Jamison Bright – the ‘Auteur’ Theory

What ‘makes’ a film? Is it the writing? Is it the editing? This is the question many have sought to answer. Auteur, a term not so commonly used these days, is defined as a director who so influences a film, that he or she becomes the author, making it what it is. But how can we prove or disprove this? By looking at a handful of short films by one director – Jamison Bright – we can see how each work carries on the director’s film style and personal principles.

Jamison Bright is a young, up-and-coming, film director who has so far built a solid portfolio of live-action and animated shorts. Formerly known as Xavier Vanegas, Jamison is a director, actor, and producer, using all of these positions to create pieces of art that help define the human condition and entertain the world.

Early works

When looking at Jamison’s extensive portfolio to get a clear picture of how he thinks and what messages he wants to give to the world, you must begin with his early works.

One Night Stand shows a young man’s attempt to escape an apartment after spending the night with a woman. Despite being an early piece of Jamison’s work, we can see marked creativity in his shot selection and awareness of location, a favourite part being the use of a mirror to avoid using a standard cut away.

Pass/Fail Episode Two is similar in theme, however this one included dialogue that sounded both realistic to the age group and garnered a chuckle. With more actors and scenery to command, it was a tough job, but definitely shows his progression in skill. The shot selections are textbook, setting the scene and letting the characters tell their stories.

No university film degree is complete without making a zombie film. Zombs focuses on the in-between moments. Minor technical elements such as lighting and sound could have been improved, but it added to the psuedo-normalcy of the event.

Also dealing with death in a mostly comedic way is Remembering Jim Thatcher. Through quick glimpses of Jim’s life at the open of the film, we are instantly connected to him. The use of a green screen, though sometimes very evident, generally worked for the best. We are able to concentrate on the characters and their plight, rather than background stimuli.

Jamison’s focus on his own age demographic highlights his admitted desire to help others define their personal experience. He knows what they are going through, especially at a time when they are searching for meaning and attempting to understand life.

Later works

The first I will discuss here is my personal favourite. Abby and the Lights in the Sky tells of a young mother who is struggling after losing her baby. One night, strange lights appear outside the window, filling her with a sense of peace and closure. It used music in an interesting way, alongside subtle reactions, which often mean more than melodrama.

Just like you’d expect, Jamison’s later works all show a massive improvement in terms of technique. In progressing from short films to a possible future in features, he has begun to release a series of shorts that will combine to create a much larger story. These instalments: Park Bench, Bench Décès, and Statica Segment 1 are just the beginning of the series that promises to get darker. The latter two are in black and white, giving a noir-esque feel. The close framing and odd angles keep you off-balance, adding to the intrigue and showing Jamison, having mastered the basic filmic techniques, has moved onto using the shots to tell the story and not just capture the action.

Another instalment of an ongoing series is the endearing animated film Fink Forest Friends: The Invisible Honk. Though focused to a much younger demographic, it still portrayed a sense of morals, making it not just entertainment.

The Current Beneath is a stand-alone short film that uses an older cast and a more emotional take on death and loss. Telling its story in only a few minutes, the use of quick editing heightened the panic. It is one of the many works that Jamison has added a charity/cause credit to, with this one hitting close to home.

Telling a long tale in a short period of time, Mary Wollstonecraft of Sector Seventeen doesn’t feel like anything is left out. It is both funny and serious, and is similar to the Bench series in it’s use of black and white and shadow.

Common elements

Whether or not we are aware of it, we all have a specific way of seeing the world. After watching a few films by Jamison, you will be able to identify a number of common elements that all illustrate his world view and areas of interest.

All stories tend to have a moral message behind them, and Jamison uses his own age experience to target his messages to young adults. His films include immaturity in relation to sex and relationship, but also the heavier subjects of the shortness of life and how not even the youth are immune to it.

No filmmaker is alone in creating their art. Despite the obvious influence the director has on the film and its meaning, it is the contribution of others and their ideas that make it a more comprehensive product. Some of Jamison’s frequent collaborators include his family, and friends Cody Theilman, Christopher Dinriquez, Evan Muehlbauer, and Lyman Johnson.

The human experience is one of trials and tribulations, with almost everyone just trying to do their best. By helping each other, we can not only ease the suffering of others, but bring joy to our own existence. Over the handful of years that Jamison Bright has been studying and honing his craft, he has done this by outwardly dedicating his works to known and lesser-known causes, and by his film themes. It is only by continuing to watch his creations that we will see his ideas and morals grow, entertaining and positively affecting more and more people around the globe.

