Director's Project On Joss

UPDATED: Friday, December 12, 2008 15:22
VIEWED: 1830
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Saturday, December 6, 2008 3:22 PM


So I have an MPT Photostoryboarding/Super8mm class (foundations class required for my major. and we have to do a director's presentation where we choose a director or producer and do a presentation on them. And after some thinking, I decided not to do an Animation director and do Joss. But me being me, I figured coming here I could get some suggestions on where to get information, what I might want to do, ect. So yeah, here's the actual thing, any suggestions would be great.

MPT105 Director Presentation Project

Director Presentation Project

This project is basically like a book report. You will present information about a director of films or videos. They can be feature films, documentaries or short subjects, music videos, animations, etc. The main thing in choosing a subject is that you could talk about the content of their work and provide some kind of visual aid as in photo stills, a video clipping on DVD or VHS or a book.

Some of the topics you can choose to concentrate on are:

- Technique and Style - What is the director known for or good at in regard to how their films are put together?

- Story Telling Craft, Story Choices - How does the director tell their stories, are they known for taking on certain types of stories or subjects?

- Filmography - What are some of the films this director has made through the years?

- Film History - Some filmmakers have made innovative, ground-breaking films that have changed the look and approach to films, other filmmakers will refer to these films or filmmakers as great filmmakers.

- Personal/Career path - How did the director choose to become a filmmaker? What path did they take in their career to lead them into the field of directing?

Choose your subject based on who you would like to talk about. It could be someone who's work you already know and like or someone you've heard others talk about and would like to explore, or it could be that there is a favorite film that you love and you want to know a bit about the director and some of their choices that went into the creation of this particular film.

It will be easier to present your projects with visual aids that you could refer to. Think about picking no more than three clips from a film or plan out a way to show a series of clips without taking up too much presentation time.

Presentations should be at least 8 minutes long and no longer than 15. Practice before presenting to class.

Your Indian Pirate Lord,


Saturday, December 6, 2008 4:23 PM


Looks like a wonderful fun project.
And due Monday, right?

Frisky Browncoat
..or next Monday?


Sunday, December 7, 2008 3:41 PM


Seems like the story-telling one would be the easiest for Joss.


Sunday, December 7, 2008 3:47 PM


I think it'd be great to talk about Joss' characters and "Joss speak". Show a montage of clips of the very distinct way that he writes his dialogue. Talk about the background behind Firefly and how much he detailed his entire universe.

Edit: Also, try to watch any of his commentaries that you can find. Research is good, but hearing the man speak about his own self is a great way to learn about him. Find some interesting quotes, see what he says about how he directs/writes. I particularly remember his talking about the importance of vertical space (from one of his Firefly DVD commentaries) to be very interesting.


Sunday, December 7, 2008 4:13 PM


Yep, vertical space was in commentary for the
Serenity pilot/double episode. Also "landscape."

Joss is a great story-teller, too. Look how he pays out characters' back-stories bit by bit while telling episode stories. We are left to
fill in a lot of spaces.

Frisky Browncoat


Thursday, December 11, 2008 5:12 AM


I just wanted to thank you guys for the ideas. It's due today and I wanted to post my notes (we don't need anything written but I wanted to type something up for myself) on what I want to try to touch base on (I think I could easily do a 40 presentation on Joss, though I only have 15 mins). So yeah, here are my notes, tell me what you think and if I may need to change/elaborate on something.


I'm doing my Director's Presentation on Joss Whedon who is for the most part known as a SciFi writer, director and producer. He's often considered one of the most influential figures in the Scifi/fantasy genre, and is the creator of several projects that have risen to cult status.

Just to give you the basics of his beginning in the industry he started out as a writer on Roseanne, then was a script doctor for films and after a few projects from there had his script Buffy The Vampire Slayer picked up by 20th Century Fox where it was made into a movie that wasn't at all what he envisioned, but two years later he succeeded into having his original concept turned into a TV show that ran for seven seasons. During that time he had two more shows he created/wrote/directed, Angel and Firefly. All three were subsequently cancelled but one, Firefly, was made into a movie called Serenity. As of late he's directed two episodes of the Office as well as written and directed a small internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and is in the middle of filming a new series for Fox called Dollhouse as well as working on a few movie scripts. He won three awards for Serenity (Nebula Award for best Script, Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation and Prometheus Special Award). Going a little bit beyond directing he's also scripted for movies such as Toy Story, Atlantis the Lost Empire, Titan A.E. He's also written for a few comic books, most notably the Astonishing X-Men line, and has won three Eisner Awards for comics.

I'm going to focus more or less on his shows, more specifically Buffy, Firefly and it's partner movie Serenity since I brought the latter two with me to the dorms and Buffy has become what's on my screen when I'm doing homework at three in the morning. As far as story goes, Joss is known for being a strong story teller and being able to have 'universes' that are detailed and unique from one another, often action packed, drama filled, and laced with plenty of humor. Buffy was set in the everyday American/Californian high school with a heavy supernatural tone that often at times parodied the B movie genre and explored the coming of age through the more epic guise of a young girl destined to stop evil while at the same time attempting to have a normal high school experience. With Buffy, though there is the element of demons and witchcraft and staking vampires by the light of the moon, it still has a story that is also fleshed out in a setting that is familiar and filled with details and characters that are multifaceted.
Whereas with Firefly/Serenity the concept and the world it is acted in is vastly different as well as completely forged from imagination. The era is 500 years into the future with humanity having left earth and settled elsewhere (sans the involvement of any aliens), with the universe being divided by two distinct social classes as well as Political views. The future isn't gleaming spires and silver jumpsuits, it's approached more like a new frontier movement as well as a melting pot as Whedon's attention to detail show's a blending of cultures through integrating pan-asian influence into dialog and the general environment. With the show revolving around a crew of smugglers and thieves scraping buy to stay alive and out of reach of an interplanetary government it is more about the experiences of nine people in space and their motives to be on the outlawed side of society and the truth of the government than it is about destiny, maturing and defeating evil.

