November 29, 2007

Documentary talk

The 20th annual International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam is taking place now. It began on Nov 22 and lasts through December 2. Eleven straight days of documentary screenings... I've been dreaming of attending this festival for years. It's just one more thing that appeals to me about living in Amsterdam - for such a small city, there's so much going on.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I finally got my hands on a camera and did some taping. It felt great to be behind the camera for my own project again ... It's literally been years since I've done that. It's very small scale stuff, but it taught me a great deal. For instance, every time I use the Sony HDV camera it's always too dark. Always. I need to stop assuming that what I see through the LCD screen is what I'll see on a regular TV screen. I realize that even though I'm using this swanky, somewhat hi-tech camera, in my head I'm operating on the same rules that I learned when I first started learning how to film oh... seven years ago. I love video and am in no way a "film is better" snob, but I understand film in a way that I don't understand video. When I'm adjusting the f-stop on the video camera, my mind almost always starts thinking about what f-stop I would use if I was looking through the lens of a B&W 35mm film camera or a bolex 16mm.

The only thing that that will get me up to speed and thinking digitally is practice, so that's what I'm doing. I'll be editing all weekend and my goal is to have something finished by mid-December.

I am pleased with some aspects of my filming. For instance, the sound is really great and everything seems pretty much in focus (doesn't sound like much, but I consider that an accomplishment!). I was able to make my subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera (and was lucky enough to work with people who weren't camera shy!). I had to ask some very sensitive questions during one of my interviews and wasn't sure if I would be able to get through it without reacting, but while I had the camera running I stayed very focused on the task at hand. I saved all the reaction for after I turned the camera off.

So back to the topic of living in Amsterdam... Even though it would obviously be easier for me (logistically and financially) to live there with a real job and have some kind of work permit, there's still a part of me that just wants to live off savings and a bit of freelance work while I actively pursue trying to get into the Binger Filmlab for September 2008. I actually just realized they also offer a Documentary Directors Coaching Programme, which may be more up my alley rather than the Creative Producers Programme.

All of the options in front of me are good ones, I just have to wait and see what happens. November flew by at the speed of light, and I hope the same is true for the next four months!

No comments: