Monday, January 03, 2011

Filmmaker Star is Born

Roger Ebert, again proving himself the most relevant film critic writing, blogging and tweeting today, on Jamie Stuart's Idiot with a Tripod:
This film deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject.
(1) Because of its wonderful quality. (2) Because of its role as homage. It is directly inspired by Dziga Vertov's 1929 silent classic "Man With a Movie Camera." (3) Because it represents an almost unbelievable technical proficiency. It was filmed during the New York blizzard of Dec. 26, and Jamie Stuart e-mailed it to me with this time stamp: December 27, 2010 4:18:18 PM CST.
Here you go:

Here's the British TV piece on Stuart:

New York Blizzard - ITV Daybreak VT from dantv on Vimeo.

Jamie has docu skills - the Ebert page has his NYFF piece, along with Dziga Vertov's original classic city rhythm documentary, Man with a Movie Camera. As for Stuart's formal choices, they're a combo (digital camera and editing) of new (digital camera and editing) and old (lenses):

"Technically, for "Idiot with a Tripod," I shot with my Canon 7D and edited it with Final Cut Pro. Early on, I was able to vary things a little more -- I used macro diopters for the close-ups during the day shots, my portable slider for the dolly shots and also, a 75-300 zoom for the rooftop shots. I was more limited at night because of the weather conditions, so I stuck with my 24mm, 50mm and 85mm -- all of which are manual Nikon lenses. Which meant that in the middle of that maelstrom I was changing lenses, wiping off the lenses and manually focusing/adjusting each shot.

It's the tripod that makes the difference. The more widespread, obvious and easy choice would be to shoot it all handheld, like every other Internet doc. The tripod, and the high-quality prime lenses are what give the piece the stability, more what we've come to expect from our own smartphone still photography as opposed to our Flip/smartphone videography.

I've recently joined the app-only social network, Instagram, and it's like getting a zillion of these images daily (have to do a lot of following others to get others to follow you). Stuart's success is making it meditative without being boring. If you accept his artistry (intention and execution) it's his training and facility in this speedy digital format that makes all the difference, because what's unique about this short is that it straddles the line between artistic documentary and news.

He got it out in hours. Not a year. Not even a week. Barely a day.

Open access: instantly everywhere as long as people watch it. Y'know, the old tree falling in the forest.

Because if a video is posted but nobody streams it, is it truly distributed?

1 comment:

slick said...

Awesomeness. Makes me proud to be a New Yorker.