Noir Films at the Castro Theater and The Batman Zoetrope

I briefly mentioned these two outings in my other posts and I consider them some of my favorites from this semester.

My first impression of this class was that it would be lots of fun and all new to me. We had tea, great popcorn, and watched Noir Films for the first time at the Castro Theater. We had learned some basic film techniques before this face to face meeting, and while I watched these films for the first time, I was actually noticing several of the techniques we had just learned. That was very exciting for me. I noticed all kinds of things such as use of light, shadows, rule of thirds, composition, dollying, etc. that I would’ve never noticed before. Such a cool experience in a cool place!

My other favorite face to face experience was when we went to the Musee de Mechanique followed by a visit to the Exploratorium. There were so many incredible and entertaining things that we saw and experienced that day that I can’t cover them all. But there are two things that stand out to most in my mind. One was the Batman Zoetrope. I’m a lowkey Batman fan and Lego fan, so that added to the appeal of the zoetrope. That, plus the combination of the music and how shockingly well the lights tricked your eyes into seeing logically impossible motion was addicting. I think I may have watched the zoetrope ten times that day. Here’s a video I took of it (because I loved it so much). Please excuse the black bar across the screen. I guess camera don’t pick up strobe lights the same way our eyes do.

Batman Zoetrope:


Musee de Mechanique:


My second highlight of that day was watching a series of artistic films that were curated for us by Ms. Greer’s friends. Although I left feeling slightly dizzy, I found the films very intriguing. They were a completely new genre of film to me and I really loved getting the chance to see that.

All of these viewings, experiences, and our own projects have really helped me gain a greater appreciation for filmmakers, the film-making process, animators, and artists in general.

“Omelette In Motion” by Marissa Fong

One of our film assignments was to do a Motion Study. We payed a visit to Musee de Mechanique near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to see some of the oldest arcade games and earliest forms of film. I was actually really impressed with how entertaining early games and motion pictures are. They are so simple, yet so captivating. I also loved studying Muybridge’s work with Leeland Stanford’s racehorse because of the blend of history, science, film, and California’s history as well.

For my motion study, I wanted to animate something fun and make the objects look like they were doing something very human without a human presence. I was partly inspired by an exhibit I saw at the Exploratorium where inedible objects such as plastic dies, yarn, leather, and paper were combined with the magic of animation to make them look like real edible food. From these ideas, I decided to create, “Omelette In Motion,” a short story about how some omelette ingredients get together and decide they don’t need anyone’s help to make themselves into a delicious omelette.

“The Shadow” by Marissa Fong

My first project in the Bay Area Cinema class was to make a short film inspired by film noir. This was my first formal film class and I had no clue what film noir was. However, after watching a couple film noir movies at the Castro Theater with my classmates (one of my favorite face to face outings) and doing some research at home, I caught on to a common theme: shadows. In particular, I watched “Number 17” by Alfred Hitchcock for his use of shadows to create suspense.

I call my short film, “The Shadow,” after what I was inspired most by. I shot this film on a Canon camera (I can’t remember exactly what the model is right now). Want to see what happens when you’re home alone with only shadows as company? Watch “The Shadow” here:

Face to Face Meetings–Sarah Harvey

My favorite face to face meetings were the visit to the Exploratorium and to the Musée de Méchanique.

During our trip to the Exploratorium I was able to revisit my favorite exhibits and also discover more about the museum. There is always something new to be seen there which I find really exciting. As you can see in the picture below, I especially like the movement aspects of the Exploratorium. That gave me some ideas for the stop motion film we did because it helped me focus on what movement really is. That was a really fun day, but what made it even better was watching the short films afterward, which gave me an entirely new perspective of what a filmmaker is capable of and just how many things they can control in a movie.



Visiting the Musée de Méchanique was also an incredible experience. I feel that as a San Francisco native, going to the Musée de Méchanique is a must so I’m glad I was able to see it. I was able to recognize different ideas from many years ago that have led to things we consider normal now. For example, many of the old machines we saw were probably an inspiration for a lot of the apps and computer games we play now. The older, more ‘risqué’ type stop motions were quite interesting to compare with what is available everywhere now; even a movie trailer can expose that much nowadays. It was really cool to see that we have not changed entirely since the past, we still have strong root connections to ideas from a long time ago.

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Featured above is an old machine that would predict your future career, there is a variety of possibilities from “Stooge” to “Nudist” to “Chiropractor”.