You can find his works at the following links:

instagram.com/jamisonbright

vimeo.com/vanegas

www.facebook.com/jamisonbright/

www.youtube.com/channel/UCcQxdn-oNblZlfaAeZHPixw

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The Wayward Kite (2017) – Review

By Michelle Sommerville

There are films where all it takes it one look at the title and you just know what it is going to be about. For me, this was not one of those films. Before I even pressed play, my mind was filled with ideas and guesses, and I was excited to see if the truth would come anywhere near. Would it be straight forward, or an analogy for something greater? This was almost swept from my mind at the first display of animation. It was breathtaking, even in its apparent simplicity. It didn’t detract from the story, however, instead elevating it and bringing it to life.

It is not a good day for that poor kite. With a musical accompaniment but no dialogue, the audience follows the exploits of the title wayward kite. Cut off from the rest, it is hit by a vehicle, electrocuted by power lines, falls into a dumpster, and finds itself among the disgusting refuse at the tip. By this point it is little more than mere tatters clinging desperately to its frame. It breaks free of this too, now unencumbered but further weakening itself. A storm and rain threaten a final defeat, but almost through sheer will the kite perseveres.

The story of the film is simple, but can symbolise much deeper meaning. You find yourself questioning how closely you related to an inanimate object and its harrowing plight.

At this point I usually comment on the acting, which feels strange to do in a film like this. Somehow, the faceless kite was able to emote, and was a great leading man or woman.

Let me get one thing straight: the animation was phenomenal. From the first look at the kites at the beginning, I was brought into the world of the film. That’s what you need to do, bring the audience in, and The Wayward Kite certainly did this. Add to this the cityscape and huge advertisement boards, a-mazing!

The transitions were also flawless, seamlessly moving from one scene and setting to another.

Another unmistakably brilliant addition to this film was the emotional classical music accompaniment. It was not what you would expect in a cartoon, but elevated it from a more child-like target audience to those looking for the meaning behind the images.

In the last few years, animated short films have become a hit. Whether this is due to shortened attention spans or some other reason, it bodes well for this work. Already selected to screen internationally at well-respected film festivals, it seems this is only the beginning of success for both this film and its creators.

Not since Toy Story (1995) have I rooted so hard for an inanimate object. It held such personification and emotion. The animation was brilliant and made it an oddly relatable story. I have no idea how they achieved this, and I don’t really want to know lest it take away the magic.

Merlin: Aithusa (TV Tie-In)

I love novels, and I love TV/Movie.

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No this isn’t about fan fiction, but TV Tie-Ins. In the future, I would LOVE to be paid to write original stories, and episode novelisations of TV Shows, so I thought I should put my work out there.

So check out it and let me know what you think!

https://embed.wattpad.com/story/78334108

Footloose (2011) – Review

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I’ll be honest, I was biased when I pressed play.

I recorded it weeks ago, but with nothing else on TV, I decided to finally put it on.

Remakes in general drive me nuts, so I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this one – not to mention they removed the best part: Kevin Bacon!

From reading this review, you may think I’m some old fogey. No, I am almost 25 years old, and am honest enough to admit that I do not agree with the kids in this movie at all. Instead of my usual review format, I’ll just do bullet-points.

The Good

  • The acting. I didn’t know most of them (with the exception of Miles Teller, Dennis Quaid, and Andie MacDowell), but all of them played their roles well.
  • The dancing featured some of our favourite moves from the original, while incorporating modern actions.
  • They kept to the idea of the original, not trying to make it something different. After all, what makes movies like the original Footloose a great movie, is that it can be timeless.

The Bad

  • Rules make kids rebel – No, idiot kids do that just fine on their own. It’s like saying laws like ‘No Murder’ are responsible for people wanting to murder. Of course ‘no music’ is ridiculous, but indulging in underage sex, drugs, and alcohol aren’t intelligent decisions. Until we are ~25 years old, our brains are still forming, and the last part to form is the long-term effects of their actions. As adults it is our responsibility to ensure those still developing aren’t making the decisions they cannot make. If they think it’s unfair, tough luck.
  • Church and State – The world isn’t going to follow God and doesn’t believe in Him, but that doesn’t mean He’s not real. There is no real separation of church and state, God has laws and they are above all other laws. Most of the time, where do you think they got the laws?
  • Dancing in the Bible – Yes David and the worshippers danced, but no where in the Bible does it have them rubbing up against each other in a Holy way in celebration of God.
  • At every step of the movie they show how right the laws were. These kids didn’t want to do things the right way. When there was no law against music, they still acted like idiots. If they didn’t have alcohol and drugs, and didn’t let their dance movements lead to underage sex, then there wouldn’t be a problem.
  • Adults may play these roles in the movie, but the ages are 15/16/17 years old. They are children, not adults. They have barely been alive, and yet they think they know everything. News flash, they don’t.

