Finished evaluation

Posted: February 8, 2012 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 they 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, one person even went from shouting abuse one day, to bringing the protesters food and fuel the next because they managed to get their point across to her so well. I would hope this film can help the protesters express their views to a wider audience. 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 or join in rather than to shout abuse. I originally planned only to show footage of the occupiers speaking, but I realised from my research that the best arguments are the ones that acknowledge the other side, so I decided to show some footage I secretly filmed when two of the occupiers were having a debate with one of the locals. He makes his views known and the protesters explain their side to him, and appear to make a significant impact on his views. For a similar reason I decided to open the film with some footage of Prime Minister David Cameron making his views known.

I decided I wanted to film this documentary using an iphone. Mainly to show how much phone cameras have improved, and show they can be used to produce films of a high quality. 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 a lot of people own one, indeed, recent research by ofcom has shown that 27% of UK adults now own a smart phone, and this figure rises to 47% when looking at teenagers. People have been capturing things on the spur of the moment for years but now days, the advancement of phone cameras has turned them into a useful tool for the amateur film maker. gone are the times when events were captured with grainy footage from one angle, Anybody at any time can have a three camera high definition shoot ready in a matter of seconds if they witness something worth filming.

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 take 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, as I’ve shown in the film . For example, in 1999 comedian Mark Thomas smuggled cameras into an arms fair in Athens and used them to discredit members of the Indonesian government, this kind of work would be far easier today with the use of discreet phone cameras.

For a similar reason I decided not to use microphones for this project. I listened to everything back at the time of filming, and thought it sounded good but low quality became clear once began to edit. I originally thought the time it would take to set up microphones would detract from the intimacy and spontaneity of the film, but In hindsight, I think this was a mistake.

To get the content I wanted I decided to spend four days at the occupation befriending the demonstrators and seeing how they dealt 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 one of the protesters 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, and wanted to donate her furniture to the occupation. I volunteered myself to carry some furniture back from the house which allowed me to further ingratiate myself into the group. Unfortunately, the family didn’t want me filming because they didn’t like the idea that their children might get caught in shot. I managed to secretly film inside the house, further showing the use of the iphone camera, unfortunately There was nothing I could use. 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 Mail view that all the occupiers are posh students, which certainly isn’t the case, and not something I wanted to show, 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. There is also one with Bo’s mother, and one with a protester called Dilly who’s recently been made homeless, there’s also several other interviews I’ve decided not to use.

Bo and his mum have been at the protest since day one, 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. Dilly’s stories gave me a great insight into the family feeling around the camp.

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 the comedy aspect. 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, as I’ve mentioned, the sound suffered as a result of not using microphones and I think this would be quite easily rectified in any future work. One thing in particular I was happy with was getting the secretly filmed footage, which I thinks works well in the film, I originally wanted to blur out the man’s face, but this seemed to crash premiere every time I tried so I had to make do with the footage in it’s original form. The speaker doesn’t say anything controversial and actually makes a good argument, so I’m sure it makes little difference. I think the footage of David Cameron speaking on the issue greatly improves the film because it lets the viewer know, if they didn’t already that it is a global issue and it gives the film another opinion.

After initially editing the piece, I decided to go back to Boscombe and take some more footage of the local people expressing their opinion on the subject, Unfortunately, by this time the protesters had been moved on and all of the people I managed to speak to either had no opinion on the matter, or were so misinformed that it would have been detrimental to the film to include any of the points they made. If I did this again, I’d make a point of getting the public’s views as well at the original time of filming. I think, while the film does it’s job, a point is always more solid when both sides are shown

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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