A Busy Week

After a long hiatus from shooting I suddenly jumped back into the chaos by visiting Charlotte three times in one week. It has taken me a good week to recover.

The first shoot was with Alessandra. She cooked up some brussel sprouts into a dish that makes the not universally popular vegetable seem to taste like “little pieces of candy.” I was impressed with her square plates that made me feel as though I was in Martha Stewart’s kitchen. When she finished cooking I was attempting to get some shots of her dogs when one of them, Chance, came right up to the camera and steamed up the lens with his warm doggie breath. It actually made the shot look sort of dreamy and calm.

After all that cooking Alessandra put on a rather large black tutu and headed up to her rooftop to shoot her Super 8 segment. I was desperately hoping to pass someone in the halls as we navigated through her maze of an apartment building, but, alas, the place was dead. What would you have thought if, as you’re about to enter your apartment, suddenly a ballerina dressed in a black tutu and flip-flops comes around the corner? I think we would have gotten a few double takes. Toward the end of the shoot as it neared 6:00 pm the sun was just starting to turn that beautiful golden color of early evening, which made Alessandra look like she was glowing. It was also quite surreal to see the archetype silhouette of a ballerina perched on a ledge against a city skyline. Surreal and beautiful.

Usually I drop of my still film off at Wolf’s Camera so that I get it back within an hour, if I’m lucky, so I have an idea of how the shoot went, but they have such poor service that I can’t stomach their high prices any longer. Plus, it rarely is done in an hour. I sent the film off to Dwayne’s in Kansas along with the Super 8 and am hoping to have it be the end of the week, but more likely will have it early next week. I try not to think to hard about it because I tend to dwell on the negative like how sunny it was (overexposed film!) and how I have been having focus problems with my camera as of late.

Speaking of being negative the very next day I returned to Charlotte to shoot an event that both Traci and Alessandra would be attending. As I was driving into downtown I noticed a lot of people with Pittsburgh Steeler shirts on and thought nothing of it. Then suddenly I was in the middle of bumper to bumper football traffic. After an hour of trying to find a place to park and contemplating returning to Greensboro empty-handed I finally made it to the restaurant. The negative parking experience became a positive because I got great footage and since I had limited time to shoot (due to being so late) everything was very focused and I got just what I needed. This made logging the footage easy because I wasn’t sifting through a lot of repeat set-ups and long drawn out shots. Everything felt purposeful. If being late always resulted in getting good footage I might try it more often!

My last shoot of the week was two days later with Traci. We shot her Super 8 segment in her backyard where she had some old doors leaning against her fence. She had to clear out her attic to have insulation blown in and hadn’t put them away yet, which turned out to be lucky for us because the doors became the perfect inspiration for out little film. Traci was a little nervous about shooting the Super 8, but as we talked through some ideas she got more and more comfortable. Then when we started shooting I felt as though I was watching a well honed performance. In our short discussion it felt as though she had created an emotional character that came out in the steps she chose. It was really beautiful and I often didn’t want to turn the camera off because once the clickety-clack of the old camera stopped so did the performance.

The scariest part of all this is waiting for the film. When I was in graduate school I had an awful experience where all of my film for a shoot didn’t turn out. The lab called me at about 3:00 am, barely waking me from a deep sleep, to tell me that they didn’t think it was worth transferring the film (an expensive process). It haunts me to this day. Of course a re-shoot would give me the opportunity to see the response a tutu clad ballerina gets as she casually walks along an apartment corridor. It goes to show that everything can be seen through a positive light.

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