Transgression: “an act that goes against a law, rule or code of conduct; an offence.”
I thought of my mum, Hansa Tailor, who was a victim of domestic abuse in her first marriage. I contacted her and got her consent to sharing her story on my blog but was not comfortable going any further with the interview due to many things. Being a victim of domestic abuse affected her mentally as well as physically, therefore, it’s a difficult time of her past to talk about and especially to a group of people. Another reason was that she did not want to disclose any personal information such as any names as she did not want everyone to know who he was or his family as this could potentially raise issues. This part of her life has scarred her and still affects her to this day so revisiting it would be very emotional and difficult.
I envisioned making a fairly emotional documentary about my mum which could not be done therefore I thought this could be achieved by interviewing Chris Carnell, Lauren’s uncle. Chris lost his house in the 2014 flood in the South of France which intrigued me to learn more about it. Interviewing Chris also granted us more opportunities to make it visually interesting as there was a lot we could experiment with.
This project encouraged me to think more creatively about the visuals of a documentary more than I’ve thought about on previous documentaries. I wanted every shot to have a story of its own so you could still understand the story just through the visuals itself. I found the ecstatic truth in this project which is storytelling through the visuals.
A film that inspired our documentary significantly was “Without Christina” by Sofia Mellander. This style of interview was very effective as it relied on visuals and a simple voiceover to guide the viewer through the film. It was not like a traditional documentary where there was a sit-down interview which was refreshing to see. The shots in this film were mainly stills which made it very effective as there wasn’t much going on, therefore, it allowed you to focus on what he was saying. This made it very personal as we saw his house and his belongings while listening to his story which is what we planned. It was also effective in portraying an empty atmosphere as he was not in the shots and the colour tone of the film was fairly blue till the end where he is revealed against a bright yellow background. The colour inspired our documentary as the blue tone creates a cold and lonely atmosphere but it is contrasted by the earthy brown tones of certain shots. The ending of “Without Christina” was very gripping as the still mid shot of the subject was very simple yet powerful which encouraged us to end our documentary on a similar style shot.
One of our desires was to use the Panasonic GH5 camera as it is a beautiful piece of kit that produces high-quality footage. This is a camera that we have never used before so we practised using it and getting familiar with it before the shoot. This made us confident in using it and ensured that there will be no complications when filming. One of the challenges that arose was planning the shots as we were unsure of how the locations would look like and what would be there which made it difficult. We prepared some questions to ask for the interview so we had an idea of what would be said therefore plan shots accordingly to the voiceover. The style of the documentary was then developed and was kept consistent throughout as the different sections were planned thoroughly.
During filming, it started to rain but this did not affect filming as it added to the effect of the theme of water. The footage captured was visually stimulating because of the rain as it already set the tone and atmosphere of the documentary, as well as providing opportunities for different shots. Overall, filming went very well as we got everything that we wanted and a lot more so we had a variety of shots to choose from.
The editing process went smoothly as we all envisioned a similar outcome. Upon receiving feedback, the overall consensus was positive. Some improvements were to tweak the subtitles so it has a background and to get rid of the first shot of a tap dripping as it gave the wrong connotations. We were reluctant to remove the tap shot as it worked well alongside the audio but we understood that it may not make sense or fit in with the rest of the documentary. A change I would make would be to add more archive footage as this would give more context to the flood and the audience can see what happened in the event.
This documentary module has made me realise how important sound is. It can completely change the tone and mood of the piece. Sound in our documentary helps build up the tension and atmosphere as it starts off with calm water drops and rain which then builds up into the flood. These hints of water in the background give connotations to the flood without directly telling the viewer.
When reflecting on my personal development throughout the module I have come to realise that there are many different ways to film a documentary and make it cinematic and unconventional. It has taught me the power of details within a film and to critique my work more brutally to achieve a better outcome. It has also taught me the importance of visual storytelling opposed to directly telling the story.
Overall this project turned out really well. I am very happy with the outcome considering we didn’t know exactly what we were going to film and the time frame we filmed in.