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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    The Role of Opening Credits

    TV opening credits obviously let viewers know who the main cast is as well as give everyone involved in the process their due. The aesthetics and artwork of each individual show’s credits can also persuade the audience into participation. How do opening credits function depending on what shows one is watching? There are certain shows that begin with catchy themes, eye-catching graphics, or contain "easter egg"-like codes/foreshadowing. There are others which keep the visibility of opening credits to a minimum, perhaps to heighten the realism of the show’s fictional world. How does the nature of certain shows determine the way opening credits are presented to the audience?

    • Approved this, but I was going to say would you be able to add some examples? One that always springs to mind for me is the minimalistic credits for Hannibal – Francesca Turauskis 4 months ago
    • How about a little bit of comparison and contrast with the opening credits from previous decades? I've notice several old programs that have opening theme songs that the lyrics were actually displayed on the screen as they were sung. – NoDakJack 3 months ago
    • This would be such a great prompt to expand on--once I get to the point where I can publish articles I may take this on myself! So many nuances and storytelling aspects can be found in a good opening credits sequence. There's so much to talk about! Context clues and interpretation of the cinematography and any song lyrics would be good points to discuss. – RachelHart 3 months ago
    • Just going to leave this right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG_P_1JnfXI – ProtoCanon 1 month ago
    • Wonder if there's much of a difference between opening credits and opening titles, but here's a fairly enlightening video by Cinefix i hope you find useful :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8twthdaqB8 – Matchbox 1 month ago
    • Just a pet theory for filmic opening-credits, but there must be an evolution in length. Perhaps I'm pointing to the obvious, but Hollywood films produced pre-millennium seem much longer than productions after. Watching Kramer vs. Kramer, I realized it was an eon worth of attention span for the generation of viewers today. The opening for some production during earlier periods are an encased vignette telling an encapsulated story. Perhaps viewer patience have been eroded that opening credit structure is susceptible to such pressures.By the way, after watching the opening-credits for Dexter, does anyone crave ham and eggs with a splash of Tapatio? – minylee 4 weeks ago

    Can I Get a Take Two?: Actor Replacements in Film Franchises

    What happens when an actor takes on a character played by someone else within the same franchise? I’m not talking about reboots that completely refresh the cast (as in Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and most recently Tom Holland as Spider-Man). I’m talking about a single franchise where the film brings an entirely different actor to play the same character. For example, in the Harry Potter film series the initial actor who played Dumbledore passed away and Michael Gambon had to step in for the rest of the series. There are also The Mummy movies, where Rachel Weisz dropped out of the cast by her own volition and was replaced by another actress for the third film in the franchise. In my experience, the different Dumbledores didn’t bother me at all but to have Brendan Fraser’s character with a different woman playing his wife was confusing. How have these transitions fared for films that have replaced actors in the middle of the same series? Were they considered jarring and rejected by audiences or did they do little to affect the series as a whole? Does the nature of these replacements have an effect as well (i.e. an unprecedented event such as an actor’s death vs. an actor’s or studio’s decision)?

    • I wrote a long response that I think got erased... TLDR; The actor switch with Dumbledore suited the dark progression of the movies. The first guys was sweet and soft spoken, all about love while the second actor was full of movement, emotion and "did you put your name in the goblet harry?!" I think it was a fortunate (but unfortunate since the actor died) turn of events. In such a case, say, an actor can't fill a role right later in a franchise, better to replace them than have a sub-par rendition? – Slaidey 2 months ago
    • You make a very good point about the Dumbledore example. Michael Gambon's portrayal adds a great deal of emotional heft to the role, which is fitting for the increasingly darker tone of later Harry Potter films. It also aligns well with the change from an optimistically bright, Chris Columbus-style introduction to the Potter universe in the first film to the more melancholically heavy, David Yates-style of the final films. – aprosaicpintofpisces 2 months ago

    Future Film Movements: How will reflexivity tackle fully-immersive cinema?

