Filming Difference

Filming Difference

Edited by Daniel Bernardi
Copyright Date: 2009
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/719231
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    Filming Difference
    Book Description:

    Addressing representation and identity in a variety of production styles and genres, including experimental film and documentary, independent and mainstream film, and television drama,Filming Differenceposes fundamental questions about the ways in which the art and craft of filmmaking force creative people to confront stereotypes and examine their own identities while representing the complexities of their subjects.

    Selections range from C. A. Griffith's "Del Otro Lado: Border Crossings, Disappearing Souls, and Other Transgressions" and Celine Perreñas Shimizu's "Pain and Pleasure in the Flesh of Machiko Saito's Experimental Movies" to Christopher Bradley's "I Saw You Naked: 'Hard' Acting in 'Gay' Movies," along with Kevin Sandler's interview with Paris Barclay, Yuri Makino's interview with Chris Eyre, and many other perspectives on the implications of film production, writing, producing, and acting.

    Technical aspects of the craft are considered as well, including how contributors to filmmaking plan and design films and episodic television that feature difference, and how the tools of cinema-such as cinematography and lighting-influence portrayals of gender, race, and sexuality. The struggle between economic pressures and the desire to produce thought-provoking, socially conscious stories forms another core issue raised inFilming Difference. Speaking with critical rigor and creative experience, the contributors to this collection communicate the power of their media.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79355-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Different Visions, Revolutionary Perceptions: RACE, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY IN THE WORK OF CONTEMPORARY FILMMAKERS
    (pp. 1-14)
    Daniel Bernardi

    Most of us have heard George Bernard Shaw’s famous line, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” Although Shaw’s line has to do with revolutionaries, I have heard fi lm students use a variant to chide film and media educators.¹ It goes something like this: “Those that can make films, do. Those that cannot make fi lms, teach.” A stereotype of sorts, the film school perversion of Shaw’s quote suggests there is but one kind of filmmaking—the kind that takes place outside of teaching. Similarly, it implies that the work of filmmaking isn’t also the work of teaching—...

  5. PART 1 EXPOSING BODIES

    • CHAPTER 1 Disability Is Us: REMEMBERING, RECOVERING, AND REMAKING THE IMAGE OF DISABILITY
      (pp. 17-40)
      Laura Kissel

      My brother, born two years before me, came into the world two months too soon, and very sick. He stopped breathing when he was only a few days old, and the delay of oxygen to his brain resulted in signifi cant cerebral palsy. When I was three and my brother was five, we shared a bedroom, toys, a place at the dinner table, and almost everything else in our small Texas town. I never thought of him as different from me, of his body as different from mine, until I learned from others that he was different.

      I don’t remember...

    • CHAPTER 2 “I Saw You Naked”: “HARD” ACTING IN “GAY” MOVIES
      (pp. 41-54)
      Christopher Bradley

      I was starring in this independent film,Leather Jacket Love Story. It was playing at an art house on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and I was featured prominently on the poster displayed out front. With no clothes on. You couldn’t see anything, really, but I was naked when we shot the photo.Leather Jacket Love Storywas not a pornographic film, but the marketing seemed designed to make it appear that way.

      At the same time, I was also a cater-waiter. Sweating, carrying four plates of coq au vin at a time to tables full of brittle rich people....

    • CHAPTER 3 Pain and Pleasure in the Flesh of Machiko Saito’s Experimental Movies
      (pp. 55-72)
      Celine Parreñas Shimizu

      A photograph lying on the table at a curatorial meeting at the San Francisco Cinematheque features a figure that looks like the human incarnation of a whip—long, lean, and dressed in leather. Stick-like and twisted on a white floor—with the biggest, blackest, and longest hair in the world fanning her spread-eagled body. Who is that? Is it a woman or a man, Asian or Yellowface, or someone in between the established borders of recognizable gendered and racial identities? I search the face for expressions of pain, pleasure, or anything to help me understand the image. I see nothing...

  6. PART 2 BORDER VISIONS

    • CHAPTER 4 Framing Identities / The Evolving Self: BEYOND THE ACADEMIC DIRECTOR
      (pp. 75-94)
      Cristina Kotz Cornejo

      I am currently in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working toward making my first fiction feature film,3 Américas(formerly titledSoledad). I have been working on this fi lm for three years while making a career as a maker of short films. I make a living as a teacher and am considered an academic filmmaker, not because I make educational films, which is where the term originally came from, but because I am a filmmaker and I teach film production at the college level. What came first is obvious. I studied filmmaking at New York University’s graduate film program and received...

