When I was developing the Breaking Cinema podcast, I kept repeating the point that “I didn’t want the podcast to be just about films.”

But that was not to say that I didn’t to deal with films or that I was anti-film, I just wanted to examine a bigger multimedia and neurobiological reality that existed beyond the two dimensional images on the screen.

This is how the following explanation on my stance against being a one-dimensional thinker came about and which I included in the Vision Document for the Breaking Cinema podcast.

From The Medium is the Massage, a huge influence on the Breaking Cinema podcast.

I’m not anti-cinema, I’m anti-one-dimensional thinking is a personal essay that is a key example of the stream-of-consciousness writing style I adopted for the Vision Document.

I utilized stream-of-conscious writing in order to more fluidly capture the complex patterns of thought I had concerned the focus of Breaking Cinema

The more I wrote it out, the more clarity the focus acquired – Both for Breaking Cinema and for my point of view on the world.

Ultimately, the personal essay I authored is mostly just a mega rant, but I think I raised a few good points therein…

“Human beings are very complicated things. They live in several dimensions at once, not just one. And if they try to live just in one, they warp themselves horribly.”

– Olaf Stapledon, Four Encounters, 1983

“We need also to develop in ourselves two critical habits: critical thinking and courage.”

– Margaret Heffernan, Wilful Blindness, 2012:309

When I was a boy I hated to read and write. I hated to read and write so much that I would always pretend to be reading when really I was running off in my imagination or just having a nap. I did this for many years and for many years I fell behind. It was not until thirteen going on fourteen that I finally did force myself to teach myself to competently read and write properly. Ignorant stubbornness was one thing, but the late blooming of my literacy skills was due in large part to the time consuming nature of my much more preferred education – film.

I begin with films, they are my foundation, they have always been there, they were my first proper education and they are the odyssey that guided me to dream big, to explore expansively, to follow your inclinations and to never, ever stop (trying or watching films)!

“My imagination was fuelled by films. I loved watching films, while the other children would worry about where to put their commas I was intrigued by why films had different types of shots, why some films seemed to play faster than others, because they had more shots in them. I was also intrigued by how films had characters who were identical to other characters with different names in other films, because the concept of an actor did not exist to me, until it was explained to me when I was about seven years old, because I couldn’t read, so the end credits were irrelevant. My film education started way back in my primary period of education, for me, films were the language I learned first, the grammar I learned first, I learned to dissect and to think and to create visually long before I learned to do it in the written form. And certainly this has benefited me in Film Studies and also in my visual thinking as well. I was quite lucky in this respect, if you want to talk about getting a really good film education, I think I been really fortunate in my life because films were it, basically. I would get in from school and I would just watch films right into the evening, that was it. And I would re-watch the same films over and over and over again, so my textual analysis skills were really… unknowingly honed is the way I would describe it. I was lucky when I was about ten years old because that is when DVD hit the scene and the great thing about DVDs is they had special features, extra stuff on them, behind-the-scenes documentaries so for the first time ever I was able to actually see how films were made, how they were written, all the different roles behind the making of a film, so my film education flourished even more so as a result of that. Eventually, when I finally did engage with my compulsory education – because when I hit thirteen, it suddenly dawned on me that the ability to read and write might actually be beneficial, even if it terrified me because I had always hated reading and writing, I despised it! And the irony was, as soon as I picked up a book, very quickly followed by a pen, I discovered that I loved reading and I loved writing too, even if I couldn’t do both of them properly! And because of this when I went into secondary education, in addition to Art – I engaged very strongly with Art because it was all visual and I could draw from my visual thinking that I took from film –  but also another subject I engaged with was English. I loved English and I was really lucky with my English at secondary school because I had a teacher who was a Film Studies teacher in disguise. I still don’t know why he was teaching English, he should have been a Media Studies/Film Studies teacher, but the great thing about his lessons is they were film lessons. When we should have been studying Shakespeare’s text of Romeo and Juliet, we were watching Baz Lurhman’s Romeo + Juliet, so again my film education flourished because of that and then, above-and-beyond that, when I finally, I guess you could say, “officially” entered Film Studies at my A-Levels, I was officially introduced to the subject of Film Studies, which was a revelation, I couldn’t believe it was an actual subject! And I really loved my first year of Film Studies, I really enjoyed it, mainly because there was not any film theory involved. It was literally just watching films, textual analysis, let’s go and make some of our own stuff now and that was great! My second year I enjoyed less so, but that wasn’t the subject’s fault, that was really my fault, in my second year I really disengaged with my A-Levels, I didn’t put as much effort into them. But overall I would say that my experience with Film Studies at A-Level was positive mainly because there was no engagement with film theory. And then, something happened, I came to Bath Spa University and, eventually, after deciding that I wanted to up my Creative Writing degree to a combined degree with Film and Screen Studies, I studied films at undergraduate level and it was all down hill from there… because suddenly I was confronted with film theory!”

