Film Fest

“Breathe with the camera”

Brenda Longfellow’s From Documentary to Documentary Opera workshop this afternoon was incredible.  Seriously incredible.  Brenda began by walking us through the greatest hits of her career–with clips from Our Marilyn, Tina in Mexico, and a tantalizing look at Carpe Diem, which screens Saturday at 7 pm–and treated us to a look at the rough cut of a new documentary, Dead Ducks.  I was blown away by her work; even Dead Ducks in its incomplete form packed a serious emotional punch.  I’m now dying to see Carpe Diem in its entirety–it’s bizarre and hilarious and I don’t doubt it will give any viewer pause.

And then the chaos began…  I admire Brenda for wanting to make a group film project this weekend.  Having only a few short hours to brainstorm ideas and shoot everything, and then only a short weekend in which to edit and create the soundtrack, is ambitious and crazy–exactly the kind of ambitious and crazy I like (and that we definitely respond to here in Dawson).

Ten minutes was more than long enough for a room full of creative minds and big opinions to come up with enough ideas for an entire feature-length film on climate change in Dawson.  Brenda and her partner created some animations which served as the jumping off point, and the ideas flew fast and furious.  Then things were narrowed down and the filming began.

I was so happy to be able to watch artist-in-residence Marcia at work.  She’s amazing–a force to be reckoned, but such a mellow, even-toned sort of force that she gets everyone around her to do what she wants without seeming like she’s bossing anyone around.  I watched her shoot a bit with Green Party candidate John Streicker, directed by Chris Clarke.  Marcia provided a lot of advice, but Chris definitely likes to call the shots.

John was a lot of fun–definitely game to talk about climate change and to poke a little fun at government procedure.  Nothing like those memos sent out on Friday afternoon and stored in the basement for easy reference!

Marcia shared some deep advice with Merran and I on the quick walk from the Kissing Buildings back to YSOVA.  Marcia advises that, when shooting with a hand-held camera, you should “breathe with the camera.”  Marcia looked like she was floating while working with the camera–small, subtle movements, entirely smooth.  It’s not about being a human tripod–you’ll only hurt yourself–but instead responding naturally to the subject.

Before moving on to shoot our next piece, I got to check out DCAS President and Good Sport Peter Menzies rocking a toga.  Seriously: a toga.  Look:

Dawson legend Joyce Caley joined us for the next segment we shot, this time next to the old CIBC building.  Apparently I was the director, but really that just meant standing next to Marcia feeling inadequate–this was my first attempt directing a camera person and an actor, as thus far my film efforts have been solo affairs (I need to learn to play well with others).

Thanks to Meg for taking so many pictures of me bending over.

Joyce was a director’s dream, and did such a good job of selling tickets in support of the Permafrost Refugee Association that a few of us ponied up for Ice Guessing tickets (I hope no one else has chosen May 19th–that’s my day!).

I slipped away not too long after this–time for something to eat and a few quiet moments with The Magic Mountain–while other groups continued to film scenes for our look at Dawson’s melting permafrost.  Evelyn Pollock will be working with Brenda on the editing, and Rozalind will take care of the soundtrack, and hopefully everything will be ready to screen on Sunday night.


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