are watching the video and passing it on, maybe copying and remaking it ourselves, but never making any sense of it, because there is no sense to be made. A 2006 Accenture study of 1,600 Americans found that 38 percent of respondents wanted to create or share content online.60 Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo, a new media consultancy, says, "If you aren't posting, you don't exist. People say, 'I post, therefore I am.'"61 In earlier science fiction, it is usually the government or a central system surveiling its populace, but in the digital society we monitor ourselves, sending moving images of ourselves out through the web to whoever is interested. Anyone can interact with these videos and view them without a big commitment of time, casually absorbing and interacting. time. The videos are changing and updating, sometimes in real

60 Bob Garfield, "You Tube Vs. Boob Tube: Tv Advertising Is Broken, Putting $67 Billion up for Grabs. Which Explains Why Google Spent a Billion and Change on an Online Video Startup.," Wired, December 2006. 61 62


"[In 1800] only books could provide the serial storage of data. They had been reproducible since Gutenberg, but they became material for understanding only when alphabetization had become ingrained. Books had previously been reproducible masses of letters; now they reproduced themselves. The scholarly heap of books in Faust's study became a psychedelic drug for everyone." Kittler, Discourse Networks 1800/1900, 116.


The newest web craze is "lifecasting" of which the most popular in the spring of 2007 is Justin Kan, a 23- ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ Francisco, is webcasting his life live, H H ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ H ^ ^ ^ ^ I day. (click image to connect to camera on his hat and streams from backpack that use cellphone camera is pointed at his sleeping ft mUm^L year-old in San twenty-four hours a

l ^ H He wears a EYDO cards in his


| H K ^ K M ^ J | ^ H


k s . 6 4 At night a

form and in the

shower the camera is pointed at towels, although he claims a showercam is in the works. Viewers can log in and participate in Justin's life live through instant message chats. Interactive surveillance. And yet in contrast with this youthful zest to share his life, we also have the example of the British father-of-two, Kevin Whitrick, who killed himself "live" on an Internet video chatroom PalTalk in March 2007 in front of his computer webcam. Chatroom patrons teased Whitrick, telling him to go ahead and kill himself. Others called the police when they saw what was occurring, but were too late. By viewing and perhaps more importantly by interacting, however casually and in passing, we become implicated in these lives to which we previously had no relation. When are we supposed to stop watching and act? Increasingly, our life and death happen in constant random surveillance, we cannot seem to turn the camera off.


Also popular are:,,, operatorl,, and pocketcaster which allows you to livecast from any 3G cellphone. Evolution-Data Optimized or Evolution-Data only, is a wireless radio broadband data standard adopted by many CDMA mobile phone service providers in United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Russia, Brazil, and Australia. It is typically used to provide "broadband-speed" Internet access to mobile telephone subscribers., accessed May 14, 2007.

221 Immediacy and Decontextualization Jean Baudrillard has explored the fundamental uncertainty of truth in real time. As he writes, "Information long ago broke through the truth barrier and moved into the hyperspace where things are neither true nor false, since everything in the realm of information depends on instantaneous credibility.... We no longer have any standards of truth or objectivity, but a scale of probability."65 Moving images, as web video are participating in this situation of uncertain real-time information. With mobile technology these videos become increasingly immediate and decontextualized. The images are transmitted and delivered au hazard. Reaching us by uncontrolled accident, virally and immediately. In the WITNESS 2006 year-end report, they give a timeline of what they consider major events in new video technology. The most recent of these developments is the cellular phone camera reports from the London bombings in 2005, which were sent in from passengers underground to the BBC. The BBC has since set up a dedicated email address for the receipt of video recorded via cell phones. WITNESS recently launched a Human Rights Video Hub.66 Here users can immediately upload human rights violations video that they have documented. Going to the site is a very disorienting experience. The videos are generally poor quality and, like most web videos, without clear captions as to what you are watching where or when, only the web tag of the uploader places the video. In one video accessed in January 2007 on the pilot site, I saw people running, yelling in Spanish, shots fired and the cameraman fallen to the ground. This was the last video of Brad Will, an Indymedia reporter who was killed in Mexico in October 2007.1
65 66

Baudrillard, Screened Out, 86. http://g1obalvoicesonline.Org/-/human-rights-video/, accessed January 15, 2007.

