Having finished producing ‘Struggle with life’ I feel that we have bought our subject Surendrakumar Bhagat and his life in an interesting but truthful way through editing in particular but also in the entirity of the project.
We stayed true to our research and kept this as an important motif throughout every stage of production.
Having completed the first draft edit of the film we all came together and pointed out what was important to keep the realism of the film to life. Following feedback we agreed that the original title ‘Struggle with life and race against time’ was unnessarily showy and ambigious which is not what we wanted our documentary to be about. To keep with this simplistic theme we also agreed on taking out scenes which were look literal as on reflection it just seemed to be a time waster rather than adding anything to the story (which we all felt was interesting without any fancy effects distracting from this).
To draw an audience in as little as 3 minutes was an interesting challenge and this taught me alot about the importance of the line between the truth and what engages an audience and the line between too much of nothingness and too much bombardment and this is a usual skill I can now carry on into other areas of my practicing career.
I am very proud of how well we all came together as a team to create something that I feel had originality.
Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth.
To bring an ordinary man to life in an interesting way took an extraordinary approach. The truth, and an empirical approach could well have backfired but it is the approach that we chose throughout our production with justified reason. Through researching documentary film I felt the things that touched me the most were the characters that I could really relate to not the ones which had quite obviously been sat down in front of a light and given a script or the most extreme of characters who are simply exploited for being different like some kind of freak show porn. I didn’t want to exploit the different even if it may make for a cheap audience thrill rather I wanted to create a film about a typical character with an interesting story. A character which the audience could engage with on a personal level.
Family relationships are important to everyone and is why we chose to shoot ‘struggle with life and race against time’ about a granddad with real emotions and telling a real emotive tale we could really stay true to.
We rolled up on set nice and early to set up and finally meet our documentary subject Surendrakumar Bhagat in the flesh. Having read through research , seen photographs of him and read a handwritten letter from him it was a surreal and enlightening experience to finally meet him in his natural homely environment.
The capturing of visuals was very smooth. Having plenty of visuals and a stylistic approach already in mind it meant we could set up quickly and confidently without making Mr Bhagat uncomfortable. We decided to interview him sat on a sofa in Meera’s living room as it was a place where he could relax and we could really engage with him on a personal level, as we planned this also meant that the motif of the importance of family ran throughout the whole documentary in an environment which was not too set up but genuine. We decided against interviewing him against a white wall as we felt this was not the atmosphere we wanted to create. After experimenting with different amounts of lights, directions and filters we finally used an artificial lamp and a coloured reflector which created a moody and atmospheric scene but it was not too intense.
My role for this documentary was sound, everyone being clearly allocated their role meant the process was efficient and fortunately everybody put a lot of effort into there own responsibilty and I think we made a good production team. To ensure a decent sound quality we booked out 3 different cameras and an edirol and it turned out it was a good job we did take this precaution. In the headphones the sound quality seemed high and even after listening back to each audio clip after I recorded it there appeared to be no problems however after importing the footage into audacity and amplifying it we could hear a whirring. It seemed the mic we used recorded the inside of the edirol alongside the interview so inevitable for a few minutes we panicked. After remembering the boom microphone we had booked out we plugged it into the edirol and with great relief the sound worked much better even after being amplified. Even better the second time we recorded it was obvious our subject felt more comfortable and what we shot seemed more natural.
We all felt the shoot went very well and despite a hiccup with the sound and having to masking tape the tripod to an ill fitting dolly (blue peter here we come) everything was dealt with quickly and without freaking out too much. Mr Bhaget enjoyed the shoot and this would support that the atmosphere on set was a good one. Most importantly to me the atmosphere was definitely friendly and homely from the second we arrived on set and I think this came across well on screen.
Visiting the Tate gallery has influenced the way I see ‘Art’ and the shooting of the documentary more than I expected. My opinion of the gallery isn’t the most positive but nonetheless influential to my filming approach. A particular piece which was memorable was channel one, Channel two and channel three by Mike Kelley.
The structure initially appears minimalist, three wooden beams laid out in a symmetrical pattern however if you look closer in there is an array of colours inside. But thats it. Still seems pretty minimalistic to me. I guess maybe I’m not the target audience for this particular piece but I just felt like Mike Kelley tried to hard to make what is considered as ‘Modern art.’ What exactly does this piece reflect exactly in terms of society? life in general? Or well anything!? Its what you make of it but how deep should you have to look before it crosses the line of weird and no longer art? Is there even a crossover point? So many questions. It definitely provoked a reaction in me so yes it did something. Some people may therefore call it art but I just can’t.
It was only outside the museum I spotted something I personally consider to be real art. Emphasis on the word real. No frames,profit or art critics here just real people putting there feeling across in a concrete way. No pun intended.
The day really made me think. Can real art be constructed? If we produce art purely for others and not for ourselves what are we really reflecting? When it came to filming our documentary ‘Struggle with Life and Race against Time’ this impacted the way it was filmed. Setting up the feature interview we decided to focus on naturalism rather than a cliched cinematic approach. We wanted to make it personal, not necessarily perfect or what you might expect on screen but reflective of the real him as his family see him not just as the audience may want to.
The setting wasn’t put together to be eye catching or especially appealing but to make him feel comfortable in an environment he actually recognised. At the end of the day the film was about him not art and because of the visit to the Tate thats what mattered most to this production.
