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.
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.”
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.