This week saw the publication of CUT TO [compilation]. It's a really special issue for us for a number of reasons
Firstly, it's the 10th issue of our magazine - the 7th in print (our first three issues were just published online, as long time readers will know!) Reaching number ten is a real landmark achievement for us. The very first issue went online December 2010 and we've published around two issues a year since (with a bit of a break while our Editor-in-Chief brought a different baby into the world). Ten issues means we're a properly established magazine. We're excited about what the next ten will bring!
Secondly, this is a special issue for us because it is also a celebration of all our issues to date, a [compilation] of some of our favourite articles since we started out. Although it was excruciatingly difficult narrowing down our final issue, it was also so much fun revisiting our past issues: snow, gold, blood, obsession, magic, space, skin, waste and conflict. We've published an abundance of insightful and thought-provoking articles over the last six and a half years and worked with so many talented aspiring writers and editors. We hope you enjoy reading or re-reading our final selection as much as we enjoyed revisiting them for this issue.
Then there's the redesign - and what better time to show it off than with this 10th issue? Our new design is a striking move away from the the busy pages of before. Inspired by Scandinavian minimalism, we've stripped our design and colour scheme right back: black text on crisp white pages with just the smallest splash of mustard yellow.
To reflect our creative and unconventional approach to film and TV criticism, we've also done away with the film stills and picked some conceptual photography to accompany our articles. We'll be introducing the student artists behind some of the original photography on the blog this coming week. With new dimensions, the magazine is literally bigger and better than ever and a change of paper means that Diegesis not only looks different but feels different too.
We love the end result and hope you do too. Leave us a comment here to let us know!
CUT TO [compilation] is out now and available around Southampton Solent University campus and at some of our favourite venues around Southampton. If you want to find out how to get hold of a copy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diegesis is produced by staff and students on the BA (Hons) Film and Television degree at Southampton Solent University. The views expressed in Diegesis are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the options, official policy or position of the university or degree.
We are Bryony and Jordan, the new deputy editors of DIEGESIS. As a dynamic duo we have worked together as editors since our first year and written for Derby Film Festival and Southampton Film Week. Now in our third year of Film and Television at Solent University, we hope to bring new, insightful and forward-thinking journalism to the magazine over the next academic year. We plan to publish a monthly online mini issue which will cover a wide range of themes and topics, relevant to current issues in film and television. These will be accompanied by Spotify playlists that will audibly inform our online themes and showcase our impeccable music tastes.
Here’s a little bit about us.
Bryony: Some areas of film criticism I enjoy talking about include literature adaptations, global film and low-budget independent films. As someone who is a huge John Hughes fan, I would recommend to anyone that hasn’t seen his films to have a binge day on PRETTY IN PINK, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, THE BREAKFAST CLUB and SIXTEEN CANDLES; as well as WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and ANNIE HALL if you have the time. A television series I’ve been sucked into lately is the Netflix original ORPHAN BLACK which is an innovative and thought-provoking show as well as hugely entertaining. Over this next year I am looking forward to reading some perceptive and innovative pieces on all areas of contemporary film and television that questions the way we study the screen and teach our audience something new about the film and TV world.
Jordan: My favourite topics to write about are short films, film festivals and global cinema, especially Japanese animation and Asian cult films. If I had to pick a film to recommend to watch it would probably be HEATHERS: an 80s cult classic full of iconic catchphrases that is surprisingly lighthearted in its portrayal of high school murder and suicide. Something I’ve been loving recently is RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE. It is an addictive experience and the pinnacle of over-the-top reality television but equally endearing in its presentation of a diverse cast of drag queens. Expect drag slang to become part of your daily lexicon after binge-watching every series available on Netflix. I would love to see articles that bring attention to unique or under-appreciated film and television. As DIEGESIS aims to take an unconventional approach to film and television criticism, the wider we cast our journalistic net the better!
All you need to do to review a film or television programme is watch it then write about it, right?
All the best film and TV reviews have one thing in common: solid research. On a very basic level research involves getting your facts straight. Who is the director? What year was the film released? On what channel was the television programme first broadcast? Who are the actors (check spellings!)?