222 had specifically searched for this incident having heard about it in an email, but at the time, there was no further explanation associated with the video. On the one hand this is a much more visceral and immediate experience than WITNESS'S carefully crafted videos, but on the other hand is somewhat paralyzing in its confusing lack of context. The very digital architecture and infrastructure, which affords us an almost unintended and unavoidable access to these moving images, also changes their message or the meaning they are capable of as they come to us virally and decontextualized. They move us, but to do what - to watch more images? This type of web video and its popularity might fulfill James Carey's fears as he expressed them in respect to television. He writes, "The ability of television to involve us in depth in the lives of people around the world is more than offset by its equal tendency to imprison us within our own speechless, looking-glass world: the silent spectator as a mode of being."67 Now we are not just watching, as on television, but could interact, which perhaps implicates us even more as freeze-dried extras. As Deleuze made clear, in the ubiquity and feedback loops of reference we no longer have a place to ask who is guilty or innocent, what is subjective and objective, what is extreme and what is mundane. Remediations of Violence The new ubiquity of digital recording technologies and the beginnings of universal moving image literacy brings into question what was formerly an independent relationship between reality and representations of reality. Kittler writes, "Total use of media instead of total literacy: sound film and video cameras as mass entertainment

Carey, A Critical Reader, 57.

liquidate the real event (italics mine)."

He quotes Thomas Pynchon's World War II

novel Gravity's Rainbow where GI von Held asks celebrated film director Gerhardt von Goll about the fate of a German rocket technologist who had fallen into the hands of the Red Army: "But what if they did shoot him?" "No, they weren't supposed to." "Springer. This ain't the fucking movies now, come on." "Not yet. Maybe not quite yet. You'd better enjoy it while you can. Someday when the film is fast enough, the equipment pocket-size and burdenless and selling at people's prices, the lights and booms no longer necessary, then . . ."69 We find ourselves in this "then" proposed by Pynchon's Von Goll. This situation is most telling in depictions of war and violence. Gunner Palace (2005), a documentary directed by Michael Tucker, demonstrates how soldiers in Iraq feel that they cannot explain to their friends and family back home what being in Iraq is really like for them. They express how people back in the U.S. see the war as "one big action film." Specialist Richmond Shaw, the self-titled "palace poet" says, "For y'all it's just a show, but we live in this movie." But, as Tom Bissell writes in a discussion of Iraq war documentaries, "But by the end of the film, you're fairly sure that viewing the Iraq war as a movie is less our problem than that of these soldiers. Enriched by its metal and hip-hop soundtrack and littered with dramatic comeuppances, Gunner Palace feels just like a movie, and moreover appears to know it: one of its wittier touches updates the famous 'Ride of the Valkyries' scene from Apocalypse Now."10

Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, 133.


Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (New York,: Viking Press, 1973), 614. found in Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, 133.

Tom Bissell, "Rules of Engagement: Do Iraq-War Documentaries Give Us Too Close-up a View of the Conflict?," The New York Times Magazine, November 13, 2005 2005.

In Jarhead (2005), afilmedited by Walter Murch, the soldiers pump themselves up by watching Apocalypse Now (1979) also edited by Walter Murch. In an interview, when asked about this he says, "A film I edited is being watched by people in another film I'm editing. It kind of made me feel that I was trapped in an M.C. Escher drawing,

where the staircase bends around you and you bump back into yourself."

But uncanny

as this is for Murch, it also demonstrates that our society of ubiquitous media can only relate to real life experiences like war through the mediation of previous war representations. Sean Cubitt takes the ideals of Andre Bazin to compare the contemporary situation in his book Digital Aesthetics. He writes how for Bazin, the purpose of cinema was "that it should ultimately be life itself that becomes spectacle, in order that life in this perfect mirror be visible poetry, be the self into which film finally changes it."72 Yet Cubitt says this has not been the fate of cinema, that instead, cinema has taken the place of the quotidian, invading the real, such that we relate to the real only peripherally through a series of representations.73 Cubitt's point resonates with me when I consider my own experience of 9/11. On the morning of 9/11,1 received a call from my husband, on his way to work in downtown New York, telling me to get the camera and go outside as the World Trade Center was on fire. I ran outside with two still cameras and a video camera, but was drawn back inside by the idea of better shots recorded on the television. I went back and forth between mediations. Slavoj Zizek, writes in his essays on 9/11: What happens at the end of this process of virtualization, however, is that we begin to experience 'real reality' itself as a virtual entity. For the great majority
71 72 73

Devereaux, "The Final Cut Pro." Bazin, "The Ontology of the Photographic Image," 82. Cubitt, Digital Aesthetics, 117-18.

