Posts in: Block B
Suddenly fourth week is in full swing. It is amazing that we have only been weaving for less than a month! The works we have produced are ones to be proud of for sure. We have spent late nights avidly weaving many yards,
problem solving, and eating an unreasonable amount of freeze pops to arrive where we are today.
As the final projects emerged from the looms, the personal style of each weaver became delightfully clear. Curiosities were explored and challenges overcome in a spectacular show of wit and determination. The morning was spent adding finishing touches and hanging our pieces for our final critique. Today we are having a show in conjunction with the printing press and bookmaking class in Coburn Gallery!
We have our fabrics on display in creative ways to enhance the viewer’ experience, and show off the variety of techniques each student has employed. There are pieces that boast double or triple weave, silk painting, and even an invented weave structure! The show is not one to miss. It will be a satisfying bookend to a very fulfilling block.
Throughout the whole block, we have been learning the many ways to dye various fiber materials. Fibers can be relatively picky about how they want to be dyed, and dyes take careful measuring and planning to come out the desired color. At first it all seemed overwhelmingly mysterious to me. All of the chemicals and temperatures sounded impossible to get right, and I pictured myself melting in a disastrous chemical hot water rainbow. As it turns out, dyes are a load of fun and have a great amount of exploring potential. While the measurements are important while learning, the rules can be bent for different effects and purposes as things become more familiar. The trick is bending the rules on purpose, and not out of carelessness. We have learned that hot water dyes are used on animal fibers, such as sheep’s wool, alpaca, and mohair, whereas cold-water acid dyes are used on plant fibers such as cotton, linen, and hemp. We even learned how to dye with indigo by a very talented local fiber artist who is also a CC alum.
Some students in the class have gotten very creative with dyeing. A funky pair jeans and a few shirts came out of the indigo dye bucket with interesting shibori patterning. Shibori is a type of “resist dying” (sort of like tie dye) we have been learning.
Experimentation with dying has also led to detailed batik pieces and beautiful skeins of yarn. As our final project looms, each of us is preparing to dye hundreds of yards of yarn to the desired colors for our projects. Some skeins will be individually painted, while some will be dunked or soaked for different color qualities.
The adventure into the mysterious basement of the Fine Arts center was an unforgettable one. Michael led us behind the scenes, into the basement where priceless art waits on its way in or out of the museum. We held our breaths as the grille of the massive elevator screeched into position, locking us in for the descent into the archives.
The tapestries were carefully rolled out before us one by one by a pair of very knowledgeable CC interns. Each rug held its own rich history, its own secrets, and its own important place in the Fine Art Center’s permanent collection. We oohed and aahed at each rug as its vibrant patterns rolled out in stark contrast to the one behind it.
Jeanne quizzed us playfully on techniques and technical details of the tapestries, bringing to our attention dyes and warp quality, finishing stitches and antiquated weaving practices. We soon found that the pieces being revealed to us were a special few of many special tapestries that stood at attention behind the doors of a temperature regulated vault along with thousands of other priceless artifacts.
Our brains full with new information, speculations, and images, we returned to our studio where our own miniature tapestries sat barely woven.
After a night of hard weaving, our approximately 8”x10” samples hung proudly on the wall of Coburn Gallery. It was no surprise that traces of the rugs we had admired the day before had emerged boldly in our weaving samples. The sturdy fabric that laboriously came into its existence on each of our looms is so satisfying to handle and look at, that it will be hard to resist taking on the ultimate challenge of making a large one for a final project.
This week has been a whirlwind of learning. It is amazing to work our way through the many steps of creating fabric—something we are in contact with every day. Textiles are such an integral part of cultures all over the world and the craft of weaving is a specialized and versatile one. Somehow handling the yarn, the loom, and the books of hundreds of patterns holds a weight of an ancient and beloved art. Fabrics such as quilts are passed down as special heirloom items through generations. Epic stories of empires are recorded in fabric for us to see today in the form of tapestries. The more I learn each day, the more I am amazed at how vast and deep the world of fiber arts really is and the more sure I am that we have endless amounts to learn. In only one week we have already learned to thread a loom, weave a few twill variations, dye wool, and read patterns yet here we are at the tip of the iceberg!
