Miss Fisher & The Problem of the Prequel Podcast (2021)
Miss Fisher and the Problem of the Prequel Podcast was a story development, scriptwriting, and audio production studio that ran from March to June 2021. We were tasked with adapting existing intellectual property from a well-known brand into a new format, and producing fully scripted, casted, and produced audio works ready for distribution. Our client for this project was Every Cloud Productions, the company behind the Miss Fisher film and TV franchise, who offered briefings and feedback at various stages of the semester.
In this studio, students worked as part of writing and production teams to generate dramatic content based on a specific brief and for a client: key skills for jobbing creatives as they begin their careers.
Across the course of the studio, in addition to the creative and production work, students dissected and discussed the affordances of audio media, the concept of ‘the cinematic’ and the mechanics of adaptation.
The Story Lab (2015 & 2016)
Storytelling isn’t what it used to be. In fact, stories themselves aren’t what they used to be. The stories we tell seem to have similar characteristics — a list of main characters, conflict, a beginning, middle, and end — but the way we tell those stories has changed significantly. We change up the structure, the register, the point of view. The advent of transmedia storytelling, as seen in the Matrix and Marvel franchises, is perhaps the greatest threat to traditional story. But does a change within a platform – or a switch to multiple platforms – necessitate a change in the narrative itself? What makes a story work? What makes it fail? Is transmedia really threatening traditional, linear stories? Are we beyond story altogether? These are some of the questions we’ll be exploring – and trying to answer – in The Story Lab. Stories old and new will be examined and analysed; the practice of storytelling, and methodologies of transmedia production, will be uncovered and evaluated. Students will create their own media objects, playing within media, and moving across digital and non-digital platforms. The Story Lab is a place to try out new storytelling methods, and work together to push the limits of what narrative is, and to explore what it might be.
On the Frame
Digital cinema has caused chaos in film theory. The language of cinema, based in part on the medium’s technical characteristics, now seems outdated. One aspect of cinema that has been problematised is the notion of the frame. When ‘24’ is not the golden number it once was, what do these new advancements mean for the building block of the moving image? This studio explores the technical characteristics of the frame in cinema: aspect ratio, camera angle, camera movement, and so on — but also pushes through the frame to consider broader philosophical and theoretical concepts.
The studio explores film theories old and new to unlock the capacity of camera, lens, and philosophical and cinematic thinking. This is not a studio where you make a whole film, or, necessarily, a completed work. Students will work through multiple sketches to create their own cinematic frames, and reflect on the process of production in order to situate their practice within the theory and philosophy of cinema.
It is expected that students will engage with existing theory through critical writing, practical experimentation, and reflective journaling. The studio will be comprised of lecture-style delivery of content, open discussion and debate around contentious or controversial areas of philosophy and film theory, film screenings and guided/individual exploration of interactive materials, and out-of-the-classroom experiences and excursions.
We live in the future: a world where you can make a feature film using a smartphone. The sheer ease of access to tools and technology is a boon for creative people all over the world. Stories are emerging that years ago we simply would never have heard; people now have a voice that can reach across the globe.
We’re also observing renaissances in analogue and craft media, from music and photography to scrapbooking, bookbinding and printing presses. There’s also the emergent practice of the social media sabbatical, and attempts at what’s called deep work. These are resulting in alternative media practices where slowness and deliberation become key principles.
OLD’S COOL observes both new media’s explosion of easy-to-use and easy-to-access technology alongside the analogue resistance. From this observation, we ask the questions: Can we learn something from old media, about how to use new media? What are the principles underlying, for example, live radio drama or pinhole photography, and can these help us become better podcast producers, digital cinematographers or social media consultants?
In this studio, we will research old media, new media, and the shifts between the two. We will identify key principles that we will take forward into our own explorations of media practice. From here, it is hoped that everyone in the studio will hone their technical specialties and identify trajectories for future development and exploration.
This studio combines old and new media production practices with discussion and reflection.
The Mechanics of Immersion
[studio co-taught with Dr. Darrin Verhagen]
From art and cultural installations, through extra-cinematic experiments, virtual and augmented realities, experience design for marketing and therapeutic purposes … perhaps appropriately, we are currently immersed in immersion. It’s not just for art, commerce, and therapy, though. In the digital age, we are presented with audio pieces and visual works that explode our standard ‘modes’ of communication, i.e. sound and vision. Who hasn’t been engrossed in a story or science podcast, or a particularly well-produced album; or lost in a strange and ethereal film world, be it a fantasy land or a dreamily-rendered cityscape?
In The Mechanics of Immersion, we want your help to define what immersion is, and to figure out how we can use sound, vision, and other media modes to create experiences that envelop and enthrall our audience. You’ll be working with students from the Bachelor of Design (Digital Media) and the Bachelor of Communication (Media), analysing, auditing, and creating immersive audiovisual works. Guests include experts in sound design and virtual reality, and field trips will take in new and old approaches to immersion. Each week, this studio comprises one three-hour THINKING session, where ideas are presented, dissected, and debated; and one three-hour MAKING session, where those ideas are put to the test in practical experiments. Choose this studio if you want to collaborate with another discipline to explore the connection between sound and vision, and test how these two modes can work together (and in concert with others) to create all-encompassing media moments.
Genre poses a seemingly endless problem for film critics, theorists, and filmmakers themselves. In the age of hybrid and networked media, the video store aisle classifications just don’t cut it anymore, appearing arbitrary and restrictive. However, genre research is still a very popular area of study. From a purely practical point of view, though, does the genre still have value? Can it still be a powerful way to impart meaning? This studio will revitalise the concept of genre within various media spaces and platforms, positing that genre — as the term has traditionally applied in film studies — is an active and dynamic process of inscription and interpretation.
This studio will both interrogate and explode various fictional media genres. Students will be asked to research and discuss genre theory, forming their own opinions and learned perspectives on where and how genres emerge. Selected film screenings will encourage students to observe how genre has been inscribed across the history of cinema. The studio will then gravitate towards discussions and practical explorations of how genres might be inscribed in other media platforms. Students will produce a number of different artefacts spanning different genres and platforms, before honing in on a single genre for a major project.
Other Teaching Experience
- Communicating the Environment (2022)
- Media 1 (2020 & 2015)
- Making Media (2017, 2016 & 2015)
- Introduction to Cinema Studies (2016)
Western Sydney University
- TV Production
- Mediated Mobilities
- Media Cultures & Industries
- Introduction to Film Studies
- Media Memory
- Researching Media Audiences
University of Sydney
- Introduction to Film Studies (2013 & 2014)
- Contemporary Hollywood (2013 & 2014)
- Cinema & the Digital Aesthetic (2012)