Workshop of film making with drone for a group of teenagers in Clermont de l’Oise.
ACAP (Pôle Image Picardie), within the framework of the Passeurs d’Images system and in collaboration with the Center socio-culture de Clermont de l’Oise, offered me to animate a filmmaking workshop with a drone for one group of teenagers, during a week of the summer school holidays of 2017.
The film directed, “War chronicles” (11 minutes), is viewable here. After are some insights into my method of conducting this workshop.
The first words that I spoke when I met the young people were about the purpose of this work week: making a film together to show it. On the Internet, the film would be available and shared on Friday night, and would be shown in the first part of an outdoor screening on the following Saturday, and at a public event a few months later.
To lay this framework is for me the essential, the major support for a collective action to take place: why is this workshop done? To propose a film to spectators.
Everything that was going to be done in the week would be referenced to this responsibility there, shared by all, but especially by everyone. For the energy of a collective resides in the sum of the desires, singular, of each member of the group.
Thus, what is to be constructed first, in my opinion, is the space of a possible desire for everyone. The acts I produce afterwards, as animator of the workshop, must be at the service of the desire of each one. My job is to leave room for desires, and to find the way desires articulate together to make a common object, without damaging these desires.
The concept of this workshop was to shoot a film entirely with a drone, in order to invite young people to reflect, in deed, on what a technical tool could open in terms of creativity.
It is not a question of writing a script (which is a literary object), but of trying to make a film of it, but of discovering what a singular camera, that of the drone, to inspire, through these particular images, an inventive film in terms of cinematographic form.
For, let us not forget, in this type of framework, the objective is above all “picture education”, ie what the young people will learn during the week, the personal path they are going to in this context. The workshop, the film, in all the reality they have, are tools for an “educational” contribution for young people.
Thus, the first action, from the first morning, was a flight test of the drone. I suggested to the young people to improvise things outside of the socio-cultural center, that I was going to film the drone, then to look at the images and see what they were going to inspire us.
I try to make amazing shots : followers of characters who run, elevations very high, shaves motte ... the drone crashes violently against walls, is carried by the wind in the sky, bumps against trees ... in short, many emotions, for me too, in my attempt to try things, to offer beautiful images to young people. I venture on things I’m not sure of, but I want to try (desire ...). I’m afraid of losing the drone, of breaking it, and so on. Young people perceive that I do not pretend, so there is a “solidarity”, and they, actors, give the best of themselves. Then, when viewing the images, which impress them, ideas fuse.
The second day, filming started in the forest, I propose that the drone starts over a pond, to approach the forest and that the characters leave a grove. So I place the drone above the pond, but then I lose control immediately, it leaves, alone, without I can stop it, towards I do not know where ... It is probably the reflections of the water that disturbed its visual navigation system. I no longer see it, the picture disappears from the screen of my remote control.
I wanted to make a nice shot, I had never shot pictures with the drone above the water, I ventured there, and I may have lost my drone. We go, on the other side of the pond, on the other side of the pond, we seek, we seek, in the mud of the bank, and ultimately lucky, the drone is there! He had crashed against the trees on the bank and fell right at the water’s edge. Phew, shooting can continue!
The shot above the water that the drone shooted itself is beautiful, we decide with the young that this is the first image of the film. I took this risk so as not to depart from my desire. If I had lost my drone, we would have continued otherwise, made another film. Of course, these risks are not inconsiderate, I would not have taken if I had known that the drone would leave on its own. I also learned that I will no longer fly this model of drone above the water!
Besides, of course, at times I let the youngsters drive the drone, in autonomy, after they saw me do. I’m not necessarily present at those times. I venture there.
I wanted, like a first experiment of the same type that I had made at Niort, that the film was written as it was realized, in harmony with the cinematographic proposals that we discovered as we watched the images.
Thus, at the end of the first morning, it is decided that there will be five characters, interpreted by five of the teenagers. They had to come back in the afternoon with elements of costume, accessories, and we took pictures of the characters, we named them, we gave them a character.
I integrated this information into a mental map, which I loaded on my website, giving them the address, which was therefore, from the beginning of the afternoon, a first production.
Then they decided that each character had to show up, a bit like a video game. So, on the afternoon of the first day, we went in a minibus with the host who accompanied us, Alain Augizeau, throughout the week, in sets proposed by him or by the young people. I filmed with the drone, there was a lot of wind, it was really difficult, and they interpreted their character.
No one knew yet what story the film was going to tell, but the starting point is well, in a fiction, to start by making the characters exist. We did it, not in “script” but in “film”, directly.
