Monday, January 25, 2010

Back into the Past!


I've been working on a film about my dad for some time now, and it's also encompassed my mom too. I felt I could not talk about one without talking about the other one. Of course not having dad here and relying on memory can be a tricky thing. Facts and events sometimes get distorted, so I've been painstakingly trying to piece together past family history. This includes me as well, and no matter how uncomfortable I am in front of the camera I need to record fragments of memory so that hopefully in the end it will all piece together.

I got the idea from Scorsese's film "Italian American" where the filmmaker interviews his mom & dad. If you get a chance to see it it's pretty funny and touching. Way back in 1996 I interviewed my mom. My dad had passed away a year earlier, and so with 16mm camera in hand I sat down mom and shot about two rolls of 16mm film. I basically set up a light and shot it. Took the film to DuArt Lab and had it transferred to videotape. I think it cost about $300 to $400 to process it and transfer it to tape. I also had to pay for the audio syncing of the video and audio since the audio was recorded on a Nagra 4.2.

It was a primer to my feature, and I learned quite a bit. One was that I needed an assistant camera badly. Doing it all is cool and ballsy, but quite stupid too.

Now with the digital realm I can just set up a Cannon GL and started recording. I used the same microphone I used on the 16mm shoot, and it worked flawlessly. I was back to the one man crew of my youth.

The problem is that my mom is older now, and memory and her frailty is of a concern. You don't want to push the lady, so I've come up with a wireless situation where I can record her where ever she is, and she can be comfortable talking.

I am using an audio-technica VHF wireless microphone. It's not the most expensive and best, but for what I want to do it works pretty good. I am also using an old Cannon ZR 60. Basically I'm using this as a audio recorder that happens to record video. After all it is the audio that is important here, and I want it to sound good. Also I can go almost anywhere with this, and have decided to also hopefully record my aunt and uncle. I've found out that if you just mike the person, and don't point the camera at them the person becomes a little more relaxed.

I will record video when I can, but right now I'm concerned with audio. With all this happening I am going through a treasure trove of family pictures that my mom has collected throughout the years. I 'm also going through my dad's home movies and transferring them when I can to digital. I even have old reel to reel tapes that I'm looking into transferring to CD.

This project is almost 14 years in the making. I've hemmed and hawed on doing it right, and struggled with putting something down. After all who really cares, but I.

I feel I'm racing the clock though. A lot of people have passed away since 1996, and one cannot stop time. Why I'm doing this is two fold. First off it's something for me to do. I haven't been quite active as I'd like to be in filmmaking, so this helps that. The other reason is that I want my boys to know their past. They never got to meet dad, and know only my mom. My boys are too young to appreciate their heritage now, but maybe someday they'll be interested in it. It's something I'm passionate about.

I've been kicking myself for my lack of enthusiasm for film, and this is one way to get a shot in the arm while testing the DV waters. I also don't want this blog to be just another blog about movies I've seen. There are too many of them and not enough nuts & bolts websites about filmmaking from the lower echelons of filmdom.

I'm supposed to be doing this for ME! It's about time I start doing more filming and less talking. So please forgive me while I kick my own ass into doing something I love. SO expect some masochism from me, and a lot of tough love from me. Time to re-awaken that guy who enjoys & sometimes hates the trials and tribulations of filmmaking.

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