– Me, Breaking Blindness: The Unfinished Breaking Cinema Vision Video of Lateral Thinking

Yeah… to say that I found my Film Studies education at Bath Spa University slightly under-whelming would be the understatement of the century!

This will surprise and confuse some because grade-wise I did very well out of my Film Studies degree at Bath Spa University, but grades are not everything and the only reason I did as well as I did is because I increasingly backed away from the spoon-fed elements of the course, i.e. the lectures and seminars. I spent most of my Film and Screen Studies time watching, reading up on and making my own films.

Initially, I never even intended to study film at university, my intention was to focus on developing my writing. My aversion towards continuing my education of Film Studies at university was down to the fact that I felt I had already thoroughly covered the aspects of film analysis and criticism in my own studies and in those of my A-levels. Even when I did inquire about the Film and Screen Studies course at Bath Spa and had its contents explained to me by one of the film tutors, I can’t say I was overly impressed. 

Ultimately, it was only later when I realised how much I missed studying film that I opted to upgrade my degree to a combined Honours with Film and Screen Studies, but I did it very much on my owns terms and very much in opposition to what I perceived to be the complacent aspects of the discipline as embodied by its heavy reliance on worshiping the film theory of yesteryear… 

“An attitude of indifference has largely found its way into Film Studies… it is an academic subject that is increasingly feeling very dusty. It does not invest enough energy into progressive thinking or into examining the practical aspects of how film entities are constructed… The discipline is too focused on cave-like thinking and film theory of the past; a pantheon of knowledge that is becoming continuously outdated and finding itself at odds with new advancements and diversifications, such as the digital re-birth and large format hypercinema. Film scholars have always sought to understand the spectator’s and spectacle’s mutual pursuit of enlightenment; while they have uncovered aspects of it, there still does not exist a single unifying explanation of the profound processes of that relationship… In the current digital transition, where many of the assumptions of previous thought are having their validity questioned… a leap into the unknown is not only inevitable, it is required!”

– Me, Ways of Being, 2013:105-07

I wrote my theoretical film dissertation, Ways of Being: The Spectator and the Spectacle, as an indictment of the discipline’s tendency towards complacency and the potential damage that complacency can cause. Ways of Being was very much a summative exercise in letting of a great deal of steam in regards to a subject I had grown increasingly frustrated towards over a three-year period, but that frustration is still very much present in my current ways of being…

“Film Studies is complacent, I have always found it to be hugely complacent, it produces students that are very good at taking these templates, these pre-arranged theories and ways of thinking and re-applying them to other films, which is kind of lazy, I think. Where’s the innovation? I don’t want to take someone else’s cookie cutter and make the same cookie, I want to make my own cookie cutter, I want to shape it like a foot or a tree. From my own experience of Film Studies, and from what I have inferred from other people, it tends to be quite closed in, there is this attitude that Film Studies is a bit like history now, it’s a bit like Film Studies/theory history, it’s like, “This is what all the theorists developed, this is all the lines of thinking they developed, we’re going to educate you about that and then we’re going to teach you to take those cookie cutters and just apply them to new films.” What Film Studies is very bad at educating is inspiring you to develop new theories, to develop new ways of thinking about film, of exploring film, of creating films. It’s very bad at that, very bad and I think it is hugely damaging, firstly, towards new potential practitioners that could involve themselves in cinema, but, secondly, I think it is damaging to film and film heritage and the overall entity of cinema as a whole, I think it is very damaging, VERY damaging! It is the attitude of, “We are so invested in the past, the way things were, what is this thing called the future? We don’t know, we don’t care.” And the problem is when you are like that you shut yourself off and you get very quickly left behind.”

