I haven’t written a post in a bit as I have been busy working on a few projects. One of my current videos that I'm working on is creating three two minute videos for a Christian Retirement home in Surrey, Elim Village. After meeting with the Communications Director we decided the best way to tell the story would be to have residents share their thoughts on the community of Elim Village. The Director organized to have 15 of the residents meet in a room and talk about their experience. At first I was hesitant with this idea. This is something that I normally do not do and it does present some technical hurdles. Normally I would suggest interviewing people in maximum groups of three, however, I knew this could be the only way we could get the residents talking in a comfortable environment. We did not wish for them to be intimidated by the lights and cameras. Through the initial conversations with the Director I was able to plan ahead and prepare the right set of gear I would need in order to successfully capture the story. We agreed to shoot the group of 15 people in a large room. The room presented some challenges and we had to compromise a few things. First of all the room had lots of outdoor lighting mixed with indoor lighting, our cameras were not ideally positioned for each person in the room and we would have to use a boom operator for capturing the audio. We also couldn’t set up any lights as they would end up in the shot with the configuration of the room. Despite the challenges we decided to go ahead with it anyway. We used two cameras (Canon 5DM3 & Panasonic GH4), both equipped with long zoom lenses on opposing sides of the room. We could not use lav mics because I simply didn’t have one for each person. I instead hired my friend, Sean, to operate the boom. Once the conversation got going the residents became comfortable and spoke freely about their positive experiences living at Elim Village. The session flowed like a conversation. The only interruption we had to make was to get the residents to wait for Sean to move the boom mic to them before they started to speak. After 45 minutes we looked at each other and knew by the tears on the Director’s face that we had captured what Elim Village was all about. Yes, we had compromised the look of the shot, the mixing of daylight and indoor light, but we were able to successfully capture the story.
Photographer Steve Uzzell has an interesting thought on prep, “Preparation lays the ground for magic to happen.” This is really one of the most interesting and most important aspects of filmmaking. Preparation is key for capturing a story. If we are fumbling around with cameras, lenses and lights we can miss certain things and actually be our own enemy in the documentary world of filmmaking. We need to sort out all the little details of a project and make room for people to speak their minds in a comfortable manner. Preparation is key in getting to the heart of a story.
I’m still working on these videos and am planning on shooting some b roll this week. Once I have the clips finished I will share them here on the blog. In the meantime, here are a few photos.