Sunday, 30 September 2012

Everyone has a film...

The late Christopher Hitchens said, ""Everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly where I think it should, in most cases, remain."  The same is possibly true of films.
In the past I've made loads of movies but I've  been able to hide behind the fact that the content was mainly created by children and had often been made using  inexpensive equipment  and free software.  Now I'm semi-retired (yesss) the time has come to make a film for me
The first step was to spend a bit of my lump sum.  When I started working in schools, it suited me to specialise in using the same kit as them. Using basic kit allowed me to explore possibilities and limits and made me an expert troubleshooter.  It also taught me that the key to making interesting movies is interesting ideas not expensive equipment.  The quality of kit available in many schools has improved, as has the expertise in its use. I have an excuse to buy something a bit better than them if I'm going to be freelancing again - I'll need to be able to help make their ideas shine a little. 
So I did my research and here's what I came up with (facts for geeks in brackets).
Laptop: (Lenovo i7 8gb RAM)
Camcorder:  (Panasonic X900)
Stabiliser: (Hague Mini Motion Cam)
Editing software (Sony Movie Studio 12)
Plus spare battery, 34 gb SD cards, bags etc.
I already own a decent tripod, monopod and desktop microphone.
I hum-med and hah-ed about whether to buy a DSLR but finally settled on a dedicated video camera - I just don't have the time, money or inclination for a DSLR and they're much less easy to operate one handed - something I find myself needing to do a lot, as conditions for filming are often less than ideal when I am working in schools. I'm still not sure if I should have bought a teacher edition of Adobe Production Premium CS6 rather than the Sony suite, but I guess a little of my old inverted snobbery hangs on. Anyway the Sony is, by all accounts, excellent, and I'm pretty sure it will be quite a while until I find it  limiting. And I need to get started straight away...
Following the maxim to write what you know about, I'm planning to make a movie about my local area - especially the River Waveney (at Hoxne in the Alfred Munnings picture above).  Currently I think it will be unnarrated and edited to music. I've enjoyed this process immensely in a few movielets I've posted on this blog, as well as a couple of my rather more ambitious pieces "Water" and "Riding the Middy".  The problem is, of course, finding the music - though I was delighted and surprised to find a copyright-free version of Vaughan Williams "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis":

Beautiful, atmospheric and English though it is, it's also somewhat over-used.  What I really need is a local composer prepared to do it for nothing... The aim is simply to collect lots of interesting footage and refine it down to a shortish piece. I'm trusting coherence will emerge during the editing so long as the images are sufficiently powerful. But it may end up entirely differently.

I'm expecting to treat the movie as a kind of dog-substitute - I'll need to go walking in all seasons and weathers. I'd have loved to  treat myself to a GoPro camera for KAP, bike rides and underwater shots - but I need to prove  to myself my determination  to get the movie made, before I go spending yet more money on kit. And, I absolutely must get  a good external video mike with a really fluffy dead cat...