Friday, May 16, 2008

Thoughts on Equipment

Since scheduling the first two interviews, my mind keeps coming back to the equipment. Should I go ahead and invest in the camera, mics and lights in case I want them when I sit down to talk with Charlie and George in the coming weeks?

It's a tough call.

The equipment I want is pretty reasonable, and it takes a few days for it to arrive once it's ordered. I'm very, very tempted to go place my order today or tomorrow. As an event photographer, it was always comforting to be over prepared. You can never recreate a moment, and having equipment fail is truly disheartening when you're trying to capture an event (or, in this case, an interview). The more I think about it, the more I think I should make the purchase immediately. But I keep coming back to the cost, and whether or not I can pay that off in the end.

Then Jeff Barrie comes to mind.

He's a documentary filmmaker. Not too long ago, I attended a screening of his film Kilowatt Ours. He has a new version out, and a coworker let me know about the event. I'm so glad that I went to see it because Jeff did a Q&A session after the screening.

Most people asked questions about the environment, policy changes, education, or why he left out certain aspects in the film. No one had yet asked him about the filmmaking process, and that was something I certainly wanted to hear him talk about. What was the process like for him? Struggles? Celebrations?

He's such a calm, confident person. Tall. Humble. He has a presence about him that is...engaging. You feel as if he were focusing solely on you.

So, I got in line to step up to the mic and ask about the filmmaking process. The longer I stood there, the more nervous I got. I do improvisational comedy--unscripted theater--and yet, here I was nervous enough that my voice shook when I asked him to talk about the process/funding of his film.

He smiled. He took a moment to reflect and answered, "I'm just a guy with a camera." He said he just started shooting. He kept shooting and then edited everything together. If you want to make a movie, then make a movie. (Of course! The answer is always simple.) As for funding? He put a lot of the expenses on his credit card.

And that risk keeps coming back to me. He boldly took a risk in order to tell a story he wanted to share with others. I'm in a mildly similar situation at the moment, trying to wage whether or not I should go order this equipment and I keep coming back to that very public conversation.

So, I think I'll do it. The hustle is on. Time to get cracking!

Interview Time #2 Confirmed

Just got off the phone with George to confirm our interview. This will be interview #2 in the process, and I'm looking forward to it so much!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Interviews Scheduled!

I felt a rush of joy wash over me just a moment ago as I scheduled my first interview for the film. It will be on May 24, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. And I don't think I'm going to bring the camera equipment yet. Tough call to make, but I feel like this is the right move. Photographers are always pained by beautiful moments that are not caught on film, but I prefer to allow the human connection to strengthen before bringing in the big lights and camera that I want to use for this project.

The rush I got a moment ago reminds me of exciting high school days where I worked for our newspaper and literary magazine. I was given great opportunities, allowed to sell ad space (cold calling!), and learn about the importance of accurate, honest reporting. It was then that I wanted to become a journalist. Oh, how I have missed this since graduating from high school!

It's funny how long ago that seems, and how much I learned at the time. We were just having fun, but buried in all of that fun were incredibly important lessons that have stayed with me.

One of my stories was about tobacco, more specifically how it had impacted Eastern North Carolina. I met with tobacco farmers (retired and working) to ask them about their lives and how the plant had changed them. One farmer had smoked for what seemed like his entire life. I sat in his living room, a rather dark space full of tobacco products and tobacco farming tools, listening to him cough while his smiling wife proudly proclaimed that she had never smoked a day in her life. I later met with a farmer who hired migrant workers, and had a green house full of the next crop growing and preparing to be planted outside. He invited me to a pig pickin' later, which I attended and had a grand time with these new-found friends.

What I remember most about the whole process is the dignity, honesty, integrity and humility with which these people shared with me their lives. They were so,...human. I haven't kept in touch with them, but have always wondered where their lives took them after that series of interviews. They were so kind and genuine. I learned much from them.

Now, a week out from sitting down to talk with a new stranger about his life, I am reminded of the nervousness that comes with interviewing. I want to know so much going into the interview. Trying to understand a piece of history from a completely different point of view is an incredibly fascinating experience, and I want to be sure that I prepare well for that moment.

My first interviewee, Charlie, told me today that he had just looked at some photos from Vietnam for the first time and described the lush jungle and young refugees. He has lots of photos, which I am really excited about. Photographs allow a person to remember where they were at that moment, what happened before the put the view finder up to their eye. And what happened immediately after that photograph was taken.

The Vietnam War is not a subject with which I am familiar, so I want to learn as much as possible. But, like a fledgling bird, you must leave the nest some time. I will learn much from the people that allow me to interview them, and am so grateful for their patience when I ask seemingly obvious questions.

Wow, I am so blessed to be a part of this exciting project! As the daughter of a historian, I recognize the importance of capturing these stories. As an artist, I see how the story will be crafted around the beauty of the people with whom I speak. And as a filmmaker, I so desperately want to share the story with everyone else.

Heroes surround us. But I suppose it's up to us to take the time to open our eyes, salute them and thank them for their service. My grandfather was a Marine. Every time I see a Marine, I want to hug them and thank them. My sister confesses to doing the same.

I can only hope and pray that I do the subject matter the justice it deserves.