2017 has been a prosperous year for me so far in terms of me finding my imagination in various situations and using it to create something such as a photograph. My interest in photography only really began to develop in the past year, and I’m glad it did.
Berlin was a great opportunity for me to experiment with my skills before I headed over to the States to shoot my documentary. The trip presented many points of development for myself.
Self Taught Photography Journey: A Noticeable My Improvement in Stills from day 1 to Day 6, Berlin
My first day was interesting, getting to know the camera and relate to it for a week was something I had to do in preparation for California. Simple things like getting the exposure right is something I haven’t really gone into trying to figure out, previous shoots have been done in groups thus allowing me to just observe but not really be involved in the technical aspects of setting up small details.
Below I will show some of the raw and edited shots I am happy with from the trip. Characteristics such as composition are an important aspect of photography for me.
To edit these photographs I have used Adobe Lightroom, which has allowed me to add my own style through further editing. I will be doing a more in depth post about my experience with this software shortly.
Insight into the standards of modern film & Q&A’s. From Director to Audience
I have been lucky enough to experience the Berlin Film Festival at a time when I strive to find inspiration from most of what I see. We watched many films, attended many Q&A’s. Personally, I left Germany feeling fairly worried about my ability to keep up with the incredible standards of the pieces of art I have seen. With my upcoming trip to California, I questioned whether I would be able to control all technical aspects of my film such as audio single handedly. This moment of panic allowed me to realise that my FMP documentary is just the beginning of my career as an independent filmmaker.
Below I will briefly describe and apply my audience experience to my own ideas and practice.
Investigating Paradise by Merzak Allouache. Arabic/French Documentary. Black & White. (135min)
This was a hybrid documentary consisting of both scripted and non-scripted scenes.
The fact that this film was hybrid gave me an insight into the different ways a documentary can be manipulated to get the desired message across. This is a subjective film, with the main actress’ role as a journalist travelling around Algeria to ask people from the Islamic country how they would define Paradise.
Her interview techniques were smart. She showed every interviewee the same visual stimuli, and proceeded by asking the question. This question and answer structure was beneficial to the documentary as it worked in getting answers and responses from people, without being subjective. This also allowed an avenue to start asking questions without being too intrusive.
Applying this to my own work
The film focuses on religious discourses being distributed throughout the Middle East. The film challenges both the religious and societal expectations of what Paradise is, allowing Muslim women the platform to speak out and have a voice (which is not seen often). This was a different.
The director also spoke about how his film was a diversified picture of Algeria. I have been influenced by this and other artists and authors as I feel that there is so much more that can be discovered and documented with the exploration of different culture and perspectives. During the production of my documentary, I will be seeking different perspectives in order to build my interpretation and point of view of what is happening in Los Angeles with race as an issue.
The Rabbit Hunt. Documentary (12 min) USA/Hungary 2017. Patrick Bresnan.
A documentary following a family in Florida, who hunt rabbits. It shows shots of young men chasing and killing rabbits from beside burning sugarcane fields.
I really enjoyed the concept of this film and how it was shot. The handheld shooting style really had me gripped into the story. The visuals were gruesome, and with not much dialogue, giving the audience a long time to take in what is in shot.
The producers then came on to speak about the film and answer any questions. The team explained that they had been working with the same family over a number of projects, all exploring the similar theme of documenting the boys’ experience of life outside of their small town, Pahokee. They also said they had already filmed their prom and planned to follow one of the sons after graduation.
I found this idea intriguing. I have always liked the idea of creating an emotional relationship with what you are making a film about. There is also a consistency there, so it allows a much more detailed look a life and the issues characters may face as a young black male leaving a small town.
I can see how elements of this film could influence my work. Getting interviews with the same person a few times during my trip if possible to get a better understanding.
Fishing Is Not Done On Tuesdays. (15 min.) No Dialogue. Germany/Austria. 2017. Lukas Marxt, Marcel Odenbach
This film was a collage of a range of shots around Ghana’s coastline. The opening shot was definitely unforgettable, I definitely would have loved to have been able to ask why he put the audience through it if only he was there for Q&A. It was a low angle shot facing upwards spinning around as we watched the rainforest trees go round and round endlessly. It must have been about 5 minutes. It was painfully mindfucking, but nevertheless I couldn’t close my eyes for too long because I love trees and it was visually pleasing in some way, somehow.
The long takes of a single shot could seem boring to some, but the photography, along with the soundscape, and the nature setting being captured by little things like mosquitoes flying around in shot by the light for example. I really enjoyed this piece and will remember that long takes can be meaningful without words sometimes. Just leave your viewer to figure out a meaning for themselves, or just enjoy the great shots and atmosphere created through this delicate, yet heavy cinematography.
Overall this experience was very beneficial to me both personally and professionally. It allowed me to begin to remember that my skills are still in development and I must push to want to learn and teach myself how to be more technically involved with what I produce. I will definitely carry this experience forward with me.
Berlinale.de. (2017). Investigating Paradise. Tahqiq fel djenna. [online] Available at: https://www.berlinale.de/en/programm/berlinale_programm/datenblatt.php?film_id=201710271#tab=video25 [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
Berlinale.de. (2017). The Rabbit Hunt. Patrick Bresnan. [online] Available at: https://www.berlinale.de/en/programm/berlinale_programm/datenblatt.php?film_id=201712256#tab=boulevard [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
Image available at: Berlinale.de. (2017). Fishing Is Not Done On Tuesdays. [online] Available at: https://www.berlinale.de/en/programm/berlinale_programm/datenblatt.php?film_id=201712687#tab=filmStills [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].