At last... I thought I'd never get to post this !
About a year ago I shot my first video, a documentary on a Mayo born guy called John Monahan, who I had met while doing a photo project with the Rehabilitation Centre at the National Council for the Blinds.
John was a legend in there, and filled faces with smiles with his jokes and stories. I shot this piece in one day, with little equipment, just my Canon 5d MkII on a camera tripod, and a Zoom as well. It's only now that I can tell how I could have benefited from having more gear with me (starting with a video tripod and a viewfinder !).
I'm still happy with what I've shot and since my first edit was very poor, and I've learnt a lot since, I think John deserves a more appropriate work to compliment his words and his story. It's tricky, though, to do a reedit on your own video... I loved re looking at the clips I shot and rethinking about the framework of the video but as well as trying to pretend I never storyboarded the shoot and take it from scratch, the footage has to allow a new structure to appear. And it seems like mine allowed me a bit of tweaking but not that much.
It reminded me of what Walter Murch said about the major drawback of digital (non linear ) editing. Because the access to the media isn't random, you don't have to go through footage you're not looking for, which you had to in the moviola days and made you constantly look at material you could have discarded by mistake.
So I had a thorough look at all I shot and recorded (the sound is crucial, throughout the video, especially at 2:01) to make some changes.
I realised that the first edit I made was most importantly the final part of a project,my first video project. Yes, there was room for improvement on my editing ( I used Premiere on a 3 year old Dell PC by the way...had to replace the hard drive 3 months later !!) but what I've learnt by doing this reedit on Final Cut Pro isn't all the tricks I know now and didn't at the time, it is the fact that my whole approach of the project wasn't the best.
Excessively organised as I am, I planned my shooting with John, I was so conscious of not wasting his time (in fact I only spent 2-3 hours with him, including a good part of walking from one end of the park to another, and the rest of the day on my own) that I had planned all he was going to say.
We had talked so much during the photo project and all the time I spent at the NCBI, I knew him very well, and I had made up my mind on what I wanted to say about him, what questions to ask him for my story but most importantly what he was going to answer me. I restrained him in what I wanted the documentary to be about and I didn't let this fantastic character show all his colours. I don't mean that I tweaked reality but I feel I put some "blinders" to the story, I limited it at the shooting time when actually the decision should be made post shoot.
So a year afterwards, I'm quite happy with having done this, as my first video work, but I also see how inexperience and stress limited the potential of this little vid, or at least rejected the power of spontaneity, how rewarding it can be to let people open up to you and be what they want to be. Actually I did know, as a photographer, that the best shots are the ones in between the planned and structured shots...strangely I didn't let the Videographer Me know about that !
It's happening in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Hope you like it ! As usual comments, advice, suggestions are very welcome. (for full HD, go to Youtube)