In this semester I want to learn more about the codes and conventions of documentary – and how they can be broken to make an interesting and exciting piece of film. Having no previous experience or knowledge about what it means to make a documentary (I haven’t done True Lies either, which I feel like puts me a little bit behind the 8-Ball this semester). I want to make a really interesting and experimental piece of film, which does not resemble a traditional interview based documentary. This semester I also want to immerse myself more in the technical side of film production this semester. Last semester, as I took the role of director, I feel like I did not learn enough enough about the more technical aspects of filmmaking (particularly sound and lighting). This semester, however I want to learn more about how these areas work and can get my skills to the same level of my peers. This semester I want to work with a really interesting and skilled group of people, and to work really well together and hard to create a really interesting piece of film.
In the lecture in Week 1, we watched an excerpt from Brian Hill’s “Drinking for England”, which is one of Hill’s most famous documentary musicals. While I thought the use of song was an interesting and unexpected way to break the conventions surrounding documentary, I don’t think it was a particularly engaging way to communicate the ideas Hill was trying to show to his audience. Although, it may have worked when viewing the film as a whole, the excerpt on its own did not exactly convince me this was an effective way to create a documentary. While I wouldn’t call it repelling, exactly, it didn’t convince me of the wonders of the musical documentary.
“The Idea of North” was an interesting way to present a documentary which features several people’s impressions and attitudes towards Northern Canada. The most interesting thing about this documentary for me was the introduction – the layering of several voices each talking over each other. When I listened to it initially, I thought there was a mistake with the audio or how I was playing it, that I had accidentally opened several different tracks at once. However, after I figured out what was happening, I really got into the swing of it. I actually listened to the introduction bit several times, just to try and hear what each of the voices were saying.
I thought the rest of the documentary was really interesting as well, however this introductory layering was, for me, the most interesting and capturing part of the excerpt. It definitely inspired me to think about how this can be used in our projects for this semester – and how this can be transferred into a video medium as well. This more poetic and experimental approach to a more traditional interview based documentary was definitely very inspiring in terms of our work this semester.
This recording exercise for me was very challenging for a few reasons. First of all, due to odd numbers in our class, I completed this task on my own. This, in tandem with my lack of proficiency and confidence in the technical side of filmmaking, means I did not complete this task as I well as I feel I could have if I was in a pair. However, this exercise also taught me to have confidence and to be brave in both my own skills and my choices.
When doing the activity, I wanted to explore sounds we here almost every day as RMIT students, the sound of people playing basketball outside of Building 9, waiting in line at the Student HUb, the fountains that are on Bowen Street, people talking and laughing. All of these sounds evoke memories, for me, of being at university and being apart of the culture that surrounds us. Looking back and reflecting on my recordings, I wish I had thought more about what I was trying to achieve with these sounds as a whole (instead as of isolated incidents and recordings).