PGS the film – the process ~

For those of you following the progress of my film, well, I mentioned last week that I had made a creative breakthrough – and now it’s starting to cascade.

The thoughts and images are coming.

This is a film which will be made in post production. Editing. I’ve always known that. But now I’m starting to realise to what extent that will be true.

I’m not talking about cutting interviews. That’s the easy part. (Well, we’re into our 4th week now and we’re still cutting those interviews!) But I’m talking about the way the story is told. What I call the delivery system. The aesthetic of the film – the underlying intellectual DNA of the film. That’s what I’ve been searching for. That’s what I’ve been struggling with.

But now it’s finally coming together. I have allowed the film to speak to me, to tell me how best it should be made, and finally it’s begun to have a dialogue with me. And that dialogue excites the hell out of me.

I’m staying with my daughter and her fella in the city part of Sydney, and each day I walk 7kms to the editing room. And after work of an evening I walk 7kms back. I do this to prepare for the Portuguese Camino coming up, but also it gives me time to think.

I’ve found myself listening to podcasts – and I began listening to a series called Serial, podcast by This American Life. I know I’m very late to the party on this one – that it’s been around for a while, and I’ve been aware that when it began it created a cultural furore – huge excitement about the story, but also about the way the story was told.

I have now listened to both Season One and Season Two – and I’ve been fascinated by the mechanics of storytelling within the two seasons. Yes, audio allows you certain liberties not available in film – but I’m talking about an approach to non-fiction storytelling that conventional visual documentary has yet to embrace.

This to me has been the biggest breakthrough in my approach to my film – finding a way to impart information in a way that breaks down the formalism of non-fiction storytelling.

Also –

For quite some time now I’ve been writing a journal of the process of making this film. A whole lot of seriously weird stuff has happened and continues to happen – and I’ve felt that it’s important to keep a running diary.

On one hand it will be an interesting account of the process of putting such a unique film together – but it will also be a wonderful account of how to use your intuition to create something… and the fears and obstacles that present themselves.Because in making the film intuitively, I’ve opened myself up to the vagaries of the Universe, and at times it’s been terrifying, and at other times incredibly liberating.

Anyway, I thought I might now post my entry this morning, which I began writing at 4am after an hour of thinking through my film…

I should also add that I have put REDACTED over certain sections where I talk about the craft techniques I’ll be using in the film. It’s like what the CIA does with transcripts of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, when they don’t want the world to know they’ve been waterboarding them. Obviously I want to keep this craft stuff private until the film comes out…

APRIL 6

It’s 4 am and I’ve been awake about an hour. My head has been spinning with visual possibilities. And I think I’ve settled on something – something that I’ve been grappling with for some time now, and that is to find a way to impart information in a casual and personal way, without diminishing the veracity of what I’m saying – and yet in a way that enables me to summarise and precis, and comment upon and explain.

Most importantly though, I’ve been trying to find a way of imparting information which enables me to express how I feel, and how I’m feeling about things at certain parts of the story. And that’s what I think I’ve found just now. 

It comes back to Serial, and the way Sarah Koenig and her team were able to “jump dots” in their storytelling. What does “jump dots” mean? It means you don’t have to connect all the dots. You can jump dots. You can do the heavy lifting for the audience, and they will not only accept that, they will welcome that because they trust you. That’s the key to it – they trust you. They trust that you’ve done your homework, that you’ve stuck to journalistic principals and truths, and that when you deviate into personal conjecture, which I must in this film, then it’s clear that I’m doing so, and when I’m doing it, and there’s no confusion between objective and subjective. 

That I guess is the key to this – what I’ve been trying to do is find a narrative delivery system whereby I’m able to shift between the objective and subjective. And indeed, even embracing the subjective from a personal perspective in a film like this will be bold. And really scary for me too because I’m really putting myself out there. 

But it comes down to the ….REDACTED…. with the film, and with me. And what I think and what I feel. I can use this device to comment upon what we’ve just seen and heard, and also to prep the audience for what’s coming up. I can also though use this device to make personal observations, and to do so in a very casual and “street” like manner. A bit like a political commentator. 

I’m also thinking about REDACTED use of graphics REDACTED, and also having shifting information REDACTED that’s germane to what I’m talking about. 

The audience now has a whole new grammar which they’re using in their ingestion of visual information – a grammar that didn’t exist even five years ago. That’s thanks to social media, and a technology which allows a multitude of different informational streams. Both software and hardware. 

And yet conventional documentary non-fiction filmmaking hasn’t adjusted. They’re still speaking in Olde English. There seems to be a belief that in maintaining a certain formality in nonfiction filmmaking, that this imbues the film and the filmmaker (perhaps more importantly) with credibility. And in some cases it does – but it’s old speak. It’s old grammar and language and syntax. The world has turned. There are new and more exciting ways of imparting information. 

Particularly with such a complex story as the one I’m telling, I have to find a clear and accessible way to impart information which isn’t alienating, which isn’t confusing, which isn’t soap-box, which is engaging. And real and personal and emotional and revealing. 

I’ve learned so much from listening to Serial, and analysing how they’ve told that story. Really examining the very subtle ways they’ve broken the conventions of nonfiction storytelling. I found a New Yorker podcast of an interview with Sarah Koenig, and on my walk to the editing room last week I listened to it – and it was fascinating to hear her talk about her process.

Thing is – we don’t have to do what what’s been done before. That’s the key to it as far as I’m concerned. Listening to a podcast of Lee Carroll yesterday on my walk, (Lee Carroll channels Kryon, and he’s featured in my film) – he said: “You have to get to the point where you trust what you don’t see.”

