Enamoured with the Image

Last Thursday was the first shoot for my MFA project and ahhhhh…. it felt fabulous!

When I began the Doc Media program last fall I decided to: 1)  explore media that I am least familiar with, and 2) present my final thesis project in unfamiliar territory; this meant conducting interviews in audio rather than video, and developing a concept for a media installation rather than exclusively projecting works in a film theater and/or on the web.

The audio interviews to date have always been enjoyable although I always feel that something is missing. I can’t seem to leave the interviewee or space I’ve been in without grabbing at least a few photographs. The visual context is so necessary as an archive/memory of a time and place, to give a future audience someone and/or something to associate the voice they are listening to with. I may have been aspiring to create a stellar audio doc for the MFA program but going back to my film roots is not only a comfortable domain, it reinforces to me how much impact the image adds to the story. What persuaded me toward audio interviews is the intimate relationship that I feel can be gained with an interviewee in a way that film sometime can not. The banter I could have right now about the benefits and drawback of both forms of media I will leave for another occasion, however.

Of greatest importance to me now is how I will apply the media that I’m creating into an installation within a classroom setting. The film shoot last week began to make that vision come alive. Going back to my old high school was wild. The environment as I mentioned in my last post had changed tremendously but when we arrived for the shoot we chose a beautiful old classroom with antique wood desks and a wood trimmed black-board. The setting was beautifully captured with my camera man, Zacharie’s, Canon 5D which although it’s not ideal for all occasions with it’s limited recording time (forcing us to momentarily stop and start our interviews every 12min) and the separate audio sinking, the image quality is stellar.

The fist interview was with Kira, an ex-Villa and MIND student. It was of great interest to me to hear from someone who has experienced two very different high school environments. Kira articulated much of what I expected to hear which was how difficult it can be to obey the rules of private school particularly when you’ve had a taste of a more liberal setting.

The following two interviews were with my ex-teachers from 25 years ago! They were so much as I had remembered them. My music teacher, Miss Taddeo,  was fun, feisty and outspoken and my history teacher, Miss Lanthier, was mild mannered, kindhearted and sincere. While they offered great insight into their teaching practice, they also shared stories about their youth which was such a pleasure to listen to. I questioned at one point how long I should ‘allow’ these stories to told (as they deviated a little from the line a questioning that I was aiming for) but it seemed clear that as long as the story was engaging there was value in letting the camera role.

Completing this shoot helped to clarify–among many things–the line of questioning that seems necessary to create a complimentary flow within the editing between teacher and student. If I follow through with the split-screen intention I have for the installation, nailing this aspect of the filming will be crucial.

The next shoot is planned for this Tuesday with (so far) a couple more ex-Villa students and a current Math teacher followed by students from a local arts school, FACE.

About cayoup

Colleen Ayoup was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. She has been engaged in media creation for nearly twenty years. After attending the Dawson Institute of Photography (Montreal), she worked as a commercial photographer for several years until the craving for different creative pursuits gave way. This desire led to two subsequent degrees in Psychology/Film Studies and Film Production (B.A., B.F.A) at Concordia University in Montreal. Her short fiction films and documentary, Kings (2001), about drag-king culture in Montreal toured festivals internationally. In 2004, she joined the National Film Board of Canada where she coordinated Doc Shop, a program designed to give emerging filmmakers an opportunity to learn trade skills from industry professionals and produce a short documentary for broadcast on CBC. She also contributed to the development and creation of CitizenShift (citizenshift.org), the NFB’s first social-media website that she subsequently coordinated for five years. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program in Documentary Media at Ryerson University (Toronto, ON)