We are focusing and researching the topic of realism in films and graphic imagery, and asked to produce, interrupt or re-imagine the conventions of realism in our own work. Again the history of realism was studied to outline how it had changed and developed over time. Artwork again was an initial focus, Looking at a variety of different images ranging from medieval to renaissance artwork and compared the images to each other to see how realism was portrayed.

Here are the images…

We also looked at various other different approaches realism, Roland Barthes’ The Reality Effect (1968) stated...

“Obsessive reference to the ‘concrete’ (in what is rhetorically demanded of the… of literature, of behaviour) is always brandished like a weapon against meaning”

Roland Barthes discussed the concept of “Descriptive excess” I feel this is a powerful quote as it reflects on how we interpret genres, it also refers to how audiences interpret meaning, if a something was completely set in concrete then there would be less room for different interpretations of media texts leaving little meaning to be decoded. After looking at multiple films and short clips such as “Time Code” 2000 by Mike Figgis, we began to broaden our minds to different and unconventional approaches to realism.

I feel that this approach to realism is original and interesting, I  particularly liked that each division of the screen was unedited and the raw and uncut footage was used. This film almost portrays the cinema and a survelllience station by which we observe people. I feel that this simple approach to realism is an effective way of portraying realism and I will be considering the use of a similar technique in my own work.

Another method of studying the conventions of realism is to look at ‘Dogme 95’. We analysed a manifesto written by the ‘Dogme 95’ movement in order to broaden our understanding of the conventions of realism. The manifesto includes…

I swear to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by Dogme 95:

  1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in.
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the image or vice-versa.
  3. The camera must be handheld. Any movement or mobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
  4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable.
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action.
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden.
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.

‘Dogme’ appears to have quite a particular approach to the portrayal of realism, these rules have been followed by other film makers also. I am particularly interested in “Dogme’s” manifesto because I feel it can be used to accurately to portray realism and actuality; The idea of raw and organic footage, natural behaviour and composition rather than staged and stylised depictions.

It is true to say that footage tells different stories, and how they are decoded is dependent on a individuals interpretation or perception. There are many different approaches to realism and how it is interpreted, We also looked at conventions of realism in terms of documenting real life events (e.g. “Cops with Cameras”, “Sky News”) but we also looked at how realism could be portrayed through more unconventional ways such as 4th wall breaks and using emotions to make the media more engaging. “Funny Games” by Michael Haneke (1997 and 2008) is a good example of how emotion and a 4th wall break was used in this way.

Another important element / convention of realism is continuity (especially in film), In our own work, we wish to use correct continuity as an aspect of realism. Our plan was to document a small snippet of student life; our brief suggested that the film we will make can last between 30s and 1 minuet.

We planned to have an accurate portrayal of a student, we dressed our main character in stereotypical costume to help convey realism. We wanted to take a simple approach to realism by staying broadly within the typical conventions, although initially we considered using raw unedited footage like that of “Time Clock” however in the end we decided that we wanted a more constructed appearance; displayed though continuity editing. We also stuck closely to the “Dogme” manifesto to ensure that our production would be a truthful portrayal of realism and actuality. For instance, I did not make any adjustments or alterations to the lighting or images. I decided to film our production with both a ‘Canon SX530’ as well as an iPhone 5s for a few reasons. Firstly we wanted to challenge typical film conventions by using unconventional equipment; but I also felt that using the iPhone 5s would also help to add to the theme of realism. Another reason we decided to film with both a camera and an  iPhone was also to see if there was any drastic differences between footage. We did consider presenting the footage side by side but decided not to because we felt it would contradict our initial plan. In the edit I did, I used footage mostly from the iPhone, surprisingly both sets of footage seemed to fit well with each other. In some scenes we struggled with visibility due to the fact that we decided against using artificial lighting, although we felt this was an unavoidable outcome due to our methodology. I used iMovie to edit my version of the film, again I decided to edit the scenes only in a way that would portray flow and correct continuity; no other adjustment to light or sound we made because I felt that if the footage was tampered with too much then the realism would be lost among stylised after effects.


Funny Games. (1997) [Online]. Directed by Michael Haneke. Australia: Wega Film. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl9hxfAahN4&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 28th September 2015]

Time Code. (2000) [Film]. Directed by Mike Figgis. USA: Screen Gems. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQidFlpYlDw&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 28th September 2015]