In terms of my topic, I feel that the subject matter was spot on and it was the right decision to choose the currently relevant topic of Tinder that I had a passion for telling a story about. I was able to delve deep into a topic and tell a piece of genuine human interest and reveal a grounded view of what your typical user encounters on the application. Whilst I feel this was a good idea, it perhaps may have been better to do the experiment over a larger timespan as it would have created a larger opportunity to have more interesting developments happen.
When undertaking the entire pre-production job by myself, I found it very difficult but highly beneficial. As I was working alone, I had to rely solely on myself for all aspects of research and development. This became particularly noticeable when I had to keep in contact with all of my four participants throughout and arrange shooting with each of them simultaneously whilst ensuring it was all done professionally. Furthermore, I had to push myself to understand the ins and outs of every detail and ensure that every loose end was tied up, jobs such as getting release forms signed, recce forms and shooting schedules became imperative to me. This has improved my confidence in creating a production and in my own abilities to take charge unequivocally.
In terms of pre-production skills, I developed my planning skills the most. Often, I would just turn up to a location without planning in advance before this project. However, when you are investing so much of your time and money into a film you take things more seriously to ensure that you are not wasting your own and your crew’s time. Using location recce forms, equipment forms and scouting locations made everything unambiguously more organised and successful.
During production, it was a very interesting learning experience. As I wouldn’t be there to oversee every part of every shoot, as some would be vlogs, I had to ensure that my vision was passed on to anyone who held a camera. I learnt a lot about communicating my creative vision and trying my best to achieve it through improving my techniques.
Overall, I was pleased with how well I was able to adapt to new situations. However, it was quite difficult to do so when I ran into problems with the shoots. In a few shoots I had the problem of discovering issues after shooting that were one off shoots than only had one opportunity for it to work. So, it made me have a lot of issues in post production that lead to be having some less than stellar footage that I had to do my best with. Despite doing planning in advance and creating a location recce form that I adhered too, I perhaps should have planned a formal test shoot beforehand to ensure that everything was entirely up to scratch. However, this motivated to ensure I had everything perfect in later shoots and perform formal test shoots with individuals that I could not reshoot. This paid off as I was much happier with the later shoots’ footage. Although some of the footage I got was less than perfect it has been vastly helpful in improving my professional experience.
During the duration of my production, I had to direct 4 different participants and 1 cameraman, all of which had varied experiences in operating cameras and audio equipment that I had to convey my vision to, testing my skills as a director. As I wouldn’t be there to oversee every single shoot as some were vlogs, I had to be able to pass my vision onto the participants very well and show that I was confident in what I want and be able to convey that clearly and concisely. It of course was a very stressful experience as I couldn’t always see what was happening and didn’t know for sure that it was of a good standard, but I had to trust that I had briefed them enough. The footage was not always to the high standard I would have hoped, this could have perhaps been improved by either briefing them even further or by hiring a production assistant that could have helped in communicating and visiting the contributors. However, it has been very beneficial experience in dealing with documentary contributors and how to deal with them effectively.
As I mentioned previously, I left myself with a lot of work to do in post production, leaving myself with a lot of perfecting to do to make my project and interesting and technically good. When working with the footage, it was a massive test to be able to have the patience to be able to edit the clips in a way which was interesting and technically good as some of it was not up the the standard I wanted. However, this helped in building my technical skills and my character in the face of adversity and moving past it towards the goal I intended. Whilst the entire experience of post production was given enough time if everything went perfectly, I perhaps should have respected the process more and allowed time incase everything didn’t go to plan so I didn’t have to stress and rush my edit. Sadly, I ended up paying for this error and the final product isn’t completely as good as I wished it to be. I will learn from this experience in the future and allow myself more time so I don’t have to deal with this disappointment again. Whilst it is good to be optimistic and confident about my abilities, I shouldn’t be over-confident and I should allow myself time to make mistakes.
Unfortunately I have not had loads of interest in passing this documentary onto any networks. Sadly, I do not believe the shooting specifications are up to scratch into passing it on to networks. This is something I should have took into greater consideration before shooting to ensure I had the opportunity to present my project as a completed, high value piece. However, I do believe the idea is good enough. So, I aim to use this documentary as a proof of concept and try and sell the idea and perhaps reshoot it in the network’s vision if I am given the opportunity. Even if I was not given the opportunity to do so under a network’s funding, I was hoping I would be able to fund remaking the documentary on a higher budget through making profit out of the current cut. I then would be able to improve my camera and audio quality, the nature of the participants and my post production in being able to hire an editing assistant.
