What is Lyrical Style?

Checking the definition of “lyrical” is not much help in determining what lyrical style is in documentary cinematography. You find that it is supposedly “expressing…emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way” or “expressing personal thoughts and feelings in a beautiful way.”

Hmmmm… I’m down with the emotion thing. Video is an emotional medium. If your rhetorical goals do not include eliciting some kind of emotional response from the audience, then you’re doing it wrong.

For the moment, I want to slip past the whole beautiful thing by saying, sure, yeah, do all the stuff that classically leads to “beautiful” frames. Stuff like good composition and competent use of the range of visual possibilities given how cameras and lenses work.

Malick’s dogma is about the beauty of cinematography from his artistic perspective. Cartier-Bresson’s idea of the “decisive moment” is about composition and so much more. It’s about a relationship between composition (on the fly, not flying by the rules) and the subject involving a moment that captures the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” In my own revision of that for documentary cinematography, I replace the idea of capturing an instant to discovering and capturing decisive moments over time.

I think when you jam these two together — Malick’s way of seeing and capturing with Cartier-Bressons’s marrying of form and significance — that something like lyrical style happens.

The video is a new version of my Trinity teaser in widescreen black & white (as I intend the final product) with added scenes that, I think, make the trajectory of the film a bit more apparent. What I’m wanting you to see (because I’ve primed you to see it) is to what extent I may be achieving a lyrical style.

Perhaps I should do a shot-by-shot analysis.


Posts in this series:

Visual Style Conveyed in Words — Maybe | Frame by Frame (rhetorica.net)

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Visual Style Conveyed in Words — Maybe

I know why my social media content never takes off — well, besides not being broadly interesting or entertaining 😉 It’s because I’m lazy. Or, perhaps, sugar-coated: I’m only willing to put maximum effort into a limited range of creative output.

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For example, I was briefly enamored of the idea examining visual style — specifically, “lyrical style” — using Instagram and building the slides in Picsart. Click on the pix and take a look. You’ll notice I left the most important part undone. Part 3 should have brought the two ideas together, which would have been interesting and enlightening — at least to me.

For those of you who didn’t click through: I attempted to come to some understanding of “lyrical style” in documentary cinematography by mashing together the “decisive moment” and the Malick dogma.

Now part 3 isn’t just wandering around in my head. I haven’t expressed it. So it really doesn’t exist yet. I recall the E.M Forster quote: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say.” I want to know what I mean. So I have to finish the thought.

I’m just not going to do it on Instagram. I’ll do it here.

Well, not right this second. Gimme a minute 🙂

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Time to Get Real

I was away the entire month of June. I spent the first week of July moving to a new apartment. I’m ready to get back to work. And I’m ready for my new routine.

Why should you care? Among the work I’ll doing is providing an inside look at my creative documentary process as I begin new projects.

(OMG, yes, I’m still editing Trinity. But no promises.)

What’s most exciting to me is that everything I’m working on now (well, not Trinity) is either Portugal based or otherwise international.

Here’s what I’m up to:

  1. :15CITY – In Search of Human Scale: already mentioned.
  2. Os Marnotos: a story about making salt the old-fashioned way on the local estuary. It’s been going on for more than a thousand years. I began pre-production for real today. This story will include coverage of the Festival of the Canals that begins on 17 July.
  3. Something something craft beer in Portugal. I’ve been thinking about this one even before landing here. I’ve now found the perfect subject right here in Aveiro 😉 While drinking a beer! It’s OK for an idea to be less than well-formed at the start. Storytelling should be a voyage of discovery.
  4. Looking ahead to 2025, and dependent upon funding, I’m working on an idea involving colonialism, tourism, and (sustainable)(over)development in Jamaica. I’ve made a few significant strides in pre-production (source development and securing a producer) so far. But this project is not yet ready for any kind of an announcement. Well, not more than this anyway.

As mentioned earlier, I’m trying to figure out a way to incorporate TikTok into the educational component of all this work. What I really don’t want to do is a YouTube how-to thing. It’s just too much work. I need to focus on documentary filmmaking. TikTok done well is also a lot of work. I’m not necessarily promising to do it well 🙂 I’m only promising to feed the beast 😉

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Film Festival Photo Wall Selfie

I had nothing entered in the recent Fest- New Films, New Directors Festival in Espinho, Portugal. So no one had a reason to make a picture of me at the photo wall.

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I’m also planning to attend DocLisboa this year. Good festivals are a good place to network. And it is for sure that I need to do more of that. While I have personal projects ongoing (especially re: this recent announcement), I’m also looking for crew work. And just getting further plugged into the documentary world in Portugal and Europe.

I am moving apartments now following a full month of travel. More updates and scintillating content soon 😉

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In Search of Human Scale

Yes, I’m still editing Trinity. But I’m also working on two new projects — both in the early stages  of pre-production. The larger of the two is represented in this graphic. If you’ve been following my documentary career since the beginning — and who hasn’t? — you immediately recognize I’m returning to a beloved general topic: new urbanism. This time I’m taking a look at the 15-minute city concept.

Untitled ProjectI don’t know if In Search of Human Scale is a good title yet. But it does get after something I’ve been thinking since the 15-minute city concept had its moment of infamy following certain reactions to it that, shall we say, fall comfortably well within the realm of crazy conspiracy theories.

Retrofitting cities to make them more livable can certainly be controversial for any number of rational reasons. The conspiracy theories, oddly enough, do indeed point out that the idea of making a city livable isn’t without challenges and outcomes that may favor some groups over others.

Making a city livable. I tried my hand at that in Springfield, Missouri both as a filmmaking professor and as a 1-term city planning commissioner.

What if it’s better for individuals who want a livable city — a 15-minute city — to go in search of it for themselves rather than trying to change what exists?

That’s what I did. It isn’t going to happen (anytime soon) in Springfield. But in Aveiro, Portugal? I found what I was looking for.

And now I intend to tell you about it.

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