ORANGE GIRL: Meeting about 1st script draft issues

Today, me and Jonas met for the first time after he finished the first draft of the script and since the overall result of it was not something I felt right to the storyline, we wanted to discuss it before we had a meeting with Helen, later in the day.

The issues I had with this draft of the script were that not only did the script not make sense with what we’ve been discussing prior but also we it lacked the climax (being the secret that Aiste shares with Jonas) as well as it sounding more like a drama than a documentary.

During the meeting I laid out again and more firmly what I felt the script had it wrong and what was lacking and managed to explain my point of view on it and what I felt needed to be changed and/or improved on.

Jonas obviously defended his script but also understood where I was coming from.

The issue that we are now facing goes again back to the ethics that revolves around having someone, this being Aiste, discussing their on-going and still very present issue of possessing and suffering from an eating disorder.

Jonas tells me she might not feel comfortable having that being discussed with him let alone on film, which raises the issue of that being an integral part of the documentary in and of itself.

So, my idea is to have a back plan on what we can use as a replacement in the storyline that will help us when we are on location shooting the film.

After we meet Helen, later today, I’ll blog about her thoughts and the feedback we get to effectively do these changes in the best way possible.


ORANGE GIRL: 1st script draft + potential sound operator

I’ve been discussing with Jonas, for a while, the notion of how we wanted our story to be presented on screen. This is something that’s been discussed thoroughly throughout the various meeting we’ve had thus far.

And because there are so many ways the story could be told, as soon as we decided on whose point of view it would be told through, slowly the rest started to fall into place.

We knew we wanted it to be told through Jonas’ POV, to have various archival material (photographs/videos of Aiste, home movies of hers, video recordings of both of them together, etc), to shoot in Lithuania where they met, and for their relationship to be showcased in all its truthfulness.

So from there, I gave Jonas the deadline of sending me until tonight the 1st script draft, so we could decide together if this was the way we wanted the story to go or if we needed to have some changes on how it should be told.

I have also been on the hunt of a really good sound operator to come on this journey with us and initially Peter Williams showed a big interest in the project but later, me and him discovered that his schedule was incompatible with the time we planned on filming so he advised me Martin (from the loan store) as a replacement.

We exchanged a few emails and he is quite keen to be part of this project as well and the only potential issue that he’s facing is the need to find someone who can do his shift during our week of shooting, so he can commit to us fully.

I gave him until the end of next week, to tell me if he is able to be part of this project. If not, I am moving to plan B.

Stories We Tell: Self-reflexive documentary



In this lesson we saw a quite personal documentary made by actress/director Sarah Polley, because it is the story of her family, but more specifically the story of her mother.

In this piece of film, we are introduced to Sarah’s family, being it her father, two brothers and her sister. The focus of this story is all around her mother Diane, because as we get more into the story of the film, we discover that her mother was the light of the family. She was caring, loving, sweet and bubbly. She was a breath of life and love to all her children. And that is the way she is portrayed, or more accurately, that is the way she is explained by the people who knew her (her children, her husband, her sister, her friends).


All of this information and more is transmitted to the audience through a conjunction of witness interviews and old archival footage. The witnesses vary between family members and friends and the archival footage consists of old home movies from Sarah’s family, even having the wedding tape of her mother Diane’s first marriage to a man other than Sarah’s father. So it is really remarkable the amount of material she found and with every new thing the viewer learns, there is footage to back it up.


But probably the most impressive thing that Sarah did, creatively speaking, for this film was that she actually re-enacted some events in Diane’s life, with the use of Super 8 film stock. The feeling you have when watching the film is that you believe completely that all that you see is the truth because there is the footage to back it up, yet when the audience reaches the end of the film, it realizes that a lot of the home videos that were presented are actually only reenactments of how the events might have occurred. It was quite a surprise, at least to me.

Sarah Polley in a still from Stories We Tell

Another characteristic of this documentary is that the controversy between what is real and true is always put to the test. And this is the case when it comes to the discovery of Sarah’s biological father. This is the major plot twist in the film, because up until that point what the viewer knows of Diane is that she was an amazing woman but that same ‘ideal’ comes crashing down, a bit, when we know she cheated on her husband with another man. This is where we see the controversy on whether she did cheat and who could be the father, and Sarah’s personal journey to discover who he is.


So from this lesson, what I learned is that the truth can have many shapes and forms. It’s not just one thing but multiple. And what intrigued me most was the reconstruction of key scenes in Diane’s life were done to give the story a more human feeling was something quite inspiring to me, and also I like the idea of eventually working with old film stock because I really like that old ‘crackling’ feeling of the image and sound that is inherent to old movies from the 30s and 40s.

