I pulled “Film”. That’s tricky – make a film, on a Bank Holiday Monday… starting….. now! My first reaction was to cheat it, by applying it to all of the actual bits of film that I have lying around in various states of processing.
One way of looking at this way of working (I hesitate to call it a project) is to say “OK, if you were going to work on your most important and interesting XYZ project today, what would that project be and what next right steps would you take?” To which my creative inner says “Fuck off, you’re trying to get me to project manage again.”
I do think that part of this work is to allow the bumbling and improvisation to come through in the structure. The prompt isn’t a kind of trick to make me make a film or write a book or whatever, it’s a way to safeguard today from all the other things that could come invading in, if it weren’t there and allow the bumbling to stay roughly on one path instead of going into the long grass because I can’t remember why I started this sentence in the first place.
So although there are films I’d like to make and bits of film (moving picture) that I was thinking of when I wrote “Film” on the card, it’s OK if I spend some time with old (or new!) negatives or gels or filters or plastic bags, I suppose. It’s up to me how far is too far to stretch. I don’t think Film is ever likely to be “I watched Netflix all day” but it’s not always going to be tiny sober progress towards a magnum opus.
A little while ago I made a kind of soundscape thing called Grunt & Shuffle made out of sounds I recorded within a few steps of my front door. The idea came to me today to add some visual layers to that, perhaps put some shots from down by the river together with cars speeding past on the main road and that made me think of a kind of double-exposure thing, perhaps swapping the focus from greenery to road and back again in some way related to the sounds. I popped out and shot a minute or so of cars passing (it’s quiet on a Bank Holiday) and decided not to get fresh stuff from the river but to delve into my archive.
I thought I knew how to use a cutaway in iMovie to do a double-exposure effect, but I didn’t so I had to look it up. Even then, I had to poke around a few times and then restart my computer before I got it to work properly.
I chopped the cars going past up a bit to get the rhythm that I wanted. And I took off the audio. Then I slowed it down by 50% this sets the time at about 1 minute.
I took a very short clip of my feet walking up St Catherine’s Footpath from a couple of years ago and copied it several times so that it loops over the car track. Then I saved this as it’s own file so that I could put more overlays on. I remembered to start writing some notes (you’re reading them now, isn’t that neat?!) while the cogs grind in the software machine.
Now the question is, when you’re building up layers, do you start a new iMovie project (yes, I’m still using iMovie, stop judging me) so that you’ve got something to rewind to, or do you get rid of it, knowing that it was so simple and made out of things that you have saved, and you’ve written notes to remind you of what you did anyway, so you could just redo it if you needed to but you probably wouldn’t need to. That all feels complicated, so I just cleared the workspace and started again with the new one.
I like the way that the changing light levels in the walking clip shift the double exposure effect, so my eye switches between which layer I’m focusing on.
And then I needed some greenery – I chose a shot from the bottom of Ferry Lane across the river, a bit shaky and I think the camera was a bit overwhelmed by the green and made it a bit yellow, but I tried adjusting it and messing around generally and none of it worked, so I rendered that over the top of layer one as layer two.
To complete the video bit, I added some clips of a buttercup blowing in the wind. I chopped it up and copied a few bits to fill out the one minute clip. Then I popped a fade to black on the end before going hunting for the audio.
The only copy I could find was on soundcloud and I had to fiddle to download it onto this machine. I started with the very beginning, but that was overwhelming so I picked a piece that fitted the roughly one minute of video and which was a bit more calm. And I totally obsessed about how I could get the audio footsteps and my feet on the film to be better synchronised before remembering that really what was important was the realisation of an idea. And that was complete, if not perfect.
Here you go.
I lost an hour (at least) yesterday looking for my old developing tank and thermometer, the final bits in the developing kit. Laura knew exactly where they were when I finally gave in and asked her – they were in the box that she puts her laptop on when it’s plugged into a monitor, so she sees it pretty much every day. She really can’t understand why I can’t remember that we put them in there together a few months ago when she was helping me organise. Nor can she understand why I would go through every other box in the bedroom, under the bed, in cupboards before asking her (partly because she knows that she knows where everything is)