Okay…I might’ve underestimated things a little bit…
I knew it was going to be big…but as it goes with plans that feel right on every level…you tend to mainly see the big picture and happily shove away thoughts about details until they’re there.
Well, they’re there!
And it’s because I’m learning something completely new; documentary making.
Luckily I’m not a complete fool and wouldn’t go out in the world completely unprepared, which is why I’m now in Berlin doing a documentary making course for 2 months.
It’s all kinds of fantastic but the details of the actually doing it are now of course becoming very apparent. And incredibly overwhelming!
Here’s a list of what I’m bumping into:
- All the technicalities at school
There’s storyboards, frames, focus, angles, foley, zebras, peaking, diegetic sounds, mixers, levels and booms. And a million other things to think about whilst setting up, shooting and editing. Oh boy…
- All the technicalities as a 1 woman band on the road
I’ll very likely be on my own most of the time. That means I need the right camera (in school we use professional stuff), the right sound recorder and mic, a tri- or monopod, and some extra accessories to make my life easier. I’m guessing this will be supersimple to those experienced with video reporting but to me it’s just a whole lotta question marks.
- The language barrier
I’ve got enough knowledge of the German language to order food, ask for directions and understand and answer lovely old ladies when they ask what country the street band we’re listening to is from (they were playing reggae…). But getting into an in-depth interview about love and life…meeh…not very likely.
- Making sure you’ve got a good story to tell
For a 1 minute portrait it’s mainly about the people and the questions but when you’re doing an 8 minute project, you’ll better make sure you’ve got something interesting to show. Cause who’s going to watch 8 minutes of people just sitting there?
There’s of course all sorts of other things I need to know and understand. Things like: potential legal issues during shooting, what visa I need when entering a country, the whole marketing of the film(s) once it gets out and don’t even get me started on the financing of it all…
But all this can and will be learnt. Or dealt with in some other way. Give it time and it shouldn’t be a problem.
What really spikes my anxiety and comfort zone issues though, is actually finding and approaching the people I would like to interview.
Because I’m not just interested in talking to happy suburban people, hipsters and all those others that are relatively easy to approach (because I can easily relate to them and they to me).
Nooo. I also want to talk to the transgender boy living under a bridge, the anarchists drinking in the park, the street musicians hopping from city to city, the refugee artists living in squats, etc..
But…that really interesting and truly sweet looking transgender boy lives under that bridge with 20 of his roughest and toughest friends… And am I really going to tap him on the shoulder in my less than decent German and ask him: ‘wie ist es Sie zu sein?’ And then follow him around for a day? Me? Little old clean me hang out with these tougher than nuts guys and gals?
And those ‘typical’ Berlin anarchists? I’ve found the last anarchist bar in Berlin where things get really rowdy and rough but that’s as authentic as you can get. Am I really going to go there? After dark? In my what…my Lululemon yoga pants? My pencil skirt? My oversized white blouse? They’ll kick me out in an instant…
If only I wasn’t so curious and stubborn…
Because the project I want to do for the course is an 8 minute movie that follows both a startup girl (typical Berlin import) AND an anarchist (the type that actually stood on the wall in ’89). It’s similarity that I hope to find in these extremes plus make sure there’s a very Berlin flavour to it all.
But I can’t deny that there is a high threshold to really getting out there and finding and approaching these people. And that makes it kinda impossible to actually do this project.
So, what I’m constantly reminding myself of, is these 5 things:
1. The size of my ladyballs
I’m pretty proud of the size I’m currently sporting but I know there’s still a lot of fear in me that’s making them shrivel at times. And yes, some fear is very reasonable, but a lot of it is not. And in the end, life is all about the things you weren’t afraid to do (as those provide for the most amazing and beautiful moments).
2. The reason WHY I’m doing this
Getting through my fears, my judgments and own projections of and on other people is the number 1 reason for this trip. It would therefore be rather silly to let myself stop me before I’ve even really started.
3. Trusting my own special set of skills
I’m not a retired CIA (or whatever) agent but definitely do have a whole bunch of skills and talent that I can lean on when things get tough. They’ve gotten me through a lot in these past years so why shouldn’t I trust on them to do so again in the (near) future?
4. Knowing it’s ‘not just me’
Oh wow, I can’t tell you how good it is to share all this with the lovely people in my class. To see them struggle with the same things and to help each other through inner and outer obstacles. No matter what you’re learning, definitely get yourself a wolfpack to share with!
5. Asking for help
There’s a difference between leaning on someone for support and constructively asking for help. And it took me close to 33 years to learn the difference. Asking is amazing! Example: I can now go find me an anarchist because a Berlinian stuntman/tourguide (who actually knows these guys and speaks Berlin slang) offered to come along with me.
In the twisted and contrasting confines of our own imagination things often take a totally different shape than they really are. We turn mosquitos into elephants and wild rivers into calm little streams. It’s odd how we humans tend to never really stick to the actual reality of things…
But I guess that’s just how it is and this particular lesson might’ve taught me something for a next time. Or not…and that’s also okay.
And for now…I’m going to stick with what I do best: not let the things that scare me stop me.
Watch out world: I am woman, hear me roar!