Things I Saw 1996 – 2001

Director’s Reflection

Overall response

Write an overall response to your film in 2-3 paragraphs: Were you successful at achieving what you set out to achieve? What are you proud of? What would you do differently if you could remake this piece? What did you learn?

I don’t know if this film worked. I feel like I got a few images in my mind onto the screen in the way I’d envisioned them, which was a great experience. I don’t know that the finished product was as similar as what I’d had in mind, though. I’m proud of the first shot, of the window, of the music, of the last shot, of the 14mm shots, of our improvisation, and of the overall mood and tone of the film. I would change the edit at the start, of the sandwich – I knew as I was editing it that it wouldn’t work, and the viewers confirmed it. Doing it all in one shot rather than jumping around would have been better, and I had the idea of changing it, but didn’t follow it. I learned the value of collaboration, as well as the necessity of following some instincts and nixing others.

Briefly discuss the following:

What, specifically, did you want to communicate? Were you successful? Why? Why not?

I wanted to create a sense of isolation and loneliness, as well as childhood excitement. I think I was able to create that mood, although it may have been only for myself and not for all viewers. This may be in part because of how cryptic I kept most of the images, though they mostly have meaning to me.

How, specifically, did you try to communicate this?

There were two parts to it:

  • Replicate images from my memories of childhood as directly as possible.
  • Capture images that give a sense of or feeling of isolation, of decay, or anything gloomy and sad.

What did you learn about storytelling:

I didn’t tell a story in this piece, and now realize that it’s much easier to captivate an audience through a story. A non-narrative avant garde piece is a hard sell, and not all that fun to watch.

What did you learn about working with actors and getting performance:

I didn’t work with actors for this film.

What did you learn about blocking the camera and actors?

In terms of blocking in general, I got a lot of experience working with a DP and with a wide angle lens. I learned how to be firm in getting some shots, but also the value of collaboration and synergy.

What did you learn about visual elements such as lighting, composition, framing, etc.?

I think composition wise it is generally better to have the camera lower than we would instinctively hold it. I think it is important to pay attention to the light already present in any setting and use it as effectively as we can.

What did you learn about design and art direction?

Design and art direction are probably more important than anything else for getting a great looking shot. Light matters, composition matters, but even more than that, art makes the scene.

What did you learn about the Production Process such as pre-production, collaborating with crew, securing equipment, etc.?

I had no idea how to use Ashwire as I’ve not needed to for a long time. The whole checkout process was new to me. I learned the importance of planning things out and making sure that we schedule things so that we get the shots we need in the fastest sequence possible. In terms of working with crew, I only worked with Elizabeth as my DP, and found that a small crew meant it was easier to focus and move quickly.

What was it like to watch your film with an audience? Did they understand it? Miss the point? Why did they respond the way they did?

There were a lot of things I’d hid in the film that didn’t get mentioned by the viewers. While they got the overall gist of what I was going for, I think they missed out on some things. They got hung up on the narration, which was supposed to act like an overture of sorts, nothing other than setting the mood. I think they took it literally, and it would have been wiser perhaps to remove the narration entirely, or change it to something either more abstract to avoid confusion or more literal to make it easier to read.

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One thought on “Things I Saw 1996 – 2001

  1. • What camera did you use? Why?

    I used the Cannon 5D. I knew we didn’t want to use the Black Magic or anything that would be very punched in, and the Cannon seemed like a good place to start as I try to learn about the pros and cons and specialties of each different camera.

    • What lights did you use? Why?

    We used only natural light. We were shooting mostly outdoors, and the daylight reflecting off the snow was already almost too bright.

    • What did you learn technically?

    I had no idea just how dramatically a different lens can change the image. I had never really considered myself a camera person but I got more and more into it as the shoot went on. I love how a wide lens can make a shot feel spacious and cinematic. It’s almost larger than life, which seemed perfect for a lot of the shots in this film because that is a child’s perception of the world. I also learned how to better control the white balance and aperture to get the right light in the shot.

    • What did you do well and what things can you improve on?

    As the day progressed I became more comfortable with the camera and started looking around and playing more with different ways to frame things and noticing good opportunities for shots. There are a few shots that I really like that I noticed the opportunity for as I got better at being open to explore different ways to look at something.

    I can definitely improve on the steadiness of the camera and the focus being just right. I also need to be more nitpicky about shots on set. There were times watching the film in class where I immediately noticed little things I wanted to change but hadn’t questioned on set.

    • What was it like to watch this with an audience? Was your work in focus? Did the director use your favorite takes? Why or why not?

    While I noticed a lot of my own mistakes, it was wonderful to see it all come together. I feel like the director used the best takes and the best images, and composed them together really smoothly and artfully. It seemed to me that my focus was off in some takes. I had a hard time being able to tell whether I was totally in focus or not while we were filming so that’s something I need to practice.

    • Any other thoughts?

    Working with Daniel was a really great experience. He is very efficient and prepared but still very flexible on set. I really like how the film turned out, and I am really looking forward to my next opportunity to DP and apply what I’ve learned.

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