Monday, September 10, 2012

my labor of love

when i started my job as an a/v specialist videographer for the division of research, the first job they handed me was to make the "holiday" video. i thought about doing something kind of like the "something's up with jack" sequence from nightmare before Christmas, with scientists and researcher's working on (secular) holiday imagery, but soon tossed that idea out.

as i was trying to find other ideas and inspiration, i thought of something: about a year and a half ago, i was hanging out in the rec center after my swimming class and saw a commercial that stopped me in my tracks. i couldn't hear the audio but the visuals were absolutely incredible.

take a minute to watch this:


beautiful black and white images with insanely brilliant composition and juxtaposition.

i did a little more looking around on that and found that it was part of a new ad campaign by delta. all of the videos in the series are masterworks, but this next one is my favorite.

i could go on about why i love it so much (the shots are so short yet each help snowball the emotion forward, beautiful shots of potentially mundane moments) but it is, quite simply, some of the best film making i have ever seen. at its heart, it is near-pure cinema; the audio certainly enhances it, but the visuals alone almost everything.

and if they can make delta airlines look this glorious, maybe i could do something similar with the "dedicated researcher" at texas a&m? i wrote down a couple of narration options to go with this and pitched it to my bosses.

they loved the idea but felt it was too big of a project for a holiday video. so we decided to develop some practice work i had been doing into the holiday video and i was told to work on the "delta video" in my spare time (they also told me i was a much better writer than they were expecting and suddenly got more responsibility....) and i tried to do that in the lulls between finishing one video and starting on another. but i haven't really had "free time" at work since april.

with a new, full-time video guy to now share the workload, they looked at me and said it was probably time to start thinking about this year's holiday video (last year's was a big hit in the world of expected-but-never-really-enjoyed holiday videos of academia.) not having any immediate ideas, one of my bosses suggested going with the "delta video" option. finally, i had the chance to work on my baby full-time (at a part-time job, that is.)

i've transcribed the scripts for these and studied them word by word, breaking down their structure. i've counted the number of shots in each video, thinking about how long each image needs to tell its story. i've researched who made them (lance acord and mark romanek, naturally; some of the most famous music video and commercial directors around. if i could come back in a new life, i'd either want to be a beastie boys or one of them. anyway....) i've watched them dozens of times, just captivated by the beauty of it all.

in the past few weeks, i've gone through the division's photo library, collecting images that i like for any reason. from those, i've started making a list of shots i want to get. some are inspired from the pictures i looked though, others have been in mind from the very beginning. and i've currently got a list of about 30. which, if i can get two or three different angles from each, should give me a good pool to edit from.
but so much of what i shoot will depend on the script, which i currently don't have. i know the feel that i want, but getting that in writing is like sculpting through marble; you have to chisel it out and find it.

and that's where i'm at. and i'm very grateful that one of my bosses is an mfa and understands that, while it looks like i'm just staring at my imac in artistic angst (as well as other kinds of angst, depending on the day moment), that is part of the creative process.

i gotta admit; i'm really kind of excited about this one.

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