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What Makes A Found-Footage Film "Convincing"?

The sub-genre of movies known as "found-footage film" carries that unique sense of realism (brought about by shaky handheld cameras and lack of background music) rarely found in other films. With movies such as "The Blair Witch Project," "Chronicle," "The Gallows," and many others falling under this category, what makes some of these movies "better" than others? What sort of techniques have (or have not yet) been used to make these films feel valid/believable by an audience?

  • well, you have to look at the broader context. Consider the fact that The Blair Witch Project basically invented the found-footage subgenre and was an early example of viral marketing. That is probably why it feels so realistic-- no one had really done it before, at least not on the same level, and since then it's been extremely difficult to replicate, and I'd argue the only one that's done it successfully is Cloverfield, because it basically invented viral marketing as we know it today with the websites and social media pages for the characters. Seeing it replicated endlessly makes it less and less convincing. – sadiebritt28 4 weeks ago
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Taken by Sadie Britton (PM) 2 weeks ago.
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The Pros and Cons of Longer Movies

Oftentimes, particularly if a movie is an adaption from a longer novel, fans moan and complain about key details and scenes left out. Sometimes it is even released later that those scenes were filmed and subsequently cut to save time. "We’ll watch a 6-hour movie that is an exact replica of the book," they say. But would we? And more importantly, would movie theaters play them? In the ever growing market for adaptations, it might be time to examine the pros and cons of making longer, more accurate films.

  • I have friends who have watched the extended edition of Lord of the Rings on more than one occasion, so I would say that if the storyline is something they're devoted to, it's quite possible that people would be willing to sit for it. The con to that would of course be the small attention spans and the chance that nobody would ever want to watch the movie again. I've seen Titanic at least ten times in my life, so I would say that six hours may be pushing it, but saying that the average movie length of an hour and half may not give the viewer the full effect they're so craving, would not be an understatement. – Shelbi Sarver 4 weeks ago
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  • I think 6 hours is a lot but I would not mind watching a 3 hour movie if all the key scenes from the novel were present and that the editing is well done that the movie is not dragging. – sheffieldprintco 4 weeks ago
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  • Analyzing audience is a vital part of weighing the stakes. If you develop a longer film, which is heavily detailed according to a novel,etc., you run the risk of limiting your audience to watchers that consist of a preconceived fan bases of the novel, comic book, video game. Whereas, a viewer with no prior knowledge of the story might be turned off, as details don't often translate to an entertaining film, as suspense is at a higher risk of diminishing with longer bouts of time. However, the reverse is also a potentiality. You may serve to expand film goers', who generally seek instant gratification over quality of character and plot development...just a thought. – TortoiseGlasses 4 weeks ago
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Use of Narration in Film

Does a film require narration to reveal a character’s personality in a film? To what extent can visual details and dialogue override the necessity for a narrator? Director Terrence Malick specifically uses narration in his overall body of work (ex. Tree of Life and Knight Of Cups) in a unique and powerful way, but a movie such as Blade Runner (the original 1982 cut) featured narration that offered little insight that was not already obtained from the dialogue/visuals. What films use narration in a unique way that is integral to the film? What films implemented narration, but may not have required it? Offer a comparison between specific films, examining the extent to which narration contributes to each one.

  • When I thought of this I immediately thought of "The Princess Bride" and how the use of narration made it truly a fairy tale. I also thought of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and that style of almost audiobook level of narration. Other quality narrations I think of would be "A Clockwork Orange" and "Trainspotting".Maybe a look into movies based on books and their use of narration? I shudder to think of what someone has to say about the movie "Dune". – TheFoxBeard 1 month ago
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Batman and Spiderman: Do we need more iterations of them, or should we have new superheroes on screen?

There are probably thousands of comic books, with hundreds of heroes and villains. Surely, getting new iterations of Spiderman and Batman for the third time (for Spiderman, the third time in the last two decades, the last one being in 2014) isn’t really necessary nor is it pushing the boundaries to new ideas. Why are we getting new iterations? Is it because the general population will only pay to see superheroes they know? But with the increasing superhero overdose, wouldn’t studios make more money if there were new superheroes with new villains and new powers being put on the big screen?

