14 April: Final Thoughts and Influences.


Having had the experience of making the initial proposal I found this a most helpful and informative exercise and it enabled me in turn to investigate changes which needed to be made for the final submission.  After spending time looking closely at the films of a very diverse range of filmmakers from Jean Cocteau, through to Terence Davies, Zineb Sedira and Zarina Bhimji, it made me analyse and focus more closely on exactly what I wanted to achieve through my own video.

I found scenes that did not involve any human presence particularly thought-provoking and created for me personally a greater involvement with the chosen subject. However, I soon realised that it would be virtually impossible to avoid a human presence due to the subject matter I had chosen. As the video concentrates on people begging and living on the streets, a human presence is in fact pivotal to my video.  So my challenge was to try to find a common ground, to relate what I wanted to show and not merely depict people and scenes in a purely documentary way.  I also wanted to use other influences to guide my own practice but still use my own voice.  So the work particularly of Zineb Sedira and Zarina Bhimji influenced the  way I had previously thought about the importance of the speed, and the flow of one scene to another; the mix of incremental sound and audio and to create a general pace for the work as a whole .

As a first attempt at making a video it brought the need for technical expertise into play and also emphasised the importance of smooth panning shots, and the ability to create different levels of focus, through such things as zooming in on a subject.  The ability to be able to use my Canon 5D MKII to do the filming was a great asset, although I soon realised that the audio capabilities of the camera were somewhat limited, so in turn I used a Zoom H1 hand-held  recorder when I was undertaking the interviews. This also made it easier in the editing process when I wanted to treat the audio aspects separately from the visual recordings.

As a photographer such things as composition become almost automatic over time and filming itself was an exciting experience.  The general public seemed almost to disregard me and seemed less suspicious than if I was out taking pictures with my camera. It also highlighted the need for the necessary equipment, such as filming on a tripod or monopod and the ability to film on the move whilst holding a heavy camera.  This is something that I need to prefect with the acquisition of the correct equipment.

As a result of the initial proposal it was also it was also necessary to reduce the amount of content as the resulting work would have been too long, so this in turn made me look more closely as what was important to include and in turn what to remove.  For example,  I did not finally include any of the interviews I had recorded with members of the public but merely included those taken with people who had experience of begging and living on the streets.

The editing process, whilst time-consuming I found was personally challenging, exciting and  a very creative process.  It highlighted the importance of audio as an instrument to create atmosphere to the visual element of the film.  Initially I had intended to  include music appropriate to the subject matter, such as Tom Jones’ ‘I want to go home’, but realised that it is preferable to have instrumental tracks only, so as not to create any influence on the viewer, whether intentional or otherwise.  I was also interesting in being able to mix in different layers of audio and in turn fine tune such things as when sound fades in and out on a scene, and to lead in to the next scene.


The word count limit for the written element of the submission meant that whilst initially I had intended to compare a film by Zineb Sedira with one by Zarina Bhimji, I could realistically only focus on one film.  So I chose Yellow Patch  by Zarian Bhimji, which had made a lasting impression on me having first seen her work in December 2012.    The written element of this submission can be seen via the following link:


Personally I have greatly enjoyed discovering the work of people I may have come into contact with before but not looked at so closely.  As a result I now find that I particularly view film footage in a different way after having made the video.  With everything that one does we become more critical of our own work, or find ways that it could be improved if we were repeating the exercise.  In this respect learning in turn enables one to gain expertise and together with it the confidence to progress in the future.

15 March: Catching Lives Abseil

In my capacity as Volunteer Coordinator and CL photographer, I was asked if I would cover the fund-raising abseil event in Maidstone.  My husband Tim had also agreed to take part so needed some moral support.  After having recently finished my previous video, this was an opportunity to film the event rather than just record through images.  The ambient sounds of the crowd of spectators I felt would be more apparent through the medium of film.

This turned out to be one of my less successful ventures but at the same time a good learning curve.  The first thing against me was the weather conditions which were cold, dull and overcast so the resulting film came out darker than I would have wished, but at the same time I felt it important to depict things as they actually were.

We were one of twenty teams taking part in the event so although I was able to gain access to the starting and finishing area at the base of the building, it was very cramped and it was difficult to film when the people were continually moving around and the organisers were mainly concerned to keep the proceedings moving along as quickly as possible.  I also realised that to do this again I need to have a shoulder rig, as to hold my heavy camera upwards to film from the top of the building was a great strain on my neck and arms.  So as a result the film is not as smooth as I had hoped to produce.

Apart from that the event raised considerable funds for the charity although I am not sure if my husband would repeat the exercise again!  The film was put on YouTube to enable Catching Lives in turn to put on the website and hopefully generate some more contributions.