– Me, Breaking Cinema with a Selfie Stick

In my mind, the basic curriculum of Film Studies teaches the student how to be completely irrelevant in the 21st century, precisely because it opts for such a passive knowledge set and method of learning. While I do not want to speak for every institution’s iteration of Film Studies, if the one I studied at my university is anything to go by then the Film Studies field is very good at teaching you how to be left behind in the yesteryear of outdated thinking, while being almost completely ignorant towards new developments… and this is precisely why it is so damaging!

“Occasionally some commentators do manage to make interesting observations about the composition or meaning of a particular culturally significant text. But requiring our students to make pretentious statements about trivial aspects of unimportant bits of media content was always a silly idea, and bound to draw sharp and reasonable attacks from critics of the discipline. The defence that this activity is parallel to what they do in Literature Studies was correct, but its often a waste of time there too. Our students should at least have an ambition to be on the front line of creative activity – not following along behind, making comments to an audience of no one”

– Media Studies 2.0 and other battles around the future of media research, David Gauntlet

However, all the blame can not be directed at Film Studies because in its current curriculum and method of teaching, the Film Studies discipline is just propagating a larger societal problem that can be glimpsed in every area of education and in every human being for that matter, because it is a basic human trait that is at the root of this widespread passivity and this trait is of course complacency and the various psychological reasons for its occurrence.

Due to the complacent nature of complacency it helps to be reminded of what complacency actually means…

  1. 1:  self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
  2. 2:  an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction

– Merriam Webster definition of complacency

Complacency is at the root of what I define as being one-dimensional thinking i.e. the lack of competency or courage to think creatively or critical for oneself in order to break with the conventional thinking of past or contemporary status quos.

One-dimensional thinking is reactive thinking and reactive thinking is stimulated by and entirely reliant upon the stimuli of the external environment and if that external environment is heavy on propagating complacency, the reactive thinker will always respond in kind.

“The word ‘reactive’ implies that you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda. You’re tossed and turned, so to speak, by the tides of life. Each new wave catches you by surprise. Huffing and puffing, you scramble to react to it in order to just stay afloat.”

Proactive vs reactive thinking: How to be proactive

Obviously, the key to breaking the habit of being a one-dimensional reactive thinker is to nature your critical thinking skills i.e. questioning the stimuli of your external environment while weighing up various other pieces of knowledge and judgements before producing a conclusion on what type of response to provide.

“We operate two modes of thinking: System 1, which is intuitive, associative, very fast, born of habit. It is, in essence, shortcut thinking – and much of the time, it is good enough. System 2 is more deliberative, analytical, slow and requires much more effort; it’s what we use if we want to solve a maths problem correctly but one of its other purposes is to monitor System 1 for errors.”

– Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness, 2012:210

“If one of the symptoms of blindness is comfort, so one of the indicators of critical thinking may be discomfort.”

– Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness, 2012:322

However, the problem with critical thinking is that not everyone knows how to do it properly, precisely because they are (a) never taught how to do it in the first place, or (b) are not taught how to do it effectively.

And educating the ineffectual method and application of critical thinking is something Film Studies and most other degree programs are exceptionally good at teaching, because their approach to teaching critical thinking skills skips a key competency in the process of exercising effective critical thinking, namely…

Emotional Intelligence and its ability to bring about effective emotional regulation…

“Topics taught [in Emotional Intelligence] include self-awareness, in the sense of recognizing feelings and building a vocabulary for them, and seeing the links between thoughts, feelings, and reactions; knowing if thoughts or feelings are ruling a decision; seeing the consequences the consequences of alternative choices; and applying these insights to decisions about such issues… Self-awareness also takes the form of recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, and seeing yourself in a positive but realistic light… Another emphasis is managing emotions: realizing what is behind a feeling (for example, the hurt that triggers anger), and learning ways to handle anxieties, anger, and sadness. Still another is taking responsibility for decisions and actions, and following through on commitments… A key social ability is empathy, understanding others’ feelings and taking their perspective, and respecting differences in how people feel about things. Relationships are a major focus, including learning to be a good listener and question-asker; distinguishing between what someone says or does and your own reactions and judgements; being assertive rather than angry or passive; and learning the arts of cooperation, conflict resolution and negotiating compromise.”

– Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, 2004:268

It’s all very well installing a habit of analysing the merits and faults of something in your students, but there’s a key part of our human biology that can evert a very strong and influencing control over that process of critical thinking, our emotions…

“Drew Weston, at Emory University, was interested in what psychologists call ‘motivated reasoning’ and what Freud called defence mechanisms: the processes by which people adjust what they know to avoid bad feelings like anxiety and guilt… In Westen’s experiment, the reward circuits the brain was using were the same that are activated when a junkie gets a fix. In other words, when we find the thoughts we agree with, or are able to eliminate the ones that make us uncomfortable, we feel that same kind of euphoria and reassurance that an addict feels when reunited with his drug of choice… The brain doesn’t like conflict and works hard to resolve it. This may be one reason why, when we gather with like-minded people, we are more likely to seek out common ground than areas of difference: quite literally, it feels better. But it also feels rational, even when it isn’t. Which means that when we work hard to defend our core beliefs, we risk becoming blind to the evidence tha could tell us we’re wrong.”

– Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness, 2012:58-60

Reviewing and regulating your emotions effectively

Clearly, then, effective critical thinking requires you to do more than just establish a habit of analysing the merits and faults of something… it requires you to give your entire personality a review and an overhaul, because most people’s emotional intelligence is actually quite low, precisely because they never received an education in the aptitude, which will have huge effects in their everyday life, their career, their relationships and how they take care of their own wellbeing.

“With high EI, you can succeed in many areas of your life. Your close relationships can benefit from knowing how to read people’s feelings, regulate your own emotions (especially anger), and understand what you’re feeling, and why.”

– Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D., Unlock Your Emotional Genius

A high competency is on par with effective critical thinking and integral to performing critical thinking correctly.  

However, where in the study of film or any other discipline (excluding psychology) and higher education’s ‘nurturing’ of critical thinking are you ever asked to perform personal reflections and personal developments in order to build a high competency in emotional intelligence?


It’s always a case of, “Well, I know you are paying me thousands of pounds for a top-notch education, but due to this widespread complacency, all that you have said here, while clearly important in nurturing effective critical thinking skills, you will have to take care off in your own time.”

Yeah, thanks. I have just spent two years of my life doing just that, thanks a bunch!


I’m getting angry.

No, I am not going to get angry now, because if I get angry it will start to warp and override my rational thinking [this is emotional intelligence and an emotional regulation thought process in action].

I definitely feel angry.

Why do I feel angry?

Well, because I started winding myself up about the gaps in my very expensive higher education, an education experience which is now in the past.

Furthermore, it was an educational experience I willingly signed up for, so in many ways it was my own fault for not assessing its adequacy and cost level.

Ultimately, this experience is behind me and the facts of its occurances and annoying points are something I can not change. What is done is done, there’s no point in winding myself up about it now.

[this is all the mental equivalent of giving yourself a hug a.k.a. self-compassion].

I take back calling the educators imbeciles.

The educators are just unknowingly making themselves look like imbeciles, because the educators of our education come from an almost identical and equally complacent education – you are what you learn.

However, let it never be said that I don’t learn from my own mistakes and especially those of others besides…