of the public, the WTC explosions were events on the TV screen, and when we watched the oft-repeated shot of frightened people running towards the camera ahead of the giant cloud of dust from the collapsing tower, was not the framing of the shot reminiscent of spectacular shots in catastrophe movies, a spectacular effect which outdid all others, since - as Jeremy Bentham knew - reality is the best appearance of itself? Why did I feel the need to record this event and to record the mediated event? And why, despite witnessing the events live, did we rewatch our event mixtape over and over later in the midst of the constant replays on television? Perhaps as Walter Benjamin wrote, "Mankind, which in Homer's time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order."75 Theorist Joel Black discusses the home movies of the Columbine killers where they discuss which director would be chosen to direct the story of their lives and the massacre. The Columbine killers not only filmed themselves preparing for their massacre, but also discussed who would direct the movie of their exploits. Time Magazine was allowed access to the five videotapes and quoted one of the killers, Dylan Klebold, as saying, "Directors will be fighting over this story," and imagining whether Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino would immortalize them on film.76 One of their videos, called Hitmen for Hire, was a fictional pre-enactment of the massacre. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold play the parts of hitmen-for-hire protecting the losers of the school against the bullies. They are dressed in trenchcoats and wearing sunglasses and

Slavoj Zizek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real! : Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates (London; New York: Verso, 2002), 11.
75 76

Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," 242.

The boys probably didn't imagine director Gus Van Sant would have the last word with a homo-erotic shower scene in Elephant (2004).

the set is Columbine High School.

So, Black writes, "Not only did they model the

rampage on the movies, but they could imagine their 'story' becoming reality when it became a film in its own right."78 In a world of ubiquitous media, we may be losing the ability to relate to the unmediated real, which becomes particularly telling in situations of violence, where previous mediations of violence interact with and perhaps block any appreciation of real violence.

Revolution or Reality Show?

In many ways, digital technologies in cinema have brought us closer to Espinosa's fruitful world of individual artistic expression and fulfillment, where people can stand up for and represent themselves around the world. This is causing systems of power and hierarchy to be renegotiated as individuals and groups use technology to outwit political and economic hegemonies. From zombies in Bed-Stuy to Middle East martyr videos, people from outside the norms of cinematic literacy are expressing themselves and being seen. These are portents of the revolutionary potential for greater and more meaningful communication. And yet, the new technology and ubiquity of moving images also encourages the immersion of our conscious selves in a variable, banal and contextless world and a disconnect with the unmediated real. According to Walter Benjamin, film allowed the masses to see themselves,

equating the actor and the politician and enabling the aesthetization of politics. Currently, with the ubiquity of moving images and the distracted reception they entail,
77 78 79, accessed February 21, 2006 Joel Black, The Reality Effect: Film Culture and the Graphic Imperative (New York: Routledge, 2002).

Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books, 1986), 241.


we have not just the actor and the politician and the mass on view, but we have a sixteenyear-old girl's room next to video from Darfur, equally captionless - the aesthetization of the everyday in a flurry of accidental montage. This interactive experience might empower us with the ability to intertextualize and make meaning from these images, like Roland Barthe's empowered reader, or it may, as Baudrillard fears, take us from subjects and spectators to "the meek freeze-dried extras in this immense reality show," reduced to incoherence by the bombardment and displacement of the uncontextualized, undecipherable images and left with no place outside of them from which to make sense or to act. Video technology is rapidly getting even more accessible and rich media literacy more available. At the same time, with mobile rich media developments, moving images will become even more ubiquitous and immediate, so we are only at the beginning of these developments and I can only attempt sketch the two divergent vectors, one Utopian and one distopian. The way taken will most likely negotiate a path somewhere in between the two.

Baudrillard, Screened Out, 153.

VII. Conclusion
"The electronic image, that is, the tele and video image, the numerical image coming into being, either had to transform cinema or to replace it, to mark its death." Gilles Deleuze The essential question for this dissertation has been how cinema is becoming digital. I have analyzed this question from a number of different angles: experience, production, distribution, exhibition, aesthetics and style, narrative, and social aspects, outlining in the process what I consider to be Cinema 3.0. Many theorists have wanted to talk about the post-film future of cinema, but I hope to have demonstrated that the future is now. Already people are using, creating and experiencing cinema in new ways ways that are essentially digital and interactive. First of all, our expectations of cinema have already changed. As audiences, we no longer expect a ritually experienced, finalized, cinematic art work, an original. Whereas film retained the cult-value that Benjamin had prematurely denied it, the ubiquity of audiovisual media has seeped the aura from cinema. We are used to experiencing audiovisual works in the midst of a tele-communicative environment, alternating between immersion, distraction and interaction. The "scene of the screen," as Vivian Sobchack points out, has changed, and is increasingly a variable and interactive experience.2 The role of the viewer changes to become a collaborator both with the cinematic art object and with the producer.

1 2

Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 265.

Vivian Sobchack, "The Scene of the Screen: Envisioning Cinematic and Electronic "Presence"," in Film and Theory: An Anthology, ed. Toby and Robert Stam Miller (Maiden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 2000).