The loom turns out to be a very complex mechanism. Any slight mishaps that might occur in setting up will become clear in the woven piece. Careful method becomes crucial in preventing utter madness.
With the yarn that each of us dyed to our desired color (or an accidental other color) we set up for our four different Twill samples. It was amazing to see the patterns emerge as we wove! The sounds of everyone weaving at once are very satisfying. The squeaking and clacking of the wood looms, the whooshing of the beater against fiber, and the occasional gasp of dismay make for an eclectic orchestra. When all of our samples were done, including our exploratory handloom pieces, we pinned them to the gallery wall and beheld our work as a class. What an enlightening week it has been.
Our group recently just returned from a wonderful experience in Lençóis, Bahia! The trip started on Friday morning, bright and early as it takes 7 hours to get to Lençóis from Salvador. I was asleep for most of the bus ride, but when I woke up, I realized for the first time since I entered Brazil, I wasn’t in the city. The country side of Bahia (the state I’m in) is absolutely stunning. Imagine long stretches of dry land with the occasional small town brushing the edge of the main highway or the occasional cattle ranch.
Before we arrived in Lençóis, we stopped at the bottom of the mountain O Morro do Pai Inácio. We had a short, but surprisingly hard, hike to the top of the mountain. It was was absolutely stunning. The mountain had once been at the bottom of an ocean, so the landscape on the top was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The top of the mountain overlooks an entire valley and other mountains. The area used to produce diamonds (the same kind found in Africa), so its history is full of mining with slaves (which is connected to the the name Pai Inacio if you want to look it up).
After this, we loaded up and headed to our hotel. Before we actually checked in, we visited an NGO located in Lençóis. The leaders there mostly had us dancing and connecting with music. After we had our fun, they sat us down to talk about what they really do. The NGO focuses on running workshops for children and people in different communities. The workshops for the kids focus on different things like dance, theater, music, but also things like accounting and programs to encourage students to go to college. The programs for the community focus on going into the community and empowering the community to become able to provide for itself. It was a great experience and almost all of us students were moved by it.
After this we finally got to our hotel and were free to explore. The next day, Saturday, we started the day off by heading to a cave! The entire experience was so incredible, especially for me, because I’ve never been to one. I was honestly just so struck by how huge it was. The entrance was huge, and inside was somehow even bigger. The deeper we went into the cave, the darker it became, until it was pitch black, with nothing buy our flash lights lighting the way. For a moment, I panicked because I felt trapped underground in the dark. The our guide had us turn off all our flashlights and stand completely silent. You would think that this would cause my fear to spike, but it was strangely calming. It was if all the pressure from the world above had been wiped away by the overwhelming darkness. It was beautiful.
After the cave, we visited a river so rich in iron, that it looked like it was black. Some students climbed up the small cliff next to it so that they could jump into the water, but I honestly think they were crazy as it was freezing. We then hiked up behind the river to Poço do Diabo, an amazing waterfall. I honestly can’t describe how great that was, so I’ll just post the photos.
Then, after dinner some capoeiristas came and performed Caporeira for us. Some of them were adult masters, but most of the capoeiristas that came were actually children, around the ages of 5-12. That was a great experience to see all the different skill levels and the joy and the confidence the Brazilian children get from it. One interesting thing that the master said was that he is sad when his students leave the group after becoming a master at Caporiera, but he would much rather lose them to doing great things due to Caporiera, than to lose them drugs or violence. Caporiera is obviously so much more than a type of dance.
Another fun part of the night was that one of the capoeiristas that performed for us was Ailton Carmo, the lead actor in a capoeirista movie called Besouro that we had watched on the bus ride. We all took pictures with him and he was such a great sport about our fangirling.
