Shooting and Processing

I have been gathering footage with a cheap and small standard DV camera around Stokes Croft over the last few weeks. It has been uncomfortable at times, particularly the evenings of the weekends. There are some evenings where it really doesn’t feel right to be seen filming people arguing or stumbling around.

The area has homeless people and drug users and it never feels right to film them as they have nowhere to hide. It’s also voyeuristic and unnessecary on the whole. This though could be seen as resulting in there being a bias in the footage gathered, although this is not true in terms of the soundtrack, by that I mean peoples conversations that I’ve recorded around the area. Anna will also be voicing sections of conversations we’ve heard that give a better reflection of the area and it’s the way these will be contextualised during the improvisation that we feel will give the film i it’s weight. Hopefully. Although there may be groups of people who weren’t filmed, they and their opinions will be the soundtrack.

I’m happy to admit that a personal bias has effected the footage I’ve gathered, and moreso probably in the way it has been processed. Anna has lived here for two years and has given me a better insight into the area, but in the few months I’ve been here it’s pretty plain where the lines of social demarcation lie. They are mostly visible in terms of who you find at which venues/cafes etc. All that being said the area does have a very strong inclusive atmosphere most of the time. I know where my own, and also Annas politics lie with regard to the area, but I don’t feel I have to dwell on it or discuss it at this time as they will emerge plainly during the performance and we ourselves will have a better way of voicing them once we have performed the films. As I’m buried in dealing with the footage, on a shot by shot basis, and what each shot says to me, I cannot at this time pull my head up and say anything insightful. Thats the way it will stay too, as it should, as Anna and I are in dialogue with the medium we’re using, as much as we are the area and our neighbours. We’re not pushing any agenda, although people that know us know where we stand.

It is an amazing and energetic place to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.

I have found myself censoring the footage I shoot at night. I have been mostly processing the people into anonymity when they’re out. I’ve had enough embarassing and violent evenings myself, I have no want to capture anybody elses with a camera. I also feel that as the place changes so dramatically in the evenings (and therefore the people do to) that the anonymity processing is a good reflective method of what occurs.

One of the first processing acts to deterritorialise the area around Stokes Croft was to pull it apart and rebuild it incorrectly in a 3d Scene in nuke and fly three cameras through it.

Also as the place is an open air gallery with great and ever changing graf art I have deconstructed some of the artworks and animated them. I don’t want to link here online to  any of those sequences until after the first performance however. Some of the main wall spaces change pretty much weekly and the footage I’ve gathered reflects that. It’s in the streets away from the Stokes Croft road that you find some of the more personal and permanent work and also where it feels more comfortable to film. I think this has a lot to do with the normal footage I shoot. I have an affinity with urban areas as I’ve spent most of my life in them, and I do tend to over romanticise them. I’ve caught myself doing that a few times and had to stop myself from going overboard.

I believe I have enough footage of the area now for us to have plenty of different possible ways to edit/mix it and explore it. We intend to use a lot of the unprocessed footage as counterpoints, ways of changing the overall mood and atmosphere while we perform. Although based on my previous experiences such changes will occur naturally throughout the performance and when we don’t expect it.

One of the advantages of filming in such a small area is the way context changes naturally for me everytime I go out and film. This has effected the way I have been using Nuke in that, particularly with the 2D processing, I haven’t been reusing my scripted vfx verbatim. I have been altering them for every shot in some way and then overwriting the script entirely. This is a reflection of how my filming has changed over the period of collecting footage, and how my relationship to the area has also changed.

I think this has also been an unconscious process of preparing myself for an improvised film show again, in that I cannot go back and alter/reprocess anything differently. I have been destructively processing, discarding my edit points/keyframes as I’ve worked on each shot. This I feel is also a reflection of how this whole process has altered my personal political relationship with the digital film medium.

Most of the footage has been shot outdoors, I have though shot some footage from inside various buildings looking outside as well as some inside shops and venues. While shooting in the area I’ve been rarely bothered or asked questions by passers-by, and this is down to the camera I’m using. I have used a pro camera in this area before and I was asked many times what I was doing. Saying that though I, and Anna, have been approached a few times and asked what it is we are doing. When we explain it to them they often want to tell us a story. There is an assumption that we are making a documentary, as that is commonly done here. I know of two other groups of people who are trying to shoot a documentary of the Stokes Croft area in the short time I’ve lived here.

We are not interested in making that type of  film, well, not in a traditional sense. The work will be a documentary of the area after all, but will follow a much more abstract narrative than is normal for that form. We don’t plan for our finished work to contain any message but instead hope it offers a different perspective on the area.


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