A World's Return: A Phenomenological Encounter With Film Worlds

Reynolds, Julia
O'Connor, Maria
Jackson, Mark
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

The overarching aim of this practice-led research is to explore how the processes of filmmaking constitute a ‘world’ that can be entered, understood, and reflected upon. The research asks how such worlding is set-up. This focus on what is ‘set-up’ for filmic purposes initially places emphasis on sets and location—production design—opening the discussion into the significance of world in relation to character and narrative. The research also discusses the involvements of the film industry when making film, examining the inter-connections between industry and non-industry making. The practice-led components of the thesis culminate in three film works, each providing a singular attitude towards the investigation, but also working as a complex grouping in order to extend an understanding that links in fundamental ways making and made, character and world, industry and non-industry. Two of the films (Returning and Bus Trip to the Island) are short experimental works. The third film (Shepherd) is a feature-length production. The exegesis is structured in three sections that engages in the processes of filmmaking. The first deals with pre-production, with its focus on the set, or ‘setting-up’. The second engages film production during principal shooting, and has its focus on what constitutes the ‘take’. The third engages post-production, questioning the notion of the edit. With each of these—setting-up, the take, and the edit—key critical concerns engage extensively with the philosophical work of Martin Heidegger that address especially his understanding of the notion of world worlding. In this, my aim is to disclose an ontological horizon for understanding some primordial structures for the possibility of film, in exploring these notions of setting-up, the take and the edit. Hence, critical approaches are disclosed through Heidegger’s thinking, especially in relation to the ontological structures of Da-sein, being-in-a-world, a world set up in a work of art, and the technological age. Thus, alongside the three film works, as part of the thesis outcome, is an exegesis that considers making film within a phenomenological framework, extending out from those practices of making what is understood through this particular point of view and interpretation. The notion of relations between making and made, character and world, industry and non-industry may at first infer binary or contrasting definitions. However, the research reveals a space in which to examine the complexities and interconnected relations between and amongst these to widen understanding of an ontology of film. The thesis turns towards opening up Heidegger’s term worlding in order to disclose a region which gathers all of these involvements. In this way the idea of character cannot be separated out from world, but it also cannot be separated from making or industry. All are interconnected involvements of this research and researcher. Worlding, then, is referred to as a totality of involvements. Heidegger’s thoughts inform the investigation, creating a space to consider wider possibilities into modes that have the potential to be understood as limited, fixed or known. The investigation aims at exploring these modalities in order to gather and create original thoughts on making.

Film production design , Martin Heidegger , Attunemnt , Worlding
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