  • I would be careful of the use of the word "remakes" because if you look at Christian Bale's Batman vs. Ben Afleck's Batman, the characters have distinct differences between them, with different stories and elements highlighted. In this case, I feel that the word remakes might not be the best fit. Maybe "new iterations" would be more appropriate for what you are discussing.The topic is very interesting and relevant overall! – SeanGadus 1 month ago
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  • Good point, but check the wording in the second sentence. More specifically 'necessary of interesting'. I'm not sure what you were going for, but I feel like you can word that part better. Other than that, you are good to go. – MikeySheff 1 month ago
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  • I think Batman especially represents a lot of interesting aspects of the human subconscious, which is possibly why he is so enduringly popular, but I do think that with nearly 100 years of mythos in Batman, the filmmakers could do more to integrate the entirety of the comics. For instance, the only Batgirl we've gotten was in the terrible Clooney movie, which is not at all representative of Barbara Gordon. We haven't seen anything of Jason Todd, a hint of Nightwing at the end of Dark Knight Rises, but there's so much more to Batman than just Batman, and I think that's being really underutilized. – rmwalker 4 weeks ago
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The pros and cons of the popular R-rating

In the wake of the massive success of "Deadpool," many other films (mostly superhero movies, a la "Logan") have decided to also jump into R-rated waters. Is this transition going to have an overall positive impact on the industry, or is it just a needless aping in an attempt to make lightning strike twice?

  • Intriguing topic, considering how often films have wanted to avoid an R-rating for the purpose of appealing to a much wider audience. Defining what "positive" means in relation to the film industry will be key. Does that mean more profits? Better content? Should super heroes be adult themed? What kind of effect does that have on the younger audience, specially if they can't view these films without parental consent? – mazzamura 1 month ago
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  • Interesting topic. Although I don't think filmmakers coming out with R-rated films (or deliberately aiming to receive R ratings) is really anything new, since the R rating has been around and in popular use for a long time ... unless you mean to specifically focus on R ratings in superhero movies? – OBri 1 month ago
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  • I suppose the heart of this issue is that they are limiting the potential of an entire demographic (i.e. children) from being patrons to these films. Traditionally, children have been the primary audience for superhero movies, with even more profits coming from the expansive merchandising than the box office. However, when filmmakers pander directly to the action-figure market, we wind up with Schumacher's Batman movies. Since circa 2005 to 2008, when Nolan revived Batman with a gritty, semi-realistic reinvention of the character that was most certainly not targeted toward children (regardless of whether or not they saw and enjoyed it), it inspired a more adult-oriented trend in the superhero genre. Deadpool, then, took this further by replacing the darkness and brooding with raunchy comedy, thereby expanding the market in a new direction. Time will tell whether this newfound adult audience will be sustainable enough to compensate for all of the children being excluded by these R-ratings. This shift in demographic targeting should make for a worthy investigation. – ProtoCanon 1 month ago
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  • I think it should also be noted these rated R movies are only succesful because the material itself where it originates from is for a matured audience, so it really depends on what kind of material is being adapted to a R-rated film and whatever the material has a loyal audience. – cgclass 1 month ago
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  • I think the key will be content. Are movies adding unnecessary additions just to get the R-Rating? Or does the content actually call for it (such as Deadpool)? – alijulia87 4 weeks ago
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  • It may be worth noting the reason for the rating? I find myself somewhat skeptical when a movie I thought would be rated R is, in fact, PG-13. I worry that the film will be limited by that rating, that something which should indeed be gruesome, adult, serious, or otherwise "mature" will be watered for the sake of potentially young viewers. In that case, it borders censorship. But, I also find the notion of making a movie rated R, or incorporating uselessly ostentatious deaths without true benefit to be equally as unsettling. – Josh 3 weeks ago
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Literally Lost in Translation: The Difficulty in Properly Subtitling a Film and its Effects on the Viewer

How can the issue of cultural and linguist translation be tackled? Can it even be tackled at all? While a film may be able to translate the language, some cultural references are usually lost, especially when taking into consideration a unique language and culture like Japanese for example, and attempting to translate the language and culture relevance to an American audience. No easy feat.

Take a film like Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro” as an example – there’s something culturally amiss in the translation, so much so that more than one English version has been released since the original Japanese release in 1988.

There’s much room for exploration of what makes a film translation either good or bad, and this would make for an interesting project particularly if explored by bilingual folks who are fluent in both the linguistic and cultural nuances of the original film and its subtitled release.

  • Some ideas and subtexts are impossible to translate because those concepts may not exist in another culture. – Munjeera 1 month ago
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  • Each language has its own set of nuances, in the way that the the dialogue is written, which can be lost in translation. In some Bollywood movies, this is sometimes remedied by referring to cultural aspects commonly found in US/English culture as an equivalent, so that the viewer has a general idea of what is being explained. However, there are some historical figures or cultural aspects that would require more than one line to explain, which is not possible in most cases.Additionally, there can be multiple dialects of the same language, which can say a lot about a character that can explain where the individual comes from. Such information may not be available to the viewer who does not understand the particular language. This would definitely make for a interesting article! – vaidyadoc 1 month ago
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Why are we so in love with time loops, time travel, and body switching?

Film audiences love plots centered on time loops, time travel, body switching, and similar phenomena. From Groundhog Day to Freaky Friday, to the myriad of specials where a character wishes it were Christmas every day, we can’t seem to get enough of this type of plot device. Why though, when we know by rights, these devices should be stale?

