UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood at DVinfo.net

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Old July 7th, 2012, 01:43 AM   #1
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UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

So this is my entry; titled The Source.

I tried to weave a human story around my force of nature, and the aim was to see if I could get a short documentary to work on a number of levels. Whether or not that was achieved is another issue.

I also tried to add a number of common threads throughout the different scenes to give a sense of flow and connection. I was hoping these would work on a subconscious level, and not be too obvious.

Here goes:

As others have noted Vimeos compression in the SD version is not too good at the moment. There is sound distortion and the image is very soft. So please try to watch in HD!
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Old July 7th, 2012, 02:20 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Love your film, Simon. Thanks for another great story.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 03:18 AM   #3
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Simon, this was a great film and a good story!

I have to admit Im a bit jealous of the way you are able to built up the film and the story! And your framing and sequences are very well framed and composed.

Keep them coming its a pleasure to watch!
- Per Johan
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Old July 7th, 2012, 10:54 AM   #4
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Having lived on and off several years in Africa, this film brought back happy memories. I think the mix of footage from the interview and in action helped propel the story. And the music was a good choice to tie the threads you speak of together.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 12:49 PM   #5
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Simon another fine one. You have a great 'style' of film making, no doubt.
We're drawn into another world, and it works. Wondering what shots you acquired
with the t3i, I could probably pick them out, the more colorful ones with the soft background
since you are using prime lenses?
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Old July 7th, 2012, 04:18 PM   #6
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

This had more "heart" in it than anything I have seen on UWOL for a long time. You captured a feeling for an ageless home, that is sorely lacking in my South Florida. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 05:13 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Thanks for the comments Chris & Steve; I appreciate it!

Per: its funny that I'm jealous of the shots you made in your film. I don't think I have the patience or eye for detail that you have to pull off such epic looking shots.

Ruth; thanks for the comments. Where in Africa did you live?

Bill: thanks! Actually all but one of the shots (except for the 3 obvious GoPro shots on the kayak) were made with the T3i with the 50mm lens. The only shot that I used from the XLH1 was the scene with the fisherman in the traditional wooden canoe.

I used Magic Bullet Looks to make a grade that further amplified the dreamy look; it crushed the black colors, applied a light vignette, and softened the image further (while increasing the saturation a little).
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Old July 8th, 2012, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Yes you seem to be able to use the local people to make an interesting story. Nicely done.

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Old July 8th, 2012, 03:09 PM   #9
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Simon, well done!

I really like your kind of stories, and how you use the locals.
Thank you for teaching me something new about your part of the world!
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Old July 9th, 2012, 09:21 AM   #10
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Hello Simon. The first time I watched it through I thought you had done some selective blur de-focusing on some shots. After re-watching it I think that was just the added vignette I was noticing. Nice color grade. Focusing the story on people always adds interest. Well done here. My congratulations also to Ali, Shantos, Emmanuel and John. Welcome to UWOL guys!
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Old July 11th, 2012, 02:24 AM   #11
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Hello Simon,

Yes well! I was hooked into this video right from the first scene. I felt it could have gone on for half an hour. When it finished I felt I had been cheated something similar to having the phone ring and called when engrossed in an interesting tv documentary. I can't fault your work. Well done to you and your crew.
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Old August 16th, 2012, 12:24 PM   #12
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Re: UWOL 23 - The Source - By Simon Wood

Here is a very big review done by someone on another site (this review was written before the results of the contest came out). Some interesting points raised here:

Thank you for sharing your fine work with us, Simon. Technically I found the piece admirable. While reading your intro, I wondered why you'd not used any transitions, even simple crossfades, but once the viewing began I understood your method more. Loved the opening titling with the expansion & fade on "the source."

Do you mind sharing how you did that? I'm figuring keyframing & spacing the final letters with reduced opacity, but wondering if there's a preset.

Knowing the subject of the competition from your description, I wondered at the Kierkegaard quote, thinking it to be more internally philosophically oriented than nature-force focussed. The quote, in conjunction with knowing what the competition was about, set me in a slightly conflicted frame before we'd got into the video. In hindsight, the quote fits perfectly with your hero & his endeavor.

Perhaps "endeavor" is not the best choice of words, but I'm reluctant to diminish such a challenging or even life threatening activity by calling it a hobby or pass-time. However, we're broaching on why I assume you didn't win the competition. We'll come back to this...

In the opening shots, it quickly became apparent, your transitionless editing fit perfectly with the music, though a couple bars in I felt a tinge of predictability. Your soundtrack was excellent & worked wonderfully. Visually, the location was stunning & fascinating, not to mention that shot I'm sure everyone is curious about; the "Avoid Morning Sex" sign. What a curious message. I'm certain a poll of all your viewers would show the sign's backstory as high on their level of inquiry.

Your combination of the various camera formats seems relatively seamless, of course we all knew when we switched to the GoPro. Loved the GoPro's underwater kayak roll footage.

From the "force of nature" standpoint, I think you captured the churning ferocity of the river viscerally. This is starkly emphasized when you shoot from the darkness, silhouetting him against the seething cauldron rushing by. The audio recording of your talent was outstanding, the opening scenes where he's sitting & talking while looking out over the river, were exemplary. Not seeing a mic on him, knowing you'd used the portable Zoom recorder, I was wondering how you mic'd him for that wider shot. Lovely imagery in his description that the river flows into the Nile & then to the pyramid. It's been my experience with Western viewers, there is a modicum of irritation when having to listen to foreign accents over any extended time. Even typing now, I have to chuckle at this subtle form of racism, or at least xenophobia. Alas, that has been our experience in test marketing projects with focus groups, though they are slightly more tolerant when the piece is comedy or drama. Yours could be countered with the juxtaposition of another voice, announcer or narrator, perhaps a British female or American male, for instance. However, on this piece, that probably would have broken the intimacy.