    4D movie theaters are known for their immersive qualities including smells, seat vibrations, the simulation of certain weather conditions, etc. to replicate for the viewer what is being experienced in the fictional narrative presented onscreen. So far, 4D movies haven’t exactly dominated the movie-going experience but their existence does raise questions about how reflexivity will be achieved in the future. Self-reflexive films make viewers aware of the fact that they are watching a film, revealing “the artifice” as it were of the narrative and the characters involved. It’s a technique that’s often associated with art house or new wave cinema, though it can be found elsewhere in more palatable and consumer-friendly forms. Moviegoers usually like a fully immersive movie-going experience rather than be reminded that a film is a construct (it provides a nice escape from the tedium of reality for a few hours). With the increasing popularity of virtual reality in gaming nowadays, how will these increasingly more immersive technologies impact future movements in self-aware cinema? Will it undermine it all together? If not, how can reflexive techniques find a loophole around it to engage viewers as participants (not just spectators) again?

    • Cinema is designed to be communal. VR and video games are designed (for the most part) to be experienced alone, or at least in the domestic sphere of the home. Examining the aspects of place would be a critical view into your questions. There have been very few successful cross overs of video games to films (Lara Croft being an exceptIon) primarily because the social geography is different, and filmmakers rarely take that into account. An environment designed for personal consumption has some personal geography that is difficult to translate to a communal experience. So the question becomes, not how the reflexive techniques will find a loophole, but how the social geography can best be brought into the reflexive, because that is where the difference will really be made.Note to self, don't leave the page to look up an author's name... lest your note be deleted! Check out Lynn Spigel's work. – staceysimmons 3 months ago

    The Cinematic Space Odyssey

    Movies such as Gravity, Arrival, or the upcoming Passengers and Life films showcase the persistent human curiosity about outer space and who else (if anyone at all) is out there. We’re no longer in the era of little green men coming to invade the Earth in their silver flying saucers to abduct us or otherwise probe our brains. Cinematically speaking, how has the human vision of extraterrestrial life and exploration changed over the years? How have certain historical landmarks in the space program transformed what moviegoers want and expect to see in outer space-themed films? Has the recent media coverage about a possible mission to Mars in the not-too-distant future shifted the cinematic focus away from an interest in aliens to issues of human evolution/multi-planetary colonization? Is there something else at work here?

    • An interesting topic, for sure. Although I don't have the a very eclectic understanding of science fiction in cinema, I wonder if there has been a shift from the foreign/invading extraterrestrial to a interior extraterrestrial. That is to say, I have always perceived a shift from the flying saucer alien to the kind of alien that takes the form of human; an alien that changes our perception of the human body as human. Movies like Alien (where the alien is born from/comes from the human body) and Invasion of the Body snatchers. One might also consider Men in Black and Under the Skin. What we consider to be alien has, in some instances, become remarkably more human, and I think this would be a fascinating angle to take for this topic. – Dethlefs 3 months ago
    • The movies tend to change with science. The more things science figures out, and by extension, theories it creates, just add to the writer's creativity. One possible reason earlier movies were more about alien invasions is the fact that humans overestimated the planet's resources. Up until somewhat recently, people thought that we had a great thing going here. Now we see that the planet and its resources are finite, and that we are going to have to leave at some point. Which is why more blockbusters are centered more around space exploration rather than invasions from space. – MikeySheff 3 months ago

    Movies to TV: What caused the shift?

    Whether it’s True Detective, Fargo, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Stranger Things, etc. there has been a strong shift of interest from movies to TV. TV shows now have high production levels that mimic large-scale movies in both aesthetics and tone. TV is perhaps taken more seriously now than ever before. Does this have to do with ease of access? With services such as Netflix, viewers can binge-watch entire seasons if they want to. There is also the bankable element of episodic teasing out of narrative compared to the contained narratives of movies. Are TV shows taking more risks? Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things cast mostly unfamiliar faces yet Netflix is also responsible for reboots of familiar shows as with Fuller House and the upcoming Gilmore Girls. Even actors have shown greater interest in moving to TV, which was once seen as lesser than being a film star. Or is something else at work here? Can films make a comeback from this and how?

