It’s a phrase that I hear frequently. Of course, yes ! “You’ve told our story, it’s time we told ours”. It’s for everyone tired of outfits seemingly framing, and being misleading about who you are.
Last month I kept coming across it in meetings in Ghana. It’s been expressed in personal terms in the Harry & Meghan Documentary. We live by it in the Multihyphenates ( a group of creatives).
It’s what fuelled my tank to get into journalism more than thirty years ago, then catalysed by digital produce one of the first video magazines which US judges said “foreshadows the future”. That future has long passed.
That beautiful new air to breath meant you did not need anyone’s permission to create media any longer and the costs of hiring a studio around £1000 a day to edit the films we made, such as “The United States of Africa” soon series disappeared.
Yesterday I posted about how to make non-fiction stories immersive and memorable around cinema journalism and holding a Super 8mm camera, which referenced Spielberg film The Fabelmans (2022).
Why 8mm? Well pre-digital, if you could and wanted something more aesthetic than analogue video, you went to film. 16mm could be a budget pull, 8mm was affordable. In one cartridge you had about 3 mins of film use. Hence you had to develop an understanding for shooting the story-in-camera. It meant developing a forecasting sense of the story unfolding and hence where you needed to be for continuity and sequence building.
I teach this now and cohorts come down from 28 mins of shooting footage for a three minute film, to seven minutes within a day’s of training.
Cinema journalism ( CJ) is the new craft for future journalism. Bold claim it seems, but it’s happened in other media. Different forms offering an introspection of society and a new approach challenge the status quo.
You’ll find this in art, design, and literature. It happens as artists push boundaries and people realign their agency.
CJ is not about the technology per se, whether that’s mobile phones or an Arris cameras. I use mobile phone filmmaking to make shorts such as this “Bass Culture” screened at the Regent Street Cinema (London), but the lesson is this. Cinema Journalism is about interpreting an event for a story that maximises what’s in the scene. You are a de facto director using the most apt tools to help you create meaning, your understanding, within the frame.
What CJ also does is to give its practitioners a deeper understanding of the power of images and words. Metaphors and metonyms, which traditional journalism ignores like an elephant in the room, become obvious. Tropes and presumed conventions become challengeable.
I spoke about AI in a BBC article last week. It represents a concern, but also for creatives in cinema journalism a unique way of perceiving media, not as false images, but as a way to create engagement with audiences.
This is CJ