Thursday, December 24, 2009
Uniform Storytelling, Out the Window
As a filmmaker, I've only ever really been interested in narrative filmmaking. I like to be able to get to production and know what I will most likely have and already have a rough idea in my mind what the finished product will be like, thanks to the script and storyboards.
Now, being honest, I've never really been all that interested in documentary filmmaking, but I've recently gained a new appreciation for it. While this does not mean that I'm gonna forsake narrative to make a bunch of documentaries, it just means I'm not ruling out the possibility of making a documentary or two in the future. But what brought about this change of heart?
Recently, I've been editing my sister's wedding video for my dad. I was tasked with editing the pre-wedding stuff and the reception, both of which needed to be done in order for the video to be given for my sister's wedding anniversary. At first, I was a touch frustrated, having to edit footage that someone else shot, realizing that I didn't have a shot that could have covered in a gap in how I think the sequence should have flowed, but there and again, that was where I found out the joys of this kind of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, or documentary filmmaking as you will.
With documentaries you have to tell a story, but unlike narrative films, you have no definitive script and no real storyboards. See, in narrative, majority of the creativity tends to come in the scripting and filming stages, and by the time you reach editing, if you got the shots, it's kind of like auto-pilot just trying to make all of what you shot work, where as in documentary it's so different.
All of the creativity in documentary filmmaking comes within the editing. That is when you tell the story. You have to go fishing for the right footage or the right still photography in order to be able to tell the story the way in which you feel it should be told. Very often you run into brick walls, or other snags, and then you have to find a different way to do a scene or you have to just make it work somehow.
It's an excitement I've never really experienced before, but at the same time it is five times more frustrating. I'm a guy that likes to have strict plans, and when they're changed I tend to get a touch upset, so this type of filmmaking is only fun every now and then, but it is a nice vacation from narrative, even if it's only for a few days.