I am a queen procrastinator. I have had a lot happen in the 3 years it took me to finish this. It only took less than a day, and a handful of How-To Info videos on Adobe Premiere CS6 I found on Youtube.com to figure out how to get this think edited in a way that was acceptable.
Why did it take 3 years? OH geeze...
Well, I had completed the film my final year at CSULB back in Spring of 2015. It was a class project I cared deeply about; I wanted to make sure everyone looked their best and was represented well. Unfortunately, there were several challenges that were hard/impossible to overcome.
- Everyone's learning: Not a single person was an expert. It was very difficult to get steady shots and usable B-Roll. Plus, we were learning editing on the fly, as well. It was everybody's first film, and we were really new to using these cameras, too.
- Lights: We were the only group that had to deal with a major problem; our subjects tended to come out at night, and operated in dimly lit areas. This meant we had to learn how to improvise and use lighting, but we never could quite get what we needed and sometimes what we shot was just too grainy/dark.
- Storyline: I admit, I wasn't sure what I wanted to film at the beginning. I just knew I had to get people in front of a camera and ask questions. Unfortunately, this -paired with class feedback and specific requirements for the project- meant that there are interviews I had to cut. Two interviews got cut entirely (to which I am sad about, but wish to revisit at some point in a new film) and one interview was shot with such shaky camera work that the footage was more-or-less unusable. Ah, student projects... they do lack finesse. In short, only after I had a chance to interview several people did a central theme start to emerge and by then, I used what footage I could.
- B-Roll: Holy hell I cannot emphasize how much this was a problem!! We didn't have enough of it, and even today I wish I had a more vast range of BDSM related B-Roll. We hosted a "play party" at a private house just to get more B-Roll, and a friend of mine (Miles Van Dusen) did the camera work that day, and brought his own lights. This helped tremendously in getting clean, well-lit shots.
- Computer glitches and issues: After leaving CSULB to move North and start my life of hustling for a job post-graduation, I wanted to release the film. Unfortunately, there were parts in the film that would've "outed" certain participants... They requested that I not release it with identifying factors included. That meant I had to re-edit it. Well, the project had been created on a Mac and I had a PC. They don't play well together!! I tried several times to convert files, but it kept resulting in the same "File Unreadable" errors or even notifications that my files were "damaged" and couldn't be opened. This was heartbreaking, and I had honestly thought I'd lost most/all of my project. I tried to salvage it by getting just the film, but I still had problems. Between moving 3 times in the last 3 years and changing jobs 5 times, my focus was definitely elsewhere and not on the film. Finally, after so long of having this film remeain unfinished, I broke down and paid for the Adobe Premiere CS6 subscription and, with the help of my husband who is far wiser and capable when it comes to computers, the files were converted to something that could be read by a PC. I was able to finally take the original film, cut it up how it needed to be cut, and replace some of the B-Roll and redo the credits so they didn't mention the participants who wished to remain anonymous. I also cut out a tiny bit of B-Roll that kept flashing RED (for no obvious reason, no matter how many times it was rendered or replaced).
- Procrastination....Yeah, that's the final reason. I wanted a perfect product. Eventually, I realized that I would never get it. Not with this B-Roll, and not unless I reshot the film, and really... there's no such thing as perfection. So I let it go, decided this was "good enough", and am happy with that.
Finally, I can move on. Perhaps I can even try again one day, with the added knowledge and connections that I now have. I still think the concept was a good one; show this community in a way that all social workers and anthropologists should, with respect and with a focus on the culture and meanings of what they do.
On another note, I feel much lighter now the the burden of this has lifted. I may even make a habit of finishing things more often!! We'll see...
If you would like to view the film, you can reach out to me. Only very few people willl be given access (it does have nudity in it and is of a sensitive nature) and no one will be given the rights to own it unless they were a participant. If you know me, you know how to find and message me.