Tuesday, 18 November 2014

My first academic paper: Cine-Excess Conference 2014

On Friday I gave my first academic paper at the Cine-Excess conference at the University of Brighton. My paper was titled Shooting Backwoods: Footage Found in Rural Locations and was a part of the first panel of the weekend, titled Borders, Backwoods and Spatial States of Terror. I was joined by David Lerner, Sara Reininghaus and Stephen Curtis on this panel.

The theme of the whole conference this year was Are You Ready for the Country: Cult Cinema and Rural Excess. Seeing as I'm nearly four years through my part time PhD, I thought it about time I bit the bullet and tried to get myself talking at one of these conferences and as I'd been to Cine-Excess back in 2011 to meet Ruggero Deodato, I thought I'd give in an abstract and see if I got a response.

And I did! So here is the abstract. I'm doubt I'm supposed to publish the whole paper here but if Cine-Excess decide not to use it in their journal, then I will at a later date.

Shooting Backwoods: Footage Found in Rural Locations

What happens when Western filmmakers head off with their modern technology, into the woods and jungles of the world to record something more primitive and vicious than they could ever imagine? Films from Cannibal Holocaust (Deodato, 1980) to Willow Creek (Goldthwait, 2013) explore how supposedly civilised characters set out to film the unknown in rural spaces. Too late do the characters discover that they have become the subjects of their own audio visual documents as they are terrorised and finally disappear. The primal forces that attack them range from supernatural beings such as witches to savage tribal cannibals but all share an archaic relationship with the rural settings that they inhabit.

Found footage films have flooded the horror genre in recent years and despite the popularity of the suburban home settings of the Paranormal Activity (2007- date) franchise, many investigate ideas of culture clashes between the urban filmmakers and their rural subjects. Leading on from theoretical work surrounding Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project (Myrick and Sanchez, 1999), I will analyse how the diegetic-camera-wielding characters and the foes they face in Welcome to the Jungle (Hensleigh, 2007), Trollhunter (Ovredal, 2010), Evidence (Howie Askins, 2011), and Willow Creek are dramatising contemporary anxieties over the failure of modern technologies (and Western youth) in tackling ‘primitive’ enemies. 

My findings will demonstrate that found footage films often take place in rural settings due to their central themes of control, dominance and superiority. The characters’ mastery of their technology is of little help to them when they are faced with the rural threats of the woods and jungles that they venture into. Exploring the aesthetic properties as well as the representation of youth, gender and race in these films will make this paper critical in furthering discourse on both the horror genre and more specifically the contemporary contextual relevance of found footage films.
More academic stuff from I Love That Film:

Referenced in a book on Found Footage Horror

Buy my book on The Blair Witch Project

My Blair Witch book just got a cover

Becoming a Found Footage Horror Expert: Media Interview

Alone With Her and Behind the Mask: Interesting Found Footage

The Lost Coast Tapes: Bigfoot Found Footage

The Making of The Blair Witch Project

Evidence of Good Found Footage

The Femme Castratrice in Horror

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