Le Processus D’écriture
If you asked the people closest to me, they would probably tell you two things about myself: I am meticulously organized (sometimes to the point of concern), and that I am a huge scatterbrain. These traits seem like complete opposites to me. How can a person be so well-organized and put-together, but be just as forgetful, spontaneous and disorderly at the same time? When I was tasked with creating a short video about my writing process, I was equal parts eager and intimidated. Even though my major relates more to art and design than most of my other peers, I seldom get opportunities to express myself in my work. But before I even got a chance to start thinking about the kinds of scenes I wanted to film, I had to start consciously thinking about the details of my writing process, and after brainstorming for a while, I realized that I would need to find a way to communicate both the order and chaos in my life.
I like to start my mornings early. I spend my first minutes awake making a cup of coffee. When I sit down at my desk to do any sort of work, it is imperative to my concentration that my desk is immaculate. My desk lamp is on. My planner is open; with the errands and work I need to complete for the day written cleanly in black ink. My laptop is sitting closely in front of me, and my cup of coffee even closer. Not a single iota of clutter is to be seen. Despite my meticulous organizing, assignments and errands sneak up on me. When this happens, and it happens more often than I would like to admit, I can no longer work at my own comfortable pace. Work needs to get done and it needs to get done fast. Things get messy, I get stressed, and unhealthy amounts of caffeine are consumed. No matter how hard I work to build structure in my work, a wrecking ball is just around the corner; waiting for me to look away just for a second so that it can knock it down.
How can I take this process and make it into a video? I obviously wanted to get a good grade, but even more importantly, I wanted this to be a video that others would enjoy watching. But how do I represent this in a dark and cluttered dorm room? How can I film in a space that is almost always occupied by at least one other person? How can I make a video that would be enjoyable to watch? How can I be the producer and actor at the same time? I had many questions running through my mind. Through a lot of brainstorming, and it isn’t exactly clear to me how the idea came to mind, I came across the idea of doing a video with this sort of artistic French motif. The video would be black and white, and audio would be a French sounding song, much like a music video. The motif would allow the shots to be crisp and clean, and the audio would drive the emotion of the film in a way I felt that words could not. This style would let me accurately communicate the order and chaos in my writing process, and it answered some of the
questions I had earlier. With this style, I wouldn’t have to worry about the ambient noise caused by my roommates when I was filming. The black and white effect would also make the dorm look more appealing. Unfortunately, there were still many answers to find, and even more questions to be asked.
I started by looking for a song. Since there would be no narration or speaking of any kind, finding the right song was crucial to telling the story. It had to set the scene and mood just as much as any visuals would, and because this song was such a crucial element to creating the project, it had to be chosen and cut before any storyboarding of filming could take place. It was several hours of searching on YouTube before the perfect song revealed itself, and several more hours of cutting the song down to meet the project requirements.
After selected what parts of the song to shorten or cut, it was time to start storyboarding. I knew the song alone would not convey the motif, so I had to be very intentional with every scene. I watched many French music videos to look for inspiration. What I found was that with these videos was that there were many long, wide shots. The camera was almost always slowly panning or zooming out. The actresses moved slowly and with grace. There was a feeling of effortlessness, but also deep emotion; all created without lyrics I could understand. With my findings, it was time to start drafting up my own scenes
The song I had selected, unlike the songs in other videos I had watched, had this anxious feeling. It was the reason I chose this song after all, since trying to write a paper last minute is hardly relaxed. I couldn’t convey this anxiety with wide, slow-panning shots, however. In the parts of the song where this anxious feeling was most prominent, I used ultra-close-up shots. My camera rested motionless on a tripod a few inches from the subject being filmed; whether it be my keyboard or my face. I felt that this method of filming solved a few problems: it better conveyed the anxious emotion I aimed for, it made it easier to be the director and actor in my own film, and it allowed me to film in my non-aesthetic dorm room without spoiling the theme.
When it came time to film the scenes where I had become frustrated and needed to take a break, I followed the example set by the music videos I watched. I used wider shots and made fewer cuts to help mellow out the scene. The location of the garden also helped with this.
In post-production, I was very intentional with cutting the scenes in time with the music, especially in the beginning. I left blank scenes in between cuts of film to assist with the mood. The cuts got quicker and quicker as the music increased tempo, and became slower when the music did. Cuts to black were used again
when the music got back into a more defined beat to assist the music in adding tension.
Although challenging, this project proved to be enjoyable and educational. I learned a lot about conveying emotion and reinforcing a strict theme, but I also learned about myself by examining my writing process and work ethic as I pursued this project. While making the project, I was able to take advantage of the recent observations made about my writing process. I worked in the mornings as much as I could, I kept my work space organized, and made sure to write out my exact goals for filming before the day had begun. These realizations helped to me manage my time and create a final product that accurately and artistically communicates the order and chaos in my writing process.