A core component of the BCM 325 Future Cultures subject is live-tweeting a selection of weekly screenings related to the course content. This post will provide a critical self-reflection of my first round of live tweets from weeks one to five, while suggesting areas of improvement for future live-tweeting. As this post is due the day of the final screening, I have elected to screen week five’s film, Ghost in the Shell (1995), independently, hence, the engagement for this week’s tweets will be significantly less than other weeks’ for this reason.
At the beginning of each screening, I dedicated two tweets to introducing the film to highlight how it relates to the Future Cultures subject. In each, I identified the week the screening was taking place, the film being screened, the year it was produced, the director, and a brief synopsis of the plot, while including the #BCM325 hashtag so other students in the subject could easily locate and engage with my content.
Each week, the level of engagement with these introductory tweets increased, as highlighted in the examples below from two recent screenings – Westworld (1973) and Blade Runner (1982). As for why this is the case, I assume it has to do, at least partially, with the fact that my tweets are often some of the first in the #BCM325 hashtag and, therefore, are more likely to be noticed by students at the beginning of a screening. One observation made in reflecting on these tweets was my lack of film-specific hashtags (e.g., #BladeRunner) which would have opened up an opportunity for people outside of the subject to engage with my thread, and so this is something I will try to incorporate in future live-tweets.
Although I prepared a minimum of ten original tweets prior to each screening, I found it quite difficult to create quality content during the film and engage with other students’ tweets as my focus was entirely on keeping up with what was occurring on-screen. This was particularly difficult during the first screening of Metropolis (1927) as it was both my first attempt at live-tweeting, and a silent film. To my surprise, however, the three tweets I produced during the screening were my most popular of the week, including a poll on who had seen the film prior to the screening, an observation of the lack of door handles, and a comment on the importance of soundtrack in conveying emotion.
One aspect of my live-tweets I’ve been consistently happy with since the first screening is my sourcing and communicating of secondary sources which relate to the film and offer interesting perspectives, points for discussion, and deeper analyses than I could produce in just 280 characters. However, it quickly became apparent that other students were not as interested in this type of content as opposed to the more funny and relatable tweets I produced during the live-screenings, with tweets containing secondary sources constantly returning minimal engagement (or sometimes none at all). I’ve included a few examples of these secondary sources below from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Westworld (1973) and Ghost In the Shell (1995), followed by one tweet from the Blade Runner (1982) screening which was much less informative but received a significantly better response from viewers.
Another crucial element of our live-tweeting assignment was the demonstration of our understanding of the Future Cultures lecture content through relating these insights to the films being screened. This was something I’m aware I lacked during the initial weeks of the subject, though actively improved during the more recent screenings, particularly in Ghost in the Shell (1995), as highlighted below. As the subject progressed, I found myself understanding each film at a deeper level and making these connections more frequently, which I think also contributed to the overall increase in quality of my tweets with each subsequent screening. This continued development of my understanding of the subject’s relevance to the chosen films is something I hope to continue during future live-tweeting exercises.
The content of my other original tweets differed quite a bit depending on the film and the resources I was able to source prior to each screening, though I would like to address the few occasions in which I was able to make direct connections between the films screened so far in the subject. Most notably, a visual technique invented by Fritz Lang known as “Schüfftan Process” and used in his film Metropolis (1927) to give the appearance of shiny eyes was later used in Blade Runner (1982) to distinguish humans from Replicants, as discussed in the below thread. There were also clear similarities in the first three films in how their premier version was ultimately cut down for various reasons, with the missing footage partly recovered in later years. These tweets, while not my most popular, did typically produce a notable response, as showcased below.
Similarly to my introductory tweets each week, I concluded each screening with a poll to gather viewers’ opinions on the film on a four-point scale. These tweets performed really well relative to my others, averaging ten votes each, and so in future, I’d like to incorporate more polls during the screening to encourage more engagement while collecting feedback on various elements of the film. The concluding polls from both 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Blade Runner (1982) are embedded below.
Finally, in reflecting on my engagement with peer content, I made the following observations. Firstly, my primary way to engage with peer tweets is through liking them, followed by interacting with comments made on my own original tweets (i.e., commenting and liking). These engagements, especially the former, made up the bulk of my required interactions (which often well exceeded the twenty-figure minimum), with few comments and even fewer retweets making up the difference.
As mentioned earlier, dividing my attention equally between watching the film and interacting with Twitter was already proving difficult, and so liking the tweets and comments of my peers was the easiest way to manage both tasks simultaneously. I do feel, however, that this limits the depth and value of my content, and so would like to focus more attention on other forms of engaging with my peers. Hopefully, by that stage in the semester, I will also be significantly more comfortable with the concept of live-tweeting, and therefore able to dedicate more energy into commenting and holding meaningful conversations with my peers. Below, I’ve embedded several examples of my stronger peer engagements.