“We are the centre of our own consciousness and it can be very lonely being the centre of your own consciousness, because its just you inside your head. And the problem when it is just you is you don’t necessarily test yourself, you don’t push yourself, you don’t stretch yourself when its just you. That’s why it Is good to interact with other people, that is why it is good to create, that is why it is good to reflect. When you reflect, something amazing happens… I often realize that I make more sense than I think I do in my head and also that sometimes I get things wrong, sometimes I present things wrong… and that’s how I grow, through reflection. The reflective process is a very good way to expand your point-of-view to see a bigger picture. And this is what I mean by factoring this into our studies of films, by developing a subjectified element of it, that we mine ourselves and put that into our studies of film, alongside our objectifications… Within Film Studies you are taught to objectify your study of film and to objectify your argument in relation to a counter argument or arguments. Now objectification is really at the heart of a thorough rationalistic study, granted, I do agree with that, but you always see a conflict within students of the Film Studies discipline. They come into the discipline and they’re always usually very enthusiastic about film. Maybe not as a whole, but they’re always enthusiastic about a certain sector of films, or a filmmaker, or select group of films, they’re hugely passionate about them and, of course, when it comes time to study film, they want to study those films. What they really want to do is they want to profess their love, their passion for it, how it’s changed them, what they see from it, what they’ve inferred from it, what they’ve taken from it, how they’ve grown from it. Then, of course, they are taught, “Well, actually you need to put all that subjective passion aside and what you really need to do is objectify your study of your passion of films.” This is where I think Film Studies is missing a trick [and a key emotional intelligence development trick as well]. Objectification relates to what I was saying about this tendency to just look at films as their own isolated entities, on their own, without connection or relation to anything to anything that exists beyond the film. I think that if we are to consider the study of film from the spectator’s point-of-view, starting with the spectator, with the audience, with how we infer films, how we construct films, how we take them on, how we grow with them, how we expand with them. Then surely it would make logical sense for you to factor in a subjective study of films based upon your own experiences, your own passions, your own enthusiasm about films. This is where my enthusiasm for constructive Film Studies comes alive, because I think, ultimately, if you really want to get to grips with cinema: first-and-foremost, you need to be willing to step outside of the comfort zone of films, but you also have to be willing to get your hands dirty, I think. I think you have to be willing to dissect yourself, to dissect your own humanity, the complexities of your humanity. You have to be willing to reflect on yourself, on your views, on your beliefs, on your passions. If you are studying films it would make sense to do this, one way in which you could reflect on yourself would be to make a filmed reflective study of one’s self and your views. And then take those very subject views and compare them to and put them in relation to your objectify views as well.”

– Me, Breaking Cinema with a Selfie Stick


“Not just film students exist in the bigger picture, everyone exists in the bigger picture. And, crucially, now that film, cinema, audio-visual content and media as a whole has diversified and is so easily accessible and utilised by every person on this planet, what we have are human beings who are much more media-literate. They understand media, the means behind it, how it works, how its constructed now more so than they ever did before. And this is why if you talk to someone who is not a film enthusiast, who is not a film student and you ask them to give you there reading of a film, what they thought of it, more often than not you’ll get quite an intelligent response. Maybe not with the nuances and the language and the elegance of a film student, but certainly you will get an insightful, well considered and, crucially also, personal response. So this is my point, if that is the case, then why do we need to have trained practitioners from Film Studies who can do this, if you can just learn how to do it anyway as indeed everyone is learning how to do it anyway, its part of the collective consciousness now, it’s just standard knowledge. Film analysis, textual analysis, criticism – everyone does it, EVERYONE. The difference with Film students is that the language is a bit better, the way in which they handle it, but besides from that, it’s something everyone can do. And because it is something everyone can do, I think the emphasis in Film Studies needs to be less on objectification, textual analysis, criticism and it needs to be more on developing individual practitioners who can reflect, who can create their own content and ultimately who can engage with new content, with the reality of today, with film culture, with the media landscape, with the bigger picture, with the world wide web. They can grapple with this new human existence and inject their creations into it, their own creations that can be representative of their own theories, their own thinking, their own types of new entertainment, their own types of dramatisation, their own documentaries. I think a Film Studies student today needs to be a creator as much as they are a thinker.”

– Me, Breaking Cinema with a Selfie Stick

Well, that’s not entirely true, there was one such focus in the second year of my Film and Screen Studies, it was an assignment called the PDP – Personal Development Plan – which was not a marked assignment and which got swept under the carpet so quickly (because most people didn’t even bother to complete) it might as well not have existed in the first place!

This is the complacency I am talking about.

“Films are not 2D images on a screen, they are not isolated entities, they are us. They exist through us, the expand through us and they are everywhere now. They are much broader, bigger entities and if you want to study them, if you want to create them, if you want to do something with them, you can not ignore that. That’s the point of this podcast, that’s at the heart of Breaking Cinema!”

– Me, Breaking Cinema with a Selfie Stick

If you can’t manage your emotions, you can’t manage anything, least of all effective critical thinking.

“To be a critical thinker starts with resisting the urge to be a pleaser. Today, I’m shocked by the consistency with which my students prefer knowing the ‘right’ answer to the process of searching for it.”

– Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness, 2012:309

Film Studies focus too much on rationality and less so on emotion, which is absurd because film is a hugely emotional medium which in turn stimulates every type of emotion in the being of the spectator and, none-more-so than when you are debating film topics.

It is at this point that the problem arises in many areas of human endeavour, but particularly so in the field of Film Studies.

Critical thinking is something you can teach, but there is a difference between teaching well and teaching it not so well.

And, unfortunately, Film Studies teaches it not so well, because in order to effectively teach the skill of critical thinker and to then have the student reciprocate by actively exercise the skill of critical thinking requires the educator to teach it in a way that is creatively proactive and repetitive.

Both of which the Film Studies course at Bath Spa University struggled with precisely because the configuration of the course was too passive and too focused on mastering the theories of yesteryear.

“In the 1920s [Hans Seyle] had been baffled at why physicians always seemed to concentrate on the recognition of individual diseases and specific remedies for such isolated causes, while never paying any attention to the “syndrome of just being sick.” Those who are concerned with the program “content” [i.e. the films a.k.a. the 2D images on the screen] of media and not with the medium proper, appear to be in the position of physicians who ignore the “syndrome of just being sick”… The new media and technologies by which we amplify and extend ourselves constitute huge collective surgery carried out on the social body with complete disregard for antiseptics. If the operations are needed, the inevitability of infecting the whole system during the operation has to be considered. For in operating on society with a new technology, it is not the incised area that is most affected. The area of impact and incision is numb. It is the entire system that is changed. The effect of radio is visual, the effect of the photo is auditory. Each new impact shifts the ratio among all the senses. What we seek today is either a means of controlling these shifts in the sense-ratios of the psychic and social outlook, or a means of avoiding them altogether. To have a disease without its symptoms is to be immune. No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity.”

– Marshal McLuhan, ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man‘, 1966:69-70

And which does not involve worshipping the theories of yesteryear.

It was too passive.

Media has a duty to battle it

Ultimately, my attitude is – unless you are willing to do something constructive, stop complaining!

And I have done an awful lot of complaining, so it’s about time that I did something constructive about it, namely – the Breaking Cinema podcast.

If I am not so happy about the subject, maybe I should say something about; while at the same time affirming everything I love about film and the study of cinema

“Since my final year, since doing my dissertation in which I looked at public film exhibition and the science behind film viewership, in terms of what actually happens empirically when you sit down and view a film, I have been highly questioning my own experience with film and appreciation with film, and everything I can get from film. And I’ve been kind of moving away from film. When I graduated… I didn’t really have much time to watch films, because I had the more pressing issue of finding somewhere to live and income, and deciding what I wanted to do after university, so I just didn’t bother with films because of that, because I didn’t have time to. And, obviously, when I moved over to Bristol, I did start watching films again, but it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t getting the same satisfaction from it. The room I live in doesn’t really lend itself to watching something comfortably while watching something on my 42 inch, so I’ve actually taken to watching films on my iPad which, if you were to jump back a few years would be a cardinal sin for me. I was quite a hardcore cinephile, like, “No, you have to watch it on a proper widescreen big screen to get the full effect with surround sound!” and is very much what I did at university because in my student house we had the 42 inch and I had my surround sound system there so I could very easily sit and enjoy a film as it should ‘properly be seen.’ I reached my 1000th film on the 27th December, 2013 which was the Bicycle Thieves, which I will be honest with you, while I was watching it, I was having a hard time keeping my attention in the film, I kept straying away, wanting to do something else. And then going into Janurary, 2014 I watched a couple more films and then it just fadded out, going into February, I haven’t really watched any films since then, I haven’t gone to the cinema. And what seems to have happened is I have not lost my interest in films by any measure, I am now looking at films from the outside looking in, opposed to before when I was in the inside looking out, so I have a whole new perspective on film and really what I want to do on this project… is basically rediscover them again. How I am going to do that I haven’t fully figured out yet.”

-Me, Breaking Blindness: The Vision Video of Lateral Thinking

However, now I have figured that out.

It’s just a way of conversing about film – what does it actually do?

Passive regurgitators who buy into the myth

Of course when it comes time to gain entry into a the film industry or film centric career, they honestly believe that someone is just going to hire them – never going to happen.