The next day, Sunday, we took a trip to a waterfall. On the hike there, we passed a series of natural pools that pocketed a thin layer of rock over a river. We also passed the sandstone that is famous for making the different colored sand in souvenirs. We hiked through a small forest, and eventually came to a small natural waterfall. Like the cave, this waterfall was also a first for me. The water was freezing, but I still made the slippery journey to stand underneath it. I can’t explain the feeling that I had while there. Moments like those remind me of how far I’ve come, from a poor little girl being raised in Los Angeles, to a powerful college student with the entire world at my fingertips and endless opportunities. Moments like those humble me and remind me to remember the people who have made everything on this trip possible: my parents and all their sacrifices, my teachers in elementary school who never even hinted at the fact that statistically I was less likely to achieve than pretty much any other child, my high school teachers who pushed me to be better and also supported me through hard times, my scholarship program to helping me get into my college, and finally Colorado College (especially the financial aid office who has worked with me every step of the way). To all these people and more, I am eternally grateful.
Photo Credit: Angela Kong
Waiting for my film to show up on the big screen was absolutely terrifying, and as I looked at the other students’ faces, I could tell they were doing a pretty awful job hiding their terror too.
I exported my film at about 6:00 for the 7:00 screening. That’t not okay. I told myself that I would finish the film at 4 pm, like we were supposed to do, but sure enough with titles and credits, I found myself sweating in my chair as my film became one of the last ones to export. I kept having flashbacks to my freshman experience of not being able to export my film in time for the screening because of technical errors. It’s an absolute nightmare to throw away weeks of work for no reward.
Instead of eating a nice dinner, showering, and dressing up hours before the screening, I left the editing room at about 6:40 to run back to my house, shower, throw on my jacket in a fury of sweat and run back to the editing room with my shaving cream and razor in pocket. With about 3 minutes until the screening, I ran into the bathroom, slapped some shaving cream on my face, and hurriedly cleaned myself up as I ran into the theater seeing a lot of the dancers there anxiously awaiting the screening. I couldn’t believe I made it, but the anxiety began to set in. The theater was packed, and worse, these were people I cared about who were seeing it. I said my hello’s and made my way to the front row to join the rest of the class.
So far, my diet that day consisted of two mini-powdered donuts, a cookie, and maybe some water. I didn’t sleep the night before, and napped for an hour outside the editing lab before beginning to edit again in the morning. I was surprised to be standing up, and my eyes were a little bit too wide open to seem normal. With each new film I cringed hoping it wasn’t mine, wondering where in the lineup I would fall. Multiple times I thought I was coming up only to see with relief it was my classmate’s.
When I saw my first dancer on screen it was actually okay. And even better, I liked my film. I should have been absolutely sick of it at that point, but hearing the audience laugh when they were supposed to, gasp when they were supposed to, and applaud at the end made me love it. Its a little ego trip, but I have been looking forward to that ego trip the whole class. It’s the little moment of glory that makes all the delusion worth it.
Having people approach me in congratulations at the end was exhilarating. I was having a little bit of a hard time focusing for sure; my eye-locking capability was sort of like I was staring into an indistinguishably deep black hole with no focus point. My composer and crew members all enjoyed it too, which was relieving; I felt such a responsibility to highlight their hard work. The food at the reception vanished by the time I finished talking, which was frustrating. I got in one brownie. But it was fantastic.
Each time I make a film, I start at square one. I know I will have moments where it is awful. Where it is amazing. Where it is mostly awful. But somehow I have fell in a strange love relationship with the pain of filmmaking, and thankfully have come out of each film with a new desire to make another one that’s better. There definitely is a necessary detox period due to lack of sleep and poor eating habits, but it’s all part of it. Soon I will be thinking of a new film, and I will have to forget how awful or how great my last film was and accept that this one will be totally different. At least I know that now.
Photo Credit: Chance Crail, who was on set with me as cinematographer. These are some pictures from my dance shoot in Cossitt that helped tie together all three of my film’s characters. Using the camera equipment we had was incredible.
