I thought I’d reflect upon all of the footage and investigations I’ve undertaken this semester in relation to my Week 7 prompt/presentation. I’ve really enjoyed doing it; it’s opened my eyes to a completely different way of making which I guess is the point of the studio. That being said, now reading back over my Week 7 presentation I have definitely strayed quite a bit from my initial intentions.
Originally I spoke about wanting to use the camera in ways other than directing attention, eg: creating a meditative effect or simply presenting subjects in such a way that they can expose themselves naturally. This was something that I think I followed through with. Each piece of footage I took focuses on certain aspects of the environment / subject that it depicts without being incorporated into any sort of overarching structure or narrative. These pieces are ambient and contain natural action – that is, action that is not at all motivated by me or the fact that it is being filmed. This was an interesting experience for me as it cultivated skills that I hadn’t really isolated that much before: the ability to react to and capture moments as they unfold before me, and noticing more broadly. In other words, I feel as though I have exercised the ability to adapt to my surroundings as a filmmaker, rather than just adapting my surroundings.
Now for the stuff that didn’t quite go according to plan. For a start, I had considered experimenting with both choreographed and impromptu footage, where I would have coordinated some scenes or actions to film to then contrast with unplanned versions of the same scenes. This would have allowed me to focus on what stands out in both instances and how they can each be effective approaches in capturing activity. I didn’t end up choreographing anything at all, mainly because I became bored of that idea. I had already begun filming things to see what would happen and was hooked on that, so it felt like a step backwards to try to integrate that original idea.
I had planned to work with all sorts of uni equipment – cameras, booms and the like – in order to hone my skills as a filmmaker and director. This was another thing that did not come to fruition. The ‘Tram’ footage that I took on my iPhone and initiated my investigations was at first just a draft piece of footage, a quick way to record an idea, but admittedly I became semi-obsessed with the aesthetic of the iPhone portrait frame. I grew attached to the idea that the iPhone is the most relevant medium to use as it is the device that possibly defines this generation. Unfortunately this meant that I was not able to improve a great deal behind the camera, but it did give me total freedom to respond to my surroundings whenever inspiration struck and the chance to think about different ways of approaching composition.
Although I did depart from a decent amount of what I had originally intended to include, I don’t think I could have gone about these investigations in a better way. I stated that I wanted to explore the ‘multitude of ways to communicate an idea, person or a place … with the possibilities of cinema as a medium of movement in mind’ and that I was ‘concerned with what there is, rather than why it is there’. These were the core prompts I challenged myself with, and I think that the material I ended up producing and the growth of the investigations addressed these prompts well. I captured the idiosyncrasies of everyday environments, using motivated frames to communicate what can be engaging about the environments depicted and the potential of the portrait frame.
Most of my footage focused on how each of these environments contain a series of spaces that each involve distinct and independent activity which we intuitively connect when we see them come together as a whole, ie: within a piece of footage. For instance, the ‘Train Station’ and ‘Tram’ shots (included below) show how many spaces interact with each other to create an experience (perceiving things moving away through the window of a train/tram creates the experience of movement), although the activity in one space more often than not will not interact with the activity within another space (people scrolling through Facebook are not observing the outside of the tram and therefore are not engaging with that space). Generally, the simple act of filming moments without planning beforehand allowed me to focus on what there is, rather than why it is there – to look at what is happening in as many ways as I could.
Which leads me to possibly the main epiphany I reached in the conduction of these experiments – that I was not just capturing ideas, people and places, I was capturing moments. This is exactly what happened to Cuaron when blood spattered on the lens in Children of Men, which is where I drew inspiration from for these investigations. So in short, I’d call that a success.