Grizzly Man: Screening



In this class we saw Herzog’s documentary called “Grizzly Man” about the famous bear spokesperson Timothy Treadwell. This documentary served as a continuing presentation of the different types of “sub-genres” a documentary can have within itself. In this particular piece we follow a journey of man who believes that his sole purpose in life is to protect the grizzly bears from anyone and everyone that might want to harm them. So he spends most of his adult life, thirteen years to be exact, living in the wilderness with these bears and whilst he learned all that he could from them, he also started to love them. So this is his story.

tim_treadwell_large.jpg w=589&h=542

Personally, I quite enjoyed this documentary mostly because the way Herzog edited it, we can see Treadwell’s personality and character shine through pretty much throughout the entire length of the film. We can see Treadwell’s caring nature and his firm belief that that is his calling in life, but at the same time we get an inside view into Herzog’s personal opinion in the matter, and how opposite it is from the subject he’s filming. This documentary, that was based on 100 hours of raw/unedited footage that Treadwell shot himself whilst living alone in the forest, serves as a way to expose the story to the audience but also to give them a sense of self-reflexiveness because what Treadwell chose to do with his life isn’t something someone would just choose to do out of nowhere! At least not in the same circumstances as Treadwell. This piece of film has two main characters which are Timothy Treadwell (the bear lover) and Herzog (the opinionated director), and of course you have the bears in the background, yet they are not the main subject being analyzed here. We see Treadwell’s points of view that are almost immediately counter argued by Herzog through the means of a voice-over, and although this was compelling to listen it also through me a bit off-guard because at one point I didn’t know who to believe.


Werner Herzog, director.

With the knowledge that documentary evidence can either be used through the ‘making’ or the ‘revealling’ of virtue, “Grizzly Man” is right in the middle. For there is in fact a strategic way in which the filmmaker organized the footage as well as wanting it to have a meaning to the audience, but it is also has the subject in his own personal environment and as much as Herzog shares his own opinions he also sits back and observes almost as a third party to Treadwell’s impulsive acts.

Through this viewing I learned more about how even though a documentary needs to be as reliable as possible, given the documentary evidence that might exist (or not), the filmmaker can still be creative in his cinematic decisions in the way he wishes the story to be portrayed and understood by the audience, as well as being able to give his personal insight on the matter.

And here I leave you with a brief introduction to this amazing documentary, so you can see what Timothy is all about.

4 Little Girls: Documentary introduction



Today we kicked off our Screenwriting module with a first glance of a genre we are going to be talking about for the next couple of weeks. Yes, it is Documentary time. When I first started in this module, we learned all that we needed to learn about Melodrama which was nice but I am glad that we can now move on to something different.

We learned that even though a documentary needs to be truthful and “follow the rules” in order for it to be an accurate representation of an actual event in time and space, it can still be creative. We, potential filmmakers, can still let our creative juices flow and let them show through it. It’s just a matter of editing: the cutting, the order in which we put the footage, photographs, locations, interviews, the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound, amongst so many others. It is in post-production that we can make a masterpiece out of a documentary. And that was interesting to acknowledge.


And to kick start our classes, we were shown a Spike Lee documentary entilted “4 Little Girls” which follows the story of four young children that were brutally murdered by a bomb explosion while at church in Alabama in 1963. This is the basis of the story yet Lee tells us much more than that, he tells us all the events that led up to this massacre as to show the audience the “why” this happened. He doesn’t condone these events but instead feels the need to justify and to bring a clarity to the world, of who, why and what happened or needed to happen to give a reason for these murders. I don’t know if he succeeded but at least he told a story that deeply moved audiences, well at least it moved me. Lee goes deep into the begginings of racial prejudice in Alabama with the showing of archival footage, still photographs and even interviews with victims or bystanders that were there at those times.


Later on in the afternoon seminar, our teacher mentioned something that I found quite alluring, when he said “Film is a ghostly medium”, right when he said it, I felt a chill come over me. The complete truthfulness of that statement caught me off guard. It is something so obvious yet it had such a poetic meaning to me. The idea of each film, even the current one’s, are and will someday be mere ghosts of the past is something morbidly fascinating to me. Yet, I always knew that film was such a beautiful medium where some of the greatest stories and pieces and History are forever “trapped” in film stock (or SD cards!) is something beyond precious. That beautiful moment when you can watch your favorite movie from the 1940’s and feel yourself being immersed into the wonderfulness of the acting, story and location. It’s priceless.

Though this viewing, I learned the difference between the different types of documentaries that exist as well as the basis of what type of documents I would need to obtain in order to, try, and give justice to the piece of history I would like to portray on screen.

P.S.- And I also learn that I rant too much. I am sorry.

Here is an interview with director Spike Lee talking about his documentary film.

7 Up: A documentary screening



This week we saw the first documentary in this module which was quite exciting! The idea behind it was that of following four young children from the age of seven and to visit them every 7 years until they are 56 years old. With that the researchers could find if the dreams, ideas, opinions and ambitions the children demonstrated during childhood would continue to be the same or change as the years passed and they matured and evolved into late adulthood.

I found this documentary piece very intriguing first of all because of the commitment of the researchers to do a project that would last so many years and to not abandon it mid way through. And also the concept being so original, it made me interested in further documentaries we might see in the future.