We are finally finished with our blocks at this point, and get to enjoy a little bit of summer before we come back for the fall semester. Before I delve into what the final screening was like for us (that’s the next post), I just wanted to take a moment to share a little more of our assignments leading up to this screening.
Here is a link to one of the student’s projects for our interview assignment: Dan Levitt. The assignment was to interview somebody for about ten minutes prompting them for a story; beginning, middle, end. We then edited that ten minutes down to two minutes, including illustrative footage or pictures to help visually share their story. Here it is.
And now onto the final screening.
I was going to title this post something cute like “The 12 Days of Editing”, but I think this is a more deserving title.
The editing room resembles my room more so than my actual room. I think I have more food around the desktop computer than I do in my fridge, and I definitely have spent more time in the editing room than I have in my house or sleeping combined. My files are encoding now from some last minute shooting today, so I have a little time to catch up. It’s kind of like I’m Neo when he touches the sticky, mirror like material in The Matrix and can’t get undone. It’s consuming and relentless.
I don’t think there are many other ways to describe the editing process than to give you a Sports Center esque play by play of my psychological state over the past week.
Monday: I just finished shooting, and I am tired from finishing shooting, but need to sleep a little more than I did during shooting week so I can spend time editing. Encoding all of my files to just begin editing took 2 days, and my compressed video files ballooned to fill my 1 TB hard drive, so I needed to switch everything to a bigger drive before I could even begin to edit. We meet as a class to discuss our selects, or our best footage we shot. I go through hours of footage to find the best 20 minutes. And it’s garbage.
Tuesday: We try to put our best footage together into a timeline, basically an assembly of seemingly important things that may be in our final films. At this point I have my selects, but they are incoherent and redundant. I don’t even remember if I showed anything, but if I did, clearly it wasn’t memorable. I’m beginning to doubt if I can pull this off, but don’t want to start staying up late yet.
Wednesday: I have no film. At least that is what is going on in my head. Tuesday night I reached the beginning of my mild freak out stage. If you have ever seen Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, my freak out is similar to when Cameron goes catatonic in the back of his Dad’s convertible. We have rough cuts due today, and I have barely anything. I can’t even comprehend what this is. And one of my film’s main characters all of a sudden doesn’t fit into the film. It was so sudden, but I am beginning to understand it needs to happen.
Thursday: Re-shoot day. I realized I am missing the most obvious sound bytes in my film, like where are we? Who are these people? It’s amazing how quickly I jumped into the deep emotional stuff without giving anyone any reason to care. Through transcribing, note cards on the wall, sugar, and caffeine I think I leave the editing lab Thursday night slightly hopeful I have something worth watching. The screenings with the class really help to get some fresh eyes on my project.
Friday: Fine cuts are due, which means one step before the final cut of the film. For me, that means a rough cut. After staying up until like 2 the night before, I come into the lab giving myself about 2 hours to throw something together. The less time I give myself, the easier it is not to be a perfectionist. I have been watching my film for about a week and a half now, so I am not sick of it, but I don’t know what to watch for anymore. I forget that the more I watch it, the more I take out that the audience needs because it’s their first time watching it. Clay and Dylan really help me see the good things in it and to focus on bringing that out more.
Saturday: I realize I need to shoot more. I blew out the sound on half of one of my character’s interviews, so I have to tread carefully around the trouble spots. I am beginning to become overwhelmed because a crucial dance shoot that I need for my film is tomorrow, and I am beginning to stress about how to control light in the room when there is a massive window in the studio. I stay up until 3 trying to find music for my dancers to listen to as I shoot.
Sunday: Sometimes I wake up and forget I am making a film. It comes rushing back pretty quickly. I grab a 7/11 water coffee and donut and try to pull myself together as I incoherently ask for campus safety to open the studio space. Directing seems daunting. With a little sugar I am functioning enough to begin the shooting day. Chance Crail, a rising sophomore who co-directed the short film Elevator Crush, which was actually on the home page, handled a lot of the technical hard stuff that was freaking me out, and just having him in the room was fantastic. Don’t need to figure out cameras and people at the same time, which is hard. And my god we got some great footage. I think there is some potential after all.