These are just my views that are bourne out of my observations and a desire to do something different, something different that might just lead to a better way of doing things.

It was those imagination oddseys into cinema that I would go on as a boy that I think are what established my inclination towards lateral thinking, because there is no logic in cinema, all art is just an expression of chaos, it is the language of the human unconscious.

Whenever there is an instance in life that does utilise imagination, there is a word to sum that up – boring.

Life is about growth.

Death is for the complacent.

I had not even bothered to find out what was involved

But this is representative of a larger societal problem and it finds its source right in the dna of humanity itself.

We don’t live in caves anymore and, as I said in Ways of Being: “It is time to leave the cave behind.”

I am by nature an introverted person, but ti is something I have spent a good decade changing, because while there are many benefits to be a introvert, I also want to have the outgoing advantages of a being extrovert, I have no desire to spend my life just playing it safe.

And I have cinema to thank for that, because it was cinema that originally showed me the light at the end of the tunnel.

And focuses more so on just educating myself about the subject by

Watching films, I watched a LOT of films, the Bath Spa film library was raided, I still have some of those films because I ripped them off the disc and have them saved on my harddrive (for personal use you understand).

Reading about film, online and in print

Making films

There really was not a great deal of film theory involved, because

Film theory is the problem with Film Studies, not because there is necessarily anything wrong with film theory, I just think they is WAY TOO MUCH emphasis place on it (at least in the Film Studies course at Bath Spa).

It spoon feeds you a way of thinking

When really you should be taught how to think originally and for yourself, which is precisely why I place so much emphasis on practical pursuits like making films, writing journals, experimenting and figuring it out for yourself.

So it’s fair to say that films and cinema as a whole plays a pretty important role in my life.

About as stimulating as talking about the weather

I used to just ignore it, that’s precisely why I could not read or write properly until well into my teenage years. I never used to pay attention to what I was being taught, I always found my imagination (as stimulated by films) to be a vastly more entertaining place to be. Yeah, I can get bored very quickly.

“What we currently have are templates. The area of Film Studies has been instrumental and very good at developing critical and analytical templates for practitioners to apply to films and film movements, and if you look back through the collected archive and history of Film Studies it has already amassed quite a bit of knowledge using those templates from films, from movements, from filmmakers, from film cultures. Admittedly, it has not done everything there are still areas that need to be explored and areas that need to be re-explored, in relation to new cinema, in relation to new discoveries, in relation to new developments. That’s fine, there’s still lots left to be done, but my point is still this – that is not enough on its own, that’s one part of it! There’s a heavy bias within Film Studies to just concentrate on films on their own, on film movements on their own, on filmmakers on their own. It is very bad at moving out of that comfort zone and applying other knowledge, other areas of human culture with it, which, ultimately, when you do start doing this, when you adopt a transdisciplinary or holistic approach you end up with a much more vibrant result which, ultimately, does give you a bigger insight, a much richer insight. Film Studies is complacent, I have always found it to be hugely complacent, it produces students that are very good at taking these templates, these pre-arranged theories and ways of thinking and re-applying them to other films, which is kind of lazy, I think. Where’s the innovation? I don’t want to take someone else’s cookie cutter and make the same cookie, I want to make my own cookie cutter, I want to shape it like a foot or a tree. From my own experience of Film Studies, and from what I have inferred from other people, it tends to be quite closed in, there is this attitude that Film Studies is a bit like history now, it’s a bit like Film Studies/theory history, it’s like, “This is what all the theorists developed, this is all the lines of thinking they developed, we’re going to educate you about that and then we’re going to teach you to take those cookie cutters and just apply them to new films.” What Film Studies is very bad at educating is inspiring you to develop new theories, to develop new ways of thinking about film, of exploring film, of creating films. It’s very bad at that, very bad and I think it is hugely damaging, firstly, towards new potential practitioners that could involve themselves in cinema, but, secondly, I think it is damaging to film and film heritage and the overall entity of cinema as a whole, I think it is very damaging, very damaging! It is the attitude of, “We are so invested in the past, the way things were, what is this thing called the future? We don’t know, we don’t care.” And the problem is when you are like you shut yourself off and you get very quickly left behind. And this is happening in the area of film, you can see it in the film industry, in film culture, you can see it in the mainstream. We live in reboot heaven at the moment, everything is just recycled stuff from the past. We’re so obsessed with looking back to the past, to regaining that heritage, to regaining that la-la land of films when they were just released in the cinema and there was no other way of watching them – that’s damaging. We have to preserve it absolutely and I am all for preserving it, but that can’t be it. If Film Studies just becomes Film History, then film will be history! It will stop, it will stop developing, it will dry up. My point is it just needs innovation, it needs sparks of new thinking, new theories by new practitioners.”

