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Eng 303: Study Guide for Exam 1

by: Christina Horton

Eng 303: Study Guide for Exam 1 ENG 303

Christina Horton
GPA 3.3

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These notes are taken from the book "Another Soderbergh Experience" by Mark Gallagher and there are many direct quotes so as not to take away from the way Gallagher describes Soderbergh and also so...
Cinematic Auteurs
Kevin Esch
Study Guide
soderbergh, Gallagher, Film, Cinema, auteur, auteurs, english
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This 6 page Study Guide was uploaded by Christina Horton on Saturday September 24, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to ENG 303 at 1 MDSS-SGSLM-Langley AFB Advanced Education in General Dentistry 12 Months taught by Kevin Esch in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 40 views. For similar materials see Cinematic Auteurs in Literature at 1 MDSS-SGSLM-Langley AFB Advanced Education in General Dentistry 12 Months.


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Date Created: 09/24/16
Study Guide for Quiz 1: Intro, Ch. 1 + 2 Quotes and notes from Another Steven Soderbergh Experience: Authorship & Contemporary Hollywood by Mark Gallagher (2013) ISBN: 978-0-292-76207-7 Introduction (pgs. 1 -16) 1. Steven Soderbergh known for: his uniqueness (MG says that “no other industry professionals work… in so many genres, modes, media, and areas of technical expertise.”) 1. Director + Producer of: 1. Blockbusters, Idiosyncratic art films (independent films), low-budget video experiments and TV series (as the creator as well) 2. Directed: adaptations, sequels and remakes 2. Pseudonymously as cinematographer, and sometimes uncredited camera operator and editor 3. Screenplay-writer (ex. Sex, lies and videotape [1989]) 4. Occasional acting (ex. Schizopolis [1996] as the lead role) 2. “Soderbergh’s work illuminates many trends in industry practice, media authorship, technologies of film and television production and distribution, and motion picture aesthetics.” 3. This book “argues for the opportunities afforded to the creative individual within contemporary screen industries.” 4. His numerous influences are leading examples of “contemporary media-industry practice, in which production entities, distribution platforms, and creative labor increasingly cross- pollinate.” 5. This book: 1. “considers anew the possibilities for collaboration, entrepreneurship, and artistry in entertainment industries… it emphasizes continuity across historical periods and industrial modes, challenging long-accepted distinctions between independent and studio films, between film and television authorship, between theatrical and home- video releases, and more.” 2. “…asks…what comprises the work of a screen author in contemporary Hollywood… ‘what do texts mean?’ and ‘what do authors do?’ ”. 3. Considers SS’s works in 3 ways: 1. “as specific texts exemplifying creative authorship across disparate [essentially different] modes and media; 2. …as works in dialogue with film history and with production modes and aesthetics long associated with low-budget, commercially marginal cinema; 3. …as boundary pushing examples of screen-media convergence, new productions technologies, and exhibition and distribution strategies.” 1. MG highlights the “variegated practices and output of contemporary U.S. screen industries…known as Hollywood…his…projects construct a particular boutique brand...performs multiple creative roles in collaboration…viewed as exercising… creative control to merit the attribution of primary authorship 6. His first feature-length fiction film was sex, lies and videotape (independently produced and dispensed by Miramax 7. “Section Eight” Production company: founded in 2000 by SS and actor/director George Clooney. Shut down in 2006 by both parties agreeably. 8. SS works with “personnel across familiar categories of ‘studio’ and ‘independent’…(his) recurrent team…including assistant director Gregory Jacobs, production designer Phlip Messina, sound editor Larry Blake…a close-knit group of boutique practitioners adaptive to disparate filmmaking challenges and not defined wholly by overarching production categories.” Part One: Soderbergh and American Cinema Chapter 1: Sex, Lies and Independent Film (pgs. 19-44) 9. Part One: “…positions the contemporary filmmaker in relation to the modes and output of mainstream and marginal cinema that precede him.” (from Intro) SS is a leading figure of independent cinema and the development of major studios’ “boutique divisions” CH 1 “examines the distribution and reception of sex, lies and videotape, and S’s relationships with major studios following its critical and commercial