Image: Katharina Matzkeit

When I planned this series of reflections upon my personal media diet, I decided that I would write one episode about „everything that’s online, but that’s not blogs or social networks“. Today, when I sketched out in my head, what exactly I would write about, I noticed that when you take away blogs and social networks, there isn’t really that much more that I do online. So maybe this episode will be a short one, but let’s leave it like that as a case in point.

Netvibes

The hub around which all my media activity on the web revolves, is a nifty feed reader called Netvibes which I call my „Everywhere Office“. It allows you to subscribe to feeds of all kinds and sort them neatly in tabs and widgets. I have tabs for „News“, „Film“, „Media“, „Music“, „Culture“ and „Entertainment“. The number of unread articles on top of each tab gives me an overall feeling of how much has happened. Most of the feeds I follow are blogs (more on that in the next episode), but there is some other stuff as well and I guess that is everything that qualifies for this episode.

News Sites

I had just published the first episode of „Navel Gazing“ when I noticed that others think about the same things. And I promptly stumbled upon a sentence by Daniel Erk that perfectly reflects my opinion:

Die deutschen Nachrichtenseiten im Netz finde ich alle recht austauschbar. Es erscheint mir vor allem eine Designfrage, ob man nun auf Spiegel Online, Zeit Online oder FAZ.net die neuesten Meldungen von dpa und Reuters liest.

I find German news sites on nthe web quite interchangeable. It seems to be formerly a design question, whether you read your news wire stories on Spiegel Online, Zeit Online or FAZ.net.

I have personally opted for tagesschau.de for my news needs, which is the website of Germany’s first public service television channel. I find their blue design quite soothing, they seem relatively unbiased and because they are integrated with a network of radio and tv stations, they always offer multimedia content. When I have a general feeling of uninformedness, I like to watch their News in 100 seconds to bring me up to date on the latest headlines in a very short time period.

My college years spent in mass media studies („Publizistik“) have generally convinced me of the belief that much of what we call „news“ is completely irrelevant for me. So I like to keep informed about the trends of what is „viral“ in the world right now, for which, I noticed, it suffices to check a news site every few days. Otherwise, I have adapted the strategy of that apocryphal high school intern and let the news come to me, which works surprisingly well (more on that soon). And whenever there is a topic that concerns me or that I feel I should be able to have an informed opinion about (most current example: ACTA), I generally start on a news site for some background and then take to the blogs and columnists to get a wider variety of opinions.

For my film news, I follow /film. While they are, by outer form and also by the tone of their coverage, a blog, most of what they do is reporting news and then adding some personal comment or question with not much journalistic research involved. I simply ignore the personal comments and read the news, which they mostly present in an aggregator-like fashion, by linking to the site that broke the story. Hey, look, a segway to the next section.

Aggregators

I follow the opinion of some bloggers in thinking that aggregating will be an ever more important important part of online journalism in the future. It’s the new form of the very gatekeeping that journalists have always used. I like the fact that there is both algorithms and people that „read“ the web for me so I don’t have to. And with the power of the link, that still doesn’t mean that I am dependent on second-hand-news. I can just read it where it originates.

Apart from „/film“ mentioned above, I follow the amazing German Blog- and Twitter-Aggregator Rivva, which automatically gives me the topics that Germany’s web opinion leaders are thinking about. For topics that are on the mind of the Chattering Classes in the US, I have found the „Links for the Day“ feature of „Slant“ Magazines „The House Next Door“ very helpful.

Podcasts

I am a big fan of podcasts ever since I discovered that I like it when people talk to me while I run or exercise. So with about four to five hours of physical activity each week, I get through a wide range of podcasts. I always listen to the „Guardian’s“ Film Weekly (which might or might not be scrapped soon) and Music Weekly for interviews and opinions on current trends in those areas. In addition, I pick and mix single episodes that seem interesting from the following podcasts: The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith (for in-depth interviews with film professionals), the /filmcast (for discussions about trends in American cinema), Zündfunk Generator (for current trends in German society), Was mit Medien (for media news) and Media Talk (for media news in Britain). A good friend also regularly tries to turn me on to This American Life and I think she may have almost succeeded.

