Low Budget Production

I ended up working on the first part of the production aspect of my research in Santa Cruz, California, where I recorded footage at a retreat center in the mountains. It was a process reminiscent of the cinéma vérité style, where everything I shot was spontaneous – just my camera watching the world go by. In this style, the story develops in the editing room, where I have been developing a documentary style short film about discovering the relationship between mind and body, and between science and mysticism, based on discussions I had recorded at the camp. Due to the vérité style of filming, this project is extremely low budget – and much of the story appears in post production.

One particularly exciting conversation I was able to record was between a teacher and several children, discussing whether the mind and the brain are one in the same. I manipulated the lighting in this footage to give the children an almost angelic appearance. The world worked in my favor as sunshine on dust particles gave the shots a particularly magical character.

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In addition, I used the low angle of my shot to put the viewer on the children’s level and show the teacher as “above” in knowledge. Again, cool colors and lighting worked in my favor in creating a magical looking image.

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While in Santa Cruz, I also attempted to analyze and recreate shots from the Avant Garde film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943). This film is famously low-budget – its director and star, Maya Deren, was quoted saying: “I make my pictures for what Hollywood spends on lipstick.” Instead of expensive sets and scripts and costumes, Deren focused on the emotional impact of the shots she was able to create with material on hand.

I completed the second production in Alexandria, VA, aided by footage from Italy. This was a documentary about a violin maker working out of Norway and Italy who supplied me with interview recordings of herself, which I combined with footage taken at a violin shop in Alexandria. Supplied footage made this film very low budget as well, while adding quite an authentic feel to the finished project. The world created within this film was one in which the violin maker’s workshop and the American store distributing her instruments were reconciled, mirroring the reconciliation between shots of her speaking to the camera and shots of her working silently. It is the distribution of her work mirroring the distribution of her own creative energy. Through editing this video, I found the ability to create a filmic world based on the subject quite remarkable, especially with footage that cost so little to obtain.

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