Without needing to do anything, we were so responsible for our part, that they were, as actors, absolutely focused. Why ? For the purpose of the project was laid, and they had, within the framework I offered, all latitude to do what they wanted, that is to say that they had the space of their desire, respected. So it was about their film.
On the way back, the plans were very beautiful, and they wanted to put voice-overs on their pictures.
In short, the cinematographic writing has been done “iteratively”, as we go along, from the viewing of the rendering of the images (which we always look at in black projection). So, the film gradually formed before the eyes of everyone. And the unexpected shooting could be integrated as elements enriching the project.
The script was therefore written as the film was made, and the rushes were viewed, which had the virtue that there was no frustration. Indeed, there is no precise project, defined by a scenario, which is frustrated by the pitfalls of the real, there are directions, desires, which, meeting reality, create something, that will model. As a sculptor who will take into account the knots of the wood and create with, around. It is a work of harmony, of listening, not of forcing reality. This, in the end, opens up a larger creative possibility.
The moments of shooting were centered on the sets. If someone proposed a set (that is, a shooting location) that seemed to fit into the film world, we went there without knowing exactly what we were going to do there. But, each one having all the images previously made in the head (since we had seen them collectively in the dark), it was generally on the way, in the mini-bus, by the spontaneous exchanges between the young people, that suddenly ideas of scenes, of dramaturgy, came to them. And during the shooting itself, with all the technical difficulties inherent in the drone, the time offered allowed them to develop new ideas.
That is to say that the ideas were not preliminary to the filming, they came in the actual reality of the filming. This is what made the young people very motivated in this workshop: we were actually going to shoot scenes, in beautiful scenery, with a whole drive way to reach them, and on the way to this act we were going to do , ideas emerged. It is a thought in action, not a thought prior to action.
The place, the autonomy, the respect of the contribution of each one in the group allowed that the ideas could be born in the spirit of each person. What allows my sense to make a good film is to form a democratic group in which the individuality of each person is respected.
On the return of each shoot, after viewing, we assemble the sequences, as and when. I manipulated the editing software, taken up on the screen of the video projector. These were quick operations.
At the end of each day, I put online the stage of the assembly we were at, so the young people could, at home, revisit the film, show it.
The look at the images, the discussion around the montage, the screenplay, the story, were permanent, and fed on the reality of what had been made. Thus, the film has matured during the week, both in the conscious and in the unconscious. And it was thus, from this fertile ground, that came ideas relevant at the time of the filming.
All the voices were made in post-synchronization, because the drone does not record the sound (the device makes too much noise with its propellers). And the music was also composed and recorded by young people, whether acoustic (guitar) or electronic (synthesizer). Gonzague Portier, responsible for the cyberspace of the socio-cultural center, accompanied the production of music during the week.
For the voices, they recorded them as they went, after watching and watching the film. Sometimes the next day, one of the young people re-recorded his voice completely, changing the text, changing the story of the film, for things had matured in him. Obviously, even if I thought the previous voice was already very good, I left him his responsibility.
So they were also entirely responsible for the soundtrack of the film. Me I assembled the elements in the editing software, with resuming the computer screen on the video projector.
There was an opportunity for a large number of children on Thursday afternoon, which we used to show the film, collect opinions and improve it, finalize it on Friday. The moment of projection was very intense, and important for the directors. The confrontation with the others is a difficult and foundering moment: positive remarks galvanize, negative remarks destroy us, but invite us, the next day, to become even stronger, even more profoundly bearers of our own project.
Among the remarks we received from children: “But why did not you go to Africa?” “Why are not there more animals?” “Why are not there more actors?”
What I found very constructive in these remarks was that there was a perception of the unconsciousness of the work that it requires to make a film. And the young people in our group were aware of this. There are the initial goals of image education.
The young people were very proud of their film, delighted with their experience, with the desire to continue. The animator who accompanied me on the week, Alain Augizeau, sports educator, was convinced of the interest of the video and the teaching method. And I learned a lot. It has once again confirmed to me that the framework that must be put forward as an animator is a framework that opens up the freedom of each individual in his or her singularity.
What seems to me difficult in the work of animation is to venture to these singularities, to trust the young people, to leave them all the place to express themselves. This is how the project will become fully theirs, that they will be responsible for it (because they are trusted) and will therefore be totally motivated. We, we just have to hold the framework that allows them to express themselves. It is very fine, unpredictable, unexpected, and demands to work on oneself, to continue to be listening even if one feels destabilized. In short, in my opinion, to animate a group, one must question oneself permanently.