Short Documentary

Oh, neglected blog, chin up, here I am. I’ve been very busy lately, but that’s not a reason to stop writing, isn’t it? Well, what can I say? Among lots of other things going on, I have been working on a short documentary for Cambridge Community TV (CCTV) with three other people and our instructor. We are doing a short doc on the Out Of the Blue Gallery on Prospect Street in Central Square in Cambridge. It will air on CCTV when it’s done, and it will be on their website as well. This has been a new experience for me, and a mixed bag.

It’s been interesting to see the process of a short documentary film making, from pre-production to production and post production. In the beginning we raced through interviews and got too much b-roll footage, which of course is good. During editing we came to realize that a big part of the material was not good enough to use. One of our interviews turned out only 1 minute of usable material out of the 30 minutes we shot. The lesson learnt: when the interviewee is less than stellar, your questions have to be specifically and tightly phrased, so there is no room to roam. The camera handling was OK, but our shots seem kinda dark to me. I like the way it looks on the computer better than the way it looks on the monitor.

The most tiring thing, of course, was the editing process. It seems to be taking forever. We watch and go over the footage, try to decide what we like to use. After the decision is made and we sort of put everything together, watching the whole thing makes me think that something is missing: all of a sudden I like the material we didn’t use. And sometimes we forget exactly what material we have, and what could have been perfect for a certain scene. Back on the drawing board, back to talking about it, cause we’re a team and we have to agree and move on. The moving along process has been elusive at times. When I am on doing something I want to concentrate and I want to be done with it. Some people in my team tended to sidetrack the process, which is actually very tiring. I mean not all times are good for jokes, especially when we have to finish the damn thing in a week.

During editing one sees the things that one fails to see during shooting: the microphone playing pick a boo at the right corner, the unfortunate sitting of the subject with a bird painting in the background, in a way that it looks like the bird is picking on the talent’s head, the less than perfect sound, with lots of ambient sound and distractions, the setting on the camera that makes the heads look distorted. Did we screw up every way possible? I don’t think so, but we learnt a lot.

There are still many things to do. It’s essential to adapt and change strategy as soon as possible and of course we should not have left anything to the last minute. So, we still have a narration piece to do, and edit and edit some more and then wrap up. We have only three hours tomorrow and that’d be it. I know it’s not going to be perfect, I know it’s not going to be the way I had envisioned it to be, but I hope it turns out to something watchable and not too painfully horrible.


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