success…also narrates his initial 1990s efforts as independent producer of projects both within and outside major studios.” (from Intro) Thesis: “The success of sex, lies and videotape at the Cannes and U.S (a.k.a Sundance) film festivals and in commercial release earned Soderbergh indelible [making marks that cannot be removed] associations with the discourses and institutions of U.S. independent cinema on a global stage.” Chapter 1: “identifies the conditions that facilitated the 1990s indie-film boom, as well as S’s specific contributions through film direction, collaborative production, and promotion. The chapter also considers S’s relationships with major studios and independent producers in the early 1990s.” Some of SS’s early films were dispersed and produced by “ ‘mini-major’ boutique divisions created or acquired by major studios.” Though they were independent film in subject matter, style and distribution. MG argues in this chapter: his “1990s work exemplifies U.S. and European film industries’ sustenance of a range of idiosyncratic filmmaking modes and styles…during this period, conglomerate studios moved increasingly toward blockbusters…with large production and marketing budgets (e.g., the Batman franchise of 1989 and beyond, and the Jurassic Park series…in 1993). Consequently, smaller producers filled the gaps for [seemingly] adult far with low- to medium-budget ($1 million to $10 million) films, films that often acquired for distribution by companies in which major studios had controlling investments or owned outright. As in Hollywood’s post-Paramount Decree era, a substantial number of films in wide circulation came from independent producers, with studios operating chiefly as distributors rather than directly managing the creative process of production. Such decentralization of production meant that even films released under studio logos could manifest the creative impulses of small production teams.” “A 1989 Rolling Stone profile…describes…the pragmatic relationship between S and [sex and lies]’s key production financier: “He wanted to shoot the movie in black and white, but RCA/Columbia insisted on color.” S retrospectively affirms this compromise, suggesting that [if he had made the movie in black and white] would have been a “huge mistake”.” S wanted to withhold the presumed graphic imagery in sex, and lies In regards to the term “independent” (applying to commercial U.S. film production) “Yannis Tzioumakis argues that “American independent cinema” is best understood not as an empirical category but as a discourse, “a discourse that expands and contracts when socially authored institutions…contribute toward its definition at different periods in the history of American cinema.”” Niche Filmmaking and Codependence in 1980s Hollywood Thesis: 1980s saw a major change in the relationship between independent filmmakers and conglomerate film studios due to the up-rise of many companies and institutions. There was a boom of distribution of independent films in the mid-80s and between 1984 to 1986 almost doubling. S entered into the Hollywood industries through network television; i) he began as an editor on the NBC series Games People Play (1980 – 1981) ii) his first feature credit was for directing and editing Yes’s concert documentary 9012LIVE (1985), he earned a Grammy nomination for this… Outlaw Productions (Independent company) made a production deal with the script of what would be sex, and lies sex, lies and videotape: showcased at 1989’s U.S. Film Festival, “where it attracted distributor’s interest. At the following month’s America Film Market, Miramax acquired the film’s remaining rights, including U.S. theatrical distribution.” sex, lies and videotape: $1.2 million dollars “Soderbergh’s professional profile includes areas of creative autonomy [self-governing] as well as economic dependence and codependence.” “Geoff King identifies the perceived logic of marketing films as niche products: “By choosing to view specialty rather than mainstream films…consumers are associating themselves…with a particular social cultural domain based on varying degree of differentiation from main- stream cinema, culture, and society.” The construction of the niche as a site of cultural esteem depends in turn on a negative construction of the mainstream, for which Hollywood supplies a convenient avatar.” What Are You Rebelling Against? Thesis: “Accounts of U.S cinema often emphasize interpersonal conflict (e.g., artist vs. executive) and artistic integrity, contributing to false binaries and distorting the work of commercial filmmakers overall.” Negotiation as Artistry in 1990s Independent Cinema  Thesis: “Approaching Soderbergh’s late-1908s and 1990s work through the prism of collaboration and negotiation, we see some the ways industrial practices and discourse [discussion] construct his authoring roles and his comprehensive creative activity. Overall, Soderbergh’s early- and mid-career efforts demonstrate fairly consistent creative practice, indicating the degree to which a range of production determinants still allow marked flexibility in commercial filmmaking.” Locating “Early Soderbergh”  Thesis: His early years maintained an ever-evolving creative profile.  “In a 1995 interview [Soderbergh]…asserted that “in fifteen years, people will look back at my first four films and they will realize that they were just a preface to the book that I am only now starting to write.””  Second film: Kafka (1991)  Sex, lies and videotape: “singular achievement was…to appear in the late-1980s marketplace, its fairly slow pacing and mixture of dramatic erotic, and comic elements suitably removed from the [current] film production[s] to distinguish it in critical and commercial milieus [a person’s social environment] …the films seeks to engage viewers through dramatic dialogue and character interiority rather than incident…conversations about sex and the human condition… As a cultural commodity, its…elements included location production far from Hollywood; a narrative of the work and romantic lives of white, middle- class, heterosexual characters in their twenties and thirties;”  The Limey (1999) “was a production of the independent Artisan Entertainment…The Limey was a small indie hit… [Artisan later became Lionsgate in 2003].” The Emerging Post-Indiewood Discourse Thesis: The discussion of the film-lover culture had already begun to re-shape itself. i) 1960s and 70s New Hollywood was a reaction against studio productions of the late 1950s to mid 1960s. ii) 1980s independent films were a response to studio productions of the 1970s iii) 1990s independent films were a response to “studio’s formulaic genre pictures of the 1980s”  “Soderbergh’s filmmaking practice challenges the artificial distinctions created by such new labels as ‘new, true indies.’ … Individual filmmakers may not find wholly autonomous zones within commercial industries, but they can position themselves strategically… [at places] of creative enterprise and industrial power.”  Ch. 1 argues that SS “remains one of many contemporary filmmakers who gesture toward historical eras and modes to articulate their creative sensibilities and mobilize interest in their work.” Chapter 2: Hollywood Authorship and Transhistorical Taste Cultures (pgs.45-71)  “Soderbergh, cast a wider net through their film output and discourse outside filmmaking, expressing multiple affinities across screen media past and present.”  Ch.2: “investigates Soderbergh and his works’ dialogues with film history, with canonical and offbeat texts, and with a range of creative personnel in U.S. and international cinema.”  Many references in his work from the 1960 and 70s New Hollywood and European art films.  “The case of Soderbergh helps indicate film journalists’ and cinephiles’ critical investment. We can see through his films and their critical framings that canonized texts and periods continue to organize understandings of filmmaking, and film culture…[his] film, and the discourse they engender, indicate how taste cultures take shape across history, and around shared investments in particular modes of production, creative sensibilities, and film texts.” Transhistorical Poetics and Creative Capital In this chapter: identifying points of aesthetic intersection and its rationality and consequences. i) Rationality: a) Personal/nostalgic associations with the “golden ages” b) Creative decisions that result in contemporary but at the same time “lasting cinematic art” c) Desires of studio execs. and entertainment press d) Cinephile consumers that continue the enhancement of cultural capital e) Production: budgets  Thesis: “Connections between contemporary and historical cinemas take numerous forms, including industrial, aesthetic, and discursive relationships. Industrial relationships link filmmakers and producing companies over time based on company organization as well as production technologies and personnel.”  Aesthetic relationships: “involve explicit textual correlations among screen works across history, expressed through narrative and thematic similarity as well as aspects of visual style, editing, and sound.” i) “Aesthetic choices are articulated and contextualized through discourse.” ii) “…can realign views of contemporary and historical film texts iii) producing artists and industries iv) Aesthetics and Poetics:  Discursive relationships: “include filmmakers’ linkages in their own works to preceding output across cinema history, as well as assertions to the same effect from producers and marketing personnel, and from film critics and other receivers.” i) Many auteurist film criticisms, identifying personal style and “legitimating filmmakers through connections to other designated auteurs.”  