Movies are already being produced in new ways for new distribution and exhibition platforms. These means are widely available. When I began researching this dissertation, it was still widely reported if a movie was shot digitally, and digital intermediaries were rare and expensive. Now, practically every movie enters a digital form at some point in the process and therefore has the potential to partake of those affordances. The limited distribution of film prints kept movies a sparse commodity, but digital prints, downloading and Internet distribution have changed movies into box store commodities and web clips ~ widely available and bountiful. Internet culture communities, underground and pirate infrastructures have given movies new distribution platforms and audiences, both locally and globally. At the same time, the flexible programming enabled by digital exhibition may revitalize the local movie theater as a place for community programming and showings as special events. Potentially, new communities can form around traveling and online film festivals revitalizing and expanding cinephilia culture into new areas no longer necessarily isolated by geography, poverty or infrastructure from the global cultural conversation. As every movie becomes digital, the aesthetics cannot help but be affected by the automatisms embedded in the digital hardware and computer software. The ethical and spiritual choices of deep focus, long take, and use of non-actors of Andre Bazin's theory become the default stylistic choice for digital cinema technologies. Montage and indexicality become choices rather than format driven constraints. We must look anew at mise-en-scene and the nature of the auteur as the camera becomes a computer and therefore can collaborate with creative filmmakers rather than being simply controlled. Compositing, as it becomes easy and ubiquitous is changing the indexical nature of

230 cinema and allowing a hybrid visual form and aesthetic, more similar in characteristic to video game and graphic novel visuality than photographic. Cinema 3.0 experiments with new influences and genre hybridity enabled by the easy manipulability of the digital form. Most people have been loath to admit that narrative has changed. "Interactive" has implied some kind of choose-your-own-adventure and buttons on theater seats type of experience. But, increasingly, the movie is one part of an intertextual and interactive experience on the part of the viewer. As our boundaries between work and play have increasingly become porous with the advent of computer technology, movies have conformed, soothing the digital subject with projects, games, and mind problems much like they once soothed the industrial subject with repetition and machine movement. Our digital and computer literacy has enabled movie narrative to be increasingly complex with new forms of contingency, better representing a world of stochastic equations, neural networks, and web surfing. Finally, I have examined the societal use of these new potentialities. Increasingly we are recording and transmitting everything. This is giving voice to new filmmakers, and providing a visceral experience from places and people we have never seen before. Power structures are renegotiated as consumers become producers and audiovisual literacy becomes widespread. At the same time can we go too far? When does recording become surveillance and does it matter? As our moving images become decontextualized fragments of real time information the subject is increasingly unable to relate to the unmediated real, and therefore unable to act. The digital subject can receive and transfer

information like never before, but potentially is unable to create meaning from these moving images. Cognizant of a rapidly changing and variable situation, I have tried to give an explication of our current moment and its potentialities, but this exploration has awoken some important questions. I think the potential implications come down to one of subjectivity. Can the individual keep some distance and independence and become inspired and empowered by his or her interaction or does the very interactivity of Cinema 3.0 in all its forms present the illusion of freedom while trapping the viewer in a selfcontained virtual world of pattern recognition, linking and feedback loops stifling creativity and independent thought? Further research can continue in many different directions from audience research to business and economic analysis to content analysis and sociological effects studies. I look forward to the developments of the next few years. Final Thoughts Should we be worried or excited that cyberpunk author William Gibson has, since 9/11, been writing about the present instead of the future? I, personally, am enthusiastic that we live in a strange enough and rapidly changing time that science fiction writers are comfortable setting their stories in the present. Spook Country, his most recent book, participated in this strange new world he describes. Gibson kept a blog where he posted randomly ordered potential excerpts and asked for user/reader comments and ideas, some of which he claims to have incorporated into the novel. Gibson says blog readers through

Google could follow his tracks and recreate the traces of his research. Thus, he says, we are already living in a world of interactive fiction.3 A character in the book is a producer, technician and artist, Bobby Chombo, who works with other artists using advanced Global Positioning Software [GPS], to virtually re-create events in the place where they actually happened, called "locative art." These artworks can be seen in 3D using special headsets. The example given is the dead body of actor River Phoenix, which can be seen on the street outside The Viper Room, the scene of his death on Halloween night in 1993. Although fictional, Gibson's use of locative art as a primary plot point testifies to what this dissertation is about - cinema outside the box, the hybrid mixing of virtual with documentary, and combining medias for an experience which is expanded, including in this case navigation/mapping software technology with representational technology, and the collaboration of artists and computers. Many of the examples presented in this dissertation participate in a similarly exciting present. They portend a future for cinema that is rambunctious and hyptertextual, which will inspire and energize people and which will be experienced in new ways by new audiences. At the same time, one cannot ignore the complacency that the immersiveness and ubiquity of the current media landscape invites. Culture critic Douglas Wolk sees pure joy in Gary Brolsma's "Numa Numa." He writes, "that un-self-consciously selfconscious joy he felt in his body, flailing around in his chair and lip-synching a stupid pop song in a language he didn't understand."4 But I can't help thinking of the humans

Warren Ellis, "Q&A: William Gibson Discusses Spook Country and Interactive Fiction," Wired, July 24, 2007.