Until I finish this film, it won’t seem that good. But that’s the process. We suck it up and hope that in the end we hear everyone clapping and it’s worth it. I cannot wait until I hear that relief from and audience, when all the time I put in to savor and build to the most emotional moments becomes worth it. A month for 8-10 minutes. Until then it’s just delirium and praying.
One of our class projects involved using archival footage in order to create an engaging story about a subject. Some examples include using footage from Charlie Chaplin films in order to tell the story of a scandal he had with someone in the past, another one involved telling a family story with mining.
Here is one example of a film using archival footage that Dylan and Clay (our professors) found great:
My archival footage was about abortion and I used most of my media from stock footage from the site Pond5. Looking back on it, I wish that I had utilized more archival footage of people telling their experiences and stories involving abortion and of the movement itself. The serious subject matter should have been paired with some serious footage and the footage I used made me feel like I delegitimized the subject matter in a way that didn’t convey the story as well as it could have been remembered. Oh well, a good lesson to learn in filmmaking early on! That’s one of my favorite and dreaded aspects of the class – through your mistakes you learn how not to make them in the future or how to improve in such a way as to make your filmmaking better. It’s wonderful learning better ways to do things, but then it’s awful making the mistakes. I’ve especially been learning that this week through shooting for my film – “Oh shoot I forgot to film something!”, “Dang I forgot to ask that question!”, “Augh, I should have framed that better!” – are all statements that I am glad but frustrated to have learned the hard way.
Right now, I have the strangest feeling of carrying gold waiting to be edited but knowing that there’s so much more work to do in order to make it shine. It’s an angst-y stressful time, but I know that this process will be paid off far too soon, but far too away from this moment.
In terms of externship, Friday was my last day at InsideOut. UrbanPeak, a homeless shelter for youth in Colorado Springs from ages 15-20, and InsideOut recently collaborated and decided that the UrbanPeak kids would have drop in hours from 12:30-3pm at InsideOut. The most exciting activity of the day was from 5:30-7pm – Glitter Wars. Eric split the youth into two groups and they would compete for each of them to receive a kaleidoscope at the end. We played Charades and Musical Chairs and in order to make Charades more interesting, Eric printed out the list of the “Gayest Cartoons” that people voted on online (see the list here: http://www.newnownext.com/bracket/gayest_cartoon_tournament/). The list was very diverse – from Daria to Elsa from Frozen, it seemed as though anyone could be seen as a “gay” character. I felt quite disappointed with my younger self for not seeing many of the cartoons on the list, such as “The Smurfs” or “Peanuts”. Oh well, at least I have more TV shows I can watch in the future!
After the 10 days working with the organization, I think that I’ve decided on my film being about LGBT homelessness. Eric pulled in some people that he thought would have good stories for the documentary and one of them felt unsure on whether they wanted to participate and mentioned how UrbanPeak was doing a similar project, in which they are also filming homeless youth and making a video out of it. Initially, I thought that my idea would be great since I thought that it would be different, but I guess not now. I decided that I still wanted to go with my original idea, and when I was finishing up my proposal earlier today, I came up with a better idea. I have tentatively called my film Identity, aiming to show how the homeless youth are more than just their sexuality or gender identity and status in life. However, why didn’t I just decide to make a film about identity? Maybe I can play with that idea more as I propose my idea, but I can still show their identities through this film and I don’t need to sacrifice one over the other.
It’s really strange to be at this stage for the documentary. When you have the vision of what your film will look like but you haven’t started filming and you don’t know what exactly to anticipate for the future of the shooting and editing process. Where everything seems like it’ll work out, and you have to trust the process. It’s scary, but exciting. I’m really excited to get the ball rolling and see what happens, but I know I have to let go of the perfection I have expected out of myself.