Growing up, I was infatuated with movies. This, in part, was an inherent reaction to my parents’ resistance to let me watch them constantly (we all want what we can’t have), but I also attribute my love for movies to my adoration of capturing stories and sharing them. Film is an especially exciting way to share a story—it makes the viewer feel that they are a character caught up in whatever the film-maker throws them into, or at least that’s how I feel when I sit down in a cushy red chair with my popcorn and slushy in front of an enormous screen. Taking Dance Film gave me an opportunity to switch things up and become on of those film-makers.
Entering this class, I anticipated a focus on the documentation of movement—how to capture dance on camera effectively. I learned quickly that this class is more about making artistic dance films—how to tell a story through dance and film techniques equally. In the first few weeks, I struggled with the technology of the camera. Learning to use white balance, manual focus, aperture properly all on a tiny screen in bright outdoor light proved to be quite difficult for me. I found that in my stress of dealing with the technology, I often failed to make compositional decisions that would usually come to me naturally. I was often disappointed after my shooting sessions. When I collected my first round of the 22 shots footage, I was deeply disappointed in my product—I had shot in a space with four sets of vertical and horizontal stripes of different sizes, and I had my dancer wear a striped shirt as well. This could have been prevented had I been more prepared, but my plans often fell through in a way I wasn’t expecting. Throughout the semester, I learned to improvise on the spot more and more. I think I mastered this skill by the time I collected my reshoot footage for the final project.
I think the most important skill that I’ve taken away from this course is the ability to develop my own artistic vision with my own style. Throughout the class, I struggled with seeing my work as “good” or “interesting” because I spent too much time comparing to the work of my peers. All the projects I created up until the final did not feel like something I made, they just felt like assignments. With the final, I finally felt my own artistic opinion coming forward in the editing process. The product is my final project, entitled hone, which is an official selection of the Screendance Awards at the 2017 Perth Dance Festival (I guess I did something right):