Wolk, "The Syncher, Not the Song."

in The Matrix flailing in bondage in a creepy, dreary world paralleled by other similar slaves, watching the same virtual world. To me it seems tragic. Almost wistfully do we imagine the Salon Indien crowd diving under their seats in fear or excitement. Oh that cinema could ignite such emotion, inspiring bodily action. Instead we have been infected by Deleuze's cinema of the seer. Whereas the seer was a protagonist within the movie in Cinema 2, she might now be us, passively recording, unable to interact with the world around her, except to record and transmit. The very ease of reception and interaction allows a distracted experience, neither communicating nor ritually producing meaning. James Carey feared that when communication goes before culture and politics, it can lead to atomization and to violence. He warned of a situation, which he felt we were entering, where technology develops before the social and political institutions, which would make it useful and comprehensible. As he wrote in 1997, "We are living amidst a cultural meltdown . . . a displacement and transgression of the symbolic.... it is unclear what will replace the terms with which we have navigated our sense of the world."5 Kevin Whittrick's suicide in the video chatroom can perhaps be read as a desperate effort to create new rituals in a world where metaphor and symbolism have disintegrated into immediacy and information. We need to develop a new and synergistic relationship between representation and information, between ritual and transmission, in the hopes of producing meaningful art and communication. I am encouraged, though, by the many small communities, some of which have been described herein, which are popping up and made feasible by the digitization of cinema. From the local Luton cinema to the Cinemasports events to filmmaking

Afterword to Carey, A Critical Reader, 326.

communities in Second Life to the Jakmel Film Festival, many little institutions/communities are forming and collaborating artistically. As Clifford Geertz writes in his self-reflective book Available Light, "A much more pluralistic pattern of relationships among the world's people seems to be emerging, but its form remains vague and irregular, scrappy, ominously indeterminate."6 Social scientists are just beginning to look at these low-level communities and although we do not know much about their power or social import yet, particularly in the face of the waning of larger institutions, I think they do produce little public spheres where culture and meaning are created and bolstered. Deleuze writes that "no information, whatever it might be, is sufficient to defeat Hitler. . . . This is why it is necessary to go beyond information in order to defeat Hitler or turn the image over (italics mine)." The American mythology proposes that images helped end the Vietnam War. However, embedding more journalists than ever before, uncensored video and images on the Internet, and numerous bravely shot documentaries has not helped end the Iraq War, at least not yet. The bomb has become auteur before the dove. Yet the current failure of our traditional methods to communicate meaning should not make us lose hope. If anything, what I hope to have demonstrated is that there are many new people working together with many new tools, aesthetics and cinematic forms who might be able to find new kinds of practice or language, which are meaningful and powerful. It might be one of the seventh graders from M.S. 584 or it could be Damian, a Halo machinima character in The Spartan Life discussing homeland security versus civil

Clifford Geertz, Available Light: Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), 219.

Deleuze, Cinema 2 the Time-Image, 269.

liberties or it could be a dispersed community like the footageheads. The Discourse Network 2000 includes many more conversants and many more languages and possibilities. We must not ignore the fact that access does not equal literacy, but new languages are emerging made available by the collaboration with computers and digital technologies. The openness and disorder, which the infiltration of digital and computer technologies have introduced, to what was the structured world of cinema, has enormous potential., accessed July 26, 2007.

10 Items or less, directed by Brad Silberling, written by Brad Siberling, distributed by THINKfilm, 2006. 21 Grams, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, written by Guillermo Ariaga, distributed by Focus Features, 2003. 28 Days Later, directed by Danny Boyle, cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle, written by Alex Garland, distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2002. 300, directed by Zack Snyder, written by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 2006. 2046, directed by Wong Kar Wai, written by Wong Kar Wai, distributed in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics, 2005. A Day without a Mexican, directed by Sergio Arau, written by Sergio Arau and Yareli Arizmendi, distributed by Telvisa Cine, 2004. A Flood in Baath Country (Flood), directed by Omar Amiralay, 2005. A Scanner Darkly, directed by Richard Linklater, written by Philip K. Dick (novel) and Richard Linklater, distributed by Warner Independent Pictures, 2006. Adaptation, directed by Spike Jonze, written by Susan Orlean (book) and Charlie Kaufman, distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2002. Amelie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, written by Guillaume Laurant and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, distributed by Miramax Films, 2001. Amores Perros, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, written by Guillermo Ariaga, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2000. Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, written by John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola, distributed by United Artists, 1979. Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson, written by Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia, distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, 2006. Aristocrats, The, directed by Paul Provenza, distributed by THINKfilm, 2005. Armageddon, directed by Michael Bay, written by Robert Roy Pool and Jonathan Hensleigh, distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, 1998.