When looking at similar documentaries and comparing them to my finished product, there are a lot of similarities in the the two of them as I tried to base my style around theirs. Documentaries such as ‘The Secret World of Tinder’ (Channel 4, 2016) are ones which I base my style and ways of representing the subject matter around. As it is on the Tinder also, it provided a good starting point in regards to how they dealt with representing the topic which I was able to use. They only would mention the topic very briefly and instead focus on the individual and their story, something which I carried across to my production.
Like the above, my idea was being an observational, fly on the wall, type of part of my participant’s experiences. Despite following this guideline quite strictly, I perhaps did it too much so, giving too little information about Tinder and assuming too much knowledge of the viewer. I did this as a style choice so they learnt about the app along with the participants, going on a journey together, but this idea didn’t work as well as I hoped when reviewing it as they didn’t get to know some key information they perhaps should have known.
I also used the BBC documentary, ‘The Age of Loneliness’ (BBC, 2016) as one of my prime examples which I found greatly useful. This helped in using techniques which helps in offering a more grounded view of more down to earth, not extravagant people. However, whilst I used many of the techniques such as music and shooting styles, I could have perhaps improved it further by adding it more of a variety of shots to reflect moods, focusing on the emotions behind the words rather than the words themselves. By following the stylistics of these documentaries by network television, it helped in ensuring I followed a professional guideline but at the same time it limited me creatively and should have not taken it quite so seriously.
Fitting Documentary Format
When Stephen Reynolds came in to the university to speak about his film, I managed to pick his brain about the documentary format and he spoke to me about how all documentaries should reveal a truth, but it’s the truth we choose to tell so it’s partially constructed. I had this in the back of my mind throughout the production, trying to tell the truth that I wanted to tell. I felt like by including certain signs and signifiers in my edit such as certain parts of interviews, I helped lead my viewers toward seeing the truth that I wanted to tell.
I got inspired by certain other elements in the documentaries I previously mentioned, elements which I believed helped in telling the truth I wanted to tell. This included adding elements of interviews which structured the environment to get the participants to talk about the subject matters I wanted them to, guiding them to a decision on the topic. However, this could have perhaps been done better through placing them in an even more structured environment, meaning they would have to use the application more, also ensuring they would find the truth I wanted to show more naturally, helping enforce the integrity of the documentary format.
Did I achieve what I set out to?
As documentary cannot be truly planned and you can just set a framework in order to achieve success and plan to be able to adapt to the ever changing circumstances. For example, I initially planned for my documentary to just follow two people but after consideration I decided that 4 people of different genders and situations was the best examples. As I had the example of ‘The Secret World of Tinder’ I wanted to produce a documentary that had a similar style but focused on the lighter, more realistic version of the user base which was a new concept. I feel I achieved in showing how these users interact with the application through passion and studying the form and style which allowed me to present this information.
In conclusion, the largest thing I learnt from creating this production is how to be a professional. When looking back at the process, I am proud of the progression I have made as a media producer. Despite the fact that the end product may not completely match my vision, the experience and what I have learnt from it has been invaluable, improving my technical skills and my knowledge vastly.
Whilst I can’t speak to what the public’s opinion is as it hasn’t been publicly viewed and shared yet, the people I have shared the footage with say it is compelling and funny. Despite it not being technically the most amazing footage, I feel I definitely achieved what I set out to achieve in terms of subject matter and editing it to be interesting.
However, I think it was less than perfect in the way the footage was shot, I learnt as I went along and improved on my weaknesses. I should have perhaps hired more crew to ensure that I have a second eye on all matters and so I didn’t spread my attentions too thin. From all this I have learned, I can definitely improve myself and move forward in a positive manner that will help all of my future productions.
BBC. (2016) The Age Of Loneliness – BBC One [online] available from <http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06vkhr5> [5 May 2016]
Channel 4. (2016) The Secret World Of Tinder [online] available from <http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-secret-world-of-tinder> [5 May 2016]