Monday, 6 April 2015

On Desktop Documentary (or, Kevin B. Lee Goes Meta!)

Kevin B. Lee talks about Desktop Documentary at the University of Sussex, March 17, 2015

Film Studies For Free is thrilled to present an entry dedicated to some of the latest work of one of its absolute heroes: filmmaker, critic, and pioneer (and expert proponent) of the online video essay format, Kevin B. Lee.

On March 17th, 2015, Lee gave a Masterclass on his work at the School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex, UK.

Recently, he and others at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have developed a form of filmmaking they call Desktop Documentary, which uses screen capture technology to treat the computer screen as both a camera lens and a canvas. Desktop documentary seeks both to depict and question the ways we explore the world through the computer screen.

The Masterclass straddled a screening of Transformers: The Premake (2014, embedded below), Lee’s innovative essay film in this idiom. The ‘Premake’ produced and studied viral fan footage of the making of Michael Bay’s 2014 blockbuster Transformers 4: The Age Of Extinction and examined the ways in which this operated as an unofficial crowdsourced publicity vehicle for the film.

Below, you can find a complete audio recording of the Masterclass, an 'iPhone guerrilla video recording' of Kevin's five minute long introduction of the 'Premake,' and also a high quality video recording of the brilliant, first half hour of the Masterclass in which he discussed in detail the audiovisual antecedents of the innovative form his film took. There are also some links to further related online resources.

In FSFF's very humble view, this form of audiovisual presentation, with its incredibly skilful and brilliantly thought through use of screen capture, has the potential to revolutionise aspects of media studies teaching and learning - even as it's going to be pretty difficult to achieve the expressive and argumentational heights that Lee manages in his 'Premake'. Thanks Kevin!

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