Using collaborative and feedback oriented processes of using audio-visual media I have produced a short film about the experiences of dealing with anxiety from the perspective of a young man in contrast to that of a middle aged woman from different background. The production of the film also allowed me to explore my relationship to the struggles of dealing with anxiety.
The use of visual and auditory experimentation with the camera allowed me to relay real emotion and experiences to an audiencece who may not be familiar with anxiety or out of curiosity seek comfort in the fact that they are not alone.
Limited training in cinematography, interviewing and sound, camera movement and improvisation, were all used to help produce the film with the majority of the learning process taking place whilst carrying out actual filming and editing.
Panic is the word
Creating a documentary-type film on the topic of anxiety with relation to visual anthropology theory posed quite a few issues. The topic of anxiety lent itself to my current narrative quite well, as dealing with anxiety was at the fore-front of issues concerning me and had been for a large portion of my life.
Throughout the process of creating the film, I discovered that filming interviews which touched upon sensitive topics for the interviewee, made the process of capturing the essence and emotion of the person increasingly difficult. The camera itself became an intrusive third party in a somewhat private conversation. The use of exercises involving the camera, such as self-recording and video diaries proved quite useful, allowing for a more comfortable approach to being represented on camera. However, the most intense and emotionally vibrant interview came in the form of an audio recording, allowing the interviewee to ultimately become at ease due to the reduced intrusiveness of using an audio recorder without the process of filming.
Filming with definitions of interactive documentary in mind....
.......I tried to create an immersive experience for the viewer by utilising sounds to create a sense of atmosphere giving the viewer an almost palpable feeling. The use of Foleys relating to anxiety such as heightened pitch and audio effects as well as sounds captured using an audio recorder, such as a tap dripping also added to the atmos I was trying to create. Using Foleys to create tension when interviewee’s where expressing deep emotion through words enabled a better feeling of place within the film for viewers and allowed for a better psychical relation to that emotion.
The interviews were conducted with framing and focus in mind, often focusing and zooming in on the face of the individual when certain issues were raised or in moments of expressive emotion. Wide shots were used as a base for the interview with medium shots being utilised once the interview began to flow. Shots of the individuals being interviewed from different angles, or doing something opposed to sitting were also filmed to add to the narrative such as a close up of hands fidgeting when talking about the feeling of anxious.
Camera placement whilst interviews were being conducted also allowed for a relationship with the audience. Using the camera in my first interview, I decided to place the camera at eye level with the interviewee allowing for a sense of strong, direct relationship with the audience, representing the fact that the interviewee was comfortable speaking about his issues and was openly willing to discuss them.
For my second interview, I utilised a less common approach placing the camera just out of eye-line giving the audience distance from the on-screen action. The was done to signify the nervousness felt by the interviewee as she discussed topics quite close and personal, giving the audience a sense of realisation and expression of the feeling being felt.
For some scenes I encourgared the cast members to act in relation to their scene to emphasise an emotion or play a character well which played into Jean Rouch’s work on ethnofiction by allowing improvosiation similar to that in films produced by himself.
Collecting all the footage and placing it in adobe premiere pro allowed for more direction to be derived from the footage by linking clips to create a clearer narrative. Condensing the footage to meet a target of 12 mins proved quite difficult. I had created an attachment to the footage itself often being reluctant to cut clips. After initial screenings and constructive feedback, I realised that the footage was often too long and viewers often lost interest. By cutting footage down, the film developed a more direct and engaging narrative that kept the attention of viewers but also managed to still empathise key points and expression the footage wanted to get across.
The camera represents both the simplicity and the fragile nature of a person struggling with anxiety due to it’s crooked and deformed exterior, whilst also representing the rawness represented by the use of sparse materials combined resemble the form of something that would have actual function. The ribbon represents the feeling of being trapped or tied down without any real escape.