“Let it be free”: an improvised string of words that came out of my mouth at dinner one night.
After having taught a lecture about storytelling earlier that day, our professor, Jonathan, challenged our class to tell a story at dinner. The task, however, was not that simple, each person was to contribute to the story but we could only say one sentence, and we could not communicate with each other. Without hesitation, we all delved into the challenge, infusing our diverse personalities into every sentence, and created a strange but undeniably entertaining story.
Our first story detailed a man’s desire to go back home, that man being Paul, and the obstacles he encountered along the way: more specifically, an aggressive bird, a blind bear, and a Black Mirror-esque robotic dog. Somewhat surprised by our first attempt at a story, Jonathan challenged us once again to tell a story about someone wanting to win a game. Laughing and excited we began our story. We decided that a piano playing boy had somehow ended up in a hunger games style scenario, and had been challenged by Elton John, through a messenger bird, to win. At this point in the story it was Kellen’s turn to add his piece, confused and rightfully so, he attempted to “bring it back in” to which I replied “don’t! let it be free!”. Instantly, the table erupted into laughter, marking the beginning of an ongoing joke.
Ironically, this joke has actually been a much-needed reminder for me this past week, for it has been incredibly busy but rewarding. The first half of this week was composed of pre-pre-interview prep, pre-interviews, interviews, planning, storyboarding, and filming; each day starting at 7 am and ending at 10 pm. Every step of the way I made sure to plan every day and moment out as much as I could. Whether I color coded my plans in my yellow notebook or created a spreadsheet, I tried my best to organize my thoughts for the upcoming day. However, I quickly realized there is only so much planning I could do when it comes to documentary-style filmmaking, and that thought, in all honesty, made me uncomfortable. This is not the first time I’ve been confronted with a situation that requires an element of surprise, but this film project was not something I was ready to leave in the hands of spontaneity.
On the second day of filming, we had decided to follow around an expert client, Xiolani, to capture the counseling work he does with newly diagnosed HIV patients. With my yellow notebook in hand, I tried to organize myself and capture the shots I thought I needed. Instantly, I noticed the day was not going to go as I had planned the night before. A little unsettled at first, I collected myself and decided to “let it be free” and appreciate the opportunities as they came. With a camera in hand, I followed Xiolani and his patient, eager to capture the authenticity of the situation instead of the shots in my notebook.