That stayed with me all day. You have to trust what you don’t see. There’s huge wisdom in that short statement. He also talked about the dirty windscreen, and wiping a patch clean and being able to see out – and the more you clean, the more you can see. That’s what’s now happening with this film – I’m starting to clean larger patches, and I can see more clearly. 

Anyway I need now to get back to sleep otherwise I’ll be a wreck in the editing room today.

Sacred Masters

 

10 thoughts on “PGS the film – the process ~

  1. “I’ve opened myself up to the vagaries of the Universe, and at times it’s been terrifying, and at other times incredibly liberating.”

    Doesn’t it sometimes feel you are living in and out of a dream. As I keep reading your entries, your musings and the way you plot along, I have been realizing for some time, that the Bill today has traveled many lifetimes from the Bill on the CF.

    The things you have been exposed to and intuitively following the dots or at times “jumping the dots” is exhilarating and scary at the same time… also to the reader. So to that end, I will trust what I don’t see. That is the easy part; To act on it, is another matter.

    You are very brave my dear friend. Light and Love Ingrid

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    • Dear Ingrid – haha – yes it was in the spam folder, for some inexplicable reason. Sorry about that! Yes, even at this point I feel as though I have undergone some fairly monumental changes in the process of making this film, but I feel this is just the start. I’m only just starting to drop off my trainer-wheels, and soon I will be peddling on my own. haha… By the way, right from the start of this blog, going way back, and even this morning my time, you were the first person to “like” my post. You’re amazing Ingrid. How many times do I notice that, that you’re the first to like it. Thank you for hanging in with me on this crazy journey… Bill

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    • Ah Julie, lovely to hear from you! And thank you for “paying attention.” haha – That actually is a very important phrase which the film will be looking at, because so many of the interviews I’ve done, that term comes up – pay attention. It’s actually a very important part of spiritual growth.

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  2. Very interesting. 🙂

    Of course, I can only guess about REDACTED from the shape of the text and meaning that surrounds it, which is itself an intuitive process of course —

    But the “feel” of what you seem to be suggesting here sounds a lot like the way that one might read dozens of books and/or up to hundreds of articles in a week or two of intensive “speed-reading” academic research, or slow-read 500 texts, short or book-length in a couple of hundred volumes over the course of two months of more detailed research, or how one might intake massive amounts of information from the internet in extremely short order ; and yet somehow just KNOW where to look in all of this for the particular details that are most pertinent to one’s needs.

    It’s like telling the corpus what you’re looking for, and letting the corpus answer, and seeing that the answer comes very quickly indeed, despite the massive volume of the corpus itself.

    And then constructing it into a form that others can understand.

    Really though, it’s the fertile partnership between the intuitive and the cognitive that I love the most.

    And it can be very frustrating trying to deal with people who have completely suppressed their intuition — it reminds me of my childhood and being the only kid in the room who already knew how to read and write. The others just simply had no idea of what seemed to me to be straightforward and simple. They make me feel the exact same frustration that I felt then, the same frustration I felt BTW when I decided to start pestering my dad to teach me how to do it.

    I *knew* that it was massively important, and I *knew* he could teach it (it took him 4 days, and one of those was a day off).

    —-

    But there’s something else this reminds me of, particularly your “The audience now has a whole new grammar which they’re using in their ingestion of visual information – a grammar that didn’t exist even five years ago“.

    There’s a well-known and only partly understood phenomenon that is studied in Linguistics, which is that over the course of centuries, writing and grammar themselves have been undergoing a constant process of refinement towards ever more efficiency in both quantity and quality, so that more and more better quality information can be crammed into ever shrinking text volumes ; and so that we in our speech, and writing, and even thinking are getting ever more efficient at all of these tasks.

    And this new grammar that you’re speaking of has indeed become mainstream in the last 5 years ago — but it’s existed for far longer than that in the realms of computer gaming, and programming, and internet information & discussion multi-tasking — for instance, right now I have 74 browser tabs open in 2 different browsers, and these are not much more than the basics. Basically, I’m maintaining a constant access to an amount of information equivalent to several books, but I rarely have any problem finding what I want in here, or saying what I need to (though this can sometimes be a lengthy process LOL) — even though most of it is constantly changing and shifting, including my own relationship with it all and my understanding of it.

    The interconnectedness of all of this is only really navigable by the intuition.

    The cognition’s job is to make sense of it.

    The problem that I actually see in many people today though, in public forums particularly, is that they do it upside-down. They try and use their cognition to navigate, and their intuition to understand. All they do is to get stuck in some intellectual and spiritual dead end.

    They remind me a lot of the kids in playschool, who thought the alphabet cubes were toys to play with, not building blocks to make into words and meaning.

    If you could get anyone like that to get a better understanding of understanding itself, your film will be an important one.

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  3. Dear Bill,I haven’t had a chance to comment on your blog lately – running businesses and all that.  However, I read most every one of them and enjoy them!  This one was particularly interesting since I am so very fascinated with the creative process of writing and producing film.  I love how your head spins with creative ideas even at the inconvenient hour of 4 a.m.!!  That is how it is with me when I am writing.  It makes me look forward to creating a time to get to MY book and other creations I have put off for far too long. Be well and thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us “fans.” With Love & Blessings, Raphaelle T.

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    • Dear Raphaelle, lovely to hear from you! And thank you for your kind words! Michael said there was a new book in the works and that’s wonderful! There will be a huge readership out there waiting for you. Actually right at the moment I’m sitting in the editing room cutting Michael’s interview, and please tell him it’s FABULOUS. We’re just cutting the bit where he talked about competition, and it’s such great stuff. My goodness he’s a great speaker – and of course his smile is dazzling!!

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    • Thanks Julian. Have just “liberated” your long comment and will respond to it later. Still editing right now. Thank you though for your thoughts on it all… Bill

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