Field diary no. 6 “Kids are cruel”

‘Asocial’ is finished and prepped for consumption. The title came to me as my friend Nick was describing his behaviour. He explained that when he was on the phone whilst hanging out with me he wasn’t being anti-social, he was being asocial. Much like if you were asexual. I liked the term, but not the definition. To me, asocial could just as well describe being introverted, with extroverted being hetero and/or homo social. Although my film is not exactly an insight into introvertism, I feel that the term ‘asocial’ could correctly represent those who are not comfortable with (or attracted to) being social. In this way, social anxiety is perfectly captured.

‘Asocial’ is a fairly sobering look at social anxiety driven by school bullying. Your early years shape you, whether you like it or not. At the ages of seven to ten years old you start to understand your place in society, and how society views you. In your teenage years you start to cement these ideas. However, schools give you a warped idea of reality. I have met a few people who had a fantastic time at school. However, I’ve met too many that relay stories to me akin to the Stanford Prison Experiment. It’s a bit over the top, maybe, but like Henry says in ‘Asocial’: “Kids are cruel”.

Advertisements

Field diary no. 5 “Cinemato… CinemaTOgracilly… Cinema-to-graph-i-cally…”

So, I decided to film Tina by herself.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 17.33.26

And I filmed Alice and Henry together.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 17.35.01

My project has really come along now. I’ve edited it all together, added music to help shape the emotional arc of the film, and I’ve somehow managed to film enough cut-aways with the tripod to create a fairly cinematographically pleasing piece of work. I have two weeks left to fine-tune it and reflect on the project.

Field diary no. 4: “Alright, stop! Collaborate and listen…”

Working with your friends is easy in some ways, difficult in others. What do you do when your friend starts crying on camera? Do you turn it off and console them? Or do you keep it on in an effort to make your film more emotionally compelling? Ok, so the ethical dilemmas of working with your friends might not be as controversial as when you film someone incapable of giving consent, but I’ve been thinking about the implications of filming your closest friends. Of course, I would do my best to portray them as positively as possible, but what if they don’t like my portrayal? Who am I to portray them?

The only real solution is to collaborate with them. I might not be the MacDougalls, but damn it, I am principled. So, I won’t include scenes where Tina smokes – because she doesn’t like how she looks when she smokes – and I will turn off the camera if things get too emotional. I will ask them what I can film and what I can’t film. Simple.

Field diary no. 3: “I don’t know, I tend to waffle…”

In light of the mistakes I made last time I tried to film, I think it’s worth re-visiting the advice Mike gave in the last lecture. This is of course, IWAFFLE. No, Apple hasn’t expanded their product range to include waffle irons. IWAFFLE stands for:

Intention

White Balance

Audio

Frame

Focus

Light

Exposure

This is designed to help DSLR users with their workflow. Something that was obviously interrupted by too little preparation – and a bit too much wine – in my last attempt to film my project.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 17.07.49

In terms of intention, I have to make sure to use the tripod next time I film. Most of my footage last time was fantastic. I had an amazing scene where Alice described everything that she hates about herself, but the footage was shaky.

White Balance proved to be too much of a hassle. Even when I made a custom white balance, the auto white balance proved to be nicer. I need to spend less time trying to figure that out, and more time remembering every other element which could render a whole day of shooting pointless.

Audio was another problem. When I didn’t forget to turn the microphone on, the audio was disturbed by the busy pub. Another reason why Alice’s perfectly unscripted moment was ruined.

The framing of the video is integral to my project. I want the film to be beautifully framed, but because I relied too much on the DSLR that I had in my hand, the footage ended up being shaky and ill-framed. I was ambitious, but not careful. Another reason why a tripod will be necessary next time.

I tried to pull focus, whilst holding the camera in my shaky shaky hands. This proved to make terrible footage yet again. I think I will focus on (see what I did there) keeping the camera still, with the subject in clear view. I’ll keep the auto-focus on. Although, I could easily use pull focus, I find that it distracts from my subject and what they are saying.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 17.05.48

The light was a major problem as the direct sunlight created a sort of yellow hue on everyone’s faces. I have to make sure I film in the shade next time.

Exposure was possibly the only thing that didn’t create a problem for me this time.

Field diary no. 2 “We all love each other, but we hate ourselves”

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 15.33.33

So, I spoke too fast. Turns out that the film I need isn’t directly about happiness. In some sense, I guess we could call it an expression of the relentless pursuit for happiness and peace of mind. But that seems a bit far fetched. During filming, I realised that the one thing my friends and I discuss at great length is our varied pick-and-mix list of mental health issues. Personally, I am borderline, which hasn’t exactly had a fantastic portrayal in any Hollywood film; think stalker Jim Carrey in ‘Cable Guy’, apathetic Winona Ryder in ‘Girl, Interrupted’, or homicidal Kathy Bates in ‘Misery’. Now, I’m not going to lie, I would love to make a more realistic portrayal of my disorder, but, let’s face it, making a film about myself would sort of just play up to the stereotypes already perpetuated by Hollywood.

So I would have to focus on my friends’ neuroses. I figured this out about half a bottle into the expensive pinot we had ordered. We sat outside in the smoking area of ‘The Millers Arms’, a pub in which we were the youngest patrons, the walls were white, and the tables were clean. Just the perfect spot to film.

IMG_2491

The cameras tripped me up more than I had expected. I had popped one on the tripod, but it had a tendency to stop recording after a few minutes – a problem which I am yet to figure out how to solve. In addition to this, I had a tendency to forget to turn on the microphone. Moreover, when I went into the editing room I discovered that my hands are far too shaky for a hand held camera. All of my material was entirely unusable.

Notwithstanding, there is no such thing as a mistake. I figured out how not to make a film. Result. Kind of. We also got a bit tipsy, a bit teary eyed even. Cheers.

IMG_8662

Field Diary no. 1: “Make the film you need to make”

Heuristic
ˌhjʊ(ə)ˈrɪstɪk/
adjective
 
     enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves
“a ‘hands-on’ or interactive heuristic approach to learning”
24202771934_b19e853f89_c
Hi! That’s me peeking through my immaculately created ‘symbolic camera’. “What’s this all about?” I hear you scream with anticipation… Well, I’ve embarked on a project of self-discovery. Yes. Groundbreaking stuff. In less grandiose terms, I am a student of Social Anthropology at the University of Kent and this blog is part of my ‘SE555: Project in Visual Anthropology’ module. The aim? Create a 10-12 minute documentary; or as our seminar leader said: “Make the film you need to make”.
I’ll take a few steps back. We were asked to create cameras that symbolised ourselves and our projects. This was before I had completely decided what I wanted to do, so I went with tradition. An old-style camera made of card wrapped in traditional Icelandic wool, knitted by yours truly. So, I guess you could deduce that I wanted to stick to the basics, which is what I’ll try to do.
This is why I would call this project heuristic, and that’s why I named this blog ‘heuristicinme‘. Every week I take one tentative step towards learning what it is that I really want to film – or rather, what I need to film. Originally I felt this would involve a lot of intensity, traumatic topics and all that. How could a person with such a plethora of mental health problems make a film about anything other than trauma? I thought about sexism and sexual assaults, I thought about depression and suicide, and I thought about parenting and childhood trauma. Was my film really in there? The film I needed to make? No. Absolutely not.
24535494110_606fae6033_n
I needed a different angle (see what I did there). So I decided, what if I used this as an opportunity to heuristically learn about happiness? I could film the people that make me happy in places that make me happy. Now that’s the film I need.