237 Babel, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, written by Guillermo Ariaga, distributed by Paramount Vantage, 2006. Bad Boys of Summer, directed by Loren Mendell and Tiller Russell, associate produced by Kristen Daly, 2007. Battle of Algiers, The, directed and written by Gillo Pontecorvo, written by Franco Solinas, cinematography by Marcello Gatti, produced by Yasef Saadi, 1966. Before Sunrise, directed by Richard Linklater, written by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan, distributed by Columbia Pictures, 1995. Before Sunset, directed by Richard Linklater, written by Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy, distributed by Warner Independent Pictures, 2004. Bells and Spur, directed by Eric Call, distributed by Machinima, 2006. Birth of a Nation, directed by D.W. Griffith, written by Thomas F. Dixon Jr., distributed by Epoch Producing Corporation, 1915. Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, written by Philip K. Dick (novel) and Hampton Fancher, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 1982. Blair Witch Project, The, directed by Daniel Myrick, written by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, distributed by Artisan Entertainment, 1999. Blue Crush, directed by John Stockwell, written by Susan Orlean (magazine article) and Lizzy Weiss, distributed by Universal Pictures, 2002. Blue Movie, directed by Andy Warhol, created by Andy Warhol, Viva and Louis Waldon, produced and distributed by Andy Warhol Films, 1969. Borat: Cultural Learnings of AmericaforMake Benefit Glorious Nation ofKazakhstan, directed by Larry Charles, written by Sasha Baron Cohen and Anthony Hines, distributed by 20th Century Fox, 2006. Bottle Rocket, directed by Wes Anderson, written by Owen Wilson, distributed by Columbia Pictures, 1996. Brazil, directed by Teerry Gilliam, written by Loren Mendell and Tiller Russell, distributed by Universal Pictures, 1985. Breaking the Waves, directed by Lars von Trier, written by Lars von Trier, distributed by October Films, 1996.

238 Bubble, directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Coleman Hough, distributed by Magnolia Pictures, 2005. Cache, directed by Michael Haneke, written by Michael Haneke, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, 2005. Cars, directed by John Lasseter, written by John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, 2006. Cavite, directed by Neill Dela Liana, written by Neil Dela Liana and Ian Gamazon, distributed by Truly Indie, 2005. Chicago 10, directed by Brett Morgen, written by Brett Morgen, distributed by Roadside Attractions, 2007. Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, written by Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (screenplay), written by P.D. James (novel), cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, distributed by Universal Pictures, 2006. City of God, directed by Fernando Meirelles, cinematography by Cesar Charlone, written by Paulo Lins (novel) and Braulio Montovani, distributed by Miramax Films, 2002. Cold Mountain, directed by Anthony Minghella, written by Charles Frazier (book) and Anthony Minghella, distributed by Miramax Films, 2003. Collateral, directed by Michael Mann, written by Stuart Beattie, distributed by Dreamworks, 2004. Constant Gardener, The, directed by Fernando Meirelles, cinematography by Cesar Charlone, written by John Le Carre (novel) and Jeffrey Caine, distributed by Focus Features, 2005. Crash, directed by Paul Haggis, written by Paul Haggis, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2004. Darjeeling Limited, The, directed by Wes Anderson, written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman, distributed by Fox Searchlight, 2007. Dead Roses, directed by Robert McCorckle, written by Robert McCorkle and Reevse Bobb, 2004. Death of a President, directed by Gabriel Range, written by Simon Finch and Gabriel Range, distributed by Newmarket Films, 2006. Devil's Rejects, The, directed by Rob Zombie, written by Rob Zombie, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2005.


Dreams of Sparrows, The, directed by Haydar Daffar, documentary, produced by IRAQeye, distributed by Harbinger Productions, 2005. Dr. Mabuse der Spieler, directed by Fritz Lang, written by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou (screenplay) and Norbert Jacques (novel), cinematography by Carl Hoffmann, distributed by UFA, 1922. Elephant, directed, written and edited by Gus Van Sant, cinematography by Harris Savides, distributed by HBO Films, 2003. eXistenZ, directed and written by David Cronenberg, cinematography by Peter Suschitzky, distributed by Dimension Films, 1999. Fata Morgana, directed by Werner Herzog, written by Werner Herzog, 1971. Fight Club, directed by David Fincher, written by Chuck Palahniuk and Jim Uhls, distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 1999. Fly Boys, directed by Tony Bill, cinematography by Henry Braham, produced by Dean Devlin, written by Phil Sears, distributed by MGM, 2006. English Patient, The, directed by Anthony Minghella, written by Michael Ondaatje (novel) and Anthony Minghella, distributed by Miramax Films, 1996. Fast Runner, The, directed by Zacharias Kunuk, written by Paul Apak Angilirq, cinematography and additional writing by Norman Cohn, distributed by Lot 47 Films, 2001. Five Obstructions, The, directed by Jorgen Leth, written by Jorgen Leth, distributed by Koch Lorber Films, 2003. Football Factory, The, directed by Nick Love, written by John King (novel) and Nick Love, distributed by Image Entertainment, 2004. Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Winston Groom (novel) and Eric Roth, distributed by Paramount Pictures, 1994. Four Eyed Monster, directed by Susan Buice, written by Susan Buice and Arin Crumley, distributed by Four Eyed Monsters, 2005. Freeze Frame, directed by John Simpson, written by John Simpson, distributed by Universal Pictures, 2004. Freezer Burn: The Movie, directed by Charles Hood, written by Charles Hood, 2007.