Critereon Collection: Hoop Dreams

By Antonio Quadra

Hoop Dreams” is, on one level, a documentary by Steve James about two African-American kids named William Gates and Arthur Agee, from Chicago’s inner city, who are gifted basketball players and dream of someday playing in the NBA.  On another level, it is about much larger subjects: about ambition, competition, race Hoop-Dreamsand class in our society. About our value structures.

With the first shots, the director communicates the style of the documentary, objectively moving over poor districts in Chicago and taking in the sights without comment. Yet when he touches upon footage of basketball, either of kids playing in neighborhood courts or of professional games being watched on TV, the film slows down, lingers on these shots. For so many of these poor inner city kids, the NBA may be the only way out of the place they live, and basketball represents not only fame and wealth but simply happiness. Young Arthur vocalizes this in his first scene, telling the documentary crew that “when” he makes it, the first thing he’ll do is give back to his family. He’s not thinking about the models or the diamonds yet, just getting his family out of the projects and into a nice house. That shared desire among a lot of youth leads to competition, to the point that basketball recruiters now scout for kids inimgres-1 middle school to send them to high schools with good programs. James follows around one Earl Smith early in the film as the man talks of helping kids along “the road to success,” but he’s part of a twisted system that finds and puts too much pressure on these kids too early.   Much later in the film, a host of college recruiters use terms like “meat market” and speak to each other knowingly about “hooking ’em while they’re young.”

During their freshman year, William and Arthur after being recruited to play at St. Joe’s High School, find themselves doing very well on the basketball court but uncomfortable at the school itself going to a school predominately made up of wealthy white children.  Arthur feels uncomfortable around the white people at St. Joe’s because he’s never interacted with many IMG_6268white people and does not know how to relate to them.  Also William and Arthur come from underfunded, understaffed inner city public schools, and are behind in terms of academics. William at the beginning of the year reads at a fourth-grade level but his dedication powers him through his setbacks and by the end of the year, he’s up to par. Arthur, however, is not as lucky and, combined with some not too impressive basketball performances eventually the school does not offer him the financial aid he needs and is forced to leave the school.

imgresHoop Dreams illustrates the reality of the recruiting system and all the complexities with it.  In this movie, every failed test, every missed free throw carries weight.   If their grades slip too much, not even the help of coaches can help them. And if their performance suffers, someone else might move up over them.  There are no villains in the film, not even St. Joe’s, but the perversity of America’s values is clearly on display. As Arthur’s new coach at John Marshall High School says, someone at St. Joe’s would have ignored his poor grades and his poverty if he’d played like they thought he would (just look at the help that materializes around William when he runs into money problems and his grades slip). Everyone representing a school always tells the prospects and the cameras that they value education over sport, but coaches never seem to care about the players’ grades beyond the minimum requirement to qualify for scholarships. People like the coaches in the movie have turned the sports system into a business that processes people from adolescence through adulthood.

To Check Out The presentation I made that includes information about the director, characters, a scene analyzation, my artpiece, and my experience with the movie heres the link.

My StoryBoards:

Adventures, Projects, and Final Thoughts: A Work in Progress


Although I’m proud of all the work I’ve done in this course, I have two that I’m especially fond of. After watching Right Footed at the CAAM Fest, we created a blog post that included artwork that was IMG_9393inspired by the movie. Two of the projects I wanted to display in this blog post comes from this project. I spent a long time doing research for this post and am proud of the perspective of the piece. You can visit the blog here. The artwork can be seen at left. This piece was created with regular Dixon Ticonderoga No.2 yellow pencils. The plane is the Ercoupe that was featured in the movie. The “clouds” are shaped like right feet as an homage to the name of the film. The stamp on the fuselage reads “ABLE” and the stabilizers are shaped like peace signs in commemoration of the CRPD.

Favorite F2F Adventures:
I absolutely loved visiting the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (aka the BAMPFA), looking at the art, and watching Kiki’s Delivery Service by Hayao Miyazaki. Below are a few pictures of the art we saw.

Another one of my favorite excursions was our visit to the Exploratorium. The films we saw at the end of our outing were super avant garde and amazing and the film-related exhibits were super interesting. (Unfortunately, most of the photos I took during these adventures are lost to iCloud auto-delete but I’m going to attach videos from the Musee de Mécanique which was also a really fun field trip that we took earlier in the semester. The paintings that James and I replicated (at the BAMPFA) are attached below: Green Patio Door by Georgia O’Keefe and Red Earth by (I don’t remember, sorry ). I also included two zoetropes that we saw at the Exploratorium. )




I really loved this course, though I wish I had more time for the creative processes and to really get into the film scene. I was also very surprised on how  CAAMFest was labeled as “alternative,” because it featured APA and API creators and stars, which is very left of center. The mainstream film world is still very white and wealthy and I really hope to see greater breakthroughs as the civil rights work in America becomes stronger and grows simultaneously.