I’m sure there are many more reasons I can name, but I’ll leave it there for now. Let me know what you thought of the movie.

To finish on a lighter note, here is the amazing Kevin Bacon doing his famous dance in 2014.

 

3 out of 5 stars

Roswell High: The Watcher – Book Review

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I don’t remember much about the show ‘Roswell‘. My older sister watched it a lot, and I know the faces, but that’s about it.

Looking through a box for my next book to read, I found ‘Roswell High: The Watcher‘. Number four in the series, it isn’t a long book, and it contains information from previous novels – not to mention essentially ending on a ‘to be continued’.

As I said, I don’t remember much of the show, but surely it was better than this. The writing was immature, the characters acted ridiculously, and the events moved way too quickly. I know it is a book about aliens –  so how realistic could it be? – but I still expected more.

If you still want to read this book and reminisce about an old TV favourite, go ahead, and let me know what you think.

2.5 out of 5

The Trap – Book Review

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There are books you read that are entertaining, and then there are books that are so captivating you cannot put them down. The Trap is definitely the latter. It took me only about a week to devour the 281 pages, and I already feel like I could read it again (not to mention watch it as a movie).

If you haven’t heard of it before, the blurb is this:

Twelve years ago, Linda Conrads’ sister Anna was brutally murdered. Her killer was never identified, but Linda glimpsed his face as he escaped.
Now, all these years later, she’s just seen him again, on TV.
He’s become a well-known journalist, and Linda – a famous novelist and notorious recluse – knows no one will believe her if she accuses him.
So she sets a trap for him, writing a thriller called Blood Sisters about the unsolved murder of a young woman.
And agrees to give just one interview.
At home.
To the only person who knows more about the case than she does…
But is he really the killer – or is she losing her mind?

Are you hooked yet? I was. Through the Text Publishing website, I found a list of new books they had coming out, and snapped it up when it was at my local store. This is the debut for author Melanie Raabe, and if this is any indication of what she can churn out, I can’t wait to read more of her stuff.

Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that this book is full of twists and turns, and just when you think you’ve figured it out, you’re thrown another curve ball.

I would recommend The Trap to anyone, and want to know what you think of it.

4 out of 5 stars

‘The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope’ – Book Review

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

If I cast my memory back, I believe it was during a local book store’s closing down sale that I first saw ‘The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope‘. The cover and title instantly caught my eye, and someone I knew it would be the mix between enthralling characters, great story, and weirdness – though maybe this is because I was instantly reminded of The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012).

Once I read the synopsis on the back, I was hooked, and bought it. A myriad of factors got in the way, and it took probably over a year before I began page 1.

Rhonda Riley certainly has a talent for describing scenery and setting the scene. What first appears to be a normal story set in the Post-WW2 era, becomes a tale possibly from out of this world. After a violent rain storm, Evelyn discovers a person partly-buried in the field of the farm she has been left in-charge of. As she wipes the dirt away, it is clear this is not an ordinary person. There are no features, no hair, no clothes, and no gender markers.

Living all alone on the farm, Evelyn brings the stranger inside, and that is where their relationship takes off.

There are parts of the book that I found unnecessary; storylines that felt included for the sake of popularity with the current-ideals. Riley managed to make it work with the story and the evolution of the characters, but I did question whether to put the book down.

Boy am I glad I didn’t! I have just finished this book, and my eyes are still sore from crying. I’m not usually emotional over stories – and maybe I’m coming down with a cold or the flu – but the way Riley makes you feel for these characters and their loss is phenomenal. This family want answers just as badly as we do. They suffer with uncertainty. We all have fears about our own mortality, and for Evelyn and Adam (or A/Addie) this is definitely amplified.

I loved how the book covered such a large period of time, and I feel almost like Adam, remaining young as the characters I’ve grown attached to age and wither.

While I wouldn’t go searching this book for ideas on religion and answers about mortality, I would recommend it for someone who likes a good story.

3.5 out of 5 stars