Last week I sat in on a film class. I'd thought I was going to documentary film (watching), but nope--this was (advanced) documentary film (making), and I had never turned on a camera. We watched clips from The Bridge, and an Austrian movie about food, and a great short film my teacher did about the world's largest shopping mall, and even then I could feel it coming on, the obsession. So I'm sticking with it--but sticking with it has meant three camera how-to sessions, four days of self-teaching on Final Cut Pro, one day of shooting along Clement and Balboa, a second day of shooting by my apartment after I botched the timecode on the first tape, many pounds of rented equipment, a handful of Sony DV tapes, the most finicky tripod in the world, and two very sore biceps.
But it's also meant that I'm able, for the first time, to do something I've always wanted to do: to step through whatever separates us from the people we don't know. I heard delivery horror stories from the guys at Pizza City and what Marrakech is like from a Moroccan cab driver. I got a list of good old movies and longer list of editing tips from the people at Poppa Opp's Videos. Antoine, who runs a liquor store by my Dad's house, showed me a sick Obama print his cousin made and his hand-drawn picture of the 49ers. And I was amazed to receive these stories, to be a part of a conversation mostly because of my camera. It seemed to me to be a bit like writing, except I didn't have to make anything up. I can't decide whether that feels like a weight lifted or a weight gained.
I just finished the first assignment, which was to compile ten 10-second clips. It took me five days. I feel as though I've just emerged from a severe fever (102 degrees +).