The Limey uses a sixties rock soundtrack and borrows “structural elements of films such as Point Blank along with its central figure of a stubborn male avenger, marks itself a hybrid text merging contemporary and historical sensibilities… [it also has an] aggrieved-parent narrative also aligns it with…Get Carter (1974) which features an avenging surrogate father.” Comparative Aesthetics and Discourses of Authorship “Authorship depends on aesthetic collaboration, whether direct or indirect, expressly articulated or subject to linkage through reception activity and discourse.” The Renewed Hollywood: Transhistorical textuality and Discourse  Soderbergh often uses characteristics from the “Hollywood ‘New Wave’ era from 1965 to present: i) Location shooting vii) Close-ups ii) Improvisational acting viii) Freeze frames iii) Experimentation with swish pans ix) Split screen iv) Hand-help camera x) Repeated actions v) Zooms xi) Jump cuts vi) Jazz scoring xii) Sound image mismatches  Both aesthetic and discursive relationships of SS’s films are due in large part to the actors and personnel involved in a production  The Limey: i) Stylized colors ii) A text in “Transhistorical aesthetic networks” and is an ideal example for what this chapter argues (1960s and 70s New Waves and contemporary U.S. boutique productions iii) Independent release iv) The use of scenes from Poor Cow (1967, Terrance Stamp film) further the argument of its “intertextual, transhistorical aesthetic pedigree [ancestry].” v) Wilson’s character “combines the existential outlook of many of these films’ heroes with the singular motivation of the protagonists of revenge films” creating many ‘nods’ to “New Hollywood characterization” vi) Wilson’s character has a love for violence “and a disarmingly unwillingness to modulate his behavior in any context. This last trait serves the film’s editing style, which repeatedly cross-cuts scenes in different times and locations with Wilson as the figure of intersection. In numerous sequences, the sound of Wilson’s rambling monologues and his conversations with other characters’ bridge cuts. His voice and thus his aural authority supply a key element of formal organization. The cross cut scenes use dialogue as punctuation, cutting at the end of characters’ spoken sentences…. or [the] score to link shots. Shots of the same characters tend to be paired as well…” vii)Stylized colors: a) “Particularly in scenes featuring Stamp, daytime exteriors appear in bright sunlight, verging on washed-out. This expressive treatment of LA’s apparently unrelenting sunshine emphasizes the out-of-placeness of the single-minded “limey” Wilson.” b) Scenes with Wilson and Anne (Jenny’s friend and voice coach) “include warm reds and oranges, demonstrating his awkward passage into a more everyday, feminine-coded milieu… c) Warm lighting also sets the mood for intimate conversations scenes in which Wilson narrates to Elaine episodes of his young parenthood, cueing the interspersed fragments from Poor Cow.” d) “The realist color and flat lighting of the earlier film (Poor Cow) contrast sufficiently with the present-tense scenes to establish temporal distance, but the color palette and visual rhythms mesh sufficiently to connote both spaces as parts of Wilson’s subjectivity.” viii) “Hand held camera work underscores narrative tensions as the film moves toward the confrontation between its iconic male leads {Stamp and Fonda]….handheld camera aligns it with a range of New Hollywood and European New Wave” films. Omnivorous Taste. Hybrid Authorship  Thesis: “Soderbergh has amassed sufficient cultural cachet to pursue idiosyncratic projects engaging with a range of film-historical formations. Notably, these projects include works in dialogue with film culture just preceding the so-called Hollywood Renaissance.”  “Soderbergh’s proliferating discursive and production activity construct an unorthodox but no less distinctive authorial persona. This persona makes substantial use of his status as intercultural agent, connecting the diverse agenda of past and present filmmakers, film cultures across history, and a range of taste strata. This hybrid creative formation productively destabilizes boundaries such as those demarcating discrete film-historical eras. Soderbergh’s career highlights ways filmmakers and film cultures interact with dynamic constellations of elite, mass-cultural, and subcultural capital.


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