On initial viewing, your finishing appears flawless, Magic Bullet Looks 2 really gave you some gorgeous tones with the lush foliage. You did the exotic location justice with your color treatment. May we ask what Magic Bullet settings you used? (not sure if those are exportable...)

So, from a nuts & bolts standpoint, fantastic job. Seeing the polished result & knowing the arduous trek, difficult conditions & taxing shoot, it's evident you must have a rapturous level of passion. After all you poured into this project, I'm sure you hoped to win... would you like to know why you didn't?

We're going to move from the exoteric into the esoteric now, & some get a little offended when this sort of light of scrutiny is shone on their work. Of course I'm fully aware of the emotional commitment one puts into a piece of art like this, it's very difficult to hear a completely detached perspective, but that's what I'm paid for as a consultant. (Chuckling again here, knowing that any advice or recommendations that are offered without charge are usually viewed as worthless.) In my business we say the perspective of your target demographic must be lived. You're aiming at video competition judges...

The subject of the competition aligns with the current global trend, of environmentalism, which has taken on almost religious tones. By this I mean it's taught to children as a moral absolute, stresses the need for repentance & or a coming judgement, etc. Western ideology has assimilated these themes into modern cultural acceptance & promotion of this enviro concept, especially over the past 20 years. The theme is multifaceted & ubiquitous. Appearing everywhere; women's fashion magazines, children's cartoons, car adverts & movies, it's no surprise that it manifests as a video competition subject. Sorry if I'm being presumptive in assuming you didn't win, I just thought you would most likely have told us if you had. Perhaps it hasn't been finalized yet? Searches didn't bring up much, other than things that reiterate what I'm saying here - a David Suzuki film on Forces of Nature, an Eco-Comedy video competition, etc. Could you provide a link where we could see the winning video?

You committed the cardinal sin of Westernizing the subject. Let me explain...

Even if your cinematography & post production were perfect, the judges would be left with a twinge of dissatisfaction. Some of them might not even be able to put their finger on what exactly didn't wow them. On a subconscious level the film didn't connect to the ethos. But why not? Because 20 years of religious programming of sorts, ingrains a foundational substructure of thought forming the world view, & your film goes against it. Here's how...

Your African man is indigenous, still in his mysterious native land - so far, so good - we're firing on all cylinders. His English is pretty good (this could be a slight cause for beginning of the disconnect), he's wearing bright colors (accepted as African cultural norm, but the T-shirt does seem a bit Western style - disconnect continues). His talk of the river, draws us back, the fishing, his life, his heritage, his father & grandfather did it (we're completely brought back). But then, speaking of bright colors, the electric pink plastic kayak (wow, it's confusing at first, the disconnect amplifies, what is this?). Then we see, he's riding the river for his own thrills, it's a hobby or pastime, in that this aspect of his relationship with the river, is not for the survival of his family, but rather for his personal enjoyment. Yes, it's a zen thing for him, & we get that & the connection with the Kierkegaard quote. However, in the context of Eastern & Western ideologies & especially in the light of our new "religion," his whitewater river rafting is a very Western style joyride.

Some might try to suggest that this view is "racist" or some other politically correct form of labeling, but it's actually the reverse. Since we in the West, have abandoned our traditional religions, we really need natives to reinforce our new one. We seek aboriginals that encourage us in some sort of pseudo-spiritual connection to the rivers & trees, bolstering our confidence in our current cultural religious shift.

Some might argue that natives have always enjoyed playing in nature while respecting it & not desecrating it. Fine. But to the Western minded judges of this competition he's too Western, in that he's got too much time on his hands to pursue such a, granted zen empowering, but none the less frivolous activity.

Concededly, the judges probably won't articulate this position, as previously outlined, most of these introspective undercurrents are subliminal in their world view. However, if the judges were unWesternized Africans, you would have won, with him being their hero.

Here's how you could have won the current contest. The exact same video techniques, music, location, river, even the same guy but with a major thematic alteration. He's less Western, more African. Instead of a boogie-boarding displaced South-Cali wannabee, he's all mystical with deep dark African wisdom. We meet his family in a hut by firelight, dressed in textured earth tones, darling little children, supportive smiling wife. He speaks of the reverence for the river, handed down from his father, & grandfather before him. We see him in a dugout canoe bringing home the fish that keeps the family alive, bartering fish with others. The relationship of the children with the river is shown. The family lives BY the river, in every sense, they depend on the river, it represents life, God, all. He risks his life on the river, for his people, to continue the legacy. He has no time or mind for hobbies, but all is for the love of his family, culture & of course the blessed awesome river.

Final scene, he's on the porch of the hut, overlooking the river at sunset, little one sleeping on his lap, wife preparing fish by the fire, he's looking out over the water, eyes glaze over as he recounts someone dying in the rapids (perhaps his brother)... "The river gives us life... but sometimes takes away..." (baby cries in the distance)

Fade to black.


Is it no longer a documentary, has it moved into docu-"drama" now?
Well... do you want to win or not?
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