What if you were seized with a crazy desire to buy a video camera and tell stories, but you don’t have a clue how to make a film let alone hold a camera? That’s the question I was faced with a few months ago.
The idea smacked me across the face. Video is a beautiful intersection between my techno-geek, story-teller persona and the needs of projects I was involved in. So how to travel down this path a little further? Or as Savage Garden once sang, “I don’t know if I love you, but ooo I want to find out.” Here are some of my first steps down in that journey.
Is this idea even feasible in my life? I started thinking about what kind of video equipment I needed (versus wanted which was unlimited). Not the necessarily best place to start, but it leads to questions of purpose for the camera and me in the short-term as well as what I wanted to grow into in the long run.
But how to pay for this venture? Fund raising was a possibility, but knowing nothing about that, I settled on starting a small business in videography. What set of skills did I need? How could I get them? What kind of work could I get? What can I learn from other videographers out there? And in the context of other things I could be doing, is this worth while for me to do?
After seeking answers to those questions, there was only one thing to do: get my company started.
If yes, ramp up and get started Convincing myself (or perhaps rationalizing) that it could work, I proceeded to build my own action-oriented curriculum since film-school was overkill at this time for my little side project.
Learn Basics of Editing – Luckily I had hours of raw footage from my wedding that I could use. It was perfect for practice and my anniversary was coming up in any case.
Practice Basic Camera Work – Incidentally EMMEDIA had an Intro to Videotaping workshop. But as it turned out there was more than enough resources on YouTube and the web that explained the basics of videography. Here’s an oldie but a goodie: http://www.video101course.com.
Do Live Shooting – Nothing brings out a keen desire to learn like pressure, and that means weddings. Weddings are one of the most difficult kinds of events to shoot. Poor lighting, high expectations, long hours and you only get one shot. Fortunately, my friends Lindsey and Mandy were willing to be my guinea pigs for my first creative production. Here was the result:
Discover Audio and Lighting – Lighting properly and getting good sound was a whole other world. Purchasing the camera was only the first third of the expense. The second third was lights and microphones. I now understood why people specialized in each of those areas. Small tip: purchase cheap daylight bulbs and reflectors from home depot; they work great for simple setups.
And the Third Third? – High definition means high computing requirements which means high additional costs for new software and computers.
Learn from Other People’s Work – Pretty soon, I couldn’t watch a movie or a show without noticing the camera work, how the cut was made, and what filming techniques were used. Documentary films took on a whole new meaning for me.
Seek Out Mentors – As I started telling others about my plans, I met a number of people working in the field many of whom were helpful in giving me a feel for the industry. I’m still seeking the right guild of people you might say who will provide the kind of feedback I need to get to where I want to go.
The experiment goes on. There’s storytelling and storyboarding to learn. There’s shooting mini-documentaries. I feel as if there are invisible lessons everywhere to be learned. Some significant, some not. Now if I can only find them.
I think they call it creative constraints. 48 hours was all we had to write, rehearse, perform, and edit a music video to deliver a message.
Amy Thiessen came up with the seed of an idea to write a song for Nenshi’s mayoral campaign. So I throw up a studio in her living room while Amy is busily rehearsing the song she just wrote, record a few takes, then I’m off running around the street with Rahim, the guy that connected Amy and me. Add in a bit of overnight editing and voila, we ended up with a small masterpiece that made it on to the CBC evening news.
And to boot, Naheed Nenshi won the mayoral race.
I’m a beginner videographer and she was new to the music video. In the end, it tapped into the spirit of an extraordinary campaign. I think the lesson for me is, if it moves you, do something that is just a bit outside of your capability.