    • CHAPTER 5 Indigenism, (In) Visibility: NOTES ON MIGRATORY FILM
      (pp. 95-118)
      John Thornton Caldwell

      Indigenous identities can unsettle a host of unlikely bedfellows, from globalizing corporate forces and nationalistic agendas to oppositional political schemes. Since 1978, my independently produced films and videos have consistently focused on local crises in which indigenous cultures emerged as unwanted houseguests for some coexistent, dominant culture. Indigenism, that is, proved unruly for those on both the political right and the left. And this has probably been a good thing, or at least a useful lesson, for anyone who produces cross-cultural films or is interested in alternative media and political change. In this chapter, I discuss two pressure points that...

    • CHAPTER 6 Traversing Cinematic Borders: AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL ESPINOSA
      (pp. 119-136)
      Daniel Bernardi

      Paul Espinosa is an acclaimed documentary and narrative filmmaker. He produces, directs, and writes much of his work, which focuses on the cultural and political lives of Latinos in, around, over, under, and through the U.S.-Mexico border. The recipient of one national and seven San Diego Emmys and five CINE Golden Eagle awards, among others, he owns his own production company, Espinosa Productions; served as the director of the Office of Latino Affairs for KPBS-TV, San Diego, from 1980 to 1990; and later served as executive director for public affairs and ethnic issues.

      One of his first films,The Trail...

  7. PART 3 GLOBAL IDENTITIES

    • CHAPTER 7 Del Otro Lado: BORDER CROSSINGS, DISAPPEARING SOULS, AND OTHER TRANSGRESSIONS
      (pp. 139-164)
      C. A. Griffith

      Mexico is not simply the sweaty, sickly yellow-green of recent cinema, home to corrupt officials, drug traffickers, and one good cop who stands up against them all. It is much more diverse and complex than that, magnificent in the way that only a nation with cultures thousands of years old can be. Here in Mexico City, below Aztec ruins, tons of asphalt, skyscrapers, and the harmony of competing water and tamale vendors on their bicycles calling out their wares—iAgua . . . agua! Rojos, verdes, dulces, tamales! iRojos, verdes!—the subway swooshes into the station on pneumatic tires so...

    • CHAPTER 8 Faith in Sexual Difference: THE INQUISITION OF A CREATIVE PROCESS
      (pp. 165-186)
      Daniel S. Cutrara

      I am a writer, a teacher, and a former Catholic priest. I have written a number of screenplays and stage plays, and have had producers secure the rights to develop two of my scripts. One of those scripts isKali Danced, the focal point of my comments in this chapter. I have taught screenwriting for the past eleven years at Loyola Marymount University and Arizona State University. I have also worked as a story analyst in Hollywood, evaluating other people’s creative work for major production companies such as New Regency Productions and Imagine Entertainment. For me, analyzing someone else’s work...

    • CHAPTER 9 Dead Conversations on Art and Politics: JOSÉ GUADALUPE POSADA INTERVIEWS
      (pp. 187-206)
      JOHN JOTA LEAÑOS

      The conversation from which this article arose takes place between nineteenth-century Mexican artist and illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) and twenty-first-century new media artist John Jota Leaños. The circumstances of this exchange are unusual at best: it occurred somewhere along the road to Mictlan¹ on the southern border of the ancient Mexican indigenous practice of theDías de los Muertos, or Days of the Dead. This cross-hemispheric exchange not only focuses on the death of art, politics, and irony in the twenty-first century, it also reflects on the dearth of such exchanges, as well as on the challenges of...

  8. PART 4 INDEPENDENT AMBITIONS

    • CHAPTER 10 Neither Color Blind, Nor Near-Sighted: REPRESENTATION, RACE, AND THE ROLE OF THE ACADEMIC FILMMAKER
      (pp. 209-222)
      Aaron Greer

      “What kind of filmmaker does not want his film viewed by a potential distributor or representative?” asked a producer’s representative in Los Angeles when I expressed some reticence about sending my film to her company for consideration. “Did you make the film with the intention that it would be distributed, or not?”

      The company in question represents a slate of “urban” films, the current euphemism for films featuring black and Latino characters, “urban” meaning inner city, inner city meaning ghetto, ghetto meaning black. Because I had just completedGettin’ Grown,¹ a film set in inner-city Milwaukee with a predominantly black...

