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

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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.

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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.

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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”
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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.
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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.