Today I went and did the first shoot of the documentary. My subject was Chavdar, himself a photographer who just graduated from Horry-Georgetown Technical College. By and large the setup and shoot went well. I have yet to review the footage so there is the possibility of a nasty surprise lurking. I screwed up one technical thing so simple and basic that I’m not going to say what it is. However, it was in the audio which is what I would have thought would be my strong suit here.
We’ll see where things go from here, but I’m happy. Just even getting out and shooting is a different level of reality from talking about it for years, even if every bit of this footage is unusable (which dear “Bob” I hope is not the case.) A few lines of questioning just don’t work, and I probably didn’t really arrange things properly to get at what I wanted to explore in the most efficient way. Still, it’s a learning process and now I’m learning. We have begun!
Tomorrow is a big day for me. The indie documentary idea I’ve been talking about for years is going to have it’s first shoot. I’m excited, slightly nervous but mostly ready to get some actual footage captured. I’m not an experienced filmmaker so I’ve been cramming like a college kid the night before a final exam, much of that from Anthony Artis’ The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production. This afternoon I set up my equipment and tested it out, and I was surprised what a good, professional image I was able to capture with my prosumer camcorder and some cheap lights from World Market and Lowes.
I can’t remember when I first spoke aloud to another person that I wanted to do this film. It might have been as long ago as 4 years. Last year at Balticon I talked with Earl Newton about it quite a bit and got some seriously good advice from him. I had a conversation with the Ukrainian girl that was the lifeguard at the hotel pool about it too. I have a shoot lined up for next week and beyond that, I don’t know. My plan is to take the footage from tomorrows shoot, edit out a 2-3 minute piece and put it up on the movie’s website. This is partly for myself as a test that the workflow will produce something watchable out the other end, but also to give prospective interviewees something to look at so that they can understand what it is I’m talking about when I give them my crazy pitch for this film. Beyond that, it’s a loose ball that I need to grab.
This is way outside my comfort zone but that’s a very large part of what I like about it. I have an inflated enough ego and sense of self-confidence that I don’t doubt I can pull it off despite my inexperience. After all, pre-2008 Andre and I had no experience in running a conference and yet CREATE South is continuing to provide value to our town every year. Something will happen from this. My goal is to produce a feature length documentary film, one that is of a quality that could be shown theatrically. Whether it ever is will be a business decision for a later day, but artistically I want to make something in that ballpark. If I can’t pull that off, I want to get an hour long cut that would potentially be shown on the South Carolina PBS network ETV or other PBS systems. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll make the highest quality short film I can get out of it. I’m a pragmatist so I’m OK with having tiers of success and doing whatever I can on the highest tier I can pull off.
I’d say wish me luck, that that isn’t much of a factor. Wish me preparation and determination. Those I can use.