Last weekend, Columbia hosted the True/False, an annual film festival for documentaries. The streets bustled in a way not often seen in this part of the country; a friend of mine, Mito Habe-Evans, commented that it felt like we were in a “real” city.
All weekend I walked in a circuit through downtown Columbia, from the Missouri Theatre to RagTag Cinema across Broadway and down to the Tiger Hotel, intermittently weaving through the middle of my route just to mix things up. There were times that it seemed the petitioners were in equally strong force as the movie-goers….who were mostly from out of town.
The restaurants were packed, and the trash cans on the street swelled and became domed with all of the trash that people couldn’t fit inside. But for all of the visual variety in front of me, it became difficult to find a narrative that would “work” for a coherent essay about the event. There were lots of singles to be had–indeed, some of them have made it onto this blog already–but finding a thread was difficult.
After editing my take five different times, I found that there were two threads I could pursue: one of the experience of the film festival for movie-goers, and the other the experience of volunteers.
These are the images I have selected to tell the story of the spectator’s experience at the film festival:
A Self Critique…
Am I satisfied with what I produced? Not exactly.
In total I made 402 frames, but the situations depicted didn’t want to “flow” together. They wanted to be in a photo gallery with about fifteen or twenty images, but they did not want to distill into something more concise. They did not want to flow. There are a number of things that I could have–possibly should have–done to address this. I might have tried to follow some of the movie-goers, and make it more of an essay about their perspectives on the event. I could have done the same, only with one of the many musicians or volunteers for the film festival to get the perspective of a participant as opposed to the horde of documentary consumers.
I did try to mix up the visual variety a bit and carried three bodies and lenses with me; my 1D Mk. III, 5D Mk. II, and 7D all make appearances in the final edit, as do my 16-35m 24-70, and the school’s 200mm f/2.8. I decided against carrying my 70-200 as it’s a bit bigger and heavier, and I knew that by changing which body it was mounted on, it could go from 200mm to 260mm with the 1D III, and all the way out to 320mm with the crop factor of the 7D.
I ran into a few technical issues, most notably that it can be challenging to switch between radically different lighting situations (white balance and ISO settings don’t change themselves) and some of my outdoor photographs were unnecessarily grainy…particularly the one of T/F volunteer Lauren Baker walking back to the Tiger Hotel, which was unintentionally photographed at ISO 5000 in afternoon light. Yikes!
The idea of “five points of view” is one that is interesting to me as it has the potential to distill a complex story into five vignettes. I do believe that I focus far too much on individuals in this essay, which is ironic since an essay implies that it is about more than one person. I need to work some kinks out, clearly…