13 Apr Lights. Camera. Inaction.
Okay, you’ve gathered up your courage to make a video selfie.Now you have to figure out why, and then what to do.
This is a big deal in your life – this time. You weren’t alive for the Spanish Flu in 1919 but you are for this pandemic. And if you are taking the advice of the government and medical authorities, you are staying home and away from other people. Hopefully you’ll never have to do another of these things, so it makes sense if you remember this one.
You have thoughts – some of which may be sensible and some of them reprehensible. If you express them to others in person or over social media you may live to regret it – opinions are always potential weapons against us. But you still want to express them. Well, express them to yourself in the video. Tell yourself the story of what you are experiencing, and be as honest with yourself as you can be. Just saying it out loud can relieve a great deal of the anxiety of what you’re going through.
You need not store up every bad memory in your life – though there are people who do that to themselves. But you can store up impressions of a specific time while they are occurring and review that later when your own memory flags. Edit yourself if you will, but try to make it a non-destructive process. Layer yourself with masks…
Gather a tripod, a digital camera, a memory card, and some lighting. Find a place in the house or garden that looks good – preferably with muted colour and a comfortable temperature. You do not need to bleed under Klieg lights to be a star of your own movie if you are also the director and crew.
Have a seat – unless you are a dancer. In that case, have a floor, and move around it as much as you like while the video is going on. Dancers, athletes, and stage presenters often feel better and do better moving.
Arrange the lighting – whether it is solid tungsten, halogen, or LED…or perhaps just a shady spot under the veranda…so that you face looks good in the test shots. Be prepared to take as many still or video tests as you need until you are satisfied with your appearance. Remember main, fill and hair.
Your appearance is entirely up to you, but I would suggest comfort and style are never out of place. You can photograph yourself looking like a king or a garden lawn ornament, but in the end you’ll feel better as the former than the latter. Wear pants throughout the video.
Set out a definite length for the video. If this means starting an egg timer or alarm clock, do that. If you set up a clock facing yourself at the camera position you can see how you are progressing. The length of a video can be anything from the traditional 3.5 minutes* to a half hour. An audience’s attention will not go above 15-20 minutes, no mater how enthralling you are, and this also applies if you are the only audience. Only Narcissus wants to gaze at himself for hours.
*Note that timing. That’s the length of the old 8mm 50ft reel of film.
What do you say to yourself? Well tell yourself the story of this virus lockdown – the lead-up to it, what you understand about it, what your experience is of it, what you expect the outcome will be. Don’t be afraid that you are not an expert – neither is anyone else.
Essentially, tell your story to you. Years later you can listen and either agree or laugh at yourself.
Beware that digital information stays around longer than viruses or in-laws. If you commit your story to a memory card and save that, someone else will eventually find it. Ditto if you transfer the production to your computer or other storage facilities. Heaven help you if you upload it to social media or other broadcasting facilities.
A final note: There is a question of whether you should edit yourself. Certainly, if you make a number of false starts before becoming fluent…throw away the practise pieces. If you make bloopers you may certainly edit these out. Hollywood makes beer money by saving them and cobbling up television programs of them but no-one will watch pictures of you dropping a teacup over yourself.
Should you edit out your opinions later on? Well, there have been any number of political regimes that have done just that with their former comrades. No-one respects them for it. If you find you have been wrong, make another video correcting yourself, but don’t erase yourself from your own history just because your personal Politburo changes…