My videographic scholarship and video essay work centers historical inquiry and production processes. My creative work highlights how film techniques are always embodied (involving manual and tactile tasks of the maker’s body) and situated in a historical industrial context (requiring institutional, economic, and technical negotiations). I favor video experiments which explore and test out hypotheses as methodologies over setting out to prove a definitive argument about an object of study. As a result, my videographic scholarship asks questions that are parts of a larger study or are themselves works in progress. In performing “a video in the making,” I try to draw the viewer’s attention to boundaries and possibilities of labor and craft as it is practiced in real time.
My video essays have been taught in a variety of film production and film studies courses and have been featured on Audiovisualcy, [in]Transition, and the video essay website Film Scalpel’s example of “best practices.”
My most recently published video essay, “Feeling and Thought as They Take Form” explores the embodied histories and practices of Steadicam and Panaglide operators in the 1970s and early 1980s.
As part of my research on mid-century US continuity editing practices, I have been using video experiments to explore how editors use coverage shooting practices and continuity editing techniques to creative experiment with the “rules” of spatial continuity.
In the video essay Gunsmoke Rhythms, I showcase how a 1958 educational film using dailies footage from the TV show Gunsmoke attempted to teach student editors in film schools how continuity editing was a personal practice. Editor and Film Scholar Karen Pearlman suggests that rhythmic editing helps editors stitch together disparate parts of a single scene. Through multi-screen techniques, I demonstrate the spatial geography of the pro-filmic space (how it was filmed) and its various shot setups used to reimagine the space through continuity editing.
In line with this project, I am currently working on a video essay about how continuity editing and coverage shooting practices today continue attempts to map coherent space. Here is a short excerpt of this experiment in process using footage from High Flying Bird (Steven Soderbergh, 2019).
Finally, I am working on broader videographic database of grip craft in the 1930s and 1940s Hollywood Studio System. As much of this labor and craft was uncredited due to violent labor strikes during the period, I look to documented jurisdictional disputes that documented specific grip craft productions and practices in disputes to re-inscribe grip work into examinations of film style.
This exercise “An Atlas of Clouds” looks at the clouds in the film And Then There Were None (René Clair, 1945), to begin exploring the following historical case study about clouds, shadows, and projected cloud effects. A 1946 Congressional hearing on the subject of Motion Picture Jurisdiction in Hollywood cited a case regarding the production of the film where: “The work in dispute involved setting up and handling during photography of a glass mounted in a frame. The glass being sprayed with paint in varying densities with the result that a beam of light projected through the glass threw shadows of varying intensity representing clouds on a white or blue back behind the set. Local 80—grips—claimed the work under the general theory it was a shadow. Local 44—property men—claimed the work on the theory that it was an effect. On October 23, 1946, Barrett, business agent of grips, phoned the studio to advise that Mr. Brewer, international vice president, would give a decision forthwith. As no decision was given, the studio assigned the grips to the jobs as in the past. The matter is still in dispute.” In looking for THESE clouds, I found many other clouds, too many clouds – rear screen, painted, and perhaps projected. Doe this atlas of clouds, like the ephemeral nature of their production, capture or fail to document the labor behind their multiple creations?