In this blog post I look through short films about photographers I have great admiration for. As part of creating my own short film I am looking to learn more from viewing others work, to create effective stories and methodologies in creating that.
‘Black Moon’ Trent Mitchell & Robert Sherwood
‘Black Moon’ takes us into the world of Trent Mitchell and the underwater surfers. An evocative short film created by Robert Sherwood, it focuses mainly on Mitchell’s relationship and recent work ‘Inner Atlas’. ‘Inner Atlas’ celebrates the metaphysical relationship between humans and nature through a series of portraits. Taken in a wave whilst surfing underwater it creates an ethereal viewing experience, and the short film enhances this experience.
Whilst the visuals of the short film aren’t wholly connected to ‘Inner Atlas’, the story of Mitchell’s creative process leading up to it, is. The calming voice of Mitchell together with the guitar of Funkadelic makes this viewing experience a constant emotional tie. “I inject a sense of feeling into my films by communicating my ideas through aesthetically pleasing and deeply emotive visuals”. The slow motion and various natural lighting added with the compositions create a continuous eye catching experience. Also to see the photos of ‘Inner Atlas’ in the process is a great bonus, underwater photos of this type are rarely seen from behind the scenes.
The production value of this short film is excellent, the visual transitions work well with nature to create natural transitions as well as artificial. It isn’t overwhelmed by vocals and takes its time to express the story of Mitchell. There are a few times where the music seems to drown out Mitchell talking but overall it’s very well balanced and a great choice for this short film. Having the voiceover greatly strengthens the impact of the story and doesn’t feel rushed, but at a natural pace. The parts of the short film linked with ‘Inner Atlas’ is shown in black and white, creating the connection with ‘Inner Atlas’ itself as that is also in black and white. I thought that was a good homage to Trent Mitchell and created a visual aid for the viewer, seeing the similarities of ‘Inner Atlas’ in colour would remove that link.
See Through the Lens of the World’s Best Underwater Surf Photographer | Ben Thouard in “Surface”
Ben Thouard has been photographing underwater since he was a teenager. Moving to Tahiti in 2007 he planted his roots, Thouard is world renowned as an underwater surf photographer. The short film is linked to the story of the creation of ‘Surface’, Thouards book that has been years in the making. It also shows his passion for underwater photography and the effort put into creating each image, through times of doubt and times of inspiration and discovery.
The film features a voiceover from Thouard himself talking about his experience, also a visual perspective of Thouard’s photographic practice. Structurally the film shows a behind the scenes of Thouard’s life, bits of his family, history, process of making photos and the mental struggles. The first minute or so gives a brief history lession on how his practice began, showing pictures of his past. Afterwards it moves into a more indepth process of showing all the preparation and challenges linked with the photo making. The middle part of the film takes on a different mood, visually darker and slow motion it shows the troubling times Thouard faced in his inspiration for underwater photography. Straight afterwards the film leads us into a magical underwater world of drama and power of the surf. This aided by more upbeat music and the voiceover shows a more uplifting part of Thouard’s life and career, nature gives up its secrets and shows the unique experience behind each wave. This carries on for the remainder of the film, as an inspiring story of Thouards career up until 2018.
My impression of this short film overall enjoyed this story of a photographers long-term relationship and project with nature. It is backed up with the context of Thouard’s history and presents the struggles and not just the positive side of photography. The audio of the waves is added effectively to match the visuals, and the various different styles of music aid the mood of the story. There are ups and downs in the story, bouncing between the positives and negatives, could be interesting to see it more gathered so there’s more structure to the film. Visually the film shows us exactly what we’d expect to see from Thouards work, sometimes from his perspective. It gives a great sense of wonder for nature and inspiration to explore the crystal clear waters of Tahiti. The use of light to control the speed of the film especially in the troubling times in the story is effective, moving from a bright active space, to a dark dull space. Overall this clearly shows Ben Thouard’s enthusiasm for nature and his time underwater, capturing not just work relating to ‘Surface’ but the experience underwater at its best.
Something a bit different from photographers, I look at Post Malone’s music video ‘Circles’. I feel that this is relevant as it shows how lyrics or a voice over can change the meaning of visuals and chorus as the story progresses.
Post Malone – Circles
Music video of the song ‘Circles’, a bouncy, melancholic melody details a relationship gone bad, or running in circles. Themes of journey and rebirth – travelling through villages, walking. Burning, being buried and then revived again.
The visuals have a deeper meaning when backed up with the lyrics and tone of the vocals, the chorus stays the same throughout but every time it is sung it has a different meaning due to the visuals and the lyrics in-between, they add a different meaning and add progression to the story Posty is telling.
Perhaps creating a photo or video that has a similar ‘chorus’ throughout but with different visuals or audio in between can have a similar effect. I will admit that having a catchy non-fatiguing hook of a song to accompany the visuals does help tremendously with amplifying and changing how it is interpreted. My story could work very well if sung by someone with experience and if the lyrics are created to an amazing standard, seeing as time is progressing I’ll look at something more feasible, a reading of a story perhaps.
“I inject a sense of feeling into my films by communicating my ideas through aesthetically pleasing and deeply emotive visuals”