Thursday, 13 March 2008

Eyes Up, Eyes Down

After a grueling couple of weeks, my documentary piece "Eyes Down" is finally complete, and you know what? I'm (kinda) happy with it; there's an air of accomplishment about it, and a great relief that it didn't all go pear shaped like I thought it would! At the end of the journey, I think I can safely say that it was incredibly hard, emotionally, on me to put the fucking thing together - but so gratifying, too.

My fellow classmates saw it today, in a special 'film fest' which saw us all watching one another's work. I got a great big round of applause at the end (then again, so did everybody else!) and I sensed that the film had connected in a small way with a good few number of those who watched it. Self appreciation, and the appreciation of others? A film maker can't ask for more, can they?

Looking back on the production process though, I never thought I'd get to the point I am today. You see, I pitched the idea of making a documentary piece about my dad being an alcoholic, but I had no intentions of carrying it through and filming it. And when I was handed the camera and told to go out and make a film, I was a little reluctant to do so.

On top of that, things changed. Seeing my dad in that pub the night I filmed him, I saw a completely different man. Gone was my quietly lonely, friendless dad. In his place was a very friendly, confident guy (a guy, I believe, he enjoys being). I ended up asking myself, do I want my dad to stop his drinking? Because if he does, it'd probably end this side of his social life too, and he'd go back to being a lonely man with only family for friends.

Of course, I got on with it and filming was completed (though we did have to reshoot the key interview scene, as Gabrielle - our 'lecturer' - advised us to, and you know what? She was right! The new material we came out with because of the reshoot was 110% better anyways. Man, I hate that "110%" cliche) and we ended up with something to be proud of.

But I've a feeling it isn't over yet. I've yet to make a decision on whether or not to show my dad the finished film - will it open up a can of worms, and let him see that we're on the same page? And if I do/don't show him, then what happens next?

Gabrielle and Shaz (my other advisor) spoke to me about the possibility of filming a follow-up in a few months or even a couple of months ("Eyes Up", anybody?) which I'm not apposed to. Infact, I think it'd be a great opportunity to re-visit events, and see where they lead to, for better or worse. Bring on the sequel!

But, saying that, work isn't over on the first piece yet. There's still a nagging feeling that I've got plenty else to say about my dad. Let's not jump straight away to talk of sequels - dealing with the important question "what happens next?" Instead, let's make a film that deals with the today, and how me and my dad are coping through it.

It's what I set out to do with "Eyes Down", but somewhere along the way I got a little sidetracked, and the film lost that edge. Shame, cos I'm crying out for answers - just where do I stand today? Making the film would be a great way of finding out.

So, yeah, that's "Eyes Down" for ya. Not a complete entity, but a stepping stone for things to come in the future. Like any good documentary maker, I've not finished with the subject matter just yet. Still plenty of time for revisions and re-thinks.

Right, I'm gonna shut up and remember that applause I got after the screening ended. Sorry, the applause we got - me and my team. Thank you guys and gals, as they say, couldn't have done it without.

Thanks to Daniel Frost, Adam Markwell and Janet Booth.
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