I shot some awesome stuff in 2013, huh?
Featured in my currently shooting documentary is the Pretty Things Peepshow, a burlesque meets sideshow act that’s a total trip back to the days of Americana vaudeville. I love a good variety show, and add fire, boobs, drills, and swords to that, plus a kick ass business lady that’s running the show with the power of the internet and you got me hooked.
If I haven’t babbled about it enough, my doc is called Domain Names and it follows people who are running creative businesses through the internet. Want to get involved with it? Email me! I’m always looking for more people to talk to.
Do you know what’s awesome? When someone says, “Please shoot this however you want.” And that happened a bunch in Northern California.
Maddie, Jonas, and Emily hosted a workshop called CoLab for creatives in the process of starting photography businesses. They had a lot of great things to say to encourage their crew of 15 attendees to get those businesses off the ground. And then they let me run around them with a camera for a day. I was so happy to do so, namely because there were puppies and ponies and people saying smart shit and oh man, I just got distracted again by all the stuff that was there.
Allison brought me on for a small business video essay, and it was definitely one of those, “Oh okay, we are friends now,” kind of partnerships from the first Skype call. People frequently use the phrase “will do anything for a shot” to describe photographers, but the funny thing about Allison is in that shooting her, I discovered she actually will do anything for a shot… without calling any attention to face that’s she’s weaving through some vines or sitting in the dirt, and probably she’ll do it while wearing an adorable dress. And then she’ll get up and magically have not flashed ANYONE and not have any dirt on her. And then have a great shot. She is graceful like crazy.
I really loved making everything here. I am really, really glad I’ve discovered how much I like working with small businesses. It’s so much easier to work your ass off when you love the final product. And of course, I want to make more so you should probably call me if you’re a small business that needs a video produced.
PS - Have you heard about the video scholarship yet?
The other day somebody told me something along the lines of, “But it’s only a little video. It doesn’t need to be fancy.”
And everybody that’s ever made any sort of motion pictures ever simultaneously rolled their eyes.
Here is the thing… that is one hundred percent correct: video doesn’t need to be fancy! If you have an iPhone you can make a movie and tell a story with just a little production value.
But you can’t have just a little context. Heartfelt Interview with a lot of laughter in the background feels less heartfelt than Heartfelt Interview with clean sound, or Heartfelt Interview that never says what exact Heartfelt Issue we’re addressing. It takes time and energy to set context up no matter what.
There’s this guy that is kind of a staple in film school curriculum by the name Kuleshov. He taught at the first film school ever. He’s kind of a big deal.
Basically, this Kuleshov character cuts together a shot of an old man at a table acting very neutrally with several different cutaway shots: a bowl of soup, a young child, and a coffin. He screened the three different pairings of the old man + one of the three shots to his students, and depending on what the second image was, that determined how the viewers saw the old man. When he was with the soup, they thought he was hungry. When he was with the coffin, they thought he was mournful. You get the idea.
So I thought I’d try Kuleshov’s experiment on myself. I used one line, “My name is Rory Gordon and I make videos,” seven different times.
I look, in order:
Normal*, Sexy**, Creepy***, Clueless****, Aloof, Like a Crazy Cat Lady, Normal again.
All of these are on top of “ridiculous” obviously.
My point in all this: be deliberate with your video. Just because all you want is a 60 second montage of you at work, be mindful that the most professional mission statement in the world won’t hold up if you’re saying it half naked, if the sound is bad, or if otherwise what you show doesn’t back up the words you say. The magic word is context.
And when you hire a professional like me, that’s what you actually pay for: not my gear, but my ability to set up context in which you look like a deliberate version of yourself. I’m not fancy: I’m just a good story teller… which is fortunately for me, not something that Apple has figured out how to sell in that sexy minimal packaging yet. Fingers crossed.
PS - Anyone out there have any experience where you didn’t look like yourself in a photo or video? Let’s commiserate.
*As normal as possible with me anyway.
**If jailbait is ever sexy and I am ever not completely awkward.
***More than my usual “staring at you unblinking behind a camera” creepy.
****As if I’m not always.