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Actuality film

April 8, 2013
I love the urban legend about the Lumiere brother’s first showing of their actuality film “The Arrival of a Train at Ciotat”– their audience was so shocked by the moving (movie) image of the approaching train they got up from their seats to back away from it. There is something so naive and yet incredibly powerful about that story. Remembering my first time behind the camera at a ten day documentary video workshop gives me the same feeling. Our final result was a cheesy and, well, dull mini-documentary which was actually a propaganda piece for the organic agriculture project of an Italian NGO. I didn’t care. I was in love with the process of filming and editing. It was pure magic.
plastic bags
After thinking I’d learned so many grammars (Chinese, Greek, Bosnian, French), film grammar was something I’d never thought about before.
And we had to find a story! a story about organic agriculture! Actually, in the end we had to stage a story about organic agriculture. The kind farmer who agreed to be our star character had a habit of saying “artistic fertilizer” instead of “artificial fertilizer”. And he told us straight out, when we asked him idealistically why he chose the organic path– “The Italians gave me the best deal on seed.”
eco brand
farmer's wife
Still it remains an idyllic memory for me– traipsing about a Bosnian organic farm in spring, filming sleepy cats, cherry blossoms, walnuts, coffees and brandy in the late afternoon sunshine. Then in a dark quiet room chopping up the footage and mixing it back together into a little video story. I’ll never forget it.
farm life
11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2013 10:47 pm

    Wonderful! I’m sure you learned a lot while filming. 🙂

  2. April 9, 2013 12:36 am


  3. Julie permalink
    April 9, 2013 2:25 am

    “film grammar”– what a great way to put it!

    Is that a picture of …a mauve donkey?

    • April 9, 2013 9:31 am

      hehe yes! the donkey is the mascot of the organic brand. we also made a commercial where the donkey “brays” and advocates for organic food, but the farmers’ trade union didn’t go for it 😉 if you click on this link and go to 3:23 on the video, you can see the donkey commercial!

  4. April 9, 2013 7:17 am

    “artistic fertilizer” — so funny!

    wow, interesting. i’m amazed at how many different creative mediums you work in… multi-talented!

  5. April 11, 2013 10:27 am

    I alos like your idea of the grammar of film. I would add: not just the grammar, also the symbology. aka the syntax and semantics of a language / medium.

    • April 11, 2013 12:55 pm

      vocabulary, morphology… there are so many ways we can apply structures of language to visual language!

  6. April 21, 2013 12:04 pm

    Propaganda piece ? Dull and boring mini documentary ? Waow…….that’ is not exactly how I remember it as I think most of all it was a workshop for students from the journalism university and people eager to discover filming. Ecoline is still alive and doing well, selling products all over the country and around. The italian NGO has retired from the project as the cooperative has now reached self sustainability….

    • April 23, 2013 2:35 pm

      oh dear, sorry my post sounded a bit negative!! you are so right, i love your comment 😀 mostly i was thinking about how it was such a magical time for us working together to create that documentary… i loved all those people so much… film klub rocks!


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