Evaluation with further revision

Posted: April 10, 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 originally decided to work with smartphone’s because I’ve recently become fascinated with the level of quality film-makers have managed to achieve with such a small piece of equipment. Films like the Korean “Night Fishing” by director Park Chan-Wook and Hooman Khalili’s Olive, the first cinematic release to be shot on a smartphone, are a treat for the eyes despite being produced in such a way, and the cinematography in Olive can at times put other films to shame. Of course, it wouldn’t be right to say this is just the smartphone’s doing, as the phones used to shoot ‘Olive’ were attached to top of the range lenses and the main phone used for the shooting of ‘night fishing’ also used an external 35mm lens. Unfortunately, due to lack of planning on my part, when I came to film my documentary, I had nothing of this nature available to me, and it’s fair to say my film suffered for it.

I was also prompted by recent stories in the press, which spoke of a young black man capturing his racist police attackers on audio with his phone, to attempt to gain some hidden camera footage, in a bid to show how effective these small cameras could be at getting in undetected and filming while unseen This worked for me in one instance ans I managed to film a heated debate between the protesters and a local man.

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 and it’s even possible now, to attach powerful external microphones. 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.

When I was originally filming and listened to the audio back, it sounded fairly good, it was for this reason I decided I wouldn’t need mics. It wasn’t until I got it back and listened on the computer that I realised how badly the audio had suffered. This is a shame because I now know, from research done since that with the addition of a simple able, I could have run the Sennheiser radio mics straight into the iPhone

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.

This was the time when the iPhone came into it’s own, as I managed to film a fair amount before they even realised I was filming and plenty more secretly after they asked me to stop. 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 getting some feedback on the footage I’ve decided 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 fairly happy with my final film but there are several things I’d like to change if I was to do something like this again. I feel like I only touched on the surface of how great the iPhone can be as a camera. I think I went into this project determined to see the iPhone as a phone rather than as a camera, and failed to truly appreciate how great it can be to film. What I really wish I’d done was experiment with external lenses and microphones, I think with a little more research at the right time, I could have made this a far better project. I thought the iPhone itself was a great piece of kit, wit ha very impressive camera for it’s size and I’m glad I got the chance to use it in this way.

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 première 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 also gives the film another voice.

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. And although 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’d like to try this again in a different setting. I would especially like to attempt to work with the iPhone again, but attempt to create something more visually pleasing now I feel I really know what it’s capable of.

 

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