Entertainment

Almost an afterthought: Netvibes also provides me with my very own Funny Pages independently of Facebook Memes. I follow the webcomics XKCD, Multiplex, Girls With Slingshots, Nichtlustig and Partially Clips – and I still follow what’s going on at Lamebook (a good way, by the way, of keeping an eye on general trends of current American [teenage] humour).

Navel Gazing is a multi-part blog series about my personal media consumption habits, meant as a case study and a moment of self-reflection on account of Real Virtuality’s third birthday.

I continue to be a big fan of Jeff Goldsmith’s Q&A Podcast series. Not only because Jeff takes the time to talk so extensively with filmmakers about their breaking-in-stories and work habits (after you have listened to dozens of podcasts like I have, it’s interesting to compare them all), but also because every now and again, in addition, the conversations contain these little nuggets worth sharing on their own.

Way back in July, Jeff talked to Mike Cahill, Brit Marling and William Mapother about Another Earth. I only got around to listening to the podcast last week, but it contains an interesting tidbit. Director Mike Cahill explains, how he staged and shot the (impressive) car crash that gets the movie’s narrative rolling, for something around $ 200 (the shot is seen briefly in the trailer).

Sound Clip © Unlikely Films. All rights reserved.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole clip, here is the gist:
– He got a cop friend to close off the highway (for free).
– He borrowed two smashed cars whose damage fit the scenes from a scrapyard (for free).
– He rented the exact same models for the driving scenes.
– He rented a cherry picker to substitute for a camera crane.
– He craned up and then locked off the shot with only Mapother’s car.
– He filmed a clean plate, a plate with Marling’s car driving through and a plate where the two cars almost touch, as a lighting reference.
– After Effects did the rest of the work.

Proves once again that you don’t need a lot of money to make a film these days, if you’re creative enough.

Download the whole podcast for more info on the process behind Another Earth.

Kevin Feige’s Masterplan

18. August 2011

The most recent episode of Jeff Goldsmith’s excellent podcast series The Q&A featured a recording of Jeff’s Panel The Art of Adapting Comics to the Screen at Comic-Con. In it, he interviewed two screenwriting duos, who have written for films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America) and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby (Iron Man). Among other things, Jeff asked them about Marvel Studios‘ president of production Kevin Feige’s overall vision for the MCU. This is what they had to say:

Hawk Ostby: Kevin, first of all, is amazingly smart. He also loves these characters and he knows this universe so well, you’re not gonna put one over on him. It was just very clever, the way he planned – just sitting around, listening to how this all was going to gel with all the other storylines and planting things in the movie. It was fascinating. (…) The big idea was really when he said: „At the end of Iron Man, he’s gonna say ‚I am Iron Man.'“ And we thought: „Wow, that’s crazy – then what happens?“ And he says: „We’ll figure it out“. That was the really big one and we thought: „Wow, this is really cool.“ Because nobody had done that.

Mark Fergus: He wore everybody down. Everyone kept saying: „We’ll come back to that, we’ll come back to that.“ And by the end of the movie, he had everyone going „Yeah, that is awesome.“ (…) [He said :] „Let’s paint ourselves into a corner and then next time figure out an awesome way out of it.“ And this teaser at the end with Sam [Jackson]. Kevin did the greatest thing. He previewed the movie all over the place and left that out. And at the first day of theatrical, it was there. That [meant] that Iron Man was just the beginning of something bigger. (…) This was now going to branch off into all these other movies. (…) It was really just a punch in the face going: „Yeah, here we go. Marvel Universe!“

(…) Chris Markus: When we went into our first meeting, the bulletin boards all around the room were all Ryan Meinerding’s concept art and at least one of them had Red Skull, Cosmic Cube in his hand, and a picture of Asgard shooting out of it, so we were like, „Okay, Thor.“ And then, they knew they wanted Howard Stark in it – it was amazing to walk into this thing that’s already interconnected with all these tentacles to all the other movies.

Listen to the whole Podcast on The Q&A.

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