I think that while my experience of being on placement was very enjoyable, I want to write more about my learning as a whole. While at the schools I felt like I was doing a lot of things that were useful to the project, but I found it hard to pick apart exact learning points from each session that met my enquiry – in fact along the placement process my enquiry became completely blown open and confused. Here I will aim to pinpoint what I have learned in reflection, and figure out exactly what it was that I think I focused on.
For the entire process I have had an interest in film – I spoke around my reasoning for this in my first post. I was very excited to start work on the schools project as I know Murray works with film, particularly as documentation. I was very much the documentor for the groups within the project as I would go around filming each group in the afternoon. I was given no instructions or guidelines as to how to document the groups work, so I ended up filming each group for a short amount of time each day. Usually I would find a space in the classroom where I could observe without becoming involved or getting in the way of the groups. Through documenting their individual processes I learned about facilitiation, which was actually quite refreshing and engaging – the schools project last year was very much a blur, and I was so busy working towards the next goal that I didn’t feel I had any time to reflect. However, taking a step out and watching the groups facilitate, and then watching the footage again later, allowed me to really figure out how I would want to facilitate a group. I was very impressed with the second years and the bond they shared with their groups – they were all very close, clearly engaged with each other and the pupils they were leading, and their presence onstage and their working attitude reflected this well. I realised it was because the second years were meeting the pupils at face value and just being themselves – they were not wasting energy putting up barriers or hiding anything, so they appeared calmer and had more attention to spend on the work and the pupils. This is something I feel I failed to do last year, and would like to explore further should I ever do any directing or facilitation in future – as a facilitator/director you need to lead by example, and so if I was to enter the process being comfortable within myself, then the participants will be encouraged to do the same.
I feel I learned many things about the technical aspects of film, specifically film in performance. Much of my input to the performance itself was tech support. I spent much of my time setting up a live feed for two sections of the performance. This took some fiddling and research on the technical aspects of what was happening, but I am glad I can take this forward for future performance. I was working with an overhead projector which was directly above the performance space; it had a small input on a wall by the computer which would take a video phono cable.
(The video cable is the yellow one. the red and white carry stereo sound signals)
It was easy finding cables that would link up to the projector input, but it can be quite hard finding cables for modern camcorders, such as mine, that will connect to a phono output. This was an easy fix, all I had to do was book out a camera from the AV store that came with a phono cable, but there were complications with booking out cameras on certain days and handing them in early on others. The link itself was very easy to achieve, and I find it hard to reflect on as it was a straightforward process, but it is a bit of knowledge that I feel will be useful in my film practice and I’m glad I managed to figure it out.
I learned other straightforward tech lessons during my time on placement – like using white paper to loosely cover a projector so that it doesn’t distract or make audience members uncomfortable when it’s not being used, making sure to have a tripod if you feel shaky footage is inappropriate to the project you’re working on, and to take all of the footage off of the camera at the end of every day, making sure to back things up and wipe the camera so as to not run out of space during the next session. In short, making sure to prepare everything and to carefully consider everything you do before you do it. Planning and preparation are things that I feel I need to work on in future.
The thing I felt was most relevant to my enquiry is the way I was filming everything and my approach to this. I went into placement wanting to pursue film and develop my practice, but I entered a project where I was documenting rather than just filming. I wrestled for quite a while about the differences and similarities of each. Eventually I came to the conclusion that they both have different intentions; though both have many crossovers film is mostly expressive and experimental, whereas documentation tends to fit a design brief and serve a purpose to the artist or group whose work it is documenting. During the placement process I had several thoughts about personal style; was it correct to impose your own style on documentation if the work being documented is not yours? I had conflicting thoughts about both – so while the documentation is your own work and there is room for you to experiment within that, you are working for another person if you’re documenting their work, and so their needs and aims for the documentation need to be considered also. There’s more of a need for balance in documentation because it’s more of a clear collaboration, whereas in film there can be more creative liberties taken by the filmmaker.
I feel like I have learned quite a lot from my time on placement. While I admit I really struggled finding my feet and kicking off on the project itself, I’m glad I got the opportunity to pick apart quite a few things, and learn about my own individual practice. In future work I intend to open up discussion, asking people from the beginning what they want or need from the work, and I will try to find a way to incorporate my own style and practice while meeting the other persons expectations. I also aim to meet any new project with a greater sense of authenticity; I appreciate when people can just be themselves when working with me, and what better way to encourage that and invoke the same feeling in others than to be myself as well? In short, in future I hope to develop my own film and performance practice through experimenting with my own style and being as authentic as I possibly can.