11 April 2009

Video poetry, part 1

Last weekend I made my first ever movie, and you can now watch it on YouTube: http://tr.im/iAQ3. (It’s very short – 2 mins, 6 secs)

For both days of last weekend I was on an Introduction to Film and Video Production course. I thought we’d muck around, learn how to use video cameras, get taught some theory, get shown the editing software. We turn up at 9 am on Saturday, there’s only three of us in the class, and the tutor (a young up-and-comer) tells us the best way to learn is to do, and that we’re going to make a film each by 4 pm Sunday, so time to start brainstorming.

I decided to make a movie based on one of my poems, ‘Calling you Home’, which was in my first book, Abstract Internal Furniture. (I also helped out with my classmate/colleague’s short documentary, ‘B&B Lady’, which was fun, but another story.)

First I recorded myself reading the poem – just on the video camera – I later kept the sound but abandoned the video track. Then in the evening, after the course finished, I took the camera away and filmed the images.

Thinking about what images to use was a really interesting process. I wanted to use images that went with the poem, but weren’t too literal. I guess in the same way a poem is metaphorical, I wanted the film to be metaphorical. The poem is about a flat I used to live in, but it’s also about my relationship with Sean, which began while I was in this flat.

So my first on-location shoot was at that flat, where, fortunately, my friend Brian still lives (and probably always will). I shot so many different angles of the outside of that house, and I didn’t really know how I was going to use them. I also shot some things inside, and some stuff that I knew exactly which bit of the poem they were for.

Then, later that night, back at home, I shot some other footage – if you watch the movie – it’s the stuff with the teacup and my souvenir teaspoons. I’m especially proud of that sequence – it’s kind of like stop motion (except I actually kept the camera running the whole time, so the raw footage has my hands moving things around).

So, I had my footage, but wasn’t too sure how I was going to use it. Some of it seemed a bit dull by itself, but then I had a brainwave – I’d layer it. Most of the way through there is a main image, with a ghostly image behind. I’m very happy with how this turned out – especially the bit with a duvet being pulled forward over a shot that zooms/pulls towards the window of the house. The two movements seem to me to work together really nicely.

I used a piece of instrumental music by a friend of mine who often goes by the name of Lucan as a soundtrack, which fortuitously fitted. He gave it to us as a wedding present, and the poem was read (by Anne Marie) at our wedding, which all ties together nicely.

It was all a bit of a rush at the end, so I didn’t have the chance to fix a few odd things. But, as a first film goes, I’m really happy with it.


Mary McCallum said...

love the teacup/teaspoons sequence!

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks Mary. It only takes about 10 seconds of screentime, but it took me ages to film!

Meliors Simms said...

great to read about your learning and making process