Blogging out my thoughts on my documentary to help me conceptualize it…
So last week in class I was going back & forth between two ideas for my documentary: 1. The movement for sexual equality in Jackson 2. Sights and people I encountered in Canterbury/Paris. Things about culture, assumptions, different ways of looking, etc. Someone suggested, quite brilliantly, that I combine the two… It sounded really difficult so of course I set myself out to do it, ha. I’ve been editing smaller bits of footage and thinking a lot about how I am going to tell this story; and honestly, what story am I trying to tell?
As I read through my travel journals, I found this Anais Nin quote: “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives other souls.” I guess that’s the heart of it. All of the places I travel to in the documentary– both physical and metaphorical– are ones in which I am, in a sense, a foreigner. But they are places I love. I am not gay, but this gay rights movement in Jackson means very much to me. These men & women are standing up for those who have been wronged for so long. They have an enormous capacity for forgiveness & love, made evident by the fact that they have not left Mississippi; they care enough to stay and make things better. They refuse to be oblivious to, or paralyzed by, the harshness of reality. Instead, they have the courage to change it. We are responsible for each other; if people are hurting, humanity is hurting… and the movement is necessary but very few straight people have joined it. That is what infuriates me. No societal structures will change if we ourselves do not change. We need to feel the experiences of others as if they were our own. These gay/lesbian/trans-gendered men and women are only foreigners in our culture because the majority has been told time and time again that their sexual orientation is the norm. But there is no norm to human existence, really. We experience each other in small flashes of shared feeling–and that’s the parallel I am trying to make with traveling. In a foreign country, you are keenly aware of difference. Language, music, religion, social dynamics, fashion, food, money… The differences are on the forefront of our consciousness. We immediately become accustomed to not knowing how to act, how to be, how to speak, etc., and have to trust people to get by. We become free to explore similarities and connections that otherwise go under our radars. Our eyes are peeled.
We quit the bullshit.
So… piecing together footage from three different countries to illustrate the rant above is the challenge. I really admire Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ability to weave separate but complete stories into a larger, more complete story… I took all my footage and pared it down into one story for each of four cities– Jackson, London, Paris, and Canterbury. I think I’ll use a map image to show the different physical locations in the beginning, but I am going to show the stories thematically rather than chronologically… I.e. an image from one place that responds or connects to an image from another. Right now I am putting it together with all the audio silenced so I can focus on cohesive visual storytelling. It won’t be a completely silent film, but it won’t have a traditional narrator/ interview style either. I’m thinking there will be parts with voice-overs from my footage, and parts with just music and ambient noise. I want the images to speak for themselves as much as possible, both for the documentary’s purposes and for the sake of practicing technique.
So yeah, hopefully I will be able to make it turn out the way I see it in my mind.
This article on multi-linear plot from Open Magazine does a pretty good job describing how multi-linear films lend themselves to a more comprehensive story…
“The world in these films is poetic and spiritual, and the director moulds the films to transcend the natural linear logic of human narrative. He achieves a state of existence in his films that is dreamlike. He tells you what it means to be human by giving you a world where time and space do not matter any longer, only joy or suffering does. This style of multidimensional narrative is best described by English novelist Virgina Woolf when she talks of her own ‘stream of consciousness’ approach. ‘Life,’ she says, ‘is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.’”