The Sharp End of the Camera.21 Feb 2012
There's a book somewhere, or if there isn't, there should be. It's called "The Definitive List of Unpleasant Activities for Humans."
It has the obvious ones, like visiting the dentist, tax returns, "frank discussions" with the bank manager, and for some, public speaking. Now personally, I have nothing against public speaking as long as it's not too public and doesn't require too much speaking. On my personal list, I would rate "listening to my own answering machine message" as fairly horrendous. Picture the scene; you're at a friends house, where they have one of those old answering machines (in the days before we went all "voice-mail" on everyone). You drop by to visit, and they're surprised. You explain that you left a message that you were coming, and they dash over to the contraption, with the blinking, red numbers. They press play, and listen with delight at your long, rambling message about dropping by. Meanwhile, you're hoping some sort of Stargate-sized galactic hole will appear, and either swallow you up, or else take away your friend and their infernal answering machine.
When we got married, Lara and I hired a very good cameraman to video the event on the basis we'd have final editorial control, we could make as many copies as we wanted, and most importantly, we'd save money. The flaw in this plan? It requires that I edit the volumes of footage down into a cohesive film, and that involves watching myself on screen for hours on end. I would rate Root Canal Work lower on the unlike list. To date, the footage sits on a disk somewhere, waiting for me to get over my dislike, nay hatred, of watching myself on screen.
Recently, we decided to put the proverbial toe into the cold and turbulent waters of crowd funding, to see how it worked, to get the project over the finish line, and also to see if it was suitable for something long-form. The experiment has begun (if you're interested in helping us fund our short film, you can find the details here).
One of the key requirements of crowd-funding, is a personal appeal by either the director or the producer. Seeing as the producer was cowering under the couch, it was left to me, your humble director, to do the "piece to camera." So, I wrote a little script. I described the project, a little bit about me, about the company, and what we were trying to do.
We then set up an interview lighting arrangement, with yours truly in the hot seat. Lights, camera, action, and all that. Well, not quite. I kept having to refer to my notes. Plus, it sounded as stilted as a news report by a very small TV station in Antarctic.
We tried another couple of takes, some rearranged (and less fake) backgrounds, to no avail.
I double-checked with the FundIt guys, and yes, a pitch to camera was entirely necessary, if the project was to succeed. Drat! Double Drat!
After a two week absence, due to that thing called Life, we tried again. This time, I managed to seem almost natural, introducing myself as the writer and director. After a dozen takes and at least one stiff drink, that is! We decided to forego any further pieces to camera, until we could see exactly what we needed, for the pitch video.
As it happens, I was able to edit something together with little more than a four second PTC, and a bunch of still images and text overlays.
Anyway, there it is. Our little project is out in the open, and who knows if it'll make it to the finish line. It's in the hands of the gods, now. All I know is, I have a new and profound respect for people who make their living by talking to lenses and acting natural in the process.