Evaluation

Posted: December 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

Evaluation

When Occupy Bournemouth set up in their new site in Boscombe, I decided to re-visit my earlier idea of creating a documentary about them. I think the media coverage of the occupy movement has been biased towards the other side and has wholly failed to show the protesters in a fair light. With this short documentary I aimed to give the demonstrators a forum in which to air their views. While I was at the protest, I spoke to a few people who were against in when thye first came down, however, after spending a few minutes talking to people, most would leave with a wholly different view on the movement, and in fact, some people even went from shouting abuse one day, to bringing the protesters food and fuel the next because they managed to get their view across to her so well. I would like my film to be another way they can get their views across. I would like to think I’ve created something people can watch online and hopefully be brought round to the groups way of thinking without having to go down there, so when they finally do visit the demonstration, it will be to donate supplies rather than to shout abuse.

I decided I wanted to film this documentary using an iphone. The reason for this was very simple, I liked the idea of using a very small device to film. I thought they were a good tool for documentary making and investigative work as well as guerilla film making due to their size and the fact that they are fairly cost effective as everybody has one. Also, if I wasn’t at uni, with access to the film store, Iphones would be one of the most cost effective options for filming, so in this sense it was useful research.

I liked the idea of filming on phones because everyone has them in their pockets. People have been capturing things on the spur of the moment for years, but now with the advancement of phone cameras, most can even film in high definition, making them a useful tool for the amateur film maker. gone are the times when things were captured with grainy footage from one angle, giving rise to comments on YouTube such as “did you record this with your cat” Anybody at any time can have a 3 HD camera shoot ready in a matter of seconds if something interesting happens, and it wont be long before lenses improve greatly to.

The manoeuvrability of these cameras made filming a great deal easier as I could be set up to film in a matter of seconds. I decided to spend 4 days with the demonstrators and because of the small camera, any time one of them said something interesting I could whip it out and record what they had to say. This gave it a certain sense of intimacy, and allowed me to become part of the group rather seeming like an outsider who’d just come to film. I can see the iphone camera becoming a must have piece of kit for the investigative journalist, as one can film or record sound very discreetly on a phone without drawing attention to themselves. For example, in 1999 when Mark Thomas smuggled cameras into the arms fair in Athens to dis credit the arms dealers, this must have been incredibly difficult. Cameras were strictly banned and his team had to very discreetly smuggle them in. All the filming they did was done using a camera hidden in a bag. Imagine how easily one could do something like this now days, with the size and manoeuvrability of mobile telephone cameras. I have found this project to be a valuable piece of research because I would like to do some comedy in his style in the future, which would involve infiltrating certain groups with small cameras and getting information from people.

For a similar reason I decided not to use microphones for this project, I thought the extended set-up time could detract from the intimacy and spontaneity of the film. As it was, I could pull out the iphone at any point to film anything interesting that might happen and I thought having to mess around with mics could have taken away from this.

To get the content I wanted I decided to spend four days at the occupation befriending the demonstrators and seeing how they deal with the public and the day to day problems of camping on public land. They were very friendly from the start and the feeling of solidarity was immediately apparent, with Dilly even saying in his interview that they feel more like a family that anything else. On my third day there they really began to accept me into the group, and I began helping out a lot more around the camp. At the end of the day, one of the demonstrators got a call from her friend who’d been evicted from her house and wanted to donate her furniture to the occupation. I volunteered myself to carry some furniture back from the house I the hope I would get some good footage, and maybe even an interview with one of the home owners. Unfortunately, they didn’t like me filming because they didn’t like the idea that their children might get caught in shot, I did get some footage but nothing of a quality I could use. When we arrived at the property it became apparent that there was a lot more furniture than we were expecting and we’d need a van. After getting all the furniture out of the house I did an interview with Two of the demonstrators called Barney and Bo on one of the sofa’s in the road in front of the house. They both put on comedy posh accents at the time, which I thought was funny and was prepared to use, but since showing the footage to some friends they’ve said it shows them in a bad light and conforms to the “daily main” view that all the occupiers are posh students, which certainly isn’t the case, so I decided no to use it.

For the documentary I filmed several interviews with the demonstrators. There were two with a protester named Bo, who’s been at the occupation since the beginning at the Town Hall and another one with him and a guy called Barney outside the house we cleared. There is also one with Bo’s mother, who’s name I can’t recall and one with a protester called Dilly who’s recently been made homeless, there’s also several other interviews can’t use.

Bo and his mum have been at the protest since day one, and Bo has wanted to go up to occupy LSX for a while but hasn’t been able to afford the travel. The two of them have only recently found a new house after being evicted from tier last property in Leeds having built up about £87,000 worth of debt. They’re both disillusioned with the way the system has treated them and are both strongly anti-capitalist.

Dilly was made homeless recently and still hasn’t managed to find a place to live. He’s at the occupation because he’s annoyed that big businesses can get away without paying tax, and he’s unhappy with the treatment of homeless people. He gave me the biggest insight I had into the family spirit of the camp when he told me how Barney, another demonstrator, got his broken arm trying to defend Dilly against 10 drunk men who attacked them in Bournemouth gardens. Dilly was being beaten, and Barney came in alone to try and help him, which is an act of family if ever I saw one.

I think this project has gone well and I’m quite happy with my final film but there are several things I’d like to change if I was to do something like this again. Before this project I was looking into the involvement of comedy in peaceful protest, and more specifically the work of Mark Thomas. If I was to do this again, I’d like to try and involve comedy to an extent. I think I’m going to explore this avenue further when I start my podcast.

I thought the iphone itself was a great piece of kit and i’m really glad I had the chance to use it in this way, however, if I was to do it again I’d do a few things differently. I’d like to try and get a tripod, because a lot of the shots were shaky and I found this very difficult to mask in after effects. Also, despite what I’ve said earlier, I think my film could be improved with the use of microphones. It’s a shame to say it, but the sound really did suffer much more than I thought it would. It’s something I really need to start to address as I had trouble with sound on my final project of last year as well. If need be, I’ll go back and re-record some of my interviews, however I think it can be heard well enough that the content makes up for the sound.

I’ve enjoyed making a documentary more than I thought I would and I would like to try this again in a different setting with SLR’s and microphones to create something mote aesthetically pleasing.

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