How did you address the prompt: How can we make documentary which engages in new ways of representing and experiencing the environment?
One thing I really tried to play up was an immersive experience. I tried to craft a lot of sound design into the film, and areas that I let breathe within the film without narration were done after narrating some points of sensory information (the smell, the sound…). I’m also really pleased that due to COVID it put some limitations on filming, and it caused me to take a different route. As a result, it really made me dive into the personal narrative and explore my own emotional connections to the subject; which I think overall the best way to have people reflect and experience the environment within the film, is through an emotional connection.
In this process, I have learnt a lot. It was probably my first project where I got to play around with a large sample of footage, research, narration and audio. I’ve never felt comfortable narrating or trying to convey a story. I usually stick with much lighter projects, and as much I love watching emotive stories that draw me in, I don’t consider myself someone who would make one, but here we are. I had to critically examine a lot of the material, and ask for every shot what does it mean to me? It is difficult to convey using stock footage and archival, but eventually, I found shots that I just loved and needed to put in; even if you didn’t like the American boatman!
In the end, I’m actually really happy with the result. There’s one transition that I don’t love in there where the underwater scenes become above water with the oil rig, but I tried so many different things to try and connect the change and I just couldn’t work it out. Another would be that I would have loved to be able to actually go out and take footage myself, I think it would have accentuated my emotional connection to the shots if I actually filmed it; but adversely, the fact that I couldn’t actually go to the ocean had me really nostalgic about my life growing up a few blocks back from the beach and that nostalgia helped me craft the narration and dialogue probably more than self-shot footage would have.