We had an opportunity present itself, and in our normal fashion, we followed it impulsively. Someone had asked to stay in our place for 4 nights while they picked up an airplane at a nearby airfield. We hesitated but then agreed, thinking it would allow us to do some ‘test shooting’. There was a route we wanted to try out, searching for locations, and equipment we wanted to become more experienced with. ‘Just in case’, we threw the suitcase, a large black trunk, and a costume for me into the car. That led to a 4-day road trip. The new project, while the topic stayed the same, featured a lot more of me than I expected.
We found so much wonderful and terrible beauty in the landscape. I was making notes and dropping ‘pins’ for each place we found interesting and wanted to return to. We struggled with difficult terrain, cold wind, drastically changing temperatures. The suitcase (a metal trunk) weighs a lot when you carry it for hours. Managing equipment with just the two of us is tough. Wojtek carries a heavy burden trying to make it easier on me. We didn’t have a shot sheet but as we arrived at a location we would talk through the possibilities and the juxtaposition of ideas we might try. We each had specific ideas we wanted to shoot. Wojtek was trying to edit in his head while he shot. I was trying to make sure I kept some level of continuity,; which hand the suitcase was in, where I touched a post, what movement I had done if I was moving, remembering to brush my hair which was completely tangled in the high winds. He would show me the framing before each shot. In the evenings, we reviewed the footage we had shot that day and made the plan for the next day. I would log the footage and Wojtek would immediately begin editing short teasers (2 minutes) to develop the feel of each segment.
The teasers give us a chance to talk further about meaning and poetics. Often, while he lays out the structure, I will search for shots that might work as inserts. When logging, I grade and categorize the footage, making it easier for us later when we want to make a change. He spends hours searching for music. He pays attention to every detail of the edit and we preview it a hundred times.
Our shoots are crazy fun. Cold, and challenged by the weather but riffing off each other, feeling creative, spontaneous, and completely focussed. Dirty, tired, cold, and hungry by the end of the day, we enjoy having a beer, grabbing food, and going immediately into logging and editing.
The ideas evolve as we work and evolve as we discuss images and potential content. Life creates snapshots and shot sheets. We, as we often do as improvisers, come with our research not over but active and alive in us, we respond to what we see, and we build on our collaborative vision.