I honestly thought I’d written my last post for the 2017 a-n Professional Development Bursary. But, of course, I was yet to share the fruits of the bursary! So this is really just a postscript and a link.
Interestingly we have arrived at two cuts for our short film – this is mine, & Simon’s will be ready once he’s had a chance to work in the new audio file.
Working so closely together has definitely rubbed off on me in so many ways – and the bulk of the edit is a joint affair. I love that we’ve also bifurcated in the final edit. I’ve learnt a huge amount about how creative and individual the editing process is. Making my own cut is a real sign of how much I’ve progressed in my film editing.
Once more a great big gracias to a-n xx
Well. It’s been an immensely satisfying journey working on my a-n Professional Development Bursary project called, Gift.
But it has taken me so very much longer than I imagined – and my film looks like it won’t quite be ready to upload just yet.
The filming is done, and the visual edit is more or less complete. After a long series of flies in the project ointment the final impediment is sound. We’ve have a musical soundtrack lined up from the off, so that”s not the problem. It’s my voice.
We’re using a poem I wrote about Felicia Browne’s tea set as the backbone of the film. I’ve struggled to recite my poem – and tried to work on it. Sometimes I almost nail it, but that never seems to be when we’re recording. We’ve been unlucky too with recording equipment – deciding to do this ourselves (so that I can learn to record and mix my own sound). I’m learning a huge amount about what can go wrong and how very hard it is for an untrained voice to carry a film. If the voice is not quite there then the whole enterprise sinks like a soggy soufflé.
I think I need some voice coaching. I really do. As this wasn’t part of my original plan, I will need more time. Perfectionism and professional pride won’t allow me to upload and launch a piece of work that isn’t quite there. I hope a-n will understand. What I set out to do is quite complex and the voice work needed had not occurred to me. I have to acknowledge that in meeting this head on, I will be tackling a life long phobia. I taught myself public speaking on my last big project (Through An Artist’s Eye), but reciting a poem well is an entirely different beast.
This might have been easier to organise in the timeframe allowed but the project illustrates only too well how problems and niggles can be hard to identify when moving into new areas of professional enquiry. It’s taken me a time to realise that I need a significant helping hand to acquire the necessary skill and confidence for my voice work.
The other factor is a very real problem with my voice. I’ve had a crackle in it going on for six weeks or more, and now a stinking virus. My voice has all but gone in the most literal sense.
I’ve had a hugely stressful time of it over the past six months and I think it is time for me to recognise that my body is complaining.
On the plus side, taking more time over our edit has enabled me to consolidate my growing confidence in using professional editing software. I was also very recently given an opportunity, by lovely FILMOxford, to attend their Introduction to Digital Video course. My project has prompted me to reach out and begin to form a network of filmmakers who can open my eyes to a variety of approaches.
So, my next step is to find a suitable voice coach. Once I’ve mastered this (quite daunting) skill, I am confident we will upload our film in the New Year.
Finally, finally we have finished filming on the Felicia Browne tea set project funded by my a-n professional development bursary!
Due to many technical difficulties with the very first scheduled shoots we’ve had to regroup and recoup over the intervening months to work through and plan what proved to be an extremely straightforward shoot in my kitchen.
I had always seen this film as a tight closely shot affair, but drawing out a visual narrative that played well alongside my poem has been harder than I expected. Word and image mustn’t fight or compete or chase each other’s tails and in a collaboration you need to find the way to understand each other’s vision and arrive somewhere in the middle (while doing justice to your material).
I’ve learnt a huge amount about that process (and my instincts for simplicity being borne out in the end). I had to make a video myself to work this out and to be able talk down the impulse to insert too much contextual information. The issue wth a historical subject is the instinct to explain – but this is an art film. The poem is the narrator and making sure this voice isn’t obscured by the visuals is vital to the success of our piece.
I’m now looking forward to the edit. This again will be made so much easier by all the hard work in our previous sessions.
I’m especially excited that some of my iPhone captures (which on two occasions reached the parts Simon’s camera couldn’t) will be used too! I’m thrilled to have become an active part on the capture side of this project.
In many ways this project has proved not to be what I expected – a simple matter of making a three minute film about a tea set. Project work is often complex. This project carries the weight of a significant history.
We are interested in Felicia Browne’s tea set due to her extraordinary and indeed unique commitment to antifascism, which led to her death in Spain in 1936.
Hers was a history which became entangled in the earliest moments of what would become the Spanish Civil War.
I was recently in San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque) and was moved to find a stunning memorial to the 400 citizens of San Sebastian executed by the Franco regime. As I absorbed the symbolism of this (in my view) perfectly crafted memorial I understood how important it is to get my film absolutely right. I experienced something of an epiphany. The extraordinary sensitivity to the subject shown in the memorial is something I need to aspire to.
My filmmaker, Simon Haynes, and I have been on something of a journey too. It’s taking longer and is going deeper than I expected – it’s more challenging too.
I think it will be a better film for all the delay and hesitation. Just before my trip to Spain we agreed that we have a first draft film but that to be truly happy with what we produce we need to retake the majority of our shots in perfectly controlled conditions.
Come October we will be sealing off my Kitchen to made a studio to film the shots we need to make this film as good as it should be for Felicia’s sake.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to raise my game in this way. Self-led project design has allowed for all the flexibility I’ve needed to get this job done and to do it right.
The work for my a-n professional development bursary has now officially taken longer than expected – it’s probably quite important to document how creative projects are sometimes trickier than anticipated. Other factors can also interrupt play.
I’m still not quite sure how filming a tea set could be so complicated other than that I am learning as I go on so many levels. Also that my bursary arrived in tandem with a new Arts Council funded project, The Museum for Object Research, and this has been exceptionally time consuming. My work in supporting the professional development of other ND artists, and my consultancy on ND funding applications has also taken off. Somehow I’ve acquired a new commission too. As a freelance it’s important to keep things going.
Juggling projects is eased by working with a flexible collaborator. Simon Haynes, my filmmaker is so patient and understanding. It makes it a joy to work together and it’s been good to pick up the pieces from where we left off.
A delay for Jury Service right at the start of things didn’t help, and technical problems dogged our early footage, but we’re back on track with a plan for further filming and editing.
Sometimes on a creative project you need more time and a little more context. We spent some time watching other short films and reviewing the draft video I made using my iPhone and iMovie. It’s been important to receive Simon’s feedback on the video, and to see some examples of his earlier films which I hadn’t yet seen (being familiar with his more recent filmmaking). It’s really helped to shift my perspective and open up new thinking on the creative side.
Collaboration in this case is so much more than simply pressing on with the job. My estimate of when the film would be ready to upload wasn’t unreasonable at all, but it was based on thinking things would be more straightforward than they have been.
I’m now also excited by the need to acquire some new software so that I can consolidate what I learn from Simon, and eventually be able to edit my own work on Final Cut Pro. This will involve some research on laptop speed and external hard drives. A bit of a stretch in terms of my technical understanding. Though I am finding that as I keep working with Simon my tech skills are gradually expanding and I’m gaining so much more confidence in this area.
I’m so very grateful to a-n for the bursary, as the opportunity to self-lead my project has allowed the flexibility I’ve needed in circumstances where complications set in. Knowing that there is more time is allowing this project to breathe. Amen to that!