I have taken photographs for years now, but I’ve never really felt comfortable directing people. I’ve done plenty of shoots where people have specifically asked me to take photos of them, expecting me to direct them or their venue or whatever in to the sweet-spot that makes a great photo, and then I’ve given them the photos that came naturally to me and if they weren’t up to scratch I’d just be like shrug “the lighting which I couldn’t control was pretty shit” or shrug “you guys were kind of awkward/I was pretty tired/stressed/anxious sorry” or shrug “the stars/other visual elements weren’t properly aligned” or shrug “dude, I’m not actually a good photographer” because honestly honestly honestly, I legit feel that most of my photos are absolute flukes based on the fact that I very rarely direct anything. Don’t WANT to direct anything; WANT to snap up the thing that happens in front of me. Organic (I blame this feel on highimpact sexualised fashion photography).
I guess I am solid in this feel because I got somessortof photography stripes in live music photography, were you cannot dream of controlling anything that happens in front of the camera- except for the direction you’re pointing and whether or not you’re on auto or manual focus. You’ve got to make good choices in yourself, and you have to learn/draw from the physicality of the people you’re photographing. Personal context is a blessing. Digital technology is a blessing. Having money for good equipment is a blessing but we don’t all have the time to be selling shit asmuchaspossible, nor are we all capable of making other sorts of beneficial financial decisions (like being able to get any other job), so I make do with what I have and have thus learnt to make the best of whatever because goddamnit I have very solid ideas about what is worth capturing. I’ll capture things in front of me, but only if I think it’s possible and only if I want to. Documentarian. Cultural anthropology. Artistic and neurotic human. What a catch.
But this capture>direction thing in my brain has just recently changed.
In the last instance of experiencing the days known as Saturday and Sunday, I had my mind warped when it comes to Directing Action. I have come to find that not only do I actually enjoy it, but I might be kind of naturally okay at it. I have come to this realisation because I directed people who were being actors for Peter Bibby and I this weekend in the creation of a music video for one of his songs. We staged a wedding and filmed all kinds of things you will see when it is finished, and it was fun and eye opening and a bit boozy and pretty much anything you could ever hope for in that situation.
It was not my first time creating a filmic thing intended to be available for other people to see, but it was the first time I ever really WANTED WANTED to properly direct the action in front of me. There was a narrative we knew should happen and so I ended up just trying to do it, and it ended up seeming like it worked. I think I have watched enough movies/read enough books/thought enough about those things to warrant a little test of filmmaking fingers, and by the last couple of shots on the second (see: last) day I had discovered an unexpected confidence in the role I’d found myself in.
Not much preparation- not any storyboard at least- but it stewed in my head for a while before we decided one day that well, yeah, should do that thing we talked about, oh we have to do it by this date if we’re gonna do it at all YEAH MAN sick let’s do it, yeah okay, yeah, sick, siq, sikbro, fk yeah ok
and then it happened.
The concept was sparked a few months back when Pete and I were walking to Northcote Plaza; we were hunting food and probably hung over to boot. There was a sign on the edge of All Nations Park advertising a wedding expo. It was facing the road we were walking along, and we talked about marriage and how it wouldn’t do for either of us unless passports had anything to do with it. Marriage as antiquated religious-based social construct which has lasting effects on the way in which lawmaking dictates societal choices + self-perception. I once ranted about how dumb marriage is on a Channel 31 youth panel show; I was in high school and very serious and I had very greasy hair. I guess the ridiculousness of marriage is a long running passion of mine. Makes sense that the concept worked so well off Pete’s reaction to his religious upbringing.
So one of us had a funny idea about going to the wedding expo and sneakily getting drunk, and then we bounced more funnies off each other until we had figured out a pretty good idea, one we thought would make a good video. Refinement after refinement until it was time to discuss and then make food, and then something like a serious “But like, which song would you want to do this to?” and then we had the very startbeginnings of this video we shot on the weekend.
Months happened and we planned a bunch of stuff but we didn’t think we would actually make it until we were sparked to actually make it. And then it was shot and we’re editing it and it looks fucking great with great performances by so many incredible people… I am happy/excited. oooOOOOoooo.
The differences between my favourite initial concept and what actually came of monthslater’s weekend of filming work are quite marked, but it doesn’t detract from the fun of making what we are making because- as I mentioned earlier- getting drawn in to directing people is easily the best self-discovery thing I’ve experienced in the last little while.
Here is a list of things I feel are worth mentioning/have learnt as a result of this experience:
—- I colour coded my shooting plan
—- Bek Bibby is amazing
—- I lost a lot of sleep because I didn’t even WANT to do a storyboard (and I’m glad I didn’t)
—- Some of the things that make me kind of charming in real life might be a little alienating in a digital text format (and vice versa)
—- Answering the question “Why eat lambs but not cats?” is really fun if you need a conceptual break from thinking about drinking culture and marriage
—- The Bottles of Confidence are a good band
—- I feel bad that I haven’t finished my music video for Usurpers of Modern Medicine yet
—- Introducing our Melbourne buddies to Perth is going to be interesting and fun as fuck
—- I want to direct more films, but only if the actors aren’t actually aspiring career actors
—- I don’t have any female-film-maker-idol equivalents to David Lynch and Lars Von Trier and I would really like some suggestions
—- social media probably isn’t my thing
—- making work from what you take pleasure in is the only assured path to a more consistent happiness than any other kind of pleasure could give you
I choose to end this story now.