240 The French Democracy machinima, directed by Alex Chan, distributed by Machinima, 2005. Ghandi at the Bat, directed by Stephanie Argy, written by Chet Williamson (short story), 2006. Gladden, directed by Ian Butterfield, 2002. Grindhouse, directed by Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino, written by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, distributed by The Weinstein Company, 2007. Grizzly Man, directed by Werner Herzog, written by Werner Herzog, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2005. Gunner Palace, directed by Petra Epperlein, distributed by Palm Pictures, 2004. Happy Endings, directed by Don Roos, written by Don Roos, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2005. Hero, directed by Yimou Zhang, written by Feng Li and Bin Wang, distributed by Miramax Films, 2002. Hostel, directed by Ali Roth, written by Eli Roth, distributed by Screen Gems, 2005. House of Flying Daggers, directed by Yimou Zhang, written by Feng Li and Bin Wang, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, 2004. / Heart Huckabees, directed by David O. Russell, written by David O. Russell and Jeff Baena, distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2004. Fm Not There, directed by Todd Haynes, written by Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman, distributed by The Weinstein Co., 2007. In this World, directed by Michael Winterbottom, written by Tony Grisoni, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2002. Inland Empire, directed by David Lynch, written by David Lynch, distributed by 518 Media Inc., 2006. Interpreter, The, directed by Sydney Pollack, cinematography by Darius Khondji, written by Martin Stellman, Brian Ward (story), Charles Randolph, Scott Frank and Steven Zaillian (screenplay), distributed by Universal Pictures, 2005. Into Great Silence, directed, written and shot by Phillip Groning, distributed by Zeitgeist Films, 2005.

241 Iraq in Fragments, directed by James Longley, distributed by Typecast Releasing, 2006. Irreversible, directed by Gaspar Noe, written by Gaspar Noe, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2002. Jarhead, directed by Sam Mendes, written by William Broyles Jr. and Anthony Swofford (book), distributed by Universal Pictures, 2005. Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Peter Benchley, distributed by Universal Pictures, 1975. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 &2, directed and written by Quentin Tarantino, cinematography by Robert Richardson, distributed by Miramax Films, 2003, 04. King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson, written by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, distributed by Universal Pictures, 2005. Kontroll, directed by Nimrod Antal, written by Jim Adler and Nimrod Antal, 2003. Kung Fu Hustle, directed by Stephen Chow, written by Stephen Chow and Xin Huo, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, 2004. Lady Vengeance, directed by Chan-wook Park, written by Seo-Gyeong Jeong and Chanwook Park, distributed by Tartan USA, 2005. Last Days, written and directed by Gus Van Sant, cinematography by Harris Savides, distributed by Fine Line Features, 2005. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, directed by Guy Ritchie, written by Guy Ritchie, distributed by Gramercy Pictures, 1998. Lonely Girl 15, directed by Ramesh Flinders, written by Miles Beckett and Ramesh Flinders, 2006. M, directed by Fritz Lang, written by Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, cinematography by Fritz Arno Wagner, distributed by Paramount Pictures in U.S., 1931. Man with a Movie Camera, directed and written by Dziga Vertov, 1929. Matrix Reloaded, The, directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, written by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 2003. Matrix, the, directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, written by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 1999.