    • Good topic! In terms of what caused the shift it seems like part of it is economics. Tentpole movies these days are supposed to have boxoffice appeal across the world—which is one of the main reasons most of them have low-IQ CGI action sequences that seem almost endless. TV shows, in contrast, can appeal to niche audiences and go for awards, which means prestige television tends to be more character-driven and thought-provoking. Since economics is driving this, at least to some degree, my guess is that it can't be reversed. – Ben Hufbauer 3 months ago
    • You're right! I don't know how I forgot to mention that aspect of it. Yes, movies nowadays are more keen to appeal to a global audience (especially China at the moment). That's also why big budget, CGI action movies such as those with universally recognizable superheroes became very popular. With exciting action sequences, as you mention, it also minimizes any problems in terms of language/cultural barriers. Thank you for the note! – aprosaicpintofpisces 3 months ago
    • I think it is a mixture of things that has resulted in a decline in movie attendance and the rise in television viewers.1. Ticket prices. People turn away from cinemas because of the cost of not only admission but concession items. Also, perhaps people do not find it as necessary as they once did to rush to the cinema to watch a new movie.2. The accessibility to premiere television programming from HBO and others. Whether it is through streaming providers or through pirating, perhaps people enjoy the comfort of their own home when watching movies or television.3. The most interesting analysis could be that the mini-series format that alot of television shows incorporate now is indeed a better way to tell a narrative than to squish the story into a 2 hour time limit. – Jeffrey Cook 3 months ago
    • The above commenters pretty much covered why there's been a shift to tv shows. I just wanted to add that tv shows give directors more time to cover stories, and they can flesh out their plots too since movies have a limited time frame.– seouljustice 3 months ago
    Taken by Lusk22 (PM) 2 months ago.

    The Fall of Calm, Cool, and Collected and the Rise of the Flawed Hero

    While watching re-runs of the 1960s cult classic, The Avengers, I was reminded of the effortless cool of many of that era’s heroes. With their witty banter and impeccable fashion sense, John Steed and Emma Peel were the epitome of the clever and effortlessly cool hero. Sean Connery as James Bond, the ever-jaded Humphrey Bogart, and even Cary Grant with his many aliases in the comic film Charade all exuded debonair qualities. Nowadays, many audiences gravitate toward anti-heroes instead. We are all about gritty realism, whether that’s by casting non-celebrity faces with minimal if any make-up as in Orange is the New Black, showing explicit content as in Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or simply having skewed morals as in House of Cards or Dexter. There are even heroes who revoke the traditional heroism thrust upon them as with Jessica Jones. Modern-day protagonists are not often meant to be looked up to, but humanly flawed and as susceptible to be corrupted as we are. Yet it goes even beyond mere human flaws. It seems we enjoy seeing the extremes of bad behavior and the worst versions of ourselves. How did this come about? Is there a way to attain gritty realism without sacrificing the self-assuredness of the supposed heroes?

    • Great topic. I think there's an groundswell begging the return of standard heroes, not that antiheroes will disappear. – Tigey 6 months ago
    • In terms of how it came to be, talk about how relatable these anti-heros are to real life people and situations. Relatability goes a long way in modern day film, because people are more accepting of how these old "heros" are not exactly the most realistic, and find the anti-hero more exciting. Incorporate why this has changed over the years. – Deana Murphy 5 months ago

    No More Fade to Black

    The trend of showing just about everything in media, even if it seems unnecessary. I’m not talking about censoring, but about limiting the audience’s act of imagination to fill in the rest of the picture. What happens when a level of subtlety, implicitness, and mystery is lost? I was thinking of some classic black-and-white films such as M, The Innocents, Nosferatu, The Third Man, Gaslight, etc. whose atmosphere is heavily reliant on what is shrouded by shadow. A lot of suspense, dread, as well as intrigue is created by what we can’t see. When many movies now are so well-lit and in high-definition color, has something been lost? It seems like there is a strong desire to expose and reveal as much as we can instead. Has this transition affected how movies are filmed in other ways?

    • This is a great topic, and I do agree. The unspoken leads to contemplation, inquiry, and suspense. Though people fixate on the evolution of film technology, which is without a doubt extraordinarily impressive, some of basic cinematic concepts that make film so wonderful have been lost--what you are posing here is one. – danielle577 6 months ago
    • Interesting but if you pay attention to independent film(not commercial ones) they still adopt fade to black in their scenes. Maybe not common but it doesnt mean no more. When i 'm writing my script, I would sometimes use fade to black and fade in for transitions. I dont think it is fully abandoned. – moonyuet 6 months ago
    • I definitely agree with what you're saying about independent films. I'm not just talking about transitions, though, but about the general use of shadows or unseen areas in movies. I feel like we as an audience are often granted greater access to scenes we either would not have been shown before or would not be able to view with as much clarity, which is probably especially true in the case of commercial films. I hadn't intended to sound like I was making a generalization about all recent movies, just that it was a trend I had noticed. Sorry for not making myself clearer in that regard. – aprosaicpintofpisces 6 months ago

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    Latest Comments

    That’s all I could ever hope for as a writer. That’s also the challenge of writing on a topic that can be taken in so many different directions and avenues of thought. We can never claim to know all the answers (or even any of them) but questioning the status quo is an important first step. Sometimes doubt is more precious than certainty. Thank you for the kind words.

