My academic writing has appeared in The Velvet Light Trap, The Spectator, and is forthcoming in The Journal of Cinema and Media Studies (JCMS).
[Forthcoming] “Sporting Sensations: Béla Balàzs and the Bergfilm Camera Operator,” Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 60, no. 3 (Spring 2021)
*An earlier version of this essay won a writing award from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies (2018)
This article demonstrates how sport cinematography in the German Bergfilm (mountain film) genre stirred spectators’ embodied experiences by showcasing the athleticism of mountaineering camera operators. To explain these “sporting sensations,” I examine the Bergfilm through the Weimar writings of Béla Balázs. Balázs theorizes how technicians, in their work of camera set-ups and visual linkage, produced an “immediate presence” between their own consciousness and the experience of film spectators. The Bergfilm’s sporting cinematography epitomized Balázs’s writing on Weimar sport, body culture, and production consciousness, reflecting a broader international discourse about embodied production and spectatorship
Katie Bird, “’Dancing, Flying Camera Jockeys’: Invisible Labor, Craft Discourse, and Embodied Steadicam and Panaglide Technique from 1972 to 1985.” The Velvet Light Trap 80, no. 1: 48-65.
This article examines how below-the-line discourse shaped the aesthetics and labor of Steadicam craft style. Through over thirty years of industrial training, Steadicam operators cultivated an invisible style to formally mimic a kind of faster and cheaper dolly shot and to mitigate the apparatus’s uniquely embodied quirks. This article reexamines how Steadicam’s discursive and industrial history with competing technologies like Panaglide potentially destabilizes a coherent narrative of technological and craft evolution. By highlighting the eccentricities of stabilizer craft in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this article explores how the formation of practitioners’ athletic training and metaphoric discourse reimagines how we as film and media scholars might account for histories of style, labor, and technology more broadly.
Katie Bird, “The Editor’s Face on the Cutting Room Floor:: The Precarious Promotion of the American Cinema Editors, 1942 1977.” Spectator (Fall 2018)
This article investigates how editor Fredrick Y. Smith shaped industrial discourse around the craft of editing from 1942-1977. While not a well-known editor, Smith utilized his organizational service in the Society for Motion Picture Film Editors and the American Cinema Editors to advocate on behalf of the craft to the industry and to a wider public. Smith’s trade writing, occupational booklets, interviews, and personal papers highlight the discursive and practical strategies the editor employed in his promotional efforts and reveal the editor’s struggle to resist prevailing notion of film editing, or “cutting,” as a purely mechanical task. While an exceptional organizational force during this period, Smith’s own precarity as a working editor was evidenced by his negotiation of limited job contracts in television and independent production and his extensive service to the American Cinema Editor’s outreach efforts. The case of working editor Fredrick Y. Smith illustrates the sharp contrast between the ideals of the guild he promoted and the realities of the labor market at the end of the classical Hollywood period.