 – Me, Breaking Cinema with a Selfie Stick, 2015

“Today, we are confronted with an unprecedented amount of information, and each of us generates more information than ever before in human history. As former Boeing scientist and New York Times writer Dennis Overbye notes, this information stream contains ‘more and more information about our lives – where we shop and what we buy, indeed, where we are right now – the economy, the genomes of countless organisms we can’t even name yet, galaxies full of stars we haven’t counted, traffic jams in Singapore and the weather on Mars.’ That information ‘tumbles faster and faster through bigger and bigger computers down to everybody’s fingertips, which are holding devices with more processing power than the Apollo mission control.’ Information scientists have quantified all this: In 2011, Americans took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986 – the equivalent of 175 newspapers. During our leisure time, not counting work, each of us processes 34 gigabytes or 100,000 words ever day. The world’s 21,274 television stations produce 85,000 hours of original programming every day as we watch an average of 5 hours of television each day, the equivalent of 20 gigabytes of audio-visual images. That’s not counting YouTube, which uploads 6,000 hours of video every hour. And computer gaming? It consumes more bytes than all other media put together, including DVDs, TV, books, magazines, and the internet.”

– Daniel Levitin, The Organised Mind, 2015:6

This project begins by breaking cinema…

One dimensional

Two dimensional

Three Dimensional

Four Dimensional

Five Dimensional

Why it was I sought refuge in films.

It’s been done, the templates have been set and you want to create new templates then you have to start embracing a larger landscape of knowledge.

There’s only so much the two-dimensional images on the screen can tell you and using the already well-established conceptual thinking templates of the Film Studies discipline, there is only so much more you can extract before you start to repeat yourself.

Just repeating what has already been done because that is one-dimensional thinking.

There’s something else to consider – Cinema is a complex mechanical creation (the medium for conveying film) imbued with the essence of humanity (the content of film). While being mesmerized and exploring the language, the beauty and the meanings of the images on the screen (as Film Studies teaches you), it is easy to forget the larger entity of cinema as a machine that human beings created and added their thought processes to (in the form of the content of film). In many ways the actual mechanism of cinema was a preview of our techno-human world of today – this is why I am so hot on exploring this in the podcast, there is a much bigger landscape to scrutinize when it comes to cinema. In my mind that is how you distinguish between the meanings of film and cinema – films are the content of the medium of cinema and cinema is the medium that conveys the content of film (or of humankind), but cinema is bigger than film and it could be argued that it is bigger than humankind. That’s why I keep saying that films are only one part of it and this is why I think a strong and deep consideration of the psychology of the spectator is a critical variable of investigation in exploring this larger landscape of cinema. There’s a technological-psychology behind cinema that we are only beginning to understand today because it is something we are actively engaging in on a daily basis in our increasingly digitally obsessed world. And as the machines become smarter they are increasingly giving us the answers, opposed to us working out the answers for ourselves. In many ways, it is similar to sitting down and being visually and pleasurably lectured to by a film, but it is so easy to forget about the machine that is enabling the pleasure…

 “Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms. The machine world reciprocated man’s love by expediting his wishes and desires, namely, in providing him with wealth. One of the merits of motivation research has been the revelation of man’s sex relation to the motorcar.”

– Marshall McLean, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1966:55-6.

That multi-faceted relationship between content and consumer and the mechanical-biological organism that fuses the spectator and the spectacle in to union is vastly more interesting and insightful that just focusing on the two-dimensional images on the screen, the content of the mechanism, as it were. That is what a film viewer is for, the role of a Film Studies practitioner should be something more.

And interacting with these people and trying to get a stroll from the overtreaded path, for me anyway, is like pulling teeth.

It’s a direct result of the two-tier system of conscious and unconscious minds the human brain evolved to have in order to deal with the world.