Common techniques and subject matter for his work often revolve around strong female characters as well as overall complex characters. Joss Whedon is a feminist, and this reflects well in his work as he's known for creating and writing strong female characters. Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is without argument his most easily recognizable female character that these exhibits attributes. While being strong, she also shows a great deal of femininity. River Tam is also an excellent example, if not more so as she began her portrayal as a mental unstable, feeble individual, and grew and had a backstory that revealed that underneath layers of mental scarring she was more powerful than any other and was able to show it in the latter scenes of Serenity. Though within all of his works he's created a great span of these female characters that embrace some form of female empowerment.
He's also known for writing Characters that are well fleshed and multi faceted. Firefly's Malcolm Reynolds for example is a man that had lost faith in religion (comparable to Whedon's on atheism) but retains faith in humanity. Reynolds is a crook, a veteran from the losing side of war comparable to the American Revolutionary (though in this case Britain won) and makes no qualms about killing when need be, nor fleeing from a fight. However he is also shown as compassionate and willing to take a stand when others are in need of help as well as loyal and even affectionate to his crew though at times he tends to be emotionally distant. While a thief, he has morals.
Whedon is also known for his dialog. In all of his work it tends to be unique, if not quirky with pop culture references that can be anywhere from obvious to extremely obscure. In Buffy words are often created and used in dialog by turning nouns into adjectives by adding a 'y' at the end (listy), as well as using the suffix '-age' (Slayage), turning adjectives into nouns 'Happy(positive thing).
Notably in Firefly he created new words to show humanity's evolution in speech (the constant creation, adaptation and evolution of words) Notably was the addition of the mandarin dialect in everyday conversation to show that the worlds super powers the US and China had at some point come together and as a result had both languages come together to form a hybrid form language. Also shown were new forms of obscenties (the joining of god+damn=Gorram) as well as definitions of older words (Companion being used as a title for registered and esteemed men and women akin to courtesians)


going to bed now (class is at noon lol)

Your Indian Pirate Lord,


Thursday, December 11, 2008 5:42 AM


Ash -

Great job. I think you covered a lot of the bases with respect to Joss. I would mention directly that Joss is not only interested in strong female characters, but also deeply flawed male characters. That would set up your discussion of Malcolm Reynolds.

I would also mention that Joss seems to have somewhat of a libertarian streak. One of the premises of Firefly/Serenity is that man should be allowed the freedom to live their lives as they choose. Joss emphasizes that the Alliance isn't an inherently evil empire, but a largely benevolent beauracracy that seeks to govern and control humanity (a good source for inspiration is the wikipedia entry for Serenity - the themes and cultural allusions section).

Hope this helps.


Thursday, December 11, 2008 3:34 PM


Too late to help here, obviously.
How did it go?

Frisky Browncoat


Friday, December 12, 2008 1:33 AM


it went really well. Some people had unnecessarily looooooong presentations that were winded and practically detailed their director's life from conception (Some people were going as far as listing the types of lenses a director preferred to shoot with). we were only supposed to present something between 7-15 mins so instead of giving a long boring presentation I just made mine about 11 mins.

I took Serenity with me and played the tracking shot that goes through the ship on mute while I talked (people liked that, because then they didn't have to watch me just standing there going on and on nor wait after I was done talking for the clip). I touched base on some basic Whedon backstory and gave a very loose filmography. Aside from the quick filmography I also made sure to mention he worked on scripts for films like Toy Story as well as scripted a few comics and picked up some Eisners before going into Joss' storytelling abilities and his attention to detail when he fleshes out his universes.
Firefly was my main example. I was able to use it to explain his visionary technique (Notably how he didn't approach a scifi set in the future in what's the standard formula, however how he approaches life 500 years in the future with a more frontier element as well as complex backstory as to how mankind has changed and adapted and the marrying of east and west cultures), character development (flawed characters and embracing female empowerment), and use of unique dialog (made sure to mention mandarin).

I probably could have done a 40 min presentation with what I had, but I just wanted to touch base on the basics of what makes Joss' projects different from the rest of the crowd. No one really knew about Joss (including my instructor) and almost everyone else did well known directors (Miazoki, Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Michael Bay, Stanley Kubrick, ect.) So I knew i sorta had to sell the key points. After class someone did tell me they really dug my presentation, so I'm pretty confident about it.

Thanks for your help guys

Your Indian Pirate Lord,


Friday, December 12, 2008 2:31 AM


Operative: "Its worse than you know..." Mal: "It usually is."

Ash, that was great! I hope you get an excellant grade, after all you stuck to the rules of the presentation and you chose someone not well known. I think you did fantastic!


Chaplain of the 76th Independant Battalion

Do not bother dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!'s worse than you know...Operative usually is.....Mal


Friday, December 12, 2008 2:40 AM


Michael Bay? Michael BAY?? Oh goodness. What is this world coming to?

High Priestess of Pork and Ag-Related Activities of the MYTHICAL LAND OF IOWA

Click on my profile for my Annoyingly Long List of Firefly Links.


Friday, December 12, 2008 3:22 PM


Well, congrats! I hope you sold Joss to your
sadly un-Whedonized classmates.
Good choice, the through-the-ship oner with your commentary.
(I had to spend the day in my kitchen, so put FF Disc Two into the DVD player.)

Frisky Browncoat






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