Re: [Frameworks] media in the classroom, was UbuWeb...HACKED!

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Oct 16 2010 - 05:40:43 PDT

Hi Nicky:

Both you and Jeanne add evidence to support my central argument.
Thanks for contributing your experiences to the discussion.

> I hire from LUX every year a handful of films that absolutely must
> be seen on film, or are otherwise unavailable in decent copies;
> Wavelength... Mothlight...

Not that this is a significant point, but when i've shown Mothlight an
Garden of Earthly delights from video, the students couldn't have been
more transfixed. (I did get my school to buy a good 3-chip DLP cinema
projector, and of course the video transfers of those films are quite
good.) I'm sure they're even more vivid in film, but the wow factor of
those particular pieces, on video in decent projection on a big screen
= instant interest in Brakhage.

> This way around thirty students every year get to see some essential
> work, and understand, through direct comparison, that DVDs are not
> the films they are copies of. The LUX get some rental income (the
> films are not cheap to hire) and some filmmakers get some royalties.
> I agree, as below, that use of DVDs does not deprive filmmakers of
> potential royalties, because my department could not afford to hire
> all the films I'd like to show, so if I didn't show DVDs the
> students wouldn't see anything other than the few films I hire, at
> least not in my seminar.

My point is that while you, Jeanne and I may have the background to
make this kind of compromise work, most film studies faculty do not.

> Professors are the Institution, in part. I, for one, write courses
> which I teach, and for which, therefore, I decide the content.

You have a nice gig.*

> How could it be otherwise...

You should get out more.

> unless you're teaching in a department where you've been hired on
> the basis of having certain expertise, but to which the
> "Institution" is hostile?

Which describes every teaching post I held in a 20 year career
spanning 6 colleges.

* To be fair, I admit my remarks about the relative powerlessness of  
faculty were hyperbolic and intented for rhetorical effect rather than  
objective accuracy. It is more common in the US for new faculty to be  
handed a list of the courses they must teach. However, the catalog  
descriptions of those courses are generally vague enough that the the  
teacher has significant ability to reshape them within the general  
rubric. And at most schools, once faculty have established themselves,  
they can get course descriptions changed, or totally new courses  
approved, though it may take awhile. In my last position, I was given  
only the most vague prescription, and I had virtually complete freedom  
to design the curriculum to my my own liking. This is not unheard of,  
but its fairly rare, and it's the reason I jumped at the job, as I  
might never have gotten such an opportunity again. Even within this,  
though, certain institutional expectations remain, especially in terms  
of what constitutes legitimate faculty activity, where your time and  
energy should be focused, how budgets are to be handled and used...
I hold to my claim, more modestly stated: For average film professors  
-- who are hired as generalists rather than specialist in the avant  
garde, and do not have an extensive background in production or  
exhibition -- the difficulties involved in screening film prints are  
high enough that expenditure of the resources necessary in that  
pursuit could get you in trouble with the higher-ups that have control  
over their fate at that institution.
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