242 Memento, directed by Chirstopher Nolan, written by Jonathan Nolan (short story) and Christopher Nolan, distributed by Newmarket, 2000. Metropolis, directed by Rintaro, written by Osama Tezuka (comic book) and Katsuhiro Otomo, distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2001. Miami Vice, directed by Michael Mann, written by Michael Mann and Anthony Yerkovich (TV series), distributed by Universal Pictures, 2006. Mulholland Drive, directed by David Lynch, written by David Lynch, distributed by Universal Focus, 2001. My Little Eye, directed by Marc Evans, written by David Hilton, distributed by Focus Features, 2002. Nanook of the North, directed by Robert J. Flaherty, written by Frances H. Flaherty (idea) and Robert J. Flaherty, 1922. Napoleon Dynamite, directed by Jared Hess, written by Jared Hess and Gerusha Hess, distributed by Fox Searchlight, 2004 Nine Songs, directed by Michael Winterbottom, written by Michael Winterbottom, distributed by Palisades Pictures, 2004. O Brother Where Art Thou, directed by Joel Coen, written by Homer (poem) and Ethan Coen, distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, 2000. Odd Man Out, directed by Carol Reed, distributed by Park Circus, 1947. Oklahoma, directed by Fred Zinnemann, written by Lynn Riggs and Oscar Hammerstein n, distributed by Park Circus, 1955. Oldboy, directed by Chan-wook Park, written by Garon Tsuchiya (story) and Nobuaki Minegishi (comic), distributed by Tartan USA, 2003. Open Water, directed by Chris Kentis, written by Chris Kentis, distributed by Lions Gate Films, 2003. Our Daily Bread, written, directed and shot by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, distributed in U.S. by First Run/ Icarus Films, 2005. Palindromes, directed and written by Todd Solondz, distributed by Wellspring Media, 2004. Panic Room, directed by David Fincher, written by David Koepp, distributed by Columbia Pictures, 2002.

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The Plague, directed by Hal Masonberg, written by Hal Masonberg and Teal Minton, distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2006. The Prisoner: Or How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair, directed by Petra Epperlein, distributed by Truly Indie, 2006. The Situation, directed by Philip Haas, written by Wendell Steavenson, distributed by Shadow Distribution, 2006. This is Not a Love Song, directed by Billie Eltingham, written by Simon Beaufoy, distributed by Wellspring Media, 2002. This Revolution, directed by Stephen Marshall, written by Stephen Marshall, produced by Chain Camera Pictures and HBO Documentary Films, distributed by Screen Media Films, 2005. Timecode, directed by Mike Figgis, written by Mike Figgis, distributed by Screen Gems, 2000. Titanic, directed by James Cameron, written by James Cameron, distributed by Paramount Pictures, 1997. Traffic, directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Stephen Gaghan, distributed by USA Films, 2000. Tristan Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, directed by Michael Winterbottom, written by Frank Cottrell Boyce credited as Martin Hardy (screenplay) and Laurence Sterne (novel), distributed by Picturehouse Entertainment, 2005. Troy, directed by Wolfgang Petersen, written by Homer (poem) and David Benioff, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 2004. Twist of Faith, directed by Kirby Dick, distributed by Artistic License, 2004. Under the Bombs, directed by Philippe Arachtingi, 2006. Very Long Engagement, A, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, written by Guillaume Laurant and Sebastien Japrisot (novel), distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 2004. Voices of Iraq, directed by Martin Kunert, distributed by Magnolia Pictures, 2004. Waking Life, The directed by Richard Linklater, written by Richard Linklater, distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2001.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit, directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Gary K. Wolf (novel) and Jeffrey Price, distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, 1988. Window Water Baby Moving, directed by Stan Brakhage, distributed by Canyon Cinema, 1962.


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Storyline #1 Scene 1 - 48

Storyline #3 Scene 1 - 48

Scenes go chronologically left to right and top to bottom. Collision: A scene in which two or more storylines clash and both (all) play a part in scene. Connection: Two storylines that aren't close together, but are connected by time, place or action. Influence: An event in one storyline, that changes somebody or something in another storyline. Interference: One storyline that comes into another storyline and changes the course of that storyline. No role in story (e.g. not mentioned or visible in the scene).

H |

Minor role in story (e.g. mention made in scene). Major role in story (e.g. visible and/or present in the scene).


Storyline #1 Storyline #2 Storyline #3 Storyline #4

Brick Top
The organizer of all the illegal activities.

Cousin Avi
The cousin from New York who flies over to help with the dealing of the big rock.

Owner of a pawnshop. Gets the diamond through different sources and tries to sell it

Boris the Blade

The Russian who comes in the story as a weapons dealer, but gets into the fight for the diamond as well.

The main character from this story line. He works on the illegal fights, by providing the fighters.

Doug the Head

Was responsible for the dealing of the diamond.

Has the same job and role as Sol.

Turkish's right hand man. Work hard, but is a bit too scared to really show his face.

Bullet Tooth Tony

Gets called into the story at the point at which Cousin Avi and Doug the Head need a strong helper.

Right hand man for Sol and Vince.

Gorgeous George
The first fighter that should have been in the big fight. Gets beaten by Mickey in a bare knuckle boxing match.

Freddy Four Fingers

The man that brings the diamond in the story, by stealing it in Antwerp.

The gypsy that turns out to be a great fighter. Knocks out Gorgeous George and replaces him in the big fight.