Many of you may already know that this year, I took part in an Intergenerational Film Project that was sponsored and supported by our local government, the City of Kingston as a community service project. I wrote about it in my posts titled the Benefits of Working With Different Generations and How Working Out Loud Inspires New Passions.
When I saw the advert seeking for a volunteer film crew in my Facebook feed, I jumped at the chance to be part of this project and immediately applied. Not only did I see it as an opportunity to create a legacy project that stands the test of time (well, until video when and if it disappears) in my own community but it was a chance to work and more importantly, CREATE something with a diverse, multi-aged team. It would have been the FIRST time I worked with people who were some years younger and older than myself. It was collaborative learning in action where everyone had an opportunity to learn from each other, with each other.
If you’re interested in the back story, I vlogged about the project here:
We were divided into film crews and taken through a six-week training program where every Monday evening, we gathered to learn about various aspects of short filmmaking and production. We learned everything from using the camera, where to find actors and editing.
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) May 23, 2016
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) June 6, 2016
In our film crew, we had ages that varied from 12 through to 67 and with varying experience and skill levels. It was up to us to divide our roles and responsibilities and I took on the role of producer. What I noticed was that our small team had decided what part we had to play based on our previous experience. For example, Mairi who teaches writing in our community (check out her blog, Up The Creek With a Pen Writing), volunteered to write the script while Karson and Ricardo who had experience with shooting video fell into the roles of cameramen. Similarly, Niamh who is close to completing her audio engineering qualification was our sound technician (check out her blog Music Niamh Productions). Meanwhile, and somewhat disturbingly, my knack for planning and organisation saw me fall into the role of Producer. It reminded me of being a Project Manager, maybe that’s why it felt so comfortable?
Through the weeks, we worked together and communicated via email and Google documents to create and agree on the script. The title of our short film is called Home and the theme was on transition, specifically, the transition of moving an elder parent or grandparent into a retirement home and the emotions that go with it. When we read the script for the first time, we could see the images in our head and imagine the various shots but it became blatantly obvious that we had to make some adjustments or risk our editing process become unwieldy and difficult. We had to simplify the script.
So version 2 of the script stripped away the shots that could have been difficult to film such as inside a moving car or outside train stations or beaches. We had to consider the Film Planning permits and permissions and immediately what we believed to be a simple film to shoot became a nightmare if we were going to use buildings and property by seeking the right permits. This opened an entirely different perspective for me because I had never been exposed to the administrative and legal process of filming. So we simplified the script to have the film conducted all on one site only using props we had on hand.
One week before filming our actor pulled out of the shoot and we quickly decided to change the story line. Rather than have a 40+ male in the film, it was going to be a 40+ female….so guess who played that role?
I had never acted before and truth be told, I did find it difficult although it was a quick learning curve for me. I realised that the more I stuffed around with my lines and giggled through them, the more the shoot was delayed, we lost daylight, batteries discharged, people got tired and cranky. Film days can be long and tiring, so I had to be the professional and snap into character quickly and just get on with it!
So what have I learned during this Intergenerational Film Project?
- Making films is a collaborative and social effort – everyone has a part to play; everyone has a job to do; everyone helps each other out. In a way, it reminded me of my old Navy days where we had a task to do and every member knew the end goal; had contingencies in place; and worked together to get it done with minimal fuss and effort.
- Working with different ages gave you another perspective of the value of their knowledge, skills and experiences. Just because someone is a certain age, don’t assume they are not experienced or don’t add value. I watched the older film crew members take a step back, guide, mentor and coach the younger members through the scenes and give them opportunities to make their own decisions and choices on shots. Meanwhile the younger ones showed the older ones how to transfer files on computers and use the technology or software.
- Permissions – argh! Paperwork, argh! This is the ONE thing that I hate but it’s a necessary evil. Imagine if you couldn’t screen your film because you didn’t have the necessary approval to film a location. You wouldn’t be on your film crew’s Christmas card list, that’s for sure.
- Never underestimate the knowledge of a 12-year-old who has expert skills on Adobe Premier Pro or a 17-year-old who gives you an alternative perspective when directing a shot that you had never have even considered or contemplated. Younger people have a different way of looking at things and many times it was educational for me to listen to them. Every interaction around the creation process with them was a joy. What surprised me about myself when working with the younger ones was how comfortable I was talking to them. It was as if I was talking to another adult – another equal. Age played no part in the working relationship. I was in awe that these young people were articulate, confident and fearless. With them at the helm in the future, the world will have no trouble.
We are currently in post-production at the moment and working on the edits of the film. Last night our small film crew got together to do a progress check on the editing and marvelled that we all pulled together to create this film at zero cost (except for time of course) despite some restrictions we had to work with (such as the availability of our main actress; working within school holidays for the younger team members and out of hours for those working full time).
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) July 21, 2016
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) July 21, 2016
If you’re interested to see some snippets of our film day, I created a short video of the photos I took. The film is currently in post-production and we will have it screened at the Shirley Burke Theatre in Parkdale on 17th October. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product and I’d like to thank the City of Kingston plus my wonderful fellow film crew members for being part of this great project!
- City of Kingston
- Mairi Neil Freelance Writer Up The Creek With a Pen Writing
- Music Niamh Productions