Friday, January 25, 2008

Text Journal Entry #4 (Travis)

Entry from 12.26.07 - Wednesday

So, the other night I watched the footage from our interviews of 12.19.07 with Alex. I haven’t watched the footage of the performances yet...perhaps I will do that tonight....

Anyway, Torben was right about the lighting. However, there are some really incredible moments in the footage. If the rule of thumb for making a documentary really is to extract 1 minute of 'usable' footage from every hour we shoot...then we are way way way ahead of the game.

About the lighting...the very first minute, when Alex was sitting over by his painting stuff...there is a PERFECT SHOT!!!...the natural light is coming in from the window and it looks SOOOOOOOOOOO good, which makes the rest of the lighting seem really poor throughout the rest of the conversation. :( We only hang out in that spot for like 45 seconds and then we go into the other room where there is a slight orange tint/hue that just gets really annoying. And then we went back into the other room and hung out right by the door where there is a pretty annoying pink/red tint that is really bad after awhile...then we look at the paintings and stuff and the lighting is from OK to bad...and then we make our way back into the smaller room which seems relieving to the pink/red...but still isn't all that great.

But...(I'm putting my optimistic hat now)...I don't think that we will be using that many extended clips from our conversations (at most maybe a minute...or two...???) and I think that the content/conversation is so good that the visual annoyance won't matter as much as we think, especially in short segments. We also might be able to treat it with color correction in Final Cut (and even switch it to B&W??? if that is possible and/or appropriate).

Having said that...we do need to make every effort to make the lighting down in Alex’s basement workshop as good as we possibly can from now on. We will just have to set aside some time to play around until we get something we are happy with...and then leave the lighting set up that way in each room every time we film. For starters...I am thinking to open the blinds on the windows as much as we can. In the smaller room I think if we shoot during the day/morning, open the blinds and turn off the overhead light the problem might be solved. In the larger room we should open the blinds all the way, and then figure out a way to make the rest of the room light up better...those overheard bulbs suck for filming... We will figure it out.

Like I said, the content is AMAZING, which in my mind is the most important thing, especially in a documentary. The audio sounds great! There are a few moments when I think the mic is a bit to close to Alex, so when he gets really excited and loud there is a slight scratchy sound at the peaks. This is very rare, something we just need to be conscious of. Keeping 3-6 foot distance seems about right. That, and if we are closer to him we can just turn down those levels on the camera a touch. But yeah...the audio is great.

So the point is, I think we are in good shape. We have to figure something out with the lighting down there. Whatever we have to do, even if it means going over there for an hour or two to shoot B-roll stuff and experiment with different possibilities of lighting. And then hopefully Alex will be OK with us leaving that set-up there until we are done shooting down there. The problem is that there is no down time with Alex (which is at the same time a great thing for the documentary)...the minute we get there we are in a fascinating conversation, and to monkey around with equipment feels awkward. But we will have to demand the time it takes to get the lighting right because if we fix the lighting we are in perfect shape.

Oh yes, one last thing, I have a really bad habit of saying 'mmmhhmmm' after everything everybody says. Well, of course not everything, but after every time I view a complete thought/section/paragraph, I will say 'mmhhmm', which is totally inappropriate in the filming. We have to be silent/invisible characters in the film. UNLESS, there is a really good and direct response to one of our thoughts questions, one that needs the context of the question in order to make sense.

I won't let my 'mmmhhmm' habit happen again. It is a habit I have from normal conversation, on that sort of makes me listen while letting people know that I'm listening. But it has to stop when we are filming! Also, there are 2 or 3 times when I try to finish Alex's sentence...another awful habit that I have while conversing...and that bugs the hell out of me!!! Not only for conversation does it seem kind of rude, but it cannot happen in the film!!! Torben did a great job of letting Alex talk and coming in at appropriate moments to enrich and further the conversation. I need to take a lesson from Scott Carrier and learn how to let the person being interviewed/filmed/talked-to know that I'm listening...while being quiet, and just popping in at appropriate moments to ask a question or make a comment to keep 'the subject' talking...or to take them onto a new path...

The conversation was so great. We talked a lot about Alex’s concept of the ‘bio-text’, its purposes, its processes, what it looks like in Alex’s poetry and writing, a little bit about how it applies to our film, and how it really applies to everything! It is is the processes of all of nature. As John Cage said, which is how a portion of the bio-text concept was inspired by/derived from...(something like) ‘the purpose is to mimic nature NOT in its manifestations, but in its processes!’ We are nature, we are created by nature and we are creators in nature...we’ve gotta learn our place in nature because it will move on with out us...creating/doing art is a way of approaching that. If we are rigid in our approach we will break. We must be willing to change and to move into a direction that is accommodating to us and our place in nature. I just realized that I already talked a lot about our conversation above in the previous entry. So I’ll end here...the point is that we are all still trying to figure it all out. It is constantly changing. This bio-text concept is really at the very heart of our project.

To end the entry I must say that this is not bad for the first round. I think I've said too much. Is that possible in a journal? I think this is a decent criticism of our filming...and constructive too. I’m going to go watch the performance footage and I’ll make a journal entry about that soon. I can’t wait to do another interview session with Alex...with better conversations...and perhaps filming his creative processes while figuring out our own process for the film and how the concepts can be applied to everything else.

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