COVID Brighton Update 3

This week we conducted two interviews for the COVID Brighton project. On Monday we filmed at Richard’s Café on Church Street in Hove and on Thursday we filmed at the DVD shop Hunky Dory 2 on St James Street in Kemp Town.

We now have the media for three interviews which I’ve started to “prep”. This involves transcribing the interviews into text and marking the media with notes about relevant shots and audio. Film making is amazing and I alwasy learning. While reviewing footage today it occured to me that, for two interviews I have stood on the left of the main camera and for one interview on the right. This affects the shot because the interviewee looks to the side of the shot where the interviewer stands. When editing shots of different interviews together it may be desirable to have the interviewees looking in the same direction. Firstly, so that the audience do not feel that their position is switching back and forth and secondly to avoid the apearance of a conversation between interviewees. Not a rule but something to consider.

We’ve also been collecting “B-Roll” footage. This is general film of Brighton under lockdown that we’ll use to add some atmosphere to the film. On Wednesday I walked around the Laines with the camera mounted on a new “gimbal” stabilising device which I have just acquired. An excellent  ”Moza Air 2”. It can be a bit fiddly at first but once it’s setup it smooths out the erratic movement which is often the result of handheld filming. With the Blackmagic camera mounted on the Moza I walked through the (almost) empty passages in the south Laines collecting (hopefully) dismal scenes of despair and depression –  though don’t let me skew your opinions in any way.

I see that I am switching between “we” and “I” and so I should explain. I am producing and directing the film and some film school friends are acting as crew, handling a lot of the camera, sound and lighting equipment. The role of the director is to order the crew about. “Film that”, “Don’t film that. Get a shot of this”. The role of the producer is often not well understood but, for me, it is more the business end. Arranging the interviews. Coordinating who’s working on specific days. Prepping the kit and endlessly charging the bloody batteries.

As producer I’m also still working to involve more businesses. This week I gained agreement from a nightclub, a dentist and a clothes shop and discussion are ongoing with universities, tech firms and a travel agent. I have leads for a church, student representatives, a co-working company, taxi drivers and restaurants.

I’d still like to involve a big corporate and a supermarket but I realise they have difficulty committing to projects such as this. Having said that, they are often keen to claim that they support the local community and it’s true that they have done good work in Brighton so I urge them to show some enthusiasm and community spirit and volunteer for an interview. – I don’t bite. In the meantime the pace is stepping up next week and we are filming a physiotherapist, a carpenter and a boozer.

Each story is different but one common thread that is emerging is that COVID has accelerated a trend that started well before 2020: The decline, not only of the high street, but potentially of life outside the video screen.

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