Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Truth Marathon - One: Vogme 13 Certified!

Above are some drawings and below is the newest YT version of the opening to my screenplay-novel TRUTH MARATHON, a PLASTIC MILLENNIUM module.

I am rather new at producing this kind of work and am painfully aware that it's not the sort of thing one would see, say, at a film festival. But it's not meant to be amateurish or a kind of hobby: increasingly, I'm becoming convinced that one of the crises afflicting current literary publishing is a crisis of media. (In a very recent post, Dan Green points out that the artistic accomplishment of Zadie Smith's published fiction is not on a par with the  reputation she's generally been granted by mainstream critical "consensus". The connection that I want to make here is that Smith -- and she's hardly the only one -- is a writer whose reputation is a creation of media, including new media, as much as it one of critical zeitgeist; in short, even writers can be famous for being famous, and that becomes especially true when the media of fame, for example TV interviews, achieve a cultural influence greater than that of what the writer is supposedly being feted for: their fiction.)

I originally wrote TRUTH MARATHON as a moderately experimental novel (its first drafts mimicked screenplay format) with a vague idea that I'd insert photos (movie "stills") into the project. Having an acutely limited budget, that soon proved impossible. Who would I get to pose? I didn't know any friends who looked the part, and couldn't afford to hire actors. I also had many scenes set in summertime Canada, but by this point was living in Korea (all my trips back home the past few years have been in the winter). I realized that if I wanted visuals in this project, I'd have to make them the old-fashioned way. And since I was good at drawing and had a background as a cartoonist, I'd turn the novel into a hybrid graphic novel.

Converting this project to video format came later, and was prompted partly by looking at some work that some of my students had produced (I was wowed by what I saw as their expertise) and buying a new laptop with MovieMaker installed and realizing the basics of the software were not that complicated ... as long as one wasn't fussy.

It was the latter point that has become something of a sticking point for me: I am getting fussy. I'd like my work to be more "pro". But I also find myself becoming increasingly alienated by most of the movies and videos I see, including those on YouTube. This has become especially true of the ones about life in Asia. They are frequently montages of clips with beat-heavy music dubbed over them. The tendency of movies -- an ostensibly visual medium that is actually so music-philic that removing music makes movies automatically feel barren and boring -- is to not have faith in the script. It is to undermine importance of the script by pumping up the visuals through various manipulations, and using music as both a prompt and a crutch. When putting together my work, all this was something I wanted to overcome. And so I've been going back to basics, getting my soundtrack from found sources around the home or nearby in the hiking trails close to our apartment.

Where all this is going, I'm not sure. But one thing is certain in my mind: writing can exist in mediums other than print and still retain its literary integrity. This isn't meant as a put-down of print media in favour of the "superiority" of digital/online work; it's rather meant as an equalization. Many of the problems afflicting print publishing today are sourced in an underlying hysteria about the efficacy of print media to compete with image-and-music-augmented narratives. A new aesthetic ideology with literary aims but not traditional habits will need to be developed.

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