Using all of my research I have created a one minute film around the subject of gun crime in primarily America but also worldwide. The imagery that I wanted to create was surrounded around the idea of how whereas it was once the norm for fathers to teach their children how to ride a bike it has become a terrifying new trend for young children to be proudly presented with their first gun as it if were a toy.
The title ‘Old enough to grip.’ comes from this idea of guns being in immature hands ; often the only criteria required for gun ownership seems to be the ability to hold something, hence an increase in younger people committing such crimes. I wanted to contrast between the glamorisation of firearms and the consequences it can have and the tragedy it can cause. For these reasons I wrote the voiceover as a poem from the perspective of a young seemingly innocent child, in both a simple lexical style and an immature voice (pretty much my normal voice but not even trying to sound more mature).
Learnt to grip, Learnt to hold a gun.
Daddy taught me how to aim today. Told me it was fun.
My finger pushing down fast on the trigger,
He carried me on his back so he could make me bigger.
Next he taught me how to run,
My doll under my one arm the other my gun.
He tried to warn me not to aim for anyone’s face mind.
An eye for an eye and the world will go blind.
The line ‘an eye for an eye and the world will go blind’ is reflective of my own views. There are many strong views for this argument so I wanted to reflect this with the juxtaposing of a woman holding a sign with opposite views ‘Disarming me will not protect me’ in contrast to the previous clip of the Columbine shootings. I chose the to leave the audio on the first clip untouched for maximum impact ; A bank where you can pick up a free gun might seem funny but when the audience sees the consequences as the film progresses with intense music and muted clips it leaves the audience to form their own opinions.
Music – Nancy Sinatra- Bang bang (My baby shot me down) Instrumental runs throughout the background as I felt this song was sinister with a reverb effect and the lyrics which are considerably well known have plenty of connotations with gun crime and a step further ‘My baby shot me down’ is thematic with children with guns.
‘Too many children are dying too young’ – Gabrielle Giffords
Only yesterday morning gun shooting surviver Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head during a mass shooting in Arizona stood up and told America
I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something …
It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.
The issue of gun ownership is very real and undertaking the project has really moved me. It is something I am very passionate about and so In respect of the increasing numbers of victims killed and families torn about through shootings I present to you Old enough to grip.
For my poetic eyes project I have been searching through archive footage , newspaper cuttings , audio and photographs in order to educate myself about the subject of firearms possession. A major influence for me was feature film Bowling for columbine which is written, produced, directed, and narrated by thee famous and considerably brave in nature Michael Moore. I first watched this film in 2002 the year of its production and now I am older and have researched thoroughly into this subject this film moved me more than any other has for a very long time.
A groundbreaking film for Michael Moore ‘Columbine it won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, a special 55th Anniversary Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and the César Award for Best Foreign Film. Many people believe that this film was the key to Moore’s fame and respect as a filmmaker. The thing that sold it seemed to be its controversial nature, at no point in the film did I stop asking the question ‘Should you really be doing that?’ or ‘Should you really be saying that?’. Without doubt Moore asks the questions nobody else will and he eventually exposes the elephant in the room many of us probably hadn’t even noticed was there.
‘Bowling for Columbine’ is so named for the events that happened in the morning of the Columbine high school shootings in 1999 where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold the two young students who undertook the attack attended a school bowling class early that morning, at 6:00 AM, before they committed the attacks at school starting at 11:17 AM. The juxtaposition of joy with disaster is a motif that runs throughout the whole of the film. Cartoons bring light humour to the subject until you come back down to earth with a (if your me a tearful) thud as you see young children not even old enough to talk playing with a real loaded rifle as if it was a teddy.
‘Columbine’ is archive heavy, so a part of you may easily be led to believe the anti-gun message is credibly backed up. It is pretty difficult not to be drawn in with such sensationalised footage. A bank where if you open up an account you get a free gun regardless of any existing mental health conditions and a children’s cartoon that cheerfully promotes the message that
“Happiness is a warm gun”
Seriously. Its the way that these shocking figures are put across so matter-of-factly that sends shivers down your spine. Who even knew that in Virgin, Utah a law was actually passed requiring all residents to own their own gun. Now that would be an interesting amnesty , where you would be punished for not owning a dangerous weapon capable of destroying innocent lives. As you can probably tell I already had existing strong views on this subject but this film churned something very deep inside of me.
What type of world are we living in when someone can come into their own school and brutally murder 12 students, a teacher and injure a total of 21 students. Students there to learn and give themselves a chance of a future only to have it cruelly taken away by an act that this film shows is only too common. Fast paced and cleverly crafted editing shows the list is never ending. Archives of this nature is endless as I have also found myself in my research for this project and it certainly provokes thought.
He took a risk exposing what he did and audience response in America wasn’t exactly positive. I do partly agree with the response that Moore’s film was biased propaganda only trying to parody American society as idiots. I do not think this was intention, I believe he effectively exposed a common attitude in American societies flaws for us all to see all over the world. The thing about this film is that although Moore obviously has some strong values he puts it across in a way that at least seems to be unbiased fact from his use of real life interviews and real life opinions which lets us make the decision for ourselves as an audience.
Moore was both applauded and booed at the Academy Awards on March 23, 2003. I think perhaps that this may actually be the perfect reaction he wanted. A controversial and thought provoking film it is one of few I would personally rate 5 stars.