A few reasons come to mind. Perhaps it’s because characters in a time loop or body switch are doing what we want to do–get another chance at doing something, or see how the other half lives. Perhaps it’s because we want to reassure ourselves time is dependable and thus, these things could never happen. Of course, these are only two possible explanations.

  • Consider expanding the topic to include literature, or connect this trope with how we view these films and how the films progress. – SarahKnauf 1 month ago
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  • Good idea, although I'm not as familiar with time travel literature. :) Does anyone out there have suggestions? – RubyBelle 1 month ago
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  • Interesting topic. I think that looking at the Harry Potter series use of time travel would be interesting. It was only really used in the third book, and they brought it back for the recent play (which most seemed to not enjoy from what I heard). – Daonso 1 month ago
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  • Cool topic. I'm sure there's a lot of research in psychology and communication out there that could be useful. And actually, while I think it's good that your topic is specific, I'm just going to throw out it there that this angle could be applied to really any of the plot devices we see over and over again. Any of it could make for an interesting study. – OBri 1 month ago
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  • Yes, it could. I think it was Shakespeare who said there are only what, 13 plots? And yet writers manage to make old plot devices original all the time. I'd love to see someone examine the most popular devices--not only time loops but others. Some are even genre-specific, like the plot where two business rivals end up in a romantic relationship, or the one where the murderer looks like the most innocent person alive. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago
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  • A topic I would most certainly like to read on. I could think many related titles in animation and comics but would be interested in hearing more from film. – dekichan 4 weeks ago
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Why Minions Went Viral

I’ve been asking myself for a long time what made minions from the movie series Despicable Me get so out of hand in merchandise and web presence. With the third movie soon coming out this topic could get a lot of attention. People tend to be in one of two categories: they love minions or they hate them. But, why Minions? There are plenty of slapstick sidekicks in cartoons but none have blown up to quite such proportions. There’s a lot of them, they aren’t identified as individuals, and they don’t talk, but until they became mass-produced cringe inspiring merchandise, they contributed a heartfelt dynamic to the family image in Despicable Me and that’s now been forgotten. Did they catch fame so quickly because of their central role in the movie or was it just their slapstick humor that caught people’s attention… or was it something more subtle? From memes to merchandise Minions are presented as androgynous. Is this what made them so marketable? A non-gender creature appealing to anyone? In a world with so much gender controversy, maybe Minions were the solution to a time full of uncertainty and a need for PC? Study the marketing strategies presented for Minions, and perhaps on a anthropological level, explain their success.

  • I think either Ralph Sepe or IHE (Youtubers) may have covered this in their Minions videos. It's partially based on the simplicity of the character design that emphasizes 'cuteness,' and the nonsense-speak achieves a similar result (I know they speak Spanish occasionally, but they also say fruits or whatever; it's not a language). Gender....really has nothing to do with it. Lightning McQueen was pretty marketable, as was Frozen's Olaf, and both were clearly male. And I doubt the Minion-loving crowd cares about anything being PC or not. [They have traditionally-male names/mannerisms anyways, I don't know how you drew the androgynous conclusion?] I'd definitely like to hear the gender-argument you're proposing, but I don't think it's built on solid ground so far.But like, definitely prove me wrong because I love analyzing kids' movies (Sorry if that sounded aggressive; if so, it was unintentional). – m-cubed 1 month ago
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  • I agree with m-cubed that I don't feel like their lack of stated gender really did much. I also agree with the points the aforementioned Youtubers made about simplicity both in design and in their nonsense speak. I think "mass-produced cringe inspiring merchandise" might be a little too heavy-handed since it veers on personal opinion (even if I agree). I think looking at why they inspire so much hatred in particular might also be interesting. If I had to wager I believe it's a counter-culture attitude. When something is so all consuming in products, media, and, in the minion's case, social media it generates an over-exposure annoyance. This "annoyance" I think was made worse due to the fact that their content is rather culturally base. It's nonsense speak and slapstick, which are pretty low on the cultural totem pole and thus easy to hate if you are outside the common denominator. By distancing themselves from this cultural phenomenon, it was seen as a statement of having higher standards and taste above the lowest level of the "cultural totem pole". – LondonFog 1 month ago
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  • Yes, you are both really informed on this (as I'm not, I didn't look into it ahead of time and just threw this up because of the trailer). Anyone who takes this article shouldn't get caught on the androgynous thing, it really was just a call for an article going into why they were so mass-marketed and why the reactions to them were so strong in either direction. Taking already analysis into synopsis and adding to them would make a fine easy piece of writing to get views for the upcoming film. – Slaidey 1 month ago
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  • I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Kevin is a male minion. – Tigey 1 month ago
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