Shades of Grey

Yesterday I did the On Location Sound Recording course at LIFT; I felt like I learnt loads and it was an awesome experience.  I didn’t write it up last night because 1) I was super tired, 2) I decided instead to get dinner with someone and make a new connection and friend.  Slightly jetlagged (I know it is weird that I still get jetlag for a two hour time difference when when I got back to the UK I dealing with seven, but whatever) I had got in and crashed, tired out, but then woke up in the middle of the night wide awake.  I contemplated writing my blogpost then but the warm bed was holding on to me.  So, long story short, I didn’t write my blogpost yesterday.  Today, I took an equally awesome course at LIFT.., dSLR for Video.  Again, I learnt lots and came away feeling that little bit more positive and confident about mastering the basic technical skills in film.  However, quite possibly a couple of the things I learnt today, contradicted my learning yesterday which contradicted my learning on the Raindance Documentary Certificate with Chuck, and some of them are different to what I learnt at the lighting course at LIFT the other week, which is now doubt discreetly different from what I learnt at the Cinematography foundation with Dale.

You might think that the contradictory advice would unnerve me.  However, in my role as knowledge broker and manager of complex health research projects spanning the boundary of research and multiple health disciplines, I live in the grey zone.  I like the grey zone.  The world is so much more rich when you stop seeing the black and white and see all the shades in between.  So rather than feeling unnerved that there is no definite right or wrongs in a lot of circumstances, I feel positive and re-assured that there are some basics to get right not matter what and beyond that a lot of choices that people make when filming relate to their artistic bent or creative expression, and I am free to make the choice.  What I do need and feel that I am getting is a good grounding and understanding of the techniques and equipment available so I am consciously making a decision to go in one direction or other rather than inadvertently creating something with a certain style because I haven’t understood each of the different factors at play.

I feel that I am slowly developing a checklist in my head of different considerations that I need to resolve in preparing for a shoot. That might / will include: do I want to light a scene or use available light?  What is the temperature of the light?  Do I want to set it to match (i.e. try to recreate what I see with my eye or make it different (warmer or colder) as artistic choice?  What do I want my depth of field to be?  If it is shallow and my shutter speed is set, will this mean I am going to be over exposed?  Do I need to think about how to reduce the light?  How I am going to record sound? Is there anything specific beyond dialogue that  I want to capture?  How does my environment affect all those choices? Are there things I need to be aware of? Etc. etc.  I am going to percolate on that a bit more but one day soon will likely commit it to paper.

Once I have got that I know it is a case of experimentation and practice so that I become familiar with the actions of my particular choices and adept in the set-up of each. I hope to be comfortable with the basics of the technical aspects by the time I start exploring story and visual language in other modules of my Master’s.  That way I can make that my focus knowing that I have the basic covered, and where for me I think the interest is going to be in creating compelling stories relating to health research.

By the way, as I am aiming for one woman (me) or possibly two person crew, my expectations are realistic based on the limitations of what can be achieved as a one or two. I know it is not going to be Hollywood Blockbuster but that is not my aim and I know that each of the things that I am trying to master the basics of are huge fields within themselves for which people have ridiculous amounts of expertise, creativity and ability that I could only ever dream of.  But, I have made the decision that I am going to be an all round filmmaker with fingers in many pies, an I am comfortable with that.  Just like I like all the shades of grey, I like being able to experience lots of different things.  I think this is going to be good!

(will post more on the two workshops soon)


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