Production Journal # 5
Today, I finally got back the footage I shot for my Dance for the camera class. This shoot was a tough one, so many things wouldn't go our way. For example, shooting was delayed because our choreographer needed surgery, it was hard to find dancers who could commit at the end of the semester, our locations were hard to lockdown. When we did find a location, the lighting situation was rough and we were worried everything we shot would be underexposed. But today I finally breathed a sigh of relief, our footage looks great! Some things worked and somethings didn't, but we captured some really beautiful images. I honestly don't know how we pulled it off.
Before shooting, my co-filmmaker Lauren Carney and I decided we wanted to step away from the traditional approach we had taken in our previous class assignments. We had gotten into this routine of creating a narrative and linear dance for the camera. Though this is a very effective and worthy approach, it's very restricting. As a result, we spent a lot of time in the editing room closely matching every detail of the dance movements. This left us little room to play with our footage creatively during editing; our main goal was to create a consistent linear progression from start to end. For our final project, we had the opportunity to shoot on super 16 mm film which I think was the main impetus that lead us to think a little more about our options. The rare opportunity to shoot on a gorgeous film stock sparked a drive in us to be a little more radical. FIlm is so great that it would be a crime not to do something great with it. Also, there's no film to waste! It's not like digital where you can just shoot it over and over again. You only get one shot with film, and you had better take advantage of it. In my opinion, film as a medium calls for experimentation. Its totally unpredictable, the image that is created depends entirely on how the light hits the film the instant it is exposed. I take this as a moment to just totally play around and try new things because there's a good chance you're going to create something beautiful and totally genuine to your experience with the film. With digital there's no opportunity for that. What you see is what you get; and while it is rightly convenient and more appropriate for some situations, it's not as exciting.
The choreography we developed with Towson dance student Rachael Dimmock wasn't inherently narrative like our others had been, so we were totally open to experiment. During shooting, we didn't worry about capturing too many wide or establishing shots. Again, the coregoraphy as a whole wasn't as important this time around. The quality of the 16 mm b&w calls for close ups; the film has this amazing grain and texture that with the right lighting and framing could really capture something stunning. Anyway, from the start we were interested in approaching the editing in a simlilar way. Instead of putting peices to create a linear choreography, our goal is to cut up the shots and the order and create an interesting visual collage of our footage. It's not going to be just a mess of cool looking images meshed together either.We're not exactly sure of what we want to say with our footage yet, but just by looking at the footage and the various ways we captured the movement, there's an interesting visual relationship going on between the two dancers we shot. Hopefully our hard cuts and quick editing style will establish that. For now, I'm going to be juxtaposing and cutting together images that compliment each other purely visually, either through contrast, direction of movement, speed of movement,and character. If we can successfuly do that, I think the deeper connection and meaning will shine through. I'll keep you updated on the editing process. For now, enjoy this stills!
p.s. our Dance for the Camera will be premiering at Towson University this friday December 3rd @ 6:00pm. Come by and see the work created by talented Towson and Hopkins filmmakers.