First steps

Tonight was the last class in the Raindance Documentary Certificate.  Chuck, the very able course leader had taught me a wealth of information relating to process, technical aspects (lighting sound), production (contracts, budgeting, legal considerations etc.), and of course, the importance of story and selecting the right ‘cast’.   While some aspects had familiarity such as creating the treatment and story from reading key documentary texts, for other things is was a case of I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Without an industry veteran, like Chuck, providing the knowledge and expertise in all the legal requirements etc. I think I would having been making potentially costly mistakes in the future.  Would you have known that you shouldn’t so a famous picture like Monet’s Water Garden in a film without seeking permission from whoever the current license holder of the print is? I really would have not.  I am grateful to Chuck and Raindance for sharing all of this expertise, and whilst at the moment I will not remember all the details, I now know the things I need to look out for in the future.

However, it is not the knowledge imparted that made the course important to me.  I have made a bold decision to change my career to something that currently I have little practical expertise in doing.  The purpose of my Master’s is not get the degree, though obviously I do want to, but to gain both a theoretical understand and practical expertise in the creation of short film in my chosen area of health research.  This course has been a big leap forward for this with the creation of my first short film.  Is it a masterpiece?  um no.  Am I ready to share it with the world?  also no.  There are ideas that I have had that I have not yet been able to put into practice.  Partly a function of time (also currently undertaking a qualitative research study) and partly of function of the fact that currently I do not have all the technical skills to let me deliver on my vision.  But there have been so many firsts to be proud of…

The biggest achievement is actually creating a film.  Having made such a big decision to change careers, the act of creating my first research-related film had way more significance than if it was just doing it while I was getting on with other things.  But it is all the steps in the creation of the film where my learning is important.  For the first I have written film treatment, planned a shot list, learnt how to use lav mics and a zoom recorder, set-up lighting without an expert to offer input, conducted an onscreen interview, directed a performance, completed a paper edit and  then cut the film accordingly, employed the services of voice artist, selected sound effects and music, and likely some other stuff that I have currently forgot.

There are plenty of things if I had my time over again I would do differently… Shoot my interviewer with a much deeper background, be more forthright in directing so that the interviewee made pauses between sentences and thoughts (helping with the editing process), plugged the zoom into the dslr (so it would auto sync), experimented more with different placements in the room to get my lighting better, have more b-roll, and the list goes on.  However, these are all things I know for next time, hopefully making my next endeavour a little better, and less daunting now that I have took that first and important step.



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