Romance and reflection

There is a mode of writing about film that I really enjoy reading — I’m cautiously calling it romantic-reflexive. Practitioners of this style include Murray Pomerance, Geoff Dyer, Raul Ruiz. It’s a style I enjoy because it feels immediate, almost as if the thought had just occurred to the writer. It’s an informed style, but rather than be peppered with footnotes or citations at every turn, the reader is just aware that they’re being spoken to by someone who’s done a lot of reading.

It’s a style that permits idiosyncrasies, but one that does not allow laziness. It allows for a nuanced discussion of film, but a discussion that is not hyper-critical. The analysis is not over-wrought, such that the film loses all magic, all its moments. I sense that this is a difficult style to master, but I’ve sketched out a few projects in the coming months that will hopefully allow me to give it a try.

For now, though, here, on this blog, I’m going to run the style past whatever I’m watching in the next few weeks, months. I’m currently halfway through Paris, Texas, so maybe that’ll be first.

Pomodoro ramblings

In my first classes this week, I introduced first-year students to the Pomodoro technique. I’ve had a mixed relationship with the technique, but sometimes find it useful in terms of getting my head fully into a project during its opening stages. In solidarity, I too typed non-stop for 15 minutes (a reduced pomodoro — usually they run for 25). The results were… well, they were a glimpse into the chaos of my brain. I’ve edited them slightly (ditched typos and some of the more bizarre tangents), added links and some editorial notes, and re-posted here. The unit is a foundational media subject, and is a blend of theory and practice.


 

Prompt: What would you like to get out of the class?

I would like to hone my pedagogy — in particular getting students engaged during workshop and lecture time. I am actively working to fill the lecture time not only with content, clips, and relevant examples, but also with activities that break the monotonous delivery.

I have already run out of ideas but I’m going to keep typing because this is what the Pomodoro technique is all about. Look if I’m honest I think the introduction of the Pomodoro technique into the classroom situation is an interesting thing for me and the students. It gets them thinking about writing as a practice and as a discipline, not this far-off thing that’s unobtainable and difficult. The Pomodoro technique is all about quantity rather than quality — which explains quite a bit about this piece I’m writing at the moment. Continue reading “Pomodoro ramblings”

Writing

I haven’t written for a very long time.

That seems a strange thing to say, given that I bill myself as a ‘writer, producer, and researcher’. But it’s true. In terms of actually setting mind to page without the baggage of scholarly rigour, it’s been an age.

Given I now work for an institution that lauds, encourages, creative practice as research, I’m wondering if there’s an element of writing that needs a punch in the face. Or — maybe I just need to write, and figure the rest out afterwards.

I surround myself with people who I know have outstanding skills in their respective fields, whether living or dead. But I’ve not opened a screenwriting program in some three or four years. There’s something there.

There’s always something there.

I just have to go find it, capture it, and ensure I can type it out in Courier New 12pt.

Today I wrote a letter

Writing
Photo by me.

For the longest time – certainly longer than any of us have been alive – writing letters was a necessity. Putting pen to paper was as frequent an act as a keystroke or a mouse-click is to most of us today. The glide of a nib across the surface of the paper was a crucial part of conducting business, of negotiating local and international politics, of creative expression, and of interpersonal communication.

It’s been a very long time since I sat down to write a letter. On paper. Without the aid of a spell-check, or the need to select a font, or to find and insert an email, or remember to attach an attachment. But today, I did. In fact, I wrote two. And I’m about to carry them to the post office and send them away. The reason? The Strangers podcast. Strangers is part of the Radiotopia network, who, last year, ran a Kickstarter to keep running, and to expand on their current line-up of shows. If you’re not listening to, in particular, Strangers and 99% Invisible, you need to do yourself a favour.

I threw a couple of dollars their way, not really thinking much of it, and in fact forgetting about one of the perks, which was being assigned a penpal by the Strangers team. Rather than being assigned in pairs, each backer gets one name and address, while their name and address is forwarded to – perhaps appropriately – a total stranger. I’d forgotten about it until I received a modest envelope in today’s post, containing a handwritten note from my new penpal in the US. I had also received my assigned recipient, so I sat down today and wrote them both.

As I explained to one of them, I’ve not had a penpal since I was about ten, and from memory they were in India. I’m sure with my living in Australia they think I’m equally exotic, despite living in the comfort of the uniquely non-threatening suburbs of Melbourne (yes, the letter I received today made a crack about Aussie wildlife). There is something very refreshing about writing again, like, properly writing. Though after writing about five pages of correspondence my hand is aching — a sign of the times, anyone?

The point of this post was to make some grand observation about how writing has gone from a necessary part of everyday life, to a hobby reserved usually only for older generations, to some quirk or quaint pastime that’s very rare. But such an observation is not forthcoming. Nevertheless, pick up a pen, and write someone a letter. It’s good fun.

New things

A big couple of months, hence the lack of updates. I’ve taken up a new position as Lecturer in Media at RMIT University. Yes, RMIT in Melbourne. I’m now, once more, a Victorian. The move has been tough, but it’s great to be back down here surrounded by family and friends and much decent coffee.

The new job is shaping up well, and is sucking most of my hours, particularly in terms of catching up on research. I’m still in the process of editing the PhD for publication, and will have finished another two publications by the time I start teaching proper in early March.

Things bode well, and I’ll keep this updated as often as possible, particularly with notes on research, more war films, games, and so on.