    Relationship Entertainment: Navigating the Struggle between Romance and Friendship on TV

    Thank you so much, KennethC!

    The Legend of Korra: Empathizing with Villains

    Nick and Jess definitely have good chemistry and I wouldn’t mind it if they ended up together. I think one of the major issues for New Girl when the two were dating was that they became the focus of the show, to the detriment of the other characters and themselves. At least one good thing was that they maintained their separate and opposite personalities for the most part. That tends to happen a lot when two characters are romantically paired up in a show and sometimes in real life as well (they lose their individual personalities to the relationship).

    Relationship Entertainment: Navigating the Struggle between Romance and Friendship on TV

    I think if they did pair up beyond friendship, it would just seem strange and unnecessary. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is portrayed as someone who isn’t exactly interested in sex or relationships or might even have aversion to that all together. He gets “turned on” as it were by his own intellect and other people’s praise and admiration of it, which Freeman’s Watson provides by continually putting up with him (unlike most people). As an onscreen substitute for the audience’s level of understanding, Freeman’s Watson likes to be an “average joe.” However, he is also secretly an intense thrill-seeker (which Sherlock’s investigations provide an outlet for). Their comradery is based on those mutual wants as well as the fact that they work together and share the same flat for a time (continued proximity can breed affection as much as bitterness). The show’s creators have also toyed with the fanservice aspects of the show, doubly acknowledging them as well as possibly undermining them.

    Relationship Entertainment: Navigating the Struggle between Romance and Friendship on TV

    Good point. Draco’s elitist personality initially encompasses Harry because of the celebrity that comes with being “The Boy Who Lived.” However, Harry’s polite refusal of it bruises Draco’s pride and he makes him pay for it for all those years afterward. I love how Draco’s emotions become more fleshed out in The Half-Blood Prince when he’s actually forced to make a difficult choice. Before, he was just playing at being a Death Eater under the safe confines of the Slytherin House at Hogwarts. I felt a lot of sympathy for him at that point.

    Why Draco Malfoy is one of the Most Underrated Characters in 'Harry Potter'

    You offer great analyses of these films. The ever-transforming nature of relationships and how we perceive them will likely always be a relevant topic. I agree with your closing statement: “Sometimes science can fail to go deep with the nature of these concerns; perhaps art is the form by which to seek out truth.” As with these movies you’ve discussed, the narrative form can often explore the layered complexities and contradictions of human nature in a way that science alone may not be able to reach.

    Meditations of Modern Relationships in Film

    Thank you for writing this article. There are a plethora of advice articles which suggest, as you mention, the exact opposite. Passivity is an oft-neglected virtue in more areas than just writing. As someone who often struggles with writer’s block, I’ve found that the Zen approach usually makes the most sense. When I was a kid, I wrote much more regularly and much more freely partially because I placed fewer limits on myself. I just wrote for no other reason than because I wanted to (it was natural) and thus I threw fewer mental blocks into my flowing stream of consciousness. As adults, we may substantially improve in the technical aspect of writing but we also gain a lot of psychological restrictions that impede us. No matter how hard you try or how much you may want to control something, you can never force it. Your creative output will happen when it’s meant to and when you finally allow it space for it to happen. There’s something so incredibly vibrant about allowing your writer’s thoughts to “be” rather than forcing them to become anything. It requires a great deal of trust in yourself.

    Using Zen Philosophy to Improve Creativity and Overcome Writer’s Block

    You make such a great point! Yes, his ideology is not as clearly formed and it’s not the driving force of his actions as with the other villains. Since his narrative arc is about a loss of spirituality and him wanting to be the “anti-Avatar,” it could have been related to the trope of man trying to turn himself into his own god. I think Unalaq’s ideas about spirituality could definitely have been explored further to make him a more compelling character.

    The Legend of Korra: Empathizing with Villains