There is a silver birch tree standing in the Rose Walk at The Level, Brighton. It is decorated with ribbons, flags, and other decorations to commemorate the death of Caisie. Caisie died last year (2011) in Jamaica whilst on holiday, aged seventeen. As well as decorations on the tree’s branches, there are burnt out candles, flowers, empty champagne bottles and other paraphernalia around the tree trunk and a photo of Caisie attached to the trunk.
Spent the morning editing. Brought the song in. Made cuts in time to the beat. I got hooked into making everything rythmic and beautiful. In the afternoon Matthew sat with me and gave me some feedback. My film didn’t properly connect with my idea about the tree. He used the phrase “cut to the tree”. No need for the long slow build up to the tree. I saw the truth in what he said. He also advised to be self critical. Why is that shot there? How does it add to the film? If there are two similar shots, why are they both there? Realised I get easily distracted by beauty.
Listened to Fip FM this evening and heard this amazing tune so I recorded it on my phone. It’s called One Day (We’ll Be Old). I’d like to use it on my film as a contrast to Caisie dying so young. Tried to embed it here but my phone won’t let me so if you want to hear it, Google it or check out Soundcloud.
Spent the morning in the editing suite at Circus Street. I used visual cues to edit the footage I took of the birch tree at the Level. I tried to establish the film by showing the shot of a discarded plastic container on the ground behind the tree followed by shots I took of the entrance to the park where Heras fencing bars the way. The park is closed to the public for refurbishment. Other shots slowly bring us to the tree and the decorations hung on it. Boards stating “SAVE CAISIE’S TREE” and “WHY FIX WHAT’S NOT BROKEN?” stand in front of the tree. I followed a pattern of what worked visually for me – shots I liked.
Watched Joe vs The Volcano. Lots of repeating motifs. The path in the picture is repeated in other parts of the film. Long slow establishing shots. Joe begins the film as a hypochondriac in a dead end job in a depressing factory. He agrees to jump into a volanco, as a human sacrifice, after hearing he has six months left to live. It’s about seizing the moment and living life the way you want to live it. Very American. I was attuned to seeing how often the shots changed after reading various chapters of Film Art An Introduction by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. Unfortunately, it has a happy ending and the words “and they lived happily every after” are displayed on the screen at the end.
Watched Drive. Ryan Gosling’s character seems messianic at first in the way he is quiet and watchful. He seems accepting of those around him and the situations he finds himself in. The character remains unchanged throughout the movie despite the violence that occurs. I loved the long slow shots and the colours of this movie. The plot moved slowly into chaos. Made me want to drive again – I gave up my car years ago because it was a luxury item that I didn’t need. Perhaps I could take up joyriding.
Presented some of the footage I’ve taken so far. Edmund asked which idea I was most taken with and it is Caisie’s tree and the outrage I feel about it being potentially cut down just because it doesn’t fit the council’s plans for the park. Matthew advised me to read Jean Paul Sartre’s Nausea. The protagonist overidentities with a tree. The images I presented made it look as if something had happened – a scene of crime – and were like news footage. When I said the tent had gone so I couldn’t get hold of Caisie’s friends, Jess said there was usually someone there every morning – he passes by it on his way to uni, so I could go there and get the story of Caisie’s connection with the tree. The general consensus was “do the tree” over the other ideas which were a bit more abstract or removed. I guess it feels risky because I feel emotionally involved in the tree idea.
This afternoon I sat at the base of the Queen Victoria statue in Victoria Gardens and filmed from four different directions for fifteen minutes each time. It was cold and I felt miserable during the process. I liked the last piece of filming best because dusk made the light change.
This morning I used my shopping list of shots and stuck to it. I filmed at the Pavilion first. The main entrance had tourist paraphernalia around it so I moved to the back of the building and took some shots of the reflection of the castle in the pond. Got some shots from the war memorial in the Old Steine, each of the major banks. Felt a bit nervous filming the entrances to the banks. I know the security guys can be a bit edgy about stuff like that so I didn’t spend long doing it.
It felt good to stick to a plan; it’s not something I’m good at and would like to get better at. I tend to deviate from a plan as soon as I’ve made it. Perhaps because I’m not fully committed because I feel vulnerable about the ideas that matter most to me.
Whilst journalling I identified some new ideas for my film:
1) Continuing with the tree idea, I could film in four directions from a tree trunk. Or from the Queen Victoria statue in Victoria Gardens. Could edit the clips so they are different colours and could make them less opaque at different times and layer them over one another.