    • CHAPTER 11 Preparing to Perform the Other: DEVELOPING ROLES DIFFERENT FROM ONESELF
      (pp. 223-246)
      Sheldon Schiffer

      Creating performances for screen and stage where either the actor or the director is notably different from the character to be portrayed is a challenging task whose political, psychological, and cultural underpinnings have gone underexamined. Dramatic practitioners have begun to recognize that while human beings are similar enough to relate to the experiences of each other to translate the most basic aspects of character, we are still different enough to make some troubling dramatic choices when we attempt to create characters different from ourselves. The result of such errant creative work is that for some audiences, a character may appear...

    • CHAPTER 12 Cinematic Reservations: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS EYRE
      (pp. 247-260)
      Yuri Makino

      Chris Eyre, the director of the 1998 independent filmSmoke Signals, was one of the first people I met at New York University.

      It was our first year in the graduate film program, 1993, and I remember being perplexed by our first conversation. Chris’s sense of humor was so deadpan it was hard to know if he was kidding. I soon learned that he was more often kidding than not. In fact, Chris’s humor is a big part of his films. Even the most tragic of his characters, the alcoholic Mogie in his featureSkins(2002), finds things to joke...

  9. PART 5 TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORIES

    • CHAPTER 13 “And Maybe There Is a Way to Give Hollywood the Kick in the Ass That It Needs”: AN INTERVIEW WITH FILMMAKER KARYN KUSAMA
      (pp. 263-288)
      Dan Rybicky

      I first met Karyn Kusama in 1996 when we were both working as assistants to writer-director John Sayles (Lone Star, Passionfish, The Brother from Another Planet). We had recently graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts—I from the Graduate Dramatic Writing Program, she from the Undergraduate Film Department, where her thesis film,Sleeping Beauties, won a Mobil Award in 1991. We lamented the paucity of soulful films being made in America, shared our similar but different family tragedies, and quickly became very good friends. A couple of months later, Karyn left the position to make her...

    • chapter 14 From Selena to Walkout: AN INTERVIEW WITH MOCTESUMA ESPARZA
      (pp. 289-302)
      Kathryn F. Galán

      “When you struggle against something, you grow,” says preeminent Latino film and television producer Moctesuma Esparza. Growth and struggle defi ne Esparza, a first-generation Chicano from East Los Angeles who has become an esteemed businessman, filmmaker, and Latino advocate.

      Those who know Esparza’s work think of him as the man who brought usSelena, with the then explosive new talent Jennifer Lopez, or as the producer behindGettysburgandGods and Generals, plus great HBO films such asIntroducing Dorothy Dandridge, The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, and Walkout, directed by Edward James Olmos. Some know of his work developing the...

    • CHAPTER 15 Negotiating the Politics of (In) Difference in Contemporary Hollywood: AN INTERVIEW WITH KIMBERLY PEIRCE
      (pp. 303-322)
      Denise Mann

      Kimberly Peirce, the writer-director ofBoys Don’t Cry(Killer Films/ Fox Searchlight, 1999), became the toast of the town after her lead actress, Hilary Swank, won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her performance as the transsexual Brandon Teena and after Chloë Sevigny was nominated in the supporting actress category for her role as Brandon’s girlfriend.Boys Don’t Cryis a fact-based dramatization of the events leading up to the tragic murder of Teena Brandon, a Nebraskan teenage girl living as a young man.

      After Fox Searchlight picked it up at Sundance, the film went on to...

    • CHAPTER 16 Televising Difference: AN INTERVIEW WITH PARIS BARCLAY
      (pp. 323-342)
      Kevin Sandler

      I met Paris Barclay in November 2005 at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation Faculty Seminar, an annual five-day series of discussions, presentations, and interactions between college professors and the Hollywood production community. He immediately struck me as one of the most articulate and passionate media professionals I had ever encountered. At the seminar, Paris spoke of originality, knowledge, and wisdom as the cornerstones of success in the entertainment business. For students, he believed these foundations should be grounded in a well-rounded media arts curriculum, one in which theater, music, new media, and journalism join film and television...

  10. Selected Bibliography ESSAYS BY AND INTERVIEWS WITH FILMMAKERS—GENDER, RACE, SEXUALITY, CLASS
    (pp. 343-356)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 357-362)
  12. Index
    (pp. 363-378)