It is somewhat difficult for me to reflect upon what is now known as ‘Girl, Outside,’ since it all seems like a long, arduous blur. Needless to say, let us begin at the beginning…
After deciding to create my observation, we (Isobel, Alex and Jamie) spent the two following weeks finalising the shots, actors, location etc. and soon enough, the film started to develop into something far from its conception. I intended for the piece to focus on a young girl’s actions – allowing the camera to follow her daily morning routine, which would hopefully result in an absorbing study of human gesture/behaviour. I wanted to re-create my initial observation and keep with the concept of voyeurism. As the film progressed however, the older male character transformed into a young boy and the story essentially became about him and not her. It slowly took a more innocent turn, whereupon a young boy would be shot playing outside as a girl – his supposed babysitter – sets up a banana lounge and relaxes. Here, he would come to realise how ‘cool’ grown-ups seem to be and how much he wishes to be a part of that world. I think this became the case because we needed to be realistic about the project within the short amount of time we had – how were we going to find an adult male for such a small role? What location was available for this story to take place?
The day of the shoot actually went quite smoothly in my eyes. We were only faced with a few minor difficulties – the wind (which at times was tremendously extreme) and some camera issues that Jamie hadn’t foreseen. The highlight of the day for me, as the director, quickly became working with Joshua, the nine-year old boy that we discovered on Star Now. I had previously had traumatic experiences working with children in past projects but Joshua completely salvaged my view on child actors. He was so mature and his improvisation abilities really helped us to further shape the film. This became apparent when he donned his baby-sitter’s glasses and sat on the banana lounge himself, flipping through the magazine props as though he actually was the girl he wished to emulate.
Towards the end of the shoot, the sun grew to be very harsh, making it difficult for Jamie to focus on the subjects outside and it became frustrating for all of us since we’d been outside all day and not handling the heat too well.
This is where all of our problems started to materialise. Upon returning the equipment (which was an ordeal in itself as we definitely over-booked) and reviewing it, I noticed that many shots were out of focus but not in the traditional sense. The pictures seemed to be covered in this strange haziness, which looked like the result of someone having not wiped the lens down after condensation had gotten to it. After Robin did some tests with the camera to ensure that it was mechanically functioning properly, it was decided that our cameraperson (or perhaps anyone for that matter) should have checked the diopter on the eye-piece, so as to be able to judge focus in the first place. The brightness was also too high in some takes and if we had bothered to check the peaking, we would have noticed this consequence.
Indeed, in Robin’s endless words of wisdom, “The best ideas turn to dust without technical proficiency.” Rightfully so. As editor, Isobel had to re-arrange the story that we had initially been trying to convey since we had to scrap a lot of integral shots. Now, the ‘baby-sitter’ figure had morphed somehow into the young boy’s dead sister, who he imagines to see lounging in their yard once again. The soundscape really helped in giving our piece depth despite not having some of the shots that we needed. The increasing wind throughout the film, which reaches its climax as the young boy flips through the magazines alone and without his sister, move to highlight the notion that she is a ghostly presence in his life. I also really like the heightened sense of sound that was utilised – the magazine flipping, the ice blocks clinking in a glass and the door of the fridge closing.
It’s a shame that we had to use VSCO filters from adobe Lightroom to shield the haziness of the clips. The overall effect is highly saturated but we hoped that it complimented the dream-like atmosphere that we intended to evoke.
This experience has however taught me that camera tests are crucial. If we had known that the Sony EX3 would cause us all of this trouble prior to filming, I much would have preferred to just use a DSLR.