At the start of the semester I was really excited for this studio and I am finishing it feeling I have learnt and accomplished a great amount in the short six weeks. I was unsure how place was going to become the main idea of the studio but after the first two weeks of watching documentaries that have a focus on place and completing the readings I came to understand that ‘the ability of place to make the past come to life in the present and thus contribute to the production and reproduction of social memory’ (Creswell 2015, p. 121) makes place central in the process of any documentary filmmaking. Visiting the Queen Victoria Markets in order to find a possible subject for a documentary further made me realise the potential stories that are inherit within place.
My groups first potential participant, the vegan punk working at an organics store unfortunately declined and for that reason two people left the group I was in, leaving me in a group of two with Clare. Personally I have found that when possible I prefer working in smaller groups when creating media so I was happy that’s how it ended up and we worked really well together. When we realised we had to find another subject for our documentary we found one within a matter of hours. Rushing around the market looking for someone who could potentially become our participant made me quite nervous as I didn’t really like the idea of going up to them and bothering them. Clare definately took the lead when we initially approached Ariel and asked if he would be interested but I soon realised there was no need to be nervous or afraid- although Ariel was a little confused and reluctant at first he warmed up to us quickly. This was a great learning experience and helped me to gain a little confidence, realising that if I want to enter the documentary field professionally I will need to get used to this sort of thing.
In order to assist in achieving equality in the amount of work done by each of us we decided that Clare would take control of cinematography, I would concentrate on sound and we would work together on everything else. I think we both contributed an equivalent amount of work to the project, something I have found a rarity in other experiences of group work.
The most difficult hurdle we faced was when the bulk of our video footage was accidentally deleted from the media server, which meant we had to make a last minute dash back to the market to get some more material with Ariel. This resulted in one of my personal most valuable lessons of the studio: BACK UP YOUR WORK. I have always been so slack about backing things up, but now I understand the importance. I speak about this at length in the following post:
After the deletion incident we went straight back to the market and filmed what we could with Ariel to make up for what we had lost. Unfortunately it was a little rushed and rather than conducting a proper interview we just recorder a couple of minutes of him talking generally about the store. As he finished I realised with panic that I hadn’t been recording the sound through the Zoom recorder the whole time and tried to let Claire know without Ariel realising. This time she was the one who stayed calm and told Ariel the background noise had been too loud and that we would have to do that again (thanks for tip, Rohan!) I think this is another good example of how we worked well together and helped each other out when the other was a little stressed or unsure about something.
Overall I am very happy with the final documentary we produced. Ideally we would have avoided losing some of our footage but I think it taught me an important lesson in backing things up and becoming even more organised. It would have been great to spend a little more time with Ariel and to become a little more in depth but that also would have turned it into something completely different. I’m proud of what we produced and will bring the learning experience with me as I complete my degree and hopefully progress further.
Cresswell, T 2015, Place: An Introduction, 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, West Sussex