Monday, 31 January 2011

Off to Prague to shoot my first ever documentary!

Yeeeey, this morning I am off to Prague! Not as a planner. Not as a moderator. Not as a powerpoint producer. As a filmmaker and storyteller. I am going to shoot there my first ever documentary! And going there with bunch of best girls you can travel with. So stay tuned for more ...

On the other note after weekend spend together I think we slowly become friends. I actually start to enjoy seeing the world through the lens and the ability to ‘shape’ the world I see. As opposed to feel constrained, for the first time since beginning of the journey I am starting to feel slightly empowered with the camera. Not liberated. Empowered.

Still, my little sequence about skateboarders ended up being softly killed by Ed’s feedback. What seemed to me as super dynamic shots when I was filming them, ended up looking indeed rather still and slow and stupid. I guess it means for me that I need to work much more on HOW rather than WHAT. Otherwise, it looks rather desperate. Even the most interesting idea is screwed up if it is filmed in a bad way. Still I am quite happy that I dared to get closer, talked to the 'strangers' and really enjoyed doing it. So my personal task for this week is: think, think, think before I follow my heart.

Friday, 21 January 2011

High Hills Filmmaking. Can this be a perfect match?

Documentary Filmmaking Course. Diary Week 2

My first steps in filmmaking are actually much more intimidating that I have ever imagined. When I actually eventually found something interesting to shoot, by the time I unpacked the huge backpack (over 20 kilos), checked all settings, grasped the right angle ... my object of filming has long been gone .... The same trick of ‘disappearing objects’ repeated three times until I decided to give up the exercise of filming the ‘story’ and went for something that is there to stay for a bit longer ... like building, street or sky ...

It may does sound like a ‘hello I am blond’ type of story, but, trust me, there is some merit to it. First of all, the entire equipment is totally heavy. So there is no way you can wander around for the whole day, looking for interesting things. Especially, if you happen to wear high hills, assuming wrongly there is LIFE beyond your camera and filmmaking. The process of unpacking the entire ‘thing’ as well as make ‘it’ work is totally time consuming. Even if you want to keep most of the options on auto settings, you d’ better get patience - licence before.
And the most important – the process of filming itself. Its’s totally NOT how our dads used to hold camera on the beach, close to the eye, trying to shoot happy family moments and ladies in bikinis few meters away. You actually hold it in front of your belly or chest to make it more stable. In my case it meant, I was physically exhausted after 20 seconds of filming and my hands started trembling like the overstretched mussels in the gym. So probably I would be great for ‘shaker’ effect. Even once we a script like this.

Observation 1. Camera looks and weights like a gun. Hello brands, can we please ‘demasculinize’ professional filmmaking equipment ?

But there is more unfamiliarity involved than just technical issues. The process of shooting completely changes the way I see and interact with the world outside. I am referring to it as ‘IT’, because it’s like a ‘third person’ constantly present and imposing its presence on me and the people I am talking to. When I am taking photographs while talking to people camera is like my support, little visual notebook, yes, maybe a little interruption, but always a PART of interaction. It doesn’t change the way I see the situation. It helps me to express how I feel about the situation. With camera, its different, I feel it as something totally external to the situation. External, yet fundamentally changing it. And suddenly, I start telling story not from my point of view, but from a point of view of the ‘it’, that doesn’t feel ‘me’. And it’s still IT, cold, black and heavy and alien. Maybe I need to internalize it. Or maybe I need a partner.

Observation 2. Camera is a ‘third’ person in the situation. I need to internalize IT to make other people feel that my ‘artificial eye’ is mine.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

To be or not to be … a filmmaker?

Documentary Film Course Week 1

After couple of years spent at Saatchi’s working as strategist I recently decided to go back to university to pursue a PhD. As much as I liked my previous life and my work in advertising was fun and exciting I was constantly longing for something that would be at least a bit more meaningful and justified my presence in the world. So I returned to books and thinking and Writing, a slightly different from of writing than brief writing. Yet, the real reason why I returned was to be able to understand and tell story of people whose life and fate matter to me – the story of Palestinians living outside Palestine. Hence, I realized that as much as I want to do academic research, the film was perhaps much more comprehensive way of telling people’s stories. And more promising in terms of reaching to ‘normal people’ in ‘real world’ - outside academia and outside advertising. So here I am, taking the anthropological filmmaking course.

And I am scared. I am scared that as much as I want to do this, hiding behind piece of paper feels now so much more comfortable than actually doing it. Somehow I do not feel ready. And I feel naked having being given camera that does filming ‘for real’ (in opposition to how I used camera in all travelling and exploring research). I am scared that ‘my film’ will be the tough proof that the way I see world is too vague or just terribly banal.