is Digital Cinema?
1. What do we mean by digital
cinema? What aspects of film production, distribution, and consumption
have been altered by the introduction of digital technologies?
2. Is digital cinema a fad
or will it have a permanent impact on film culture? If the latter,
what do you see as the scope and nature of that impact? Will digital
cinema technologies encourage new kinds of films to be made? Will
digital cinema remain marginal, a kind of avant-garde or grassroots
film production, or will it be more likely to go mainstream and
be directly linked to the commercial media industries? What relationship
can we posit between the grassroots and commercial sides of digital
3. What factors have led
to the rise of digital cinema? How is it related to earlier movements
that encouraged amateur or grassroots media production? How is it
related to avant-garde movements in cinema, to other DIY tendencies
within the culture, to home movies, to the efforts of activists
to create alternative media channels??
4. What places and events
(including digital film festivals) are making digital cinema more
visible? How do these increase the visibility of digital cinema,
build support for digital artists, and shape the aesthetics of this
emerging art form?
Digital Film Festival
Constant, D. Film Digital
Film Festival, Destroying America
Conti and Kurt Lancaster,
MIT Comparative Media Studies Program,
Building a Home Studio and Getting Your Films Online
10:45am - 12:15pm
1. Historically, many groups have lacked access to the means of
cultural production and distribution. In some cases, minority
artists or radical documentary filmmakers might have the means
to make their own films, but they had limited abilities to show
them to the public. How has digital cinema altered this situation?
What opportunities do such artists gain in the digital environment?
What obstacles might they still face in getting the public to
actually see the works they have created?
2. How open have the commercial
portals been to works that challenge the cultural or political
mainstream? Have you chosen to distribute your works through such
channels or through some alternative structure?
3. Critics have suggested
that the web is too diffused and fragmented to enable meaningful
political activism? How would you respond to such criticisms?
Can there be meaningful political communication through digital
media? If so, what kinds of political change do you think could
occur within this space? Can you point to any examples of such
communication? What are the key elements that make these examples
Rowley, Big Noise
Films, This is What Democracy Looks Like
Study: Star Wars Fan Cinema
1:15 - 2:45pm
1. How has the introduction
of digital cinema changed the status and visibility of amateur
film production in the United States?
2. Many of the most visible
early examples of digital cinema are parodies of existing works
of mass media. Star Wars has been a particularly important catalyst
for amateur cultural production and distribution. What does this
suggest about the relationship between commercial and amateur
3. What relationship exists
between the fan digital cinema movement and other traditional
forms of cultural production within the fan community, such as
zines and fan fiction?
4. These fan parodies
pose important questions about intellectual property law in the
United States. Are we seeing increasing conflict between new technologies
that empower consumers to more fully participate in the production
and circulation of popular culture and a legal culture that seeks
to clamp down on alleged copyright infringement? How can we reconcile
the two? Have you faced such conflicts around your work? How do
you understand your own work's relationship to Lucasfilm's copyrighted
and trademarked material? Why do you think there has been so little
legal backlash against fan cinema in comparison to the cease and
desist letters directed at fan websites that directly reproduce
sound and video files from television series?
5. The amateur Star Wars
films often make a virtue out of their own impoverished means
of production. Do you think the goal of amateur filmmakers is
to confront the technical challenge of trying to match professional
special effects or to take pleasure in the gap between their cottage
industry style and the Hollywood blockbuster?
Comparative Media Studies, Textual Poachers: Television
Fans and Participatory Culture
Tarantino's Star Wars
Case Studies: Three Digital
3 - 4:15pm
1. What lessons have we
learned so far about the kinds of films that work best in the
digital environment? What factors, for example, have led to the
focus on short film production for the web? Why might sound be
as important or more important than visuals in this environment?
What kinds of visuals work best on the small desktop window?
2. What draws you to digital
film production? What do you hope to achieve in your digital films?
How would you compare the aesthetic goals that draw you to digital
film production with those associated with big screen film production?
3. If you have worked
in both traditional and digital cinema, what do you see as the
most salient differences between the two? What, if anything, can
you achieve in digital cinema that would be more difficult to
achieve in traditional film production? What, if anything, do
you sacrifice in shifting towards digital?
4. What lessons can digital
cinema learn from other forms of digital culture, such as computer
games and hypertext? Will digital cinema necessarily be linear
and self-contained or can it support some forms of interactivity
and audience participation? Can new forms of digital films be
made that blend digital video with web aesthetics?
Chisholm, and Christa Starr,
Can-Do-Home Productions, Earthen Vessels
Marc Forster, Everything
Uhlig, Industrial Light &
4:30 - 6pm
1. The current digital
cinema movement was not born overnight. What can you tell us about
the historical antecedents of this current wave of grassroots
film production? How might we relate these current works to the
history of amateur film in this country or to the history of avant-garde
2. Some companies are
digitizing earlier amateur films for exhibition and distribution
on the Internet. What advice would you give them about such a
project? What aspects of amateur cinema are important to preserve
or get into broader circulation at the present moment?
3. We often speak of an
opposition between the avant-garde and commercial cinema or between
amateur and professional film production. Yet, some are arguing
that the digital environment is breaking down this distinction.
What are the risks and benefits to amateur filmmakers or experimental
filmmakers in blurring the boundaries between grassroots and broadcast
Ishizuka, Japanese American National
Juhasz, Pitzer College, Women
Zimmermann, Ithaca College, Reel Families: A Social
History of Amateur Film