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose” - Zora Neale Hurston
But decent research needs to go further than this. The second stage of research should dig a bit deeper. What did the director direct previously? How do their previous films compare to the one you are reviewing? Yes, this might mean watching more films, if necessary to your review. How does the central performance or performances compare to the actors' previous performances? What other comparisons can be made?
Has the film or television programme sparked any particular debates or discussions following its release or broadcast?
Has/could it been compared to other films or TV programmes?
The third stage of your research should be focused around your film or TV programme in relation to the area of [recall] that you are focusing on. Think about how the film approaches [recall] in comparison to other films or TV programmes. If you are focusing on a film about Alzheimer's, for example, are there any other noteworthy films that have focused on the disease? How does your film compare?
Research is often the most enjoyable part of writing so embrace it and see where it takes you. Do be careful not to go off on too much of a tangent though. Your review can be no longer than 550 words so you want to ensure that every word is relevant.
Now that you have chosen your film or television programme, the next task is to watch it! We recommend watching your chosen text at least 3 times.
The first time, you should just give yourself over to the film or programme and watch it, without interruptions, or without making any notes - although do have a notepad handy in case you really need to jot something down. Immerse yourself in the viewing process. Afterwards, grab your notebook and make a few notes about how you feel about the film overall. What is the film about? What is the overall plot? Who are the key characters? What is the film trying to say?
For the second viewing you will really need that notebook and pen, and the remote control handy to pause your film as and when you need to. We recommend dividing your page into two or having two pieces of paper to write on: write form on one side and content on the other.
Under form make notes about the film or television programmes formal properties, for example: cinematography, editing, lighting, sound, genre, narrative structure. Under content make notes about the film or television programme's thematic properties, that is, what themes and issues does the film engage with, for example: gender, race, class, sexuality, age, politics, social issues etc.
You should now have plenty of material to start your review. Which areas stand out most to you? what are the most important aspects of the film or television programme? How does the film's form relate to its content and vice versa?
Remember, the review needs to relate to the theme of [recall] in some way so take a look at your notes again and consider which aspects relate most strongly to [recall]. For example, is it a historical biopic film that looks back to the 1940s? Or a thriller that uses the flashback device in a particularly significant way? Or perhaps a television drama about dementia and aging? If you need a reminder about how you might interpret [recall] then look again at our list of keywords.
Finally we recommend a third (or fourth, or fifth) viewing to iron out your details. One of the worst crimes that a film reviewer can commit is to get your facts and the details of your review wrong, especially those facts that are crucial to your overall argument. Not sure if the little girl's dress is red or blue? Check to make sure! Not sure if the man was trapped for 20 or 21 days? Check! Not sure if it is Scorsese or Scorcese, Taratino or Tarantino? Check!
Not only is it important to be certain about key details but adding some rich detail to your review can really help bring it alive for the reader too. Jot down significant details and save them for when you come to write.
Now you are armed and ready with your notes, it's time to plan your review!
So you've read through the writing competition information back and you're in! The next step is deciding what film or television programme you will review.
Basically, anything goes as long as it relates in some way to the theme of [recall].
You might want to start with our inspirational terms and examples. We've included more than 50 words and phrases that relate to the word [recall] in some way and more than 50 films and television programmes.
Of course, you might want to review a film or television programme that isn't on the list and we are happy for you to surprise us. So long as your review is of a film or television programme that has something to do with [recall], you can pick whatever you like.
Pick something that you are able to watch more than once if you can. Repeated viewing really helps to pick out detail and strengthen your analysis.
Pick a film or television programme that you feel something about. Your review needs to be more than "I loved this film" or "I hated this film" but feeling something about the film is a good start to writing a decent review.
Pick a film or television programme that you have something you want to say about it and the more you want to say about it, the better! It is always easier to edit a review down and make it more succinct than it is to inflate it if you don't have enough to say.
Now you've decided on your film or television programme, you can move onto the next step: watching it!
We are delighted to announce that the guest judge for our 2015 writing competition is Dave Calhoun, Global Film Editor at Time Out! Dave will be joining our judging panel at the end of October and will use his expertise in film criticism to decide our winning review and runners up. You can read Dave's film reviews here and follow Dave on Twitter @davecalhoun