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Learning about video – and team work

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2nd Nov 2013

Trying out filmed interviews in Liberia

Trying out filmed interviews in Liberia

I’ve had a lot of fun learning about film making on a short course organised by my local Picturehouse cinema. Ryd Cook, our tutor, is a young film maker fizzing with ideas and enthusiasm and over a series of 10 sessions introduced us to semi-professional video cameras, sound recording, filming, and editing.

I was interested in exploring how it might be possible to use interviews and film in my work – possibly in training workshops or in evaluations or to post on the Framework website for example. The course was a way of exploring the possibilities, getting inspiration from others, as well as learning the basic techniques.

Film credits have always puzzled me: why so many people with strange titles like dolly grips and second assistant directors, and what do they all do? We learnt all the different roles, but it wasn’t till we went filming ‘How to make a cup of tea’ in someone’s house that I really understood the importance of having very specific jobs. It took several takes to get the right shot of someone picking up the kettle and pouring boiling water into the pot: six or seven people all have to do exactly the right thing at the right time, and focus totally on their part to make sure they do it right. On one take for example the person in charge of sound, started making suggestions to the camera-man and cinematographer on how to frame the shot more artistically: after the take was done, the sound-person realised she hadn’t checked the sound levels so the shot had to be done again!

We had to learn new habits as a film-making team: it’s not a situation where everyone can join in and make suggestions. In fact, that just leads to chaos and wasted time. Once we have taken on a role, we have to let go of everything else and become a very specialist cog doing that one thing very well – even if it is just holding the microphone pole in the right place. It made me wonder whether I think enough about that balance in my work: when to focus down and just keep within a very small role and when to look around more broadly.

As far as video in my work is concerned, I decided that I’m going to experiment with sound recordings (interviews) first, and maybe start practicing on editing family videos before I tackle the exciting but much more complex world of video. One thing at a time!

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