FILM | Kinesphere: A Collaboration
Last week, I finally had the chance to work with Jessie Stinnett, a dancer and an MFA candidate at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance here in London. Bonus: the sun was actually out--for once, yeesh, England--and I also got to work with Henoch Spinola, a collaborator of Jessie's and also an MFA candidate at Laban.
We had no set ideas or storyboards for this particular piece, especially since my particular obsession at the moment is to be observational while shooting, to just let things unfold, though that probably comes from my mindset as a photographer, which is also skews toward the naturalistic. Thankfully, Jessie and Henoch had the same approach, allowing me to join them as they improvised on an experimental piece for 3 hours, moving around the room as they did, as if the camera itself were a part of the choreography--which it was, in a way, particularly for the resulting poetic short. I'm tempted to ramble on here about the interesting role of the camera and the post-production process in the final resulting choreography onscreen, but that's probably more for Henoch, who's focusing his MFA on movement and the moving image, to discuss!
The one vision that I did want to execute involved the idea of overlaps: that is, how parts of our lives that we think (or want to think) are separate actually aren't, how our work is influenced by our home lives, and vice versa. Particularly for dancers who are involved in creating choreography, surely, moving around one's flat or down the street or up the tube steps can evoke ideas that translate into performance.
At some point during this rehearsal--they both liked to dance in spurts and then sit down, furiously scribble notes, and discuss collaboratively--Henoch mentioned the word "kinesphere". I was intrigued by this, looked it up, and the definition is what opens the film. It seemed to fit perfectly on many levels, both literally and more symbolically.
As a rookie, I feel decently good about the end result: aesthetically, I felt that my rushes, all handheld (I had to move around with Jessie and Henoch), were composed the way I wanted them to be, and lent themselves well to the more cinematic, "film"-like feel I was going for. I was lucky enough to find a piece of music that fit well into the emotional tone I had in mind; timing the piece to the music was also a lovely learning experience and yet another reminder of the importance of sound (more on that below). I really enjoyed creating a documentary piece that's more lyrical and highly subjective--it's a beautifully free and expressively intuitive way of imparting an idea. Definitely a departure from the factual and investigative.
While I'm not sure that a narrative is necessary for a poetic documentary, I do think that this short film lacks tension or resolution and, if I had made it any longer, it would have run into the danger of turning into a visual gimmick. And though I'm 98% pleased with the sound--music only, no spoken word or ambient sound--I'm wondering if I've missed something by not including the latter two (though I did try including both modes of sound while editing and preferred music only--and I was so excited about using my shiny new RØDE NTG2 shotgun while filming, too!).
All in all, this was a good little exploration of a much more impressionistic side to documentary filmmaking, and it resonated deeply with me. Tremendous thanks to Jessie, Henoch, and to Trinity Laban--I'm looking forward to more of these collaborations!