This week has been largely devoted to my film but I also spent a bit of time on my Reflective Essay. I find I have many ideas, and they change from week to week. But my general thinking is that I want to talk first about the research side of the project – the history, and then to theorize the film-making side of the project.
The film is relatively complete, but I am going to take some time away from it now. I think I need to have some distance from it, so that I can approach it with new (-ish) eyes. I will go in again next week to finalize it. I also want to create a trailer, since that seems to be what the Montreal International Film Festival wants. Ultimately, I am going to be about 2 weeks ahead of schedule on the film part of the project (relative to my work plan) but I needed to do that since the edit suites close for use on April 10. And this will allow me time to work on my Reflective Essay (and another Take-home Exam.)
In my historiography class we’ve been talking about the Borderlands approach, and I realize that my whole project operates within that zone and that approach. It can be seen geographically, in the 19th century migration of African Americans back and forth across the US – Canada border, and the evolution of each nation’s laws respecting extradition and protection, and of separation, control and repression. But my project also seems to reflect a “virtual borderland” within Canada West. It is a borderland that lies between the races, as well as within the Black community in Canada West: a borderland between freeborn and newly-free. Mary Ann Shadd might also have seen a virtual borderland (although she wouldn’t have called it that) between the segregationists and the non-segregationists (such as herself), as well as between men and women; all of these, including race, being human-constructed borderlands.
Today I spent the day in the edit suites – as I have much of this week – and the film is coming along well. I need to find some more sounds of demolition while I’m at home. The demolition video that I bought and downloaded is ‘silent film’ so I have to supply all the corresponding sounds and fit them into the timeline so that they match the visual action. Right now, I’m re-using the same crash sounds too often, and you notice – well I notice – the repetition. I also want to re-record the poems. And there are a slew of other problems that need attention. My plan is to have the film complete – or at least close to complete – by the end of next week so that I can devote time to my paper, as well as my other coursework.
I should never write a blog post after 11pm on a night of drinking, but tonight was also a night of thinking and discussing. So not so far from what academic study is about, right?
Tonight I had my book club here and we talked about Wayne Johnston’s the Custodian of Paradise. A tragic, sorrowful, sort-of-romantic story of 20th century Newfoundland. But halfway through the story, the protagonist feeds her lover, Joey Smallwood, pan-fried trout and potatoes, out on the Bonavista train-line, in her isolated cabin in the dead of winter. (It’s actually not so romantic at that point, as bitter and unfortunate, as is so often the case in life.) Anyway, tonight, I made the same for dinner, and one of the guys helped me cook, so it turned out okay.
But this is what my film feels like. Making history into something tangible. Something so real you can taste it.
The film is in that stage. The stage of feeling it. Hearing the words. Listening to the music. Are the sounds right for the message? At this point it’s a creative thing and I want to listen more than anything. Will the audience hear the meaning that I’m sending? And will they also feel something? Will it make them think? It’s like painting on a ‘film’ canvas. I’m at the point – in public history – of trying to anticipate the feelings of my audience. And trying to steer that feeling to my understanding of nineteenth-century Canada West. Trying to make them believe what I believe.
As fluid as this sounds, this is the departure point, where the historical narrative turns into a personal experience. It’s actually like that…the audience feeling like they are living the historical moment. A sort of transformative event, when the observer lives the historical moment.
Ummmm…okay. So that’s it for tonight. It’s now closer to 1am. More straight-forward stuff in future. I promise.
This past week I put the final touches on the Shooting Script, with input from my MA supervisors, Dr. John Walsh and Dr. James Miller. I also finished lining up the voice actors and narrator, and scheduling or confirming their recording times.
I’ve got a copy of the script printed, and it is set up so that no one will have to turn a page during the recording. And I’ve high-lighted the passages for each part in different colours so that nothing gets forgotten and all the parts are easy to find. I think I might be over-thinking this a bit, but I don’t want to miss any part of the recording. There are lots of people involved in this and I don’t want to make any mistakes because I’m nervous or distracted. I only get one shot at each recording session.
I’ve devoted a lot of my time this week, though, to getting started on the Reflective Essay. I’ve been pulling together my thoughts and trying to organize them in a cohesive manner. As well, I’ve been tracking down sources and doing a bit more reading. I think that I want to divide my discussion into two parts: first, some of the more challenging aspects of the historical research, and second, a reflection on the making of the film. I plan to address both of these discussions from my own point of view, but also in the context of the secondary theoretical literature.
This coming weekend I need to get my Consent Forms organized for my narrator and each of my voice actors. And on Monday, I have my first day in the edit suites and my first recording session. I’ve made arrangements with Hasi Eldib, in the Media Production Centre, to help me do a test run on the recording equipment, so that I will know what I’m doing when my narrator arrives. I don’t want to waste his time, since he’s a busy guy and he’s doing this as a favour.