It’s always fun to look back at how you got to where you are. If you asked teenage me what I was going to pursue years later I highly doubt “videography” would make the list. So here’s a little tale about how I got started with video.
I’m currently thinking of heading in the direction of a narrative short film for my project, so this week I took a look at some sources that might help with the low budget/independent filmmaking process.
No matter what I do artistically for this project it will have to be low budget, so I figured the best place for me to start my research was with looking for guides to low budget filmmaking. With the help of Google Scholar I found this book, which is a fairly useful independent fillmmaker’s handbook. The book is split into multiple sections ranging from chapters regarding the “do what works” nature of low budget filmmaking, to tips and tricks for the scheduling and business side of things. The book has a wide variety of knowledge from the theoretical to the practical.
The relevance for this source is obviously that it contains a lot of quality knowledge that can be useful to me as a (more or less) totally novice filmmaker. I know basics about cameras and editing, but I’ve never marketed anything seriously, scheduled multi day shoots (save one time in middle school for a project), or done any of the less-artistic-more-logistic elements that are necessary for film production. This book, from what I’ve glossed over, includes a lot of good information in a very usable and beginner-friendly format that I could see being very useful for my project.
Second Source: Amateur Filmmaking: The Home Movie, the Archive, the Web
This source delves a little more into abstract/artistic land than the other source mentioned. The book covers the subject of amateur video and its place in the world of cinema and art. Now it should be noted that because of the abstract and theoretical nature of the subject, this book is difficult to summarize in any detailed manner without in depth reading. The book seems to look at the effects that amateur footage has on viewers and discusses video anywhere from “funniest home video” type shows that show camcorder video, to mentions of feature length “professional” works like the film Life in a Day that use amateur footage in an artistic way.
Like the nature of the source, the application is abstract. I don’t think that I will go so far as to use amateur footage and take the avant-garde approach to my project, but I do think that this source helps to change the way I look at the way things are filmed. It’s easy to shrug off amateur footage as just bad filming, but there is more to perception than just the idea of “high versus low quality.” More or less “professional” looking shots can evoke different emotions or reactions that could, in the case of my project, be used to dramatic or comedic effect. This source may not be as “practical” as others but it shows potential to be an artistic source.
This first source deals with producing and directing short film and video (if the title did not make that clear). This source is very much a general “how to” on the filmmaking process. It includes details on the jobs of producer and director as well as charts and schedules for the various duties of each job. There are sample schedules and flow charts for each job and there are explanations to go along with each chart. I haven’t chosen my topic just yet, but I do know that I want to do a video project of some sort, so no matter what I choose this source will be helpful. Whether I choose to do a narrative short film or a more documentary style video it will be helpful to have this insight on the organizational structure and production steps. Aside from one project from middle school and a music video for another comm class I have never done any serious video projects that involve anything more than compiling a bunch of footage to a soundtrack (I mostly do skate videos), so this text will be especially helpful when it comes to getting into longer format video.
This second source is not as general as the first one mentioned here. This source focuses on storyboard structure and the storyboarding process. There are sections discussing the more psychological aspects of storytelling along with sections addressing the more concrete “form” aspects of storyboarding. The source includes examples of storyboard panels and includes some “do and don’t” type sections as a basic guideline for those new to the storyboarding process. Storyboards are essential to any high quality video project so no matter which specific video topic I choose this source can apply and help me on my way. Storyboards have always been one of my weak points since I don’t generally have the patience for drawing even basic images, though I hope to improve on that because storyboarding is important. This source seems like it will be especially useful since it starts off with basics which makes it very friendly for storyboard novices like me. The sections of this text that discuss the more psychological aspects of narrative will only really apply if I choose to do a narrative film project. While there are certainly some aspects of documentary style film production that overlap with ideas from narrative film, “story” is not quite as central to how the piece works.
In class there were two types of capstone students: the student that has it all in their head what they want to do for a project and the student that has no idea what they’re doing. I fall into the latter category since I only have a basic understanding of exactly what this project is, and I’m going to add this bit so I don’t end my sentence with a preposition.
As of right now I do know I want to do something with either a short film or some sort of video project. Up until now most of my video work had been centered around short 1-3 minute skateboard videos and one report project about Julius Caesar that I did back in 8th grade (which included very basic camerawork, effects, and dialogue). I want to move beyond just the types of things I have done and possibly work on a longer format video or narrative short film.
The reason I want to do something with video/narrative film is that in class we discussed the importance of working with a topic that we’re passionate about, and I would say that video and movies have been huge interests of mine for most of my life, and even to this day. I have always loved the way that movies and videos use camerawork, sound (or lack thereof), and effects in harmony to create feelings and new worlds in the mind of the viewer. For this project I would like to become the creator of a larger scale video/film project rather than remain just a viewer.
As for reasons for wanting to do a short film/longer format video beyond the “well I love movies” reason is that it would also allow me to showcase the videography techniques and skills that I’ve learned here at school and from personal research, which would be a huge plus when it comes time to look for work in the world of videography.
As I mentioned multiple times here, I am unsure what exactly is required for this project, so the ideas I have may or may not work for this. One idea I had was to work on turning the screenplay I wrote for narrative screenwriting into a short film, as it would really allow me to apply all my knowledge of camerawork, writing, and audio/video editing in order to create a long format work.
Another idea I played around with was creating a full-length skate video (they’re usually ballpark 40 minutes though I could do more towards 20 if 40 is too long or too ambitious). With a skate video I would probably avoid the footage compilation style of videos like “Extremely Sorry” and opt for the more message-based/documentary style of something like “We Are Blood” (which talked about the nature of skateboarding culture rather than just being a bunch of skate footage).
I think that I will be able to nail down more concrete ideas once I get a better feel for what this project needs to include.
When it comes to video work you always have to consider where the finished product will be going. While there are many options, Instagram and YouTube are the two that I use in my own projects more than others, so these two sites will be the examples I work with. (more…)
One of the most exciting skate filming projects was a longboard run I filmed for WashCo. Skate Crew in a nearby state park. This video was by far the most planned. The road we filmed on was smooth, open, scenic, and fast. The combination of these factors meant that we had the perfect recipe for a great skate video.
I’ve spent a great deal of time watching music videos, but I’ve never really tried to make one. I was in a punk band back in high school but while we had ideas of what to do for music videos, we never got to record much of anything so we really lacked the “music” part of the “music video” equation.
“Getting Started” is the title of the first video I did for WashCo. Skate Crew. The whole thing was sort of a mess, but in my eyes it was a necessary mess.