Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Filmmaker and The Author

Some writers are born entertainers, not only in print, but also on film. I'm not one of them. Put a camera in my face and all I think about is how I wish I could recreate the images and impressions recorded by a video camera the way I can edit pictures and perceptions formed by words on a page. What I wouldn't give to transform the me in the video lens into a younger, wiser, more fascinating version. Love being behind the camera. Hate being in front of it.

Image from Island Sting
Recently, I was reminded of my relationship with the camera when, as part of a larger project, I was asked to videotape myself. The video would then be used to introduce me, the author, to readers. Someone wanted me to video myself talking about myself? Groan. I'm not interesting. It’s my characters that are appealing. I write about teens that live in exotic locales, rescue endangered animals, solve mysteries, jump into treacherous and exciting adventures, deceive their parents, and create havoc for criminals. Why would anyone want to know about my quiet, ordinary world when they could dive into that intriguing one?

I'd accepted the fact that I was going to create a pathetic product when my thoughtful husband reminded me that we live in the City of the Arts, home of the renown and highly acclaimed University of North Carolina School of the Arts. We’re surrounded by young cinematographers, directors, editors,  producers, and screenwriters. 

Zach filming through
a magnifying glass
Enter talented Zachary Strum,  class of 2012,  UNCSA's School of Filmmaking. Poor Zach. I fought his HD camera every step of the way. (Did you catch that? HD camera. Every pore, wrinkle, smudge, every-everything would show!) I didn't simply turn away from that camera, I ran away from it. When that didn’t work, I tried to blink it away from me. Don't believe me? Watch the video.

I may not have liked the camera, but the photographer behind it was delightful. In spite of the challenge my discomfort presented, Zach produced an informative, entertaining, and spot-on accurate film. When I didn't play well with the camera, Zach simply worked around me. He shot in late winter when our yard and gardens—once nothing but a woodland jungle—were brown and dormant, but he envisioned how spring and summer would transform the property. That vision inspired his entire production.

In addition to keen vision, Zach has sensitive hearing. Corners inside my home and sites beyond its walls spoke to him. Old files, photos, and papers told him more than my nervous words could. I’m pretty sure he’s a dog whisperer, too.

Zach wove hours of film plus old and new stills into three minutes of video, then set it to music performed by Whistling Tom Bryant, a world class performer, who inspired a character in my 2011 EPIC winning novel, Island Sting. It took much more than precision of craft to produce this video, a creation that honestly and vividly introduced this author, Bonnie J. Doerr (a most reluctant subject), to the world. It took intuition, sensitivity, insight, ingenuity, persistence, patience, and kindness. 

If the film appears jerky as you view it, it's only because Zach jam-packed it with those tiny, magical digital thingies that hold incredible amounts of information. It's smooth as silk when viewed in a studio. If only I had a studio. Then maybe I could convert the images into a younger, wiser, more fascinating me. 

This film is as much about Zachary Strum, filmmaker, as it is about Bonnie J. Doerr, author. Watch for his name at the end. I'm betting you'll see it on the end of a major movie one day.

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