In many ways, film is its own art. Visual media is the most aesthetically similar, but the ability to add in an extra sense really heightens the experience. I really enjoy film, although traditional visual art remains my favorite (I’m a sucker for impressionist art). I think that we saw many different types of film during this course, which was a bit of a surprise to me because I (subconsciously) thought of film as more of a 2-dimensional art, but through this course, we really saw politically-directed films, cartoons, animation, etc., which is something I really enjoyed.

We also learned a lot about film production, and it really struck me how every step of the filmmaking process is so time and work-intensive and how innocently the layperson understands the process as “just taking a long time.” I think, from this course, I’ve begun to understand my own film aesthetics. I enjoy documentaries and films with purpose, but my own creations are more whimsical than directive and dreamy rather than purposeful. I think in the future I’m going to lean towards aesthetically-based films that are dependent on sensory engagement. Despite that, I’m still very curious about the planning stages of making documentaries and the exact time breakdown of the production process.

(A huge thank you to Ms. Greer, this course has been extremely worthwhile and fun–although challenging at times–and it’s all due to your light-hearted but productive guidance! Thank you again!)


Face to Face Meetings (James)

My favorite face to face meetings were the ones to the Musee Mechanique/Exploratorium and to the BAMPFA.

I had never been to the BAMPFA before and let me tell you, it is well worth the visit. We got to see more different art forms than you could possibly name off the top of your head. Each piece was uniquely different and had countless stories behind it. We also got to visit a station where you could make your own art. They had the largest collection of stamps that I had ever seen and it was awesome. There is a picture of some of the stamp themed artwork that I created in my visual journal down below. (It might be hard to tell the difference between my art and the art in the museum)



Next, the face to face trip to the Exploratorium and Musee Mechanique was great as well. We learned about early filmmaking techniques and even got to see them in action. We saw several zoetropes, including one at the Exploratorium of lego Batman, which was very interesting. It created a more modern feel for an old technique. The Musee was great with several different old arcade games. Some were slightly scary, like one with dancing puppets hanging another puppet, and some were fun and interactive, like a hoops game (photo below). The best part about this combined trip was that we could interact with all of these concepts that we were learning about and solidify them in our brains. We were no longer just reading about this work, we were actually experiencing it.




Projects (James)

One of my favorite projects was when we created our own stop motion films. My film is called “Brainstorm” and it was inspired when I couldn’t think of an idea for my stop motion film. It is entirely shot on my real life desk with over 300 still pictures. It follows my desk supplies trying to come up with some brainstorm ideas. The stars in the film include; my pens, a valiant pencil, and a hell of a trash can. Please enjoy.

Another project that we did was to watch a movie from the criterion website and to storyboard it. I chose to watch the movie “Dazed and Confused.” (1993) This was and early Richard Linklater film that he both wrote the screenplay for and directed. The film is set in America in 1976 on the last day of school, following several rising freshmen and rising seniors. Most of the film is based around teenagers just waiting for something to happen and the social interactions that come about as a result of their teenage boredom and angst. If you have not seen the film, I highly recommend that you watch it. The movie is strongly captivating, despite the lack of steady plot. The plot itself is very reflective of the emotions teenagers in the 1970’s can relate to. I storyboarded four shots from this film:


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This is one of the opening scenes of the movie as we are still learning about the characters. Pink does not want to sign a pledge contract to not drink or do drugs in preparation for the upcoming football season. He does not even know if he even wants to play football anymore. The close up of his coach symbolizes the power and the pressure that looms over him with regards to playing football. In this scene Pink is shown in a long shot, showing that no matter what he does, his life is still dominated by his coach and social pressure. He even tries to walk away in the middle of this scene but is called back, showing his teen rebellious and non-conformist spirit. When this scene cuts between the coach and Pink, the camera zooms in on the coach during his shot. After a cut to Pink, we find that when we are back on the coach, the camera has become much closer in between the cut. The camera on Pink stays the same, further accurately representing the power dynamic and Pink’s relationship with his superior.


Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 11.08.14 AMMitch is an incoming freshman and after being beat up by some seniors (as a tradition), Pink invites him to hang out with them where he experiences his first high school party. Mitch is currently both drunk and high and walking through the party. The camera is a medium shot of his face and is handheld. The shakiness of the camera further implements the idea that Mitch is drunk and losing some control as the party roars behind him. The camera is only focused on Mitch, creating a disconnection from the party and focusing in on Mitch at this one moment of absolute drunkenness. The handheld camera combined with the absolute focus on Mitch provides the audience with a first hand experience into the world of being drunk for the first time.


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This scene is the closest thing to a climax that this movie will get. Throughout the entire film, different groups of teenagers have been driving around until finally somebody organizes a kegger. The bored group of teens drinks and get wild and finally emotions boil over for Mike who initiates a fight with Clint (the “dominant male monkey mother fucker”). After landing the first solid punch, Mike is immediately tackled and beaten badly. The camera angle that we get is a medium shot that captures both Clint’s anger as well as his fist beating down repeatedly towards the camera, like he is beating up the audience. The camera is handheld and moves as we imagine Mike’s head would, as we are in his perspective. The jump cuts between Mike’s frantically moving head and the pans of the rowdy drunk teenage crowd, we get a sense of utter chaos. Everyone is yelling and screaming and nothing is still. Finally when the fight ends, we hear only music (Tuesday’s Gone – Lynyrn Skynyrd) and everyone’s voices fade out. There is an aerial shot of the teenagers dispersing and the sun beginning to come up. The night is over and we begin to move into the next day.


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This scene marks the moment where Pink finally stands up to his coach and refuses to sign the contract. Throughout the entire movie, he has faced either his coaches or his friends telling him to sign the contract and this is the moment where he finally makes a clear stance for himself by crumpling up the contract and throwing it at his coach. This camera shot perfectly embodies the emotions in this scene. All we see of the coach in this shot is and over the shoulder shot. He has no power to stop Pink from what he is about to say and it is almost like he is not even in the scene. This is a drastic change from the first time we meet the coach where he as a zooming in close up. The rule of thirds is used very effectively here with the two polar opposites of the coach and Pink with Don in the back middle, symbolizing that Don is on both sides of the argument. He wants Pink to play next year, but he shares the same rebellious teenage spirit. We see Pink in a medium shot, but the angle is slightly leaning upward from the coaches shoulder, giving Pink an even stronger position of power. This radical shift from the beginning is very noticeable and the camera angles and shots perfectly capture this absolute change in the power dynamic.

Face to Face meetings (Kara)

My favorite F2F meetings were the trip to the Musee Mechanique and the trip to BAMPFA.
I enjoyed going to the Musee Mechanique because I enjoyed being able to have fun while learning about film concepts, and I thought it was really cool that there were old film resources in a place I used to go as a child. I had been to the Musee Mechanique many times with my dad to play with the old video games, but I had never noticed the old movies and zoetropes. I really liked getting to be in the mindset of people in the early 20th century who were looking for something fun to do, and watch the movies from their perspective. I felt the same way when we went to the Exploratorium on the same field trip. I had been to the Explotorium before, but I enjoyed getting to see their different exhibits about film and early animation, and I liked the different movies the curators picked out for us to watch in the theater.
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I enjoyed going to BAMPFA because that was a completely new experience for me, and I thought everything about the museum was beautiful and fun. I really liked all the art in the museum and how it was all different. I had never been there before, so I did not know what to expect, and I was very pleasantly surprised. I also enjoyed being able to spend some time in the art lab because when looking at art it always makes me want to be able to create art. I particularly liked the stamps and just being able to spend time with the class. Lastly, I loved watching Kiki’s Delivery Service because I had never seen it before, and I think it is awesome that the museum even has a theater at all.

Projects from BAC (Kara)

Stop motion movie (The Passive Aggressive Yarn Movie):
For this project, we had to create a stop motion movie that followed a person or object. We learned about the concept of stop motion by looking at early animation including zoetropes. Because this is a stop motion movie, it is made completely of still photographs taken on a digital camera, and then put together using computer video editing software. I chose to start my movie by focusing it on this teddy bear I had sitting on my desk. I then realized it would funny if I had all the objects attack the teddy bear Toy Story style, and it would be even funnier if it became profane. So I unraveled a bunch of yarn and moved it all over the desk, eventually having it spell out a curse word.

India-America map drawing:
One of our assignments this year was to see a movie at CAAM fest, an Asian American film festival. I decided to see an indie movie from 2015 called “Good Ol’ Boy”, a story about an Indian boy named Smith whose family moved to Oklahoma. Part of the assignment was to create a piece of art related to the movie. I chose to draw maps of